5 great things to do on a weekend in Monterey Bay

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Jen Lyons

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Monterey Bay is many things: a nature lover’s paradise, a muse to famous writers like John Steinbeck and Robert Louis Stevenson, and an idyllic location for a weekend getaway. (Monterey was also once known as the Sardine Capital of the World, but that’s neither here nor there.) Check out our list of five must-do’s for any getaway to the Monterey Bay area, which spans Santa Cruz to Monterey and Carmel. 

1. Visit the famous Monterey Bay Aquarium

Monterey is perhaps best known for its eponymous aquarium. Boasting over 200 exhibits and 80,000 plants and animals (most of which are native to California), the Monterey Bay Aquarium is truly a can’t-miss experience. From its bayfront location, you’ll be able to get up close and personal with African penguins, reef sharks, California sea lions and much more. Plus, your visit supports the critical work that Monterey Bay Aquarium scientists are doing to care for the ocean. 

2. Take to the water

The deep blue waters of Monterey Bay sure are tempting, and there are so many ways to explore them. First, the bay is one of the few places in the world where you can spot whales year-round, thanks to the Monterey Canyon. One of the deepest submarine canyons on the West Coast, it is the perfect habitat for a variety of species. Depending on when you visit, you may see blue whales, gray whales, humpbacks or orcas, along with many other sea creatures. Looking for a more active pursuit? Multiple companies offer kayak and stand-up paddle board rentals. Monterey Bay’s waters remain calm most of the time, thanks to its sheltered location. You might also consider getting your feet wet with some sea creatures at popular tidepooling beaches at Point Lobos State Reserve, Point Pinos and Lovers Point Park

3. See the sights along 17-Mile Drive 

This scenic drive takes you through nearby Pebble Beach’s most picture-perfect spots. You won’t miss a thing, thanks to 17 marked viewpoints along the way. Be ready to snap pictures of beautiful white sand beaches, the famed Lone Cypress, dramatic seaside cliffs and the feathered friends that call Bird Rock home. Of course, one of the stops is the world-famous Pebble Beach Golf Links.  

4. Explore storybook Carmel-by-the-Sea

Just south of Monterey is delightful Carmel-by-the-Sea. Like something out of a storybook, the town is simply overflowing with charm — think quaint bed and breakfasts, boutique shops, art galleries and flower-filled walkways. The town of Carmel is also the perfect place to sample farm-to-table cuisine, accompanied by wine lists showcasing vintages from over 150 area wineries. 

5. Learn about Monterey’s role in history 

Did you know that Monterey was California’s capital city under three separate governments? First Spain, then Mexico, and lastly the United States. History buffs will love the opportunity to learn more in Monterey State Historic Park. You can join a guided walking tour or explore on your own. Just look for the yellow sidewalk tiles that point you in the right direction!  

Can’t get enough of Monterey Bay? 

We can’t blame you. If a weekend just isn’t enough, consider putting down roots as the co-owner of a second home in Monterey. Check out our Pacaso listings in the greater Monterey Bay area to discover your own dream vacation property. 

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