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How to Spend 3 Days in Monterey & Carmel

How to Spend 3 Days in Monterey & Carmel

A full Monterey experience can be had in three days—an itinerary packed with the natural beauty, wildlife, history, and laidback luxury of this popular destination on the Central California coast. Here are our top ideas for how to spend a fun-filled 72 hours in the Monterey area.

 

Day 1: See the Sights

Orient yourself with the main sights of Monterey and neighboring Pacific Grove on a self-guided driving tour that gives you the chance to pass by attractions such as Cannery Row, Old Fisherman’s Wharf, Lovers Point, Asilomar State Beach, and the Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary. Then return to Cannery Row to visit Monterey Bay Aquarium, one of the best in the United States, to see exhibits about the marine life of Monterey Bay and other bodies of water. If you’re interested in Monterey’s historical side, visit the Spanish-era sites of Monterey State Historic Park. Come evening, head out to sea on a sunset cruise to unwind after a busy day of sightseeing and watch for local wildlife like dolphins, sea lions, and sea birds. Some cruises include drinks and snacks while others may have them available for purchase.

 

Day 2: Explore the Coast

Monterey Bay is on the migrating path for humpback whales and gray whales, making it a top California spot for a whale-watching cruise. Dolphins, porpoises, and even orcas (aka killer whales) can also be spotted in these nutrient-rich waters, so don’t miss the chance to see them in their native environment. Then refuel with a food walking tour in Monterey or in Carmel-by-the-Sea, a charming village just south of Monterey on the other side of the Monterey Peninsula. You can hear stories about Monterey or Carmel as you enjoy food tastings with a guide. At sunset, check out the 17-Mile Drive, one of California’s most scenic roadways. As you pass by the golf courses and high-end resorts of Pebble Beach, the Lone Cypress, and the rocky coastline dotted with beaches, stop at lookout points to take in the views.

 

Day 3: Take a Day Trip

Discover one of California’s most dramatic coastal locations on a day trip to Big Sur, about an hour south of Monterey along Highway 1. After crossing the Bixby Bridge—a popular photo op—make your way along the remote stretch of coastline, stopping for clifftop vistas, hiking, and lunch. Points of interest include Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, McWay Falls, and Nepenthe restaurant. Alternatively, head inland from Carmel to the Carmel Valley wine region, which produces varietals such as merlot and cabernet sauvignon. Several wineries and tasting rooms are within walking distance of each other along Carmel Valley Road, making it easy to visit as many as you can handle in a day.

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6 Tours and Activities | All Monterey & Carmel Tours

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Half-Day Whale Watching Tour From Monterey

Half-Day Whale Watching Tour From Monterey

star-5
Look for whales as they migrate through the waters of the Pacific Ocean off of California on this half-day whale-watching cruise from Monterey. Your naturalist guide shares commentary about the whales and their habitat as you search for gray whales (most common), humpback and blue whales, and other marine life such as dolphins and sea lions during your cruise. Get tips for great photo ops and learn all about the mighty creatures at one of California's most famous whale-watching destinations.
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  • 3 hours 30 minutes
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
US$75.00
From
US$75.00
Taking safety measures

3-Hour Electric Bike Tour 17 Mile Drive Coastal Monterey

3-Hour Electric Bike Tour 17 Mile Drive Coastal Monterey

star-5
Discover the natural and manmade beauty of 17-Mile Drive on an electric bike tour from Pacific Grove. The e-bike allows you to cover more ground without getting worn out. The tour is great for the whole family, with the option to ride tandem with children weighing up to 120 lbs (54 kgs). Along the way, learn about the area from your guide and make stops at impressive viewpoints.
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  • 2 hours 30 minutes to 3 hours 30 minutes
  • Free Cancellation
From
US$79.00
From
US$79.00

Carmel Small-Group Food and Wine Walking Tour

Carmel Small-Group Food and Wine Walking Tour

star-5
Explore the culinary delights of Carmel, just down the coast from Monterey, on this food and wine walking tour. With a knowledgeable foodie guide, you’ll learn about the history and gourmet culture of Carmel, an upscale enclave known for its charming architecture and cozy, small-town vibe, as you visit local eateries to sample locavore and ethnic dishes, chocolate, and wine. Limited to 16 people, this tour provides a small-group experience with personalized attention.
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  • 3 hours
  • Taking safety measures
From
US$102.44
From
US$102.44
Taking safety measures

1-Hour Monterey and Cannery Row Sea Car Tour

1-Hour Monterey and Cannery Row Sea Car Tour

star-4.5
Enjoy an independent sightseeing tour by Sea Car to discover Monterey Bay and the Central Coast at your own pace. Aboard a 2-seater, GPS-guided convertible that navigates itself, you can cruise along the Pacific shoreline or through town. Listen to recorded commentary about attractions like Monterey’s historical center, and admire views of the ocean. The scooter car tells you where to drive, from Cannery Row and more.
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  • 1 hour
From
US$66.93
per group
From
US$66.93
per group

2-Hour Monterey and Pacific Grove Sea Car Tour

2-Hour Monterey and Pacific Grove Sea Car Tour

star-4.5
Drive through the streets of Monterey and Pacific Grove in a Sea Car, a 2-seat vehicle with GPS-enabled tour narrative. Skip renting a car and make your own way around Fisherman's Wharf, Lover's Point, and Cannery Row.
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  • 2 hours
From
US$122.67
per group
From
US$122.67
per group

3-Hour Monterey, Cannery Row and Pacific Grove Sea Car Tour

3-Hour Monterey, Cannery Row and Pacific Grove Sea Car Tour

star-5
Travel around California’s central coast in a GPS-guided Sea Car on this tour. Go for a spin in a self-drive 2-seater convertible that not only navigates itself, but talks to you along the way. Cruise through areas of Monterey and Pacific Grove as you hear fun facts about major landmarks, and see well-known spots such as Cannery Row, Lake El Estero, and Asilomar State Beach.
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  • 3 hours
From
US$178.42
per group
From
US$178.42
per group


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