8 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Monterey

Monterey is beautifully situated on Monterey Bay. From 1770 to 1822 it was the capital of Spanish California. Historically Monterey was an important city in the fish canning industry but that collapsed with the disappearance of the sardine. Today tourism is the main focus and there is much to entertain visitors.

1 Monterey Bay Aquarium

Monterey Bay Aquarium
Monterey Bay Aquarium
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The Monterey Bay Aquarium occupies the site of the old Hovden Cannery, one of the largest of the eighteen in Cannery Row. The architecture of the elaborate aquarium complex was adapted from the former factory which stood here from 1916 to 1980. The aquarium stands right on the edge of the rocky bay and focuses on the rich marine life of Monterey Bay.

Address: 886 Cannery Row, Monterey, CA 93940-1085, United States

2 17 Mile Drive

17 Mile Drive
17 Mile Drive
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Only a few miles from Monterey, on the south side of the Monterey peninsula, lies Carmel. The many charms of the countryside make it worthwhile going the long way round, on the "17 Mile Drive". This drive begins at Pacific Grove Gate and then goes along the Pacific coast. Part of the way runs through the Del Monte Forest, where there are a number of large villas. The forest is impressive with a rich abundance of cypress trees and the Monterey pines. You will also drive past picturesque beaches, isolated cliffs, the famous "Lone Cypress", the Pebble Beach Golf Course and the "Lodge at Pebble Beach" Hotel. Cypress Lookout offers a particularly beautiful view north and south along the Pacific coast.

3 Cannery Row

Cannery Row
Cannery Row lyng883
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Cannery Row is a waterfront street that originally served as a fish packing area and now operates as a tourist attraction, with shops and restaurants, as well as a beach of golden sand. Cannery Row has evolved over the years from its sketchy origins of warehouses, bordellos and low budget hotels. Today visitors will find a relatively upmarket row of chain shops, some boutiques, plenty of restaurants and a great place for a stroll. A visit to Cannery Row can easily be combined with a visit to the Monterey Bay Aquarium and Fisherman's Wharf.

4 Monterey State Historic Park

Monterey State Historic Park
Monterey State Historic Park Ed Bierman
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Monterey State Historic Park is located in Old Monterey, which was once the capital of California. The park consists of historic homes and buildings. Attractions are linked by following yellow tiles in the sidewalks. Many of the buildings date from the early 19th Century. This area is not overly large, the main street is 2 miles long. One unique attraction is a rare whalebone sidewalk. In addition to the stately homes and buildings, the flower gardens are what many visitors remember the most. The gardens range from stunning rose gardens, to cypress hedges and an educational herb garden. The Custom House Garden is noted for its fine view out to Monterey Harbor.

Address: 20 Custom House Plaza, Monterey, CA 93940-2430, United States

5 Point Lobos State Reserve in Carmel

Point Lobos State Reserve in Carmel
Point Lobos State Reserve in Carmel
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South of Carmel is a beautiful stretch of coastline that is encompassed by Point Lobos State Natural Reserve. The reserve is a natural area of dramatic granite cliffs, unusual rock formations created by the erosion, headlands, caves, and rock-enclosed ponds which continually re-form. Waves crash on the rocks while tidal pools reveal some small marine life.There are some interesting hiking trails that offer fabulous views over the headlands, ocean, and meadows. If you are lucky you may see sea otters, seals, sea lions, and during the winter months you may even spot whales. Point Lobos State Reserve also includes a large section of underwater area, and scuba diving is also popular in the area.

6 Monterey Museum of Art

Monterey Museum of Art
Monterey Museum of Art Ed Bierman
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The Monterey Museum of Art has a large focus on California art and artists. There are two separate locations which comprise the Museum of Art. The Pacific Street location, simply called the Monterey Museum of Art - Pacific Street, is a rather austere looking building featuring eight galleries. Here you will find early American and California collections, including paintings, photography and contemporary art. There are works by such famous names as Ansel Adams, Armin Hansen, William Ritschel, and Edward Weston to name just a few. The second location, Monterey Museum of Art - La Mirada, is definitely a contrast to the Pacific location. Housed in a beautiful old mansion, the museum is surrounded by lush grounds and a lovely rose garden. This site displays changing exhibitions.

7 Mission San Carlos Borromeo del Rio in Carmel

Mission San Carlos Borromeo del Rio in Carmel
Mission San Carlos Borromeo del Rio in Carmel
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Because of its architecture and its location on Monterey Bay, the Carmel Mission, as it is generally known, is one of the most beautiful of the mission stations. When it was founded it formed the northernmost point of Spanish dominance. From 1934 onwards the Moorish style mission and the church, built in 1797, were restored in their old form. This is one of the few missions to retain its square inner courtyard. Here, too, lies the tomb of Serra, who was canonized by Pope John Paul II in 1988. Today the Mission is still an active parish. It maintains five museums, although the main attraction is the Basilica Church, a Historic Landmark building.

Address: 3080 Rio Road, Carmel

8 Dennis the Menace Park

Based upon the comic book character, The Dennis The Menace Playground offers slides, a maze, a railroad switch engine and a lion-shaped drinking fountain for children.

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