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Essentials
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Monterey in 3 Days
Attractions
Restaurants
Events
17 Mile Drive, Pebble Beach, scenic drive, Pacific Ocean
Insider Info
Places in the Vicinity
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Essentials
Sign up for a whale-watch cruise. The sight of these magnificent creatures bursting skyward from the sea creates lasting vacation memories.
Bask in the sun or take a walk on one of the peninsula's many beaches—Carmel, Fan Shell and Lovers Point are among the choices. Equestrians can ride horses on Pebble Beach's splendid stretch.
Visit the barking sea lions lolling on the Coast Guard Pier in Monterey Bay. Their hilarious antics are worthy of a circus act.
AAA/Kim Birch
Spend time at Cannery Row, immortalized in John Steinbeck's classic novel. Restaurants and shops now inhabit the canneries, but the vintage structures provide a nostalgic sense of the 1930s fishing boomtown.
Jag_cz/iStockphoto.com
Play a round of golf on a world-renowned course. Pebble Beach, Spyglass Hill, Poppy Hills and Spanish Bay all boast spectacular scenery as well as challenging layouts that will give duffers a run for their money.
Peruse quaint shops and art galleries in Carmel-by-the-Sea . This idyllic community has many quiet, tree-shaded side streets lined with architecturally interesting cottages and beautifully manicured gardens.
AAA/Inspector 55
Indulge in a bread bowl filled with tasty clam chowder on Fisherman's Wharf. Souvenir shopping, fishing and people-watching also are popular pastimes at the pier.
Take a drive; a portion of the Pacific Coast Highway winds along Monterey's craggy coastline. Pebble Beach's 17-Mile Drive is especially scenic.
iStockphoto.com / Rostislav_Sedlacek
Tour a winery. There are 10 viticultural designations within Monterey County, and more than two dozen wineries have tasting rooms where you can sample award-winning selections.
Sami Sert/iStockphoto.com
Do as the locals do. Take an evening stroll down Alvarado Street in Monterey and have coffee or dessert in a bistro. If you're around on a Tuesday afternoon, stop at the farmer's market and shop for fresh produce, baked goods locally made crafts.
Shutterstock.com/oldbunyip

Monterey in 3 Days
Three days is barely enough time to get to know any major destination. But AAA travel editors suggest these activities to make the most of your time in Monterey.
It's best to rent a car when visiting Monterey Peninsula, especially since the area offers magnificent coastal drives. Most attractions have parking facilities, while commercial lots and on-street parking also are options. The towns of Carmel and Monterey make good base camps for exploring the peninsula.

Day 1: Morning
Learn about Monterey Bay's rich diversity of marine line at the Monterey Bay Aquarium , a AAA GEM attraction. Watch a giant octopus change color to blend in with its environment and observe sharks, jellyfish, sea turtles and other creatures in a million-gallon tank. Be sure to attend one of the sea otter training sessions—their amusing antics will entertain all ages.
The aquarium is on Cannery Row, immortalized by John Steinbeck when it was lined with fish-processing plants during the heyday of Monterey's sardine and commercial fishing industry in the 1920s and '30s. These warehouses, abandoned in the 1940s, house specialty retailers and restaurants that attract a constant stream of tourists. You won’t have any trouble scoring a tasty snack here, with chocolate and ice cream shops serving up samples to lure passersby out for a waterfront stroll.
Travel onward to Monterey State Historic Park , a AAA GEM attraction. Depending on your energy level, you can walk or drive—the 7-acre site is about a mile from Cannery Row heading south on Lighthouse Avenue. The park is a collection of historic adobes and other structures that figured prominently in California's history. Highlights include the Stevenson House , home to a young Robert Louis Stevenson in fall 1879, and The Old Whaling Station , accented by a front pathway paved with whale vertebrae.

Day 1: Afternoon
For lunch, either drive or walk to Old Monterey's Alvarado Street, about half a mile south of the historic park. Longtime favorite Rosine's will satisfy the famished with homemade comfort food like chicken cranberry salad tossed with field greens or the ultimate burger, two patties with sautéed mushrooms and onions on a toasted French roll. Desserts are made fresh daily, and they're to die for.
Seafood lovers might opt to grab a bite at Fisherman's Wharf, across from the historic park's entrance on the waterfront. Restaurants flanking the pier entice diners with savory displays of crab legs, shrimp and other fresh-caught selections. If you're on the run, grab a to-go order of creamy clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl.
If your visit coincides with a Tuesday afternoon, make sure you visit the Old Monterey Farmers Market, which sets up beginning at 4 p.m. along Alvarado between Del Monte Avenue and Pearl Street. The displays of organic produce from bountiful agricultural regions like Watsonville and the Salinas Valley are luscious, and you can also shop for cool arts and crafts from around the world.
Otherwise, spend the rest of the afternoon taking a Monterey Bay Whale Watch cruise. If you're lucky you'll catch a glimpse of killer, gray, humpback or blue whales momentarily breaking the ocean's surface. Marine biologists provide knowledgeable commentary about the various species encountered.

Day 1: Evening
Monterey is a lively evening spot, with plenty of folks out for a stroll and some dinner. For free entertainment, head over to Coast Guard Pier, where the resident sea lions will be cavorting, slumbering or both; it's just a short walk west of Fisherman's Wharf following the coastal trail. Either drive or continue on the walking trail to adjacent Cannery Row for numerous dinner options. If salty ocean breezes have you craving seafood, stop by The Fish Hopper , originally a sardine cannery. Landlubbers will savor beef flavored with mesquite wood at Whaling Station Steakhouse , while wine connoisseurs can peruse a top-notch list in an elegant atmosphere at The Sardine Factory , just a block away from the row. After dinner, hunt for souvenirs in Cannery Row's shops, or treat yourself to coffee and dessert at one of the bistros lining the street.

Day 2: Morning
Jump-start your day with breakfast in Carmel-by-the-Sea , with choices running the gamut from home-style diners to quaint little cottages serving fancy fare. You can do as the locals do and stop by Katy's Place —breakfast burritos, blintzes, casseroles and omelets don’t fall short on taste.
flickr/Ken Lun
Drive to spectacular Point Lobos State Natural Reserve , a AAA GEM attraction just south of Carmel on SR 1. You'll want to spend quality time here hiking trails that follow the edges of rocky cliffs, offering spectacular views of the turquoise water below. The coastal scenery is as varied as it is remarkable; in addition to approximately 250 animal and bird species, the reserve is home to flora ranging from bluff lettuce, which spreads like a blanket over rocks at the water's edge, to ancient, gnarled Monterey cypresses.

Day 2: Afternoon
gradyreese/iStockphoto.com
Reserve the afternoon for exploring quaint Carmel. There's lots to do—charming boutiques present stellar shopping opportunities, art galleries display eye-catching sculptures, wine-tasting rooms offer samples and cute sidewalk bistros provide an opportunity to have a snack and observe passersby. Soak up the ambience of the postcard-pretty town yourself, or sign up for a tour with Carmel Walks . Guides escort you past hidden alleys, lavish storybook “cottages” and rustic courtyards adorned by flowers.
Literary buffs may choose to visit Tor House (open for tours Friday and Saturday only), former home of poet Robinson Jeffers. Amazingly, Jeffers built the tower by himself, boulder by boulder—he created a contraption to drag each of the massive rocks up from the bordering beach. Those interested in history and architecture can meander through Mission San Carlos Borromeo del Rio Carmelo , a AAA GEM attraction. The adobe grounds provide a serene, relaxing environment—courtyards, shrines and statues are ensconced in lovely flowers and greenery.
Another alternative is to drive east along Carmel Valley Road to the town of Carmel Valley. It's a delightfully scenic drive, and there are several wine-tasting rooms are along the way. Then spend some time checking out the funky shops and eclectic eateries on Carmel Valley.

Day 2: Evening
AAA/Inspector 591
Strolling through picturesque downtown Carmel in the evening is a delight—window displays captivate onlookers, as do small bistros perfect for sipping a cocktail. Many opt to head west down Ocean Avenue to Carmel Beach and slip off their shoes for a sunset walk.
You'll find restaurants sprinkled throughout town ranging from the laid back to the casually elegant, with a variety of cuisine types and price ranges. One you might want to try is Anton & Michel , where fresh flowers and stylish décor with a European flair contribute to an upscale, romantic dining experience.

Day 3: Morning
You'll start the morning touring grandly scenic 17-Mile Drive . Depending on where you're staying, you can enter through the Carmel or Pacific Grove gates. (There also are three tollgates off SRs 1 and 68.) Pay the $10 fee at the entry booth and you'll receive a map outlining 21 points of interest you can visit along the way.
AAA. Photo submitted by Nancy Jones/Nancy Jones
The scenery changes from forests to pristine golf greens to waves crashing against the rocky coastline. Plenty of pull-offs allow you to stop, stretch your legs and enjoy the natural beauty.
Do the tourist thing and snap a photo of the regionally renowned Lone Cypress, an image that has graced magazine covers and artists' renderings. It stands atop a distant craggy perch overlooking the restless Pacific. Take a walk along the beach at Seal Rock to observe the teeming bird life, while sea lions and seals congregate on Bird Rock, just offshore (bring your binoculars). If it's foggy, you won't be able to see these pinnipeds, but you'll certainly hear them. At any rate, do allow a half day to experience all the drive has to offer.

Day 3: Afternoon
cobraphoto/iStockphoto.com
Have lunch at The Lodge at Pebble Beach . An ideal dining spot is the outside patio at Stillwater Bar and Grill , where you can study the movements of duffers attempting to sink their puts on the 18th green. Oh, and the view beyond isn't bad either—an elevated green framed by a backdrop of surf crashing against jagged rocks.
Golfers will want to play the world-famous Pebble Beach Golf Links. It's a public course, albeit very pricey, and a tee time should be reserved in advance. Stunningly beautiful scenery and an immaculately maintained course packed with challenges help make this a once-in-a-lifetime round.
Another way to spend the afternoon is at the beach, although keep in mind that Monterey Peninsula beaches are better for strolling than swimming, due to riptides and chilly water temperatures. Fan Shell Beach, accessible from 17-Mile Drive, is frequented by harbor seals; it's closed during the pupping season (usually April 1-June 1).
At Asilomar State Beach in Pacific Grove you hike along a boardwalk past sand dunes, explore tide pools or tour the Point Pinos Lighthouse . Lovers Point Beach, also in Pacific Grove, is a nice little cove framed by rocks and windswept pines. At Marina State Beach the Dunes Trail sweeps by 80-foot dunes before ending up at an observation deck overlooking the bay.
Dog-friendly Carmel Beach, at the foot of Ocean Avenue, is a short but gorgeous stretch of white sand framed by Monterey cypresses. A winding pathway above the beach parallels Scenic Road, with eight stairways providing access to the sand below. Volleyball is a favorite activity, and the occasional surfer can be seen tucking into a wave.

Day 3: Evening
Spend the evening in Pacific Grove, a charming coastal town that is a winter stop on the migration route of the monarch butterfly. The small downtown area, anchored by Lighthouse Avenue, offers coffee houses and a variety of restaurants. Wander along side streets lined with pastel-colored Victorian homes and B & B's, many of them further beautified by well-tended flower gardens. The colorful lanterns hanging from some porches are a tribute to the Feast of Lanterns , an event held in mid- or late July.
For fresh, sustainable seafood, have dinner at Passionfish . An impressive wine list accompanies a seasonally changing menu that offers such intriguing fare as sea scallops with tomato-truffle butter and basil-stuffed rainbow trout. The wood-burning grill at Fandango produces flavorful steaks as well as the restaurant's signature rack of lamb. This cozy cottage has a distinctly European vibe.

Attractions
In an area with dozens of attractions, you may have trouble deciding where to spend your time. Here are the highlights for this destination, as chosen by AAA editors. GEMs are “Great Experiences for Members.”
The Monterey Peninsula boasts some of the nation's most gorgeous scenery, and several area attractions allow you to observe the area's dramatic landscapes and sea vistas. Take the guided trek offered by Carmel Walks to weave through the enchanting town's hidden passageways and charming courtyards—you'll also see vibrant gardens and lavish homes of the rich and famous. If you're in the mood to go for a car ride, Pebble Beach's GEM attraction 17-Mile Drive beckons those in search of staggering beauty. You'll catch glimpses of magnificent estates tucked amid serene forestland. The habitat changes as the route travels past craggy seascapes sprinkled with wildflowers, where harbor seals and sea otters romp among the rocks.
Tor House , former home of poet Robinson Jeffers, is a great vantage point from which to watch the ocean crash mercilessly into gigantic boulders. For some added inspiration, climb the tower that Jeffers built one rock at a time—your reward is a sweeping view of the coastline off Carmel-by-the-Sea . Head to Pacific Grove's Point Pinos Lighthouse , reputedly the West Coast's oldest continuously functioning structure of its kind—its shining beacon has guided ships through California's rocky waters since 1855. Spanish explorer Sebastián Vizcaíno dubbed this densely wooded tip of the peninsula Punta de los Pinos—or “End of the Pines”—when he sailed by in 1602.
Point Lobos State Natural Reserve , a AAA GEM attraction, is home to some 250 animal and bird species, plus more than 350 types of plants. This protected sliver of rugged seacoast is laced with hiking trails that lead to breathtaking views of the ocean. Sea lions are more often heard than seen; upon hearing their distinctive bark, Spanish explorers named this site Punta de los Lobos Marinos, or “Point of the Sea Wolves.”
The Monterey Bay Aquarium , a AAA GEM attraction, overlooks the water from its perch on historic Cannery Row. You can see everything from fierce sharks and giant octopuses to sea dragons and monkey-face eels. It's fun to watch the twice-daily penguin feeding or attend one of the sea otter training sessions. The aquarium's vast array of exhibits entertains the family for hours. Monterey Bay Whale Watch has a high success rate for whale sightings, which may include humpback, killer, gray or blue varieties. Passengers are often surprised at the beauty and grace with which these massive mammals perform their aerial acrobatics. Marine biologists provide detailed information about sea life encountered during the trip.
For some stimulating indoor activity, visit one of the area's fine museums. The Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History interprets the peninsula's plant and animal life. Wander through a garden adorned with native flora and seasonal wildflowers, or peruse displays of mounted Monterey County birds, monarch butterflies, marine mammals, insects and American Indian artifacts. Kids love to peek at the killer whale skeleton and play in the touch gallery.
Mission San Carlos Borromeo del Rio Carmelo , a AAA GEM attraction, contains several small museums within its adobe walls—for an overview of the compound's history, stop by the Sir Harry Downie Museum. The Munras Memorial Museum displays furnishings, household articles and a Victorian marble mantle, while the Mora Chapel features religious exhibits and the tomb of the Carmel mission's founder, Father Junípero Serra. You also can explore the convent museum, basilica and shrine, or simply meander through the lovely grounds.
History buffs should plan to spend some time at the 7-acre Monterey State Historic Park , a AAA GEM attraction preserving a collection of heritage sites. (Many are open for seasonal guided tours; contact the park office for details.) Whalebones and wine bottles frame the path at Casa Soberanes and Garden , an 1840s home created from sun-dried mud. A ship captain's wealth is evident at Cooper-Molera Adobe and Garden , an elegant residence with a visitor center, barns, farm animals and period gardens. Custom House , considered California's oldest government building, was the site where customs agents levied taxes on all shipping imports coming into the Mexican territory.
Although the park has its share of adobe buildings, you'll also see the First Brick House , one of the state's earliest buildings fashioned from fired clay blocks—the main room contains exhibits about Monterey's history. In 1850, U.S. Army officials raised funds by producing plays at First Theatre and Garden. Both the First Brick House and the theater are are currently closed, but the garden is worth a visit. Furnished with 19th-century antiques, the two-story adobe at Larkin House and Garden served as the prototype for the town's Colonial architecture. American merchant Thomas Oliver Larkin constructed the 1835 dwelling, while his granddaughter planted the lush garden.
To learn about Monterey's role as capital of Spanish California, investigate the interactive exhibits at the park's Pacific House Museum . Townspeople once held bull and bear fights in what is now the peaceful oasis of Memory Garden. A young Robert Louis Stevenson lived at the Stevenson House , where he wrote about Monterey in his memoir, “The Old Pacific Capital.” Several rooms of the former boarding house contain memorabilia devoted to the author.
The tidy Sherman Quarters—perhaps the park's most photographed adobe—was the 1847 home of Lt. William Tecumseh Sherman, who would make his name as a general during the Civil War. The Old Monterey Whaling Company began using The Old Whaling Station as its headquarters in 1855.You can spot the massive iron pots used to boil oil from blubber, and the front pathway is paved with whale vertebrae. There's a beautiful rose garden around back.
See all the AAA recommended attractions for this destination.

Restaurants
Our favorites include some of this destination's best restaurants—from fine dining to simple fare.
The atmosphere is casual at Carmel's From Scratch Restaurant, a popular breakfast and lunch spot offering generous portions of home-style fare. Friendly servers know most of the regulars by name. Order breakfast anytime, accompanied by red potatoes and a crunchy sourdough baguette. Patio seating is available, weather permitting. After dining, stroll through the Barnyard, an area filled with specialty shops and art galleries.
The perfectly named California Market at Pacific's Edge perches on a cliff overlooking the ocean at the Hyatt Carmel Highlands. Glass-panel walls and a louvered roof enclose a 1,200-square-foot deck providing spectacular views of the rocky coastline. The menu emphasizes locally sourced ingredients. You'll find such seafood options as octopus with baby potatoes and sorrel in black garlic emulsion, as well as a salad featuring local greens, Humboldt Fog cheese, strawberries and shaved vegetables. Sip a cocktail or a flavored coffee while watching the sunset.
Many locals recommend Domenico's on the Wharf , a Monterey landmark where all tables have a view of the harbor. Seafood specialties include wild Alaska red king crab and a bouillabaisse that's brimming with fresh fish, scallops, mussels and clams. The cozy oyster bar is a great place to enjoy a glass of wine or a cocktail before dinner.
The Fish Hopper , originally a sardine cannery, is on historic Cannery Row within walking distance of the Monterey Bay Aquarium . The restaurant abides by the aquarium's Seafood Watch Program, which ensures that fishing and farming is carried out in an environmentally friendly manner. Playful sea otters bob in the water outside the windows, and you may spot a migrating whale from December through April. Fish and chips features pieces of freshly battered Pacific cod. The grilled wild salmon, served with a mushroom risotto, is also tasty. Carnivores can order the bone-in rib-eye or maple soy-marinated skirt steak.
Also within walking distance of the aquarium, and a local fave for breakfast, is First Awakenings . The pancakes come in deliciously offbeat varieties like raspberry coconut granola and wheat germ (with fresh strawberries). The Portofino Pesto omelet—smoked turkey, Monterey jack cheese, pesto, onions, mushrooms and diced tomatoes—is yummy, and the veggie sausage rocks. If you're able to score a patio table on sunny mornings a spray bottle of water is provided to help keep the gulls at bay; apparently birds like the food here as much as humans do.
Family owned and operated, Rosine's often tops local restaurant polls. Here they dish up plentiful portions of just about every comfort classic imaginable. Breakfast is a particular treat, with such mouthwatering concoctions as the egg puff, enlivened with Ortega chiles and jalapeño peppers; a Mediterranean omelet with Monterey Bay shrimp and cheddar cheese, topped with homemade Hollandaise sauce; and “scramblers,” including one with sliced turkey, pesto and tomatoes. The baked goods are uniformly excellent; share a slice of the six-layer German chocolate cake only if you must.
Monterey's The Sardine Factory celebrates the history of Cannery Row in the richly appointed Steinbeck Room and the ornate, maritime-inspired décor of the Captain's Room, while the elegant Conservatory features a lush garden setting. Seafood, beef and poultry are complemented by locally grown produce; try Pacific coast sand dabs in a lemon-butter sauce, served with seasonal vegetables, or grilled abalone medallions with oyster mushrooms and asparagus. Abalone bisque, flavored with bacon, chives and Madeira wine, is the house specialty. Accompany your meal with a selection from a wine cellar that boasts more than 1,800 labels and 32,000 bottles.
The mood is friendly and upbeat at Schooners Coastal Kitchen & Bar . A nautical theme prevails at this pub-style Monterey restaurant, which offers a wide assortment of hot appetizers as well as salads, clam chowder and crispy fish and chips. Sit on the heated outdoor terrace and admire the ocean views while sipping a margarita or a glass of wine.
If you're in the mood for a great steak—and have plenty of money to burn—head for the Whaling Station Steakhouse on Cannery Row. Start with a specialty cocktail from the bar, perhaps a Manhattan or pomegranate punch (tequila, fresh pomegranate juice and spiced syrup). The cuts of USDA Prime Midwestern beef, aged for 28 days, are displayed on a silver tray tableside for diners to select their own cooked-to-order steak. The menu also includes rack of lamb and oven-roasted chicken. Entrées are served with garlic mashed potatoes and your choice of vegetable. Sophisticated steakhouse décor and a top-notch wine list further enhance the dining experience.
Fandango has been a Pacific Grove tradition since 1983. In contrast to this beach community's casual California vibe, the comfortable dining rooms in what was once a quaint old home exude the ambience of old Europe. Start with traditional French onion soup or Caesar salad for one, a house specialty. Main dishes include steak frites; osso buco Fandango, braised with veal stock, Madeira wine, tomatoes and mushrooms; and pasta puttanesca. The lemon cheesecake is a delicious dessert.
Stillwater Bar and Grill overlooks a stunning stretch of Pacific coastline and Pebble Beach's 18th green—you just might spot a pro golfer finishing up a round. The menu at this resort-style spot emphasizes sustainable seafood and organic produce. Select Monterey Bay red abalone or a Maine lobster from the live tank. Rock crab-stuffed Petrale sole, accompanied by baby vegetables and a radish salad, is a winning entrée. But be forewarned; this is pricey dining.
See all the AAA Diamond Rated restaurants for this destination.

Events
In addition to its many cultural and historic landmarks, this destination hosts a number of outstanding festivals and events that may coincide with your visit.
Dedicated to protecting marine life in general and the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary in particular, Whalefest Monterey is an event for the entire family. Adults can attend lectures given by noted marine scientists and watch award-winning documentaries about whales, squid and other bay denizens, while kids can climb inside a 60-foot model of a gray whale. Other activities include whale-watching trips and musical performances, and local restaurants offer yummy small bites like garlic prawns and shrimp quiche. Whalefest takes place in late January at Fisherman's Wharf.
In early February, serious golfers and casual spectators alike head to the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am . The beautifully landscaped Pebble Beach, Spyglass Hill and Monterey Peninsula Country Club courses are the site of this world-class golf tournament, first hosted by Bing Crosby in 1937—when the winning purse was $500. Celebrities as well as pros play for charity.
The Subaru Sea Otter Classic lures folks out for some exercise in mid-April. Serious cyclists swarm the Laguna Seca Recreation Area for challenging road races and mountain bike endurance and gravity events, while a schedule of recreational bike tours will appeal to more casual riders.
A long-running Pacific Grove tradition is the Good Old Days Celebration weekend, which takes place along Central Avenue in early or mid-April. This family-oriented event features an arts and crafts show, a parade, games and contests for kids, kiddie rides, live entertainment and lots of food vendors.
Mid-April brings flower lovers to the Wildflower Show at the Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History . The 3-day event started back in 1961 and was the first of its kind in the state. In addition to displays of wildflower species collected by the Monterey chapter of the California Native Plant Society, there are classes and workshops on plant identification and botanical sketching.
Wine connoisseurs look forward to the Monterey Wine Festival in early June. California's longest-running wine festival celebrates the vine at Custom House Plaza in historic downtown Monterey with sips of world-class wines paired with savory bites prepared by West Coast chefs. A chowder competition pits chefs in clam, seafood and creative categories, and you can sample their mouthwatering creations. Live music provides a tasty backdrop.
The sound of baroque orchestral and choral music perfectly complements Carmel's exquisite natural beauty during the Carmel Bach Festival , which occurs the last 3 weeks in July. The festival's centerpiece is the concert series that takes place in the Sunset Theater. Chamber music concerts are given in churches and other venues throughout town.
Late July brings the Feast of Lanterns to Pacific Grove, a citywide festival that includes a boat parade and a lively street dance. Clowns entertain the kids, who can also participate in activities like a sandcastle building contest, chalk drawing and a pet parade. A Royal Court of middle school and high school-age girls is chosen to reign over the festival, a program that provides educational scholarship opportunities for local students.
Classic car buffs will want to inspect the gleaming vehicles on display at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance in mid-August. Entrants drive their impeccably maintained roadsters along portions of 17-Mile Drive and then parade down Carmel's Ocean Avenue. This automotive street party is held in conjunction with the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion on the same weekend. Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey comes alive during this tribute to past glory, as drivers of more than 500 vintage vehicles compete in groups—grand touring cars, Trans Am Series, Formula One—that span every era of motor sports racing history.
The Monterey Fairgrounds, at 2004 Fairground Rd. (off SR 1 via Casa Verde Way) is the site of the 3-day Monterey Jazz Festival the third week in September. Masters share the stage with up-and-coming artists at an event that year after year attracts the world's best jazz musicians.
The Robinson Jeffers Fall Festival , in early or mid-October, takes place at the Carmel home of early 20th-century poet Robinson Jeffers. Re-enactments, readings and other activities pay tribute to Jeffers' works. Participate in a music beach walk or simply take in the dramatic view from the grounds, as the house is perched atop craggy cliffs overlooking the coastline.
Monterey's Cannery Row Holiday Tree Lighting kicks off the season in Steinbeck Plaza the day after Thanksgiving. Music fills the air along Cannery Row, which is all gussied up for the holidays, as crowds gather to welcome Santa and watch the lighting ceremony.
At Monterey's Brighten the Harbor Lighted Boat Parade in early December, craft adorned with twinkling lights promenade from Coast Guard Pier to Lover's Point in Pacific Grove and back. A team of judges votes to honor the most impressively decorated vessel. Also in early December is Pacific Grove's Holiday Parade of Lights , a parade along Central Avenue complete with marching bands, lighted and holiday-themed floats, dance teams and an appearance by old Saint Nick.
Wrapping up the holiday season is First Night Monterey , which rings in the new year on Dec. 31 with a twilight procession. Earlier in the afternoon there's lots of music, song and dance, plus face art, hat making and other creative activities for kids. Evening entertainment runs the gamut from flamenco and Chinese lion dancers to West African drummers, rock and oldies bands, and Celtic and folk musicians. This is an alcohol-free event that can be enjoyed by the entire family.
See all the AAA recommended events for this destination.
AAA. Photo submitted by Nancy Jones/Nancy Jones

A Coastal Slice of Heaven
Spellbinding, breathtaking and spectacular are words frequently used to describe 17-Mile Drive . This winding road hugs the Monterey Peninsula coast through the gated community of Pebble Beach. In addition to providing glimpses of some seriously challenging golf courses, it is famously scenic—and as scenic drives go, this one definitely does not disappoint.
Tracy Birch/Tracy Birch
The two main access gates for a sightseeing jaunt are at the northern and southern ends (off SR 68 and SR 1, respectively). The toll fee for visitors is $10 (cash only) per vehicle, and the gate attendant will provide a map/brochure denoting 21 points of interest along the drive. If you enter through the Carmel gate at the southern end, you'll encounter the highlights described below in order as the road snakes along the coast toward Pacific Grove.
The Lodge at Pebble Beach , site of the world-class Pebble Beach Golf Links, is hallowed ground for lovers of the sport. If you've budgeted the time before your 17-Mile Drive jaunt, take a stroll around the hotel grounds, duck into one of the specialty shops selling high-end resort wear and every golf accessory imaginable, and just wallow in the luxuriousness of it all. You could also have breakfast on the outdoor terrace at the Stillwater Bar and Grill and admire the view of the Pacific as golfers line up putts on the 18th green.
flickr/bharathram_p
At Pescadero Point the views of deep blue water, thick green carpets of ice plants, gnarled tree branches and rounded rocks are spectacular. A bit farther on is a roadside marker denoting the Ghost Tree. Bleached white by the salt air, this twisted tree trunk is devoid of any greenery or sign of life. The multimillion-dollar mansions in the vicinity are set back from the serpentine road, shaded by groves of pines.
The Lone Cypress is an iconic coastal California landmark; it’s estimated that the tree has survived for more than 250 years. Perched atop a rock overlooking the Pacific, it has the flat-topped look characteristic of the Monterey cypress, which grows wild in only two seaside locations on the Monterey Peninsula.
At Cypress Point there's a lookout perfect for snapping a photo of the rocky coastline, which extends as far as the eye can see. Another outstanding photo op is nearby Fanshell Overlook. You might spot a harbor seal on the white-sand beach, or maybe an artist attempting to capture the idyllic scene on canvas. This spot is off-limits to visitors during the spring pupping season.
Continue along past Spyglass Hill, designed by Robert Trent Jones and regarded as one of the world's toughest golf courses. The holes, which have enviable backdrops courtesy of the ocean and the Del Monte Forest, are named after characters in Robert Louis Stevenson's classic “Treasure Island.”
flickr/spin melissa
Seal Rock is a great place for a picnic or a stroll along the beach. Nearby Bird Rock, just offshore, is a perching spot for gulls and other seabirds. Farther on is China Rock, an outcrop named in tribute to Chinese settlers.
Early seafarers often crashed into the rocks at Point Joe, mistaking it for the entrance to Monterey Bay. Like many other pullouts along 17-Mile Drive, the sight of ocean waves breaking against rocks almost compels you to pull over, get out and marvel at the view.
The road curves a short distance inland past another one of Pebble Beach's spectacular courses, The Links at Spanish Bay. The landscape here bears more than a passing resemblance to Scotland's rolling green hills.
The junction with SR 68 marks the northern end of 17-Mile Drive. At this point you can either take SR 68 toward Monterey or turn left onto Sunset Drive and continue north past Asilomar State Beach and Point Pinos Lighthouse to Pacific Grove, another charming Monterey Peninsula community.
Places in Vicinity

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Top Hotels
Current Location: Monterey Peninsula, California
1
Best Western Park Crest Inn
1100 Munras Ave. Monterey, CA 93940
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2
Hyatt Carmel Highlands
120 Highlands Dr. Carmel-By-The-Sea, CA 93923
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Members save 5% or more and earn World of Hyatt points when booking AAA Rates!
3
Hilton Garden Inn Monterey
1000 Aguajito Rd. Monterey, CA 93940
AAA Inspector Rating
Members save up to 10% and earn Honors points when booking AAA rates!
4
Monterey Marriott
350 Calle Principal. Monterey, CA 93940
AAA Inspector Rating
Members save 5% or more and earn Marriott Rewards® or SPG® points when booking AAA rates!