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Explore Monterey County

From the world-famous Monterey Aquarium to the scenic overlooks of Highway 1 and mouthwatering wines of the coast, Monterey County has so much to offer all kinds of travelers. Learn more below, so you’re ready for your members’ next great adventure!

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The history of Monterey is part of its charm. Throughout the county, the story of Monterey’s rich heritage is evident in adobes, gardens, mission bells, and lighthouses. The allure of this historic area continues to enthrall writers, artists and retreat seekers. You can explore the history of Monterey County through guided or self-guided tours. Swing by Point Pinos Lighthouse to visit the oldest continuously operating lighthouse on the West Coast, or travel south on Highway 1 to visit its neighbor the Point Sur Lightstation. Or use the search below and discover where California’s Constitution was developed and signed in 1849 among other interesting historic events! For more information on historic attractions in Monterey visit www.MSHPA.org, the official website for the Monterey State Historic Park Association.

COVID-19 Restrictions Lifted Monterey County is open and welcoming travelers to explore its awe-inspiring Central Coast destination safely and responsibly with some restrictions in place. On June 15, 2021, the state of California moved beyond the California’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy to allow for businesses to return to normal operations with no capacity limits or physical distancing requirements, with limited exceptions for “mega” events (see Group Meetings & Events section below). The state and county are following CDC guidelines for face coverings (see Mask Guidance section below), with some businesses still requiring face masks for all customers. We advise visitors to check individual business websites for details on modified operations, safety and health protocols and to book reservations. Monterey County hotels and lodging properties are following the highest industry standards provided by the California Hotel and Lodging Association Clean and Safe guidelines for added preventive measures during your stay. For additional health guidance and frequently asked questions when planning a trip to Monterey County, visit here. The entire county is working diligently to ensure the health and wellbeing of its visitors, residents and employees. Mask Guidance Monterey County is adhering to CDC guidelines for face coverings. This includes: Fully vaccinated individuals do not need to wear a mask in most cases unless a business requires their customers to. Unvaccinated individuals should continue to wear masks when using public transportation and when indoors at places like restaurants, attractions, movie theaters and grocery stores. Additional mask wearing exceptions and requirements by the state can be found here. Please respect individual business requirements and inquire directly for information. Help us keep Monterey County beautiful by property disposing of all trash including face coverings! Group Meetings & Events As of June 15, 2021, meetings and events can resume with normal capacity and no distancing restrictions, with the exception of large-scale indoor events of 5,000+ attendees and outdoor events of 10,000+ attendees. These “mega” events will need vaccination or negative test requirements for attendees through at least October 1. For more details on requirements for mega events, visit here. For more on meetings and events guidelines, visit California Hotel and Lodging Association (CHLA) Clean and Safe meetings and events guidelines. Wildfire Season Warm, dry summer and autumn conditions make for a beautiful experience in Monterey County, but also bring a higher risk for fires. California is entering its wildfire season, which predominantly occurs in remote, forested areas away from population centers. As you travel to Monterey County, we want travelers to be prepared with information to navigate this season and help prevent future outbreaks. It is important to follow all laws regarding open fires, camp only in designated areas, dispose of cigarettes properly and put out all fires in designated areas. Travelers should also have an emergency plan and follow any evacuation orders. Before traveling, visitors should: Research nearby areas on their itinerary – it may be possible to easily reroute a trip to another location in the case of interruption by fire-related effects Consult local weather and air-quality forecasts, as well as look for any alerts and possible road closures Sign up for emergency alerts and download the Cal Fire app Anticipate potential short-term public safety power shutoffs to reduce the risk of additional fires Travelers with trips planned to an area affected by active fires should: Contact lodging providers for the latest on-the-ground information, including whether evacuations, closures or preventative power shutoffs are possible, or whether rooms are needed for evacuees from surrounding affected communities Speak to airline providers about canceling or rescheduling flights. Typically flights run as usual unless air quality is severely impacted Travelers affected by fires should: Follow guided evacuation plans Be sure to keep a half-tank of gas in their vehicles and some emergency provisions on hand Be mindful of poor air quality’s effects and consider staying indoors and reducing physical activity if smoke has make the air quality unhealthy. Use tight-fitting N95 or P100 masks to help reduce exposure. Resources Monterey County Office of Emergency Services – for active alerts in Monterey County West Coast Travel Facts – for real-time air quality readings, emergency resources and alternate itineraries for California, Oregon and Washington Cal Fire and/or Incident Information – for fire status across California Caltrans – for road conditions Park Closures The following parks remain closed due to 2020 wildfire damage in Monterey County: Big Sur State Park Closures including: John Little State Natural Reserve Limekiln State Park – access to the Park’s campground and beach are open, but all trails remain closed Please visit individual park websites for the latest updates, as well as to learn of possible trail closures throughout Monterey County. Road Closures Maintenance work in Big Sur at the Bixby Bridge will result in full overnight closures of sections of Highway 1 near the bridge for three weeks beginning Monday July 12. All of Highway 1 remains open during the day with full access to Big Sur parks, businesses and accommodations. Week One begins Monday July 12 Full overnight closures northbound and southbound will take place Monday July 12 through Thursday July 15 from 10 pm to 6:30 am. Week Two begins Sunday July 18 Full overnight closures will take place Sunday July 18 through Thursday July 22 from 10 pm to 6:30 am. Week Three begins Sunday July 25 Full overnight closures will take place Sunday July 25 through Thursday July 29 from 10 pm to 6:30 am. Travel Responsibly As our destination welcomes visitors to enjoy our county, we ask that travelers visit responsibly and follow safety precautions, as outlined by health care officials. Please practice the following guidelines: Mask up as needed: face coverings are required for unvaccinated individuals and when individual businesses require them. Stay home: if you show signs of illness, stay home. Follow CDC guidance for safe travel. Leave no trace behind: properly dispose of all trash and plastics, including face coverings. Help us keep Monterey County beautiful for generations to come. Camp responsibly: camp only at designated campsites to avoid damaging vegetation, causing potential wildfires or camping on private property. Illegal camping is prohibited. Have a plan: have a back-up plan in case the area you’re looking to visit is overcrowded, fully booked or parking areas are full. Explore lesser-known areas and try to avoid times popular areas are in high use. Respect the destination and others: Monterey County is home to an amazing diversity of indigenous plants and animals. Leave natural objects as you find them, keep your distance from wildlife and be respectful of others so that everyone can enjoy our scenic destination.

Flying to Monterey County Convenient and hassle-free Monterey Regional Airport is located just 10 minutes from downtown Monterey, 15 minutes from Carmel-by-the-Sea, 25 minutes from downtown Salinas and 45 minutes from Big Sur. Visitors can fly direct to MRY via international and domestic connecting routes on Alaska Airlines, Allegiant, American Airlines and United Express from Los Angeles (LAX), San Francisco (SFO), Phoenix (PHX), San Diego (SAN), Las Vegas (LAS), Denver (DEN) and Dallas (DFW). Charter and private flights are also available. New non-stop flights now include Portland (PDX), and Seattle (SEA)! Transportation Services Nearby Airports to MRY Other large airports near Monterey County include Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport (SJC), located 60 minutes from downtown Monterey and 50 from downtown Salinas; and San Francisco International Airport, located 2 hours from downtown Monterey and 90 minutes from downtown Salinas. Monterey Airbus and Main Event Transportation offer convenient door-to-door service to and from SFO and SJC. Bus or Train in Monterey County Amtrak’s Coast Starlight train cruises through Salinas each day on its route between Seattle, Washington and Los Angeles, providing a leisurely and scenic way to travel with packages to fit every budget. It’s a great way to see the grandeur of the Central Coast at eye level. Free bus service is provided from Salinas to downtown Monterey, a 30-minute ride. There is also a Greyhound station in Salinas with connecting service to Monterey. Monterey County by Car There are two routes to Monterey by car, both very scenic. Highway One, which runs from San Francisco to Los Angeles, offers breathtaking views of the Pacific coastline and has been called the top road trip in America by many sources. Highway 101 runs down the valley corridor and affords the motorist an opportunity to see the rich land that has made the Salinas Valley “the Salad Bowl of the World.” Many routes can be found in the menu at the left. Traveling to Monterey to enjoy all the natural beauty here is easy, but no matter which mode of transportation you use – plane, train or automobile – it creates extra carbon emissions. We are now offering an opportunity to offset those emissions through a local, award-winning non-profit, The Offset Project.

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Highlights of Monterey

Take an Inspired Trip to Monterey

Take an Inspired Trip to Monterey

With California's reopening on June 15th, there is no better time to rekindle your sense of adventure in Monterey County. The area is filled with not-to-miss moments to experience this summer, including unparalleled outdoor adventure, a growing food and wine scene, immersive cultural experiences, renowned scenic drives, and the opportunity to explore the fascinating marine life that call the Monterey Bay home.

Choose from our ʻNow is the Momentʻ exclusive offers, new itineraries made up of must-experience moments and fresh ways to take advantage of the boundless wide-open spaces and iconic experiences along California’s central coast. Explore our curated a list of reasons ‘Now is the Moment’ to plan a soul-satisfying trip to Monterey County:

New and Limited-Time Experiences

Carmel Food Tours
Book the new Bikes, Bites & Bevs Tour, offered by Carmel Food Tours and Mad Dogs & Englishmen Bike Shop, which includes an e-bike ride to picturesque Point Lobos State Reserve followed by a walking food tour in Carmel-by-the-Sea.

Marina Skydive

Monterey Bay Skydive
Seize the moment from 15,000 feet over the Monterey Bay with Monterey Bay Skydive's new Silver Package. The package celebrates Skydive Monterey Bay’s 25th anniversary and offers adventure seekers the chance to experience “California’s Highest Tandem Jump.” After jump completion, receive a framed first jump certificate, a gear store gift and mini gear bag. The special package offers visitors more than 35 percent off normal rates. Book now for $229 per person with an advance reservation.

The Sardine Factory
The Sardine Factory, located within Monterey’s historic Cannery Row, is offering a new ‘Monterey Moment’ cocktail through June. Made with limoncello, lemon juice, orange juice, blue curacao and topped with champagne, the refreshing drink has hints of blue to convey the Monterey Bay and comes complete with a personalized jingle from the award-winning restaurant’s resident entertainer, David Conley.

Recently Opened

Monterey Bay Aquarium
The famed Monterey Bay Aquarium is dedicated to marine research and conservation, featuring 35,000 creatures representing over 550 sea life and marine species.

Los Padres National Forest
Big Sur’s beloved Pine Ridge Trail recently reopened after being closed for five years. Located in the Ventana Wilderness of the Los Padres National Forest, the 19.5-mile trail leads hikers from Big Sur Station to Sykes Camp with a cover of redwoods, pine and oak along the way.

WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca
WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca announced its 2021 line-up of events. Tickets are on sale now with anticipation that spectators will be able to attend all events at the world-famous race track.

National Steinbeck Center
The National Steinbeck Center is dedicated to legendary author John Steinbeck who was born and raised in Monterey County’s agricultural hub. Steinbeck drew on his experience growing up in the region for novels such as “Cannery Row” and its sequel “Sweet Thursday.”

Seasonal Secrets

Pinnacles National Park
Spring is one of the best times to visit Pinnacles National Park where adventurers can enjoy mild temperatures and a variety of wildflowers. Hoping to spot a magnificent California condor? Set out for a hike on the strenuous 8.4-mile High Peaks-Balconies Loop or opt for the Bench Trail’s spotting scopes in the early morning or early evening.

Kayak Connection
Kayak Connection’s Starlight Bioluminescence Tour in Moss Landing starts before sunset for easy viewing of resident marine life frolicking and feeding at dusk. Once the sun goes down, visitors enjoy the glow while paddling through the bioluminescent waters.

Purple Carpet Pacific Grove
May is the prime month to spot Pacific Grove’s majestic purple phenomenon, dubbed the “Purple Carpet.” View thousands of magenta ice plants take over the coastline along Ocean View Boulevard by foot, bike, car or boat.

Whale Watching
A renowned whale-watching destination, Monterey County offers visitors the opportunity to see the great gray whale migration and the return of the humpback whales to the Monterey Bay this spring. The spring season also brings greater sightings of killer whales to the area as well. Book a whale watching tour from Monterey or Moss Landing.

Latest Lodging Offers

Monterey Tides
The beach at Monterey Tides becomes guests’ backyard during a stay at the centrally located boutique property. Head to nearby Monterey State Beach, Del Monte Beach or Sand City Beach to grab a moment in the sun.

Hofsas House Hotel
Now through June 30, 2021, the Hofsas House Hotel is offering a “sweet” deal to guests. Stay for at least two nights and receive a box of locally made Lula's Chocolates and a Hofsas House tote bag. Indicate "Sweet Internet Special" when reserving online or calling to make a reservation.

Sanctuary Beach Resort
Nestled between Monterey Bay and the Marina Dunes Preserve, the ultra-romantic Sanctuary Beach Resort in Marina is offering a Love, Stay & Namaste package including overnight accommodations, a private beach yoga session, chilled sparkling wine and breakfast delivered to the property’s private beachfront cottages.

Embassy Suites Monterey Bay-Seaside
Embassy Suites by Hilton in Seaside is offering a Stay & Play package complete with 36 holes of golf at Bayonet and Black Horse. Overlooking the Monterey Bay, the course was built in the 1950s by General Bob McClure and has since been the host site of two PGA Professional Championships.

Travel Responsibly
Travel responsibly in Monterey County by following all current health and safety guidelines and respecting the area’s iconic landscapes by staying on trails and leaving no trace behind. For more information on events, hotel special offers, promotions, and to learn more ways to grab your moment now, visit SeeMonterey.com/NOW.

Learn more >

Trails Less Traveled

Trails Less Traveled

For those seeking an escape into nature, the Fort Ord National Monument is an ethereal wonderland of trees that resembles a fairytale forest. Nature is where I find solitude and connection, and hiking brings me peace that I seldom find anywhere else. As things begin to open up more, I have been on the hunt for less popular areas that are worth exploring more. Fort Ord National Monument is one little-known gem that should not be missed. Spanning the beach towns of Marina and Seaside, Fort Ord has many nature and wildlife experiences to offer, often without the crowds.

From expansive grassy fields to twisted oak groves, Fort Ord has it all, including spectacular 360° views of the Salinas Valley and the Pacific Ocean. Decommissioned in 1994, Fort Ord National Monument has transitioned from a military base to a wildlife haven with an array of hiking trails for all skill levels. Whether you’re searching for a tranquil early morning jaunt, interested in wildlife viewing, or simply curious to explore some of the area’s historic military sites, these lesser-known trails will take you where you want to go.

Jerry Smith Corridor
Fort Ord Jerry Smith Corridor

Enter from Inter-Garrison Road and take the sandy Jerry Smith Corridor for a relaxed stroll through a coast live oak grove. This trail feels like wandering through a hobbit forest full of twisted oak covered in lichen and moss. Cross Watkins Gate Road and you’ll find grassy fields bursting with wildflowers in the spring. Take intersecting Trail 20 for glimpses of the Salinas Valley, or Trail 68 for one of the best lookout spots in the area, with astounding views of Monterey Bay and Moss Landing. A bench dedicated to Chuck Hutchins exclaims: “Why wait for heaven? It is here today!” Here you can prop your feet up and drink in the views.

Badger Hills Trailhead
Fort Ord Jerry Smith Corridor

Find trails friendly to all hiking levels here. These exposed trails boast beautiful rolling hills covered with morning dew where you may find black-tailed deer grazing. In the winter, frost blankets the ground, creating a glittering carpet that looks straight out of a fairytale. I prefer early morning hikes because I can watch the National Monument wake up and transition from night to day.

Start your hike early to enjoy a symphony of bird calls. Many birds can be spotted in the area, including quail, Cooper’s hawks, hummingbirds and warblers.

The lacy green lichen hanging from the oaks at eye level is called “Old Man’s Beard”. I love to get a closer look when it is hanging overhead, but am careful not to damage or remove it. I also take special care to stay on the designated trails to protect sensitive plants and wildlife, and I avoid taking home plant souvenirs which can be damaging (and illegal).

Parker Flats
Fort Ord

Reminiscent of Fort Ord’s days as a military training site, an old watchtower still stands at the intersection of Eucalyptus and Parker Flats cutoff roads. This watchtower overlooked an artillery range nearby. The camp was used for basic training in the 1970’s, and this lookout was used to calibrate and test the range of various weapons. Now it serves as a nostalgic reminder of the area’s history. Take one of the many small winding trails that branch off of Little Moab Road and you will find wildlife galore in the maze of knotted oaks. Bobcats, coyotes, rare birds, king snakes and gopher snakes can all be spotted here.

Hike Responsibly
Please do your part to keep Fort Ord National Monument beautiful, and know before you go:

Follow CDC guidelines. Wear a mask and allow for 6 feet of social distance when passing others.
Leave no trace: carry out trash and pet waste.
Stay on trails to protect delicate plants and wildlife.

Learn more >

Monterey County’s Food & Wine Scene

Monterey County’s Food & Wine Scene

Monterey County is filled with culinary moments to be savored. Awaken your taste buds to indulge in award-winning dishes, farm-to-table cuisine, sustainably caught seafood and world-renowned wines. Ready to change your point of view?

Is your mouth-watering yet? With an abundance of regionally sourced ingredients and a year-round growing season, Monterey County's unique food scene is brimming with local flare. Pair that with distinguished wines including 32 varietals, and you've got yourself a five-star dining experience!

Read more on the restaurants and wineries featured in our video, and get excited to taste your way through Monterey County.

Hahn Family Wines
River Road Wine Trail, Salinas Valley
There are few things better than a good glass of wine with a view. Experience mountain vistas of the Santa Lucia Highlands while sipping vibrant wines and limited-release vintages at Hahn Estate Tasting Room. Make it a wine tour, and check out a few other spots along sun-kissed River Road Wine Trail, like Scheid Vineyards and Odonata Winery.

Other Brother Beer Co.
If you prefer breweries to wineries, there's no shortage of a craft beer scene in Monterey County. Kick back in the easygoing environment at Other Brother Beer Co., and enjoy your brew alongside special-of-the-day sandwiches, pretzels, and other taprooms snacks. While you're in the area, wander over to Fort Ord Dunes State Park. The park is an excellent location to spot seals, sea lions and a wide variety of sea and shore birds.

Old Fishermanʻs Grotto
Some would say that the quintessential Monterey experience is digging in to a bread bowl full of world-famous clam chowder. Sample your way down the wharf to find your favorite, and then grab a bowl to-go to enjoy with an ocean view. Continue along Old Fisherman's Wharf, and find souvenirs while you shop, whale watch, or just take in the gorgeous setting overlooking the Monterey Bay.

Pezzini Farms
When we say farm-to-table, we mean it! If you're on your way in to Monterey County, or heading out from an epic trip here, pay a visit to the "Artichoke Center of the World" and order up fried artichoke hearts and scrumptious artichoke cupcakes from Pezzini Farms. Don't knock it until you try it!

Joyce Winery
Carmel Valley
The lively and spacious tasting room at Joyce Wine Company is open daily and offers weekly tasting flights with both indoor and outdoor seating. Grab a seat outside to soak in the Carmel Valley sun while you taste five of their favorite wines. Now that you're happy and full, stroll around Carmel Valley Village to find more delights.

Learn more >

Club Adventures Tours in Monterey

American Experiences: Discover California’s Coast
Road trip, from $1,209

American Experiences: Discover California’s Coast

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