Natural beauty is at the heart of this region's enormous appeal—you sense it everywhere, whether you're exploring one of Monterey Bay's attractive coast-side towns, relaxing at a luxurious resort, or touring the coast on the lookout for marine life.It's been this way for a long time: an abiding current of plenty runs through the region's history. Military buffs see it in centuries' worth of battles for control of the rich territory. John Steinbeck saw it in the success of a community built on the elbow grease of farm laborers in the Salinas Valley and fishermen along Cannery Row. Biologists see it in the ocean's potential as a more sustainable source of food.Downtown Carmel-by-the-Sea and Monterey are walks through history. The bay itself is protected by the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, the nation's largest undersea canyon—bigger and deeper than the Grand Canyon. And of course, the backdrop of natural beauty is still everywhere to be seen.
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Things You Can't Miss
At the Monterey Bay Aquarium, find front-row views of spectacular marine life — from playful otters to jellyfish and giant kelp forests.
Recall John Steinbeck’s classic tale on this street, once lined with sardine canning factories. Sample the seafood at one of the many restaurants.
Head for Adventures by the Sea and take a surrey ride along the coast. Or try an electric bike: Go 10 to 20 miles with no pedaling.
The fees are steep at this golfing mecca, but the courses offer far more than your everyday 18 holes. Maybe you’ll spot Jay Leno or Clint Eastwood.
If you didn’t get up close and personal enough with wildlife at the aquarium, rent a kayak and take a tour to splash with otters and seals in the bay.
Shared Trips to this Destination
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Must Reads Before You Go
Sampling the local cuisine can be an adventure in some countries, but if you aren't up for scorpion or tarantula, there are some delicious alternatives.
Some of America's most famous seaside resorts and hotels are cheaper than you may think, especially if you are willing to go off-season.