Monterey and Carmel are surrounded by some of the most magnificent beaches, state parks and historical landmarks in all of California. If you venture along the famed 17 Mile Drive along Highway 1, you will be amazed at the variety of scenic vistas available for public viewing and participation.
City Sights & Beaches
Asilomar State Park and Beach
Dunes of white sand and picturesque coves are among the visual delights that make Asilomar State Park such a popular tourist destination. The park offers miles of enchanting walking trails and boardwalks. But if you’re looking for one of the most famous stretch of beach in all of California, then you must cruise on by Carmel Beach. The stunning electric blue water has help make this half-mile of sand and beauty a surfing mecca.
City of Carmel and Historical Mission
The city of Carmel by the Sea has long been a homestead for artists and writers. Even though this famed coastal community is only one square mile in size, Carmel is home to an abundant artist colony. In fact, several poets and actors have been mayors, including Clint Eastwood (1986-88). One of the most authentically significant and popular sites in town is the Carmel Mission. Founded in 1771, the mission is still a thriving parish and is a National Historic Landmark.
A visit to the Monterey Peninsula would not be complete without a voyage to the famed Old Fisherman’s Wharf.In the early 20th century, the wharf was a major supplier of canned sardines. After World War II, the business community moved to convert the area into a tourist-oriented operation.
Writer John Steinbeck made Cannery Row famous in his novels, depicting life along Ocean View Avenue, on the Monterey waterfront. Once home to 21 fish canneries in the 1920’s, this area is now a marine sanctuary. Nearby, the Antique Mall is the largest venue of its kind on California’s central coast and home to over 150 antique dealers.
With its many fine seafood restaurants and festive shops, this nautical landmark should definitely be a shore leave stop on your sightseeing adventure. Located within walking distance of Fisherman’s Wharf are several streets lined with historical homes dating back to the 1800’s. Take a walk back in time and take the colorful and informative tour.
Point Lobos & Point Pinos Lighthouse
Located south of Carmel, the Point Lobos State Reserve is a 1,250-acre ecological wonderland. Often called “the crown jewel of the California State Park system,” the reserve is home to one of the world’s richest underwater habitats. Above ground are some of the most spectacular hiking trails imaginable. Some rock formations date back over 110 million years. The Point Pinos Lighthouse is the oldest continuously operating coastal beacon on the West Coast.
Monterey’s seafaring history is on display at its Maritime Museum, which opened in 1971 and houses thousands of artifacts, photographs and books in its collection.
17 Mile Drive
Running through the exclusive gated community of Pebble Beach, the 17 Mile Drive showcases some of the most beautiful scenery and stateliest homes in all of the Golden State. This picturesque, coast-hugging thruway also has a birds-eye view of some of the world’s most famous fairways in the history in professional golf.
Parks & Outdoor Activities
At Monterey State Historic Park, several buildings, including the Custom House, and California’s First Theatre (1846-47), as well as several residences built in the 1830s, preserve the area’s rich history of early California. Jack’s Peak County Park offers 8.5 miles of horseback riding and hiking trails wind through stately forests and to breathtaking ridge top vistas.
Laguna Seca Recreation Area is home of the Mazda Raceway at Laguna Seca and the Laguna Seca Recreation Area , where visitors can climb the surrounding hillsides for a serene view of the Salinas Valley. The park and raceway are a short 20 minute drive from downtown Monterey.
Wildlife & Whale Watching
Monterey Bay Aquarium
Monterey Bay offers many sightseeing opportunities for wildlife enhusiasts. At with the world famous Monterey Bay Aquarium, the most visited aquarium in the US, you can have a nose to nose encounter with a sea otter and tour over 100 marine exhibits.
Butterfly Tree Sanctuary
Pacific Grove is the winter home to tens of thousands of migrating Monarch Butterflies. Congregating in groves of pine, euchalyptus, and cypress trees, the yearly migration takes place when the temperature rises above 55 degrees. October-March is the peak season. On Lighthouse Drive 1 block west of 17 Mile Drive. Turn left on Ridge Road. For tours, call 831-375-0982.
See majestic California Gray Whales on their migrations to and from Mexico. Cruises available March through December.
Big Sur Adventures
Highway 1 South of Carmel to Big Sur and beyond is the most majestic stretch of road in the country. The drive to Big Sur is about an hour and twenty minutes. Here is a list of recommended stops along the way.
Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park
Though small in size Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park offers many diverse day hikes with sweeping coastal views and oak forests. McWay Creek Falls fall 60 feet from the Big Sur coast into the Pacific Ocean. 26 miles south of Carmel, this park offers gorgeous hiking trail through redwood forests, and beaches known for their purple sands. Call 831-667-2279 for information.
Bixby Creek Bridge
Was once the largest single span concrete arch bridge in the world. A lovely landmark poised against the backdrop of the majestic Pacific Ocean.
Big Sur Lighthouse
Explore this historic and windswept landmark. A short hike is required but the stunning views make this well worth the effort. 831-624-7195
A must see! Fabulous views. Relaxing indoor and outdoor dining with bar. Information: 831-667-2347.
Point Sur State Park
19 miles south of Carmel. 831-625-4419 for information.
Taking in the northern portion of the Santa Lucia Mountains from west of highway 101 to the coast, the 200,000+ acre Ventana Wilderness has over 200 miles of trails of every level of expertise. The park begins 25 miles south of Monterey with elevations from 600 to 5800 feet.
- Historic Downtown Monterey
- Dennis the Menace Park
- Jacks Park
- Veterans Memorial Park
- Monterey Recreational Trail
- Monterey State Beach
- San Carlos Beach
- Macabee Beach
- Lover’s Point
- Garrapata state park beach
- Carmel River State Beach
- Carmel Town Beach