.In our first exploration of Monterey, we learned that it is located along California’s beautiful Central Coast region just120 miles south of San Francisco, and is one of the nation’s most popular tourist destinations.
To give you a bit of a visual perspective, Monterey County is comprised of four regions and 12 incorporated cities: Monterey Peninsula (Monterey, Pacific Grove, Carmel-by-the-Sea, Carmel Valley, Seaside, Marina, Sand City, Del Rey Oaks and Pebble Beach); Big Sur; North County (Marina, Moss Landing, Prunedale and Castroville); and the Salinas Valley (Salinas, Soledad, Gonzales, Greenfield and King City).
Together, it is approximately the size of Delaware with a population hovering somewhere near 450,000 people, the city of Monterey itself possessing a population of just over 30,000.
For city and county this size, Monterey has a great deal to offer. From golf to historic attractions, shopping, wildlife exploration, culinary and wine adventures and events, music festivals and nightlife, family fun, sporting events, and more you will find a wealth of each here.
No visit to Monterey would be complete without a visit to Cannery Row, whose initial claim to fame was that it served as the backdrop for a variety of colorful stories by writer John Steinbeck. Today it continues that colorful flavor and flair as the center of a great deal of the city’s many nightlife and recreation activities, attractions, restaurants shopping and hotels.
One of the biggest attractions along Cannery Row is the Monterey Bay Aquarium, consistently rated as the number one, premier aquarium in the country. Welcoming an estimated almost 2 million visitors a year, the aquarium features an astounding array of close to 300,000 marine plants and animals highlighted in 200 indoor and outdoor, many interactive, galleries and exhibits, each expertly showcasing the distinctive marine life and habitats found in the Monterey Bay. It will be more than well worth your while to plan on spending several hours here, as there is so much to see and explore for the entire family.
Because Monterey and the surrounding area is situated along the Bay, it lends itself to a very wide range of outdoor recreational activities. Golfers will find over two dozen public and private courses that are playable year round, the moderate Central Coast weather also allowing visitors and residents alike to enjoy sand dune exploration, walking, sailing, biking and horseback riding on or along the beaches. Horseback riding and camping are also popular area diversions.
To enjoy the plethora of sea life in Monterey, you will find numerous whale watching, sailing, paddle boarding, fishing and scuba diving opportunities.
While in town, we thoroughly enjoyed a two-hour kayaking excursion at Monterey Bay Kayaks. Donned in wetsuits and in a group with an expert marine guide (you can also rent kayaks and venture out on your own), we set out to explore and learn about the many creatures residing here, coming up-close-and-personal with sea lions and sea otters, harbor seals, a variety of birds, and other animals and plant-based sea life, providing us with a more well-rounded understanding of how they each and together effect the biodiversity and ecosystems not only in the area, but along the California Coast.
Again, for city and county of this size there is so much to see and do that we have barely scratched the surface. Coming up we’ll delve into the city’s wonderful accommodations, delicious restaurants, and a few unexpected attractions that make Monterey a fantastic vacation destination.
Read the entire feature series!
Part 1 – The Wonder and Beauty of Monterey, CA
Part 2 – Beautiful Monterey Today
Part 3 – Delightful Lodging in and around Monterey
Part 4 – Celebrating Monterey’s Fine Arts
Part 5 – Talk to the Animals in Monterey
Part 6 – A Unique Excursion near Monterey