Extend Your Stay with a Trip to Monterey County
A San Francisco Bay Area trip isn’t complete without a stop in Monterey County. Make sure to cruise down Highway One and spend a few days soaking up all the Monterey region has to offer. This three-day suggested add-on itinerary highlights Monterey and the area's most popular locations and attractions, giving you a taste of what makes Monterey County so special - and an epic reason to extend your stay in the San Francisco area.
Day 1 in Monterey
Head south on Highway One from San Francisco until you reach the main exit to Monterey (exit 402B). Get an early start and allow yourself plenty of time to take photos along the way, and be sure to make a quick pit stop in Marina or Seaside for photo ops of hang gliders from the nearby sand dunes.
Once you've checked into your hotel, head to downtown Monterey near Old Fisherman's Wharf. Your Monterey County orientation can begin with a tour on the Monterey Movie Tours motorcoach. This unique tour shows off both Monterey's most remarkable scenery and its unique cinematic history. As you drive by Monterey's most notable scenic spots and along legendary 17-Mile Drive, monitors on board the bus will show the locations as they have appeared in films throughout the years.
Back in downtown Monterey, stretch your legs with a stroll down Old Fisherman’s Wharf and sample delectable clam chowders or stop in for happy hour at one of the many oceanfront restaurants. Take a seaside stroll down the Monterey Bay Coastal Recreation Trail towards Cannery Row. Once upon a time, this neighborhood was filled with sardine canneries, as immortalized in John Steinbeck's novel Cannery Row. Look for the Mr. Lee Chong’s grocery sign and visualize yourself in this iconic story. Today, Cannery Row features both high-end and family-friendly restaurants like Bubba Gump, hotels, specialty shops, galleries and wine tasting rooms.
Stop in for dinner at the legendary Sardine Factory, which regularly appears on local and national "best-of" lists. Don't miss Rachael Ray's favorites, calamari puffs and abalone bisque.
Day 2 in Monterey
You've planned ahead for your Monterey Bay Aquarium visit by buying tickets online and printing them at home or by purchasing a hotel package that includes two-day tickets for the price of one day. (Pro Tip: If there's a line, you'll get to skip it and enter through the special entrance for advance ticket holders!)
Eat with a clear-conscience as you enjoy a sustainable seafood lunch just a block away from the Aquarium at the Fish Hopper restaurant. The Fish Hopper, located in an original sardine cannery building, earns raves both for its clam chowder and for its stunning Monterey Bay views.
Point Lobos State Natural Reserve has been called "the greatest meeting of land and sea in the world." Hikers regularly spend entire days here. Catch a glimpse of what has captivated so many photographers, artists and writers by taking the short, easy Sea Lion Point trail down around Sea Lion Cove. If you have time and the inclination, continue your tour with a walk on the Cypress Grove trail.
Tonight you'll dine on delicious Mediterranean and European cuisine at Fandango Restaurant. Located in the heart of Pacific Grove, here you’ll find favorites like duckling l’orange, paella and lamb shank. Be sure to save room for their Grand Marnier soufflé!
Day 3 in Monterey
Carmel-by-the-Sea is one of the top shopping destinations in the United States, but one with deep bohemian roots. Spend your morning exploring chic boutiques and art galleries along Ocean Avenue, anchored by the shopping center Carmel Plaza.
Lunch today is from one of Carmel-by-the-Sea's longtime top restaurants, Anton & Michel. Whether it's surf or turf you enjoy, this restaurant, loaded with Old World charm, is sure to please your palate.
Monterey County is one of California's primary viticultural regions, yet it's still under the radar for many oenophiles. Because of the county's unusual geography and climate, it has a phenomenal nine American Viticultural Areas within its borders. From Carmel-by-the-Sea, it's a quick drive out to Carmel Valley Village, home to several wine tasting rooms all within walking distance of each other.
We have the perfect location for your last Monterey County dinner on this trip. Lucia Restaurant & Bar, located at Bernardus Lodge in Carmel Valley, has racked up an impressive slate of awards over the past decade. Rather than ordering a la carte, leave your palate's fate in the hands of Chef Cal Stamenov and his tasting menu for seven courses that are sure to delight.
For more resources and suggestions for an extended stay, please visit SeeMonterey.com.