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How to Spend 1 Day in Monterey & Carmel

How to Spend 1 Day in Monterey & Carmel

The Monterey Peninsula is an ideal place to spend a day, with attractions that highlight the natural beauty, wildlife, and history of the region—plus its setting on the rugged Pacific coast. Here are the top ways to enjoy 24 hours in this central California hot spot.

 

Morning: Get Acquainted

If you plan on visiting Monterey and Carmel on a day trip from San Francisco, book a tour with provided transportation. Guided tours allow you to admire the scenery along California’s Highway 1 instead of worrying about directions and parking. Take in the area’s main sights, including Cannery Row, the 17-Mile Drive through the resorts of Pebble Beach, the cliff-lined coast, and charming Carmel-by-the-Sea. If you plan to start your day in Monterey, spend the morning on a guided or self-guided tour to get oriented with the city and waterfront.

 

Afternoon: Explore Attractions

One of the top aquariums in the United States, Monterey Bay Aquarium is a must-do. Located on the waterfront at the end of Cannery Row, it’s easy to visit when in the city’s main tourist district. Prepurchase admission to avoid the line, and enjoy the aquarium’s showcase of Monterey Bay marine life and other sea life from around the world. Animal exhibits include penguins and otters, and daily feedings and programs provide insight into the nonprofit aquarium’s work and conservation goals. Alternatively, those interested in Monterey’s historical side, can check out the Spanish-era sites of Monterey State Historic Park on a walking tour.

 

Night: Enjoy the Water

Whether by boat or on land, don’t miss the setting sun as it disappears into the Pacific Ocean. A sunset cruise is a great way to unwind after a busy day of sightseeing, and it’s a chance to spot local marine life such as dolphins and sea lions. Some cruises include appetizers and drinks while others may have them available for purchase. Alternatively, head to a coastal location on Monterey Peninsula such as Lovers Point or the Point Pinos Lighthouse to enjoy the twilight atmosphere—perfect for photos.

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3 Tours and Activities | All Monterey & Carmel Tours

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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

Monterey, Carmel and 17-Mile Drive - Full Day Tour from San Francisco

Monterey, Carmel and 17-Mile Drive - Full Day Tour from San Francisco

star-4
Drive down one of the most scenic roads in California on this full-day tour from San Francisco. Cruise along the coast-hugging Highway 1, passing the mansions of Pebble Beach on the iconic 17-Mile Drive. Enjoy free time to explore Monterey, where you can stroll down Steinbeck’s Cannery Row or visit the famous Monterey Bay Aquarium. Browse the ritzy boutiques of Carmel-by-the-Sea and get a glimpse of Silicon Valley’s tech campuses on the return drive to San Francisco.
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  • 11 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
US$85.00
From
US$85.00
Taking safety measures

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


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