5 of the BEST things to do on the Monterey Peninsula

By Cacinda Maloney

The Northern California peninsula known as #Monterey is nothing short of spectacular. With its stunning natural beauty, charming, tourist atmosphere and beaches, I am sure you can easily spend 3-4 days enjoying the outdoor activities and exploring the area. Trying to whittle my list down to 5 of the BEST was quite a feat!

So #GrabYourMoment

5 of the BEST things to do on the Monterey Peninsula

The Drive from Pacific Grove to Carmel

Map from Pacific Grove to Carmel-by-the-Sea

Photo by Cacinda Maloney using Google Maps

From Pacific Grove to Carmel-by-the-Sea, this amazing drive is jam packed full of some of California’s most beautiful scenery. Go slow, get a map and plan to stop along the way. As you cruise along the 8-mile drive, be sure to stop and view Pebble Beach, Spanish Bay and the famous Cypress tree that has stood there for over 250 years. Bring a sweater for those windy stops and enjoy the views.

Monterey Bay Aquarium

california aquarium

Photo by Go Travelzing

Almost everyone I have ever talked to about Monterey always mentions this place and there is good reason! You and the kiddos will be amazed and dazzled at over 550 species that are on display. I particularly love the Jellies Experience, where the underworld of jellyfish is so brightly displayed. I find them so mesmerizing! They also have the Kelp Forest, one of the tallest aquariums exhibits in the world, so don’t miss that. They receive over 1.8 million visitors per year, so get there early and get your tickets!

california aquarium, purple striped jellyfish, monterey, califorinia

Photo by Go Travelzing

5 of the BEST things to do on the Monterey Peninsula

Cannery Row

This historic, waterfront district is a busy tourist destination with old buildings and shops that have been re-energized. Restaurants, souvenir shops, candy shops, hotels and shopping seem endless for your delight. Back in 1880’s, the most lavish resort in the world, Hotel Del Monte, opened up the entire Monterey Peninsula to the world of tourism. In 1902, the canneries moved in and eventually became the setting of John Steinbeck’s novel Cannery Row. There is plenty to do here and even more great things to eat!

canneries, Cannery Row, Monterey, California

Photo by John O’Neill, creative commons, Wikimedia

The Carmel Mission

The Carmel Mission is a complex of 18th century buildings and churches built along the California coastline by the Spaniards. It has 5 museums, but I think the church itself is the most glorious to see. To enter the church is like stepping back in time. This church was built of stone that required skilled masons to cut and dress the stone. The architect, Manuel Ruiz, was from San Blas, Mexico and began building it in 1795 with the help from his master mason brother, Santiago.

Carmel Mission, 18th century Spanish mission, California

Photo by Jim Nix, Creative Commons

Last, but not least: Whale Watching!

Blue, Whale, Whale Watching, Northern California

A Blue Whale fluke. Photo by Michael “Mike” L. Baird via Flickr Creative Commons

The perfect day is to get outdoors and really experience the ocean beauty. The Gray Whale population migrates past Monterey every spring and winter and is a must for every ocean lover. The Gray Whales are present off of Monterey from December to May, with a peak time during January. So be sure and plan your trip accordingly! As Monterey Bay is the best place along the California coast to view the Gray Whales!  But don’t limit yourself to just Gray Whales, as there are also Blue Whales, Killer Whales, Humpback Whales, Fin Whales, Baird’s Beaked Whales and Minke Whales… more information about the whales in the area are here.

There you have it, 5 of the BEST things to do on the Monterey Peninsula!

Want to read more about Monterey?

Top Tips For Driving Highway 1 Ultimate California Road Trip

5 Things to Love About Monterey California



  1. Esther of Local Adventurer May 12, 2016 at 2:16 pm

    we love the monterey aquarium.. and we’re hoping to do the 17 mile drive this month. 🙂

    • Cacinda Maloney May 12, 2016 at 9:09 pm

      Yes, the Monterey Aquarium is world class.

Comments are closed.