10 Best Things to Do in Monterey Bay, California

10 Best Things to Do in Monterey Bay, California

After getting married (in 2012), Kyle and I hopped on a plane to head for a honeymoon in California. We spend the major part of our trip in Monterrey Bay, then headed up to San Francisco for some ridiculous=looking fun. The Monterey Bay area was  perfect for our style of traveling–lots of places to get out and explore. It took us forever to get anywhere because we were constantly pulling over because the views were just so dang gorgeous.

Growing up my dad would always ask us at the end of every trip “If you could go back to just one moment from the trip, where would you go?”. At the time that question got its fair share of eye rolls (sorry, dad!), but I’ve come to appreciate that question. But I’m not playing by the rules for this trip, because I just can’t pick only one place. So, you get 10 instead. In no particular order, here’s my highlight reel from the Monterey Bay area of California.

10 Favorite Things in Monterrey Bay, CA

Monterey Bay Aquarium

Of course Monterey would have a fantastic aquarium, right along the ocean. Would you expect anything less? It’s highly interactive, educational, and packed full of every kind of fish you’d ever want to see.

Pro Tip: Tickets are pricey at $40 an adult. If you’re going to San Francisco, you can get a discounted admission if you but a City Pass.

Old Fisherman’s Wharf

Ooh and ahh at the wildlife hanging out around the wharf in Monterey Bay. Then, go into one of the many restaurants and eat those animals’ next of kin. Because fresh seafood is delicious. And you were just so nice to the live animals that it evens out the fact that you’re eating their cousins. Just don’t make eye contact as you leave the pier after dinner.

Pro Tip: The restaurants give out samples of their clam chowder trying to lure you in. Enjoy them! It’s like a soup appetizer!

Find Wildlife Along the Shore

Anytime you’re near the ocean, keep your eyes out for wildlife! We found sea lions and seals multiple times along Monterrey’s shores. Seeing animals in nature…much better than seeing animals in a zoo.

Pro Tip: Keep your camera ready for all the unexpected wildlife you’ll find! Binoculars could help too. 

Animals sunbathing along the coast of Monterrey Bay, California

A starfish is hiding in the ground of the coast of Monterrey Bay, California

Wild birds on the rocks of Monterrey Bay, California

Pacific Highway 1 and 17 Mile Drive 

Drive this route south of Monterey Bay along the coast for some gorgeous vistas (and huge houses!). Once you get to 17 Mile Drive, they do charge a small entrance fee. Pull over often to explore the beach and landscape (as long as you’re not in someone’s yard, because, you know, people don’t really like that).

Pro Tip: Give yourself plenty of time to enjoy this drive. We spent almost an entire day exploring this section of the road, pulling over every 10 minutes to take in a new vista or hike along the shore. 

Coast of Monterrey Bay, California

Big Basin State Park

Once you’ve driven to the end of 17 Mile Drive, you’re not too far from Big Basin State Park where you can hike and take in some big ole Redwoods. It’s worth the extra drive. Even if you start to feel nauseous from California’s curvy coastal roads and feel like throwing up the rest of the trip (not the I speak from experience, or anything…). Even then, it’s worth it.

Pro Tip: Take some motion sickness meds ahead of time. I hardly ever get sick from any time of motion, and the curviness of the roads got to me. Better safe than sorry (and puking). 

The Redwoods in California

Swinging on the Redwoods in California

Smooth, Beth, so smooth...
Smooth, Beth, so smooth…

Bixby Creek Bridge

Let me be honest here…it’s a bridge. It’s famous for some reason, but I don’t know why. You cross it along you drive to 17 Mile Drive and Big Basin State Park, so you might as well take it in. Kyle gets into things like this, so I’d have to imagine other people do too. So go, see California’s  famous bridge. And figure out why it’s famous. Is this whole rant sounding rather familar to you? I definitely made a similar statement about a bridge in Duluth, Minnesota. Now the question remains…am I just particularly unimpressed with bridges? Or is Kyle the strange one? Actually don’t answer that. Let’s just go with me being perfectly normal and Kyle being the odd one. It’s my blog, so I get the final say. Sorry, Kyle…

Pro Tip: Figure out why this bridge is famous. Seriously…

The famous Bixby Bridge in California

Monterey Peninsula Recreational Trail

If you’re a runner (or a walker) be sure to check out this trail! Gorgeous views of the ocean with some elevation gain (but not enough to make this non-trail runner die).

Pro Tip: This trail is 18 miles in length. One end is near the restaurants and shops of Fisherman’s Wharf, while the other end is along a much more rural Monterey beach. Decide what you’re in the mood for and choose your starting point accordingly.

Hotel: Sanctuary Beach Resort

This hotel has a goal of conserving Monterey Bay’s wildlife, so everything is eco-friendly. Plus, you have access to the resort’s beach from your room, there is an outdoor pool and hot tub, and you get your own golf cart to drive within the resort. You had my heart at golf cart, Sanctuary Beach Resort.

Meal: Thai Bistro 2

I know, I know. I’m in Monterey Bay, California, but I’m raving about a Thai restaurant instead of seafood. But this is the meal that stood out the most to me from the trip. What can I say, my taste buds want what they want. The interior is cozy and fresh, and the food is fantastic. If you’re ready for a break from fresh seafood, this is your place.

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