When it comes to traveling, one of the must-see destinations to add to your bucket list is the beautiful Monterey Peninsula in Northern California. Not only does this award-winning travel hotspot offer a plethora of fun and exciting things to do (like gourmet food and wine tastings, globally-renowned special events, family-friendly experiences and outdoor activities), the area also has one of the most majestic natural landscapes you could ever imagine, ranging from gorgeous ocean views to rugged mountain vistas.
The Local’s Guide To The Monterey Peninsula
While I’ve traveled all over the world, from Europe to Asia and beyond, the Monterey Peninsula is still my favorite place on Earth – not to mention, it’s the place that I call home. As both a long-term resident and a native to the Monterey Peninsula, below are a few of my favorite places here, ranging from notable sights in Big Sur to must-see places in Pebble Beach, and so much more. To help you plan your next trip to the spectacular Central Coast, today’s travel guide shares the top 10 places to see when visiting the Monterey Peninsula.
Monterey Peninsula Vacation Giveaway
And, that’s not all… See Monterey (the Monterey County Convention & Visitors Bureau) is offering you the opportunity to win a getaway to the Monterey Peninsula, including: 2-nights at Monterey Tides, 2 tickets to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and a Wine Blending experience at Joullian Vineyards.
To be eligible to win this vacation giveaway, simply leave a comment below explaining why you’d love to visit the Monterey Peninsula. A random winner will be chosen by See Monterey, selected from reader comments.
Big Sur River:
When you visit the Monterey Peninsula, one of the first things you should do is hop in your car and head down the Pacific Highway to the world-renowned Big Sur (one of fashion designer Michael Kors’ favorite travel destinations). As you enter this rustic town nestled under towering Redwood groves, one of the first spots to visit is the Big Sur River (adjacent to the Big Sur River Inn). Here you’ll find relaxing chairs not by, but actually in, the Big Sur River. Take off your shoes, grab a cold beverage, and kick back in the river while your cares and worries wash away.
Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park:
After relaxing at the Big Sur River, head up the road a bit to next must-see spot – the Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park. From awe-inspiring Redwood trees that soar high above your head to miles of nature trails that will inspire your sense of exploration, this scenic state park is the ultimate place to go camping or hiking.
One of the most photographed spots on the Monterey Peninsula, the Bixby Bridge is an iconic landmark in California. Located along the Pacific Highway (between Big Sur and Carmel), this world-famous bridge was first built in 1931. The graceful and elegant architecture of the bridge, combined with the sensational coastal view from the bridge, makes it an inspiring vision of both form and function.
After leaving Big Sur, head north along Pacific Highway toward the charming city of Carmel. Here you’ll find one of the most beautiful beaches in all of California – Carmel Beach. Not only does this beach boast unbelievable views, it’s also incredibly dog-friendly. Your furry friends can roam free while jumping into the Pacific Ocean and playing with other animal pals on this sandy beach. Whether you want to have a peaceful picnic on the beach or go surfing or paddle-boarding in the waves, Carmel Beach offers a wide array of options for every visitor.
Founded in 1770 by Father Junipero Serra, Carmel Mission is the second of 21 California missions. Surrounded by blooming gardens, statuary, and a tranquil courtyard, Carmel Mission is one of the must-see spots on the Monterey Peninsula. Whether you’re Catholic or not, this is a beautiful landmark to visit on the Central Coast. You can attend Mass at the Carmel Mission, or just find inner peace by meditating at this inspiring place of worship.
Known as “The Golden Triangle”, the million dollar homes (and cottages) in Carmel-by-the-Sea are a must-see in their own right. These uniquely designed and exquisitely maintained houses offer visitors a sight to behold (and capture in photographs). From historic homes built in the early 1900’s to modern architectural feats constructed in recent years, Carmel-by-the-Sea is one of the most desirable places to live (and visit) in all of the United States.
From tasty clam chowder and fresh seafood to unparalleled bay views and vistas of aquatic life, Fisherman’s Wharf in downtown Monterey is one of the most popular tourist attractions on the Monterey Peninsula. Here you’ll discover sea lions basking under the Sun on a nearby rock, furry otters playing in the water, and fishing and whale-watching boats touring the Monterey Bay every day of the year. Plus, one of the main attractions of Fisherman’s Wharf is the row of bustling restaurants that offer a variety of seafood plates that will tempt your tastebuds.
Whether you’re visiting the Monterey Peninsula with your romantic partner or just your friends, Lover’s Point is a must-see spot to visit in Pacific Grove. From a landscaped community park (which is ideal for picnics and casual gatherings) to a stunning recreational trail with unobstructed ocean views, Lover’s Point is a beautiful scenic place to spend a few hours on a sunny afternoon. Plus, this area offers a volleyball court, a children’s swimming pool, beaches (that you can kayak at), and a restaurant with ocean views, this family-friendly spot is a place your whole clan can enjoy.
From world-renowned championship golf courses to majestic ocean vistas, 17-Mile Drive is a must-see spot in Pebble Beach. On a beautiful day, hop in your car and plan to spend a few hours exploring the prestigious gated community of Pebble Beach. While touring the area, stop by the famed Lone Cypress, The Lodge, and the Pebble Beach golf courses for photos.
Last, but certainly not least, is Stillwater Cove in Pebble Beach. Adjacent to the exclusive Beach & Tennis Club, this scenic beach is a great spot to have a picnic, relax by the bay, and go kayaking or sailing. As the sun begins to set, this is one of the best places to watch they sky become a dreamy mix of pinks and blues, while the waves crash on the jagged rocks below.
If you’d love to win a vacation to the Monterey Peninsula, make sure to comment below and share your favorite memory of visiting the Monterey Peninsula or the top reason why you’d enjoy a trip to this renowned destination.
To learn more about the Monterey Peninsula, visit the MCCVB website for information about everything this area offers. Plus, you can download a free Visitor’s Guide (at the bottom of each page) to help you plan your perfect Monterey Peninsula vacation.