Spend Three Days in Monterey County | San Francisco Travel
The Monterey County coastline.

Spend Three Days in Monterey County

It's nearly impossible to jam all of Monterey County into three days, but this itinerary highlights some of the top reasons to explore the region.

Day 1
Downtown Monterey

Once you're settled in, head down to Cannery Row and enjoy some of the freshest sustainable seafood California has to offer at one of the many restaurants in the neighborhood. After you've satisfied your appetite, do yourself a favor and spend a few hours at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. We recommend planning ahead and grabbing tickets before your visit to skip any line there may be.

The Aquarium has enough extraordinary exhibits to fill an entire day. Start with the million-gallon Open Sea Exhibit and other special exhibitions. Then cross over the bridge to the Ocean's Edge Galleries and swing by the Kelp Forest exhibit and (if little ones are in tow) the Splash Zone. Head downstairs for the Monterey Bay Habitats exhibit and interactive Touch Pool.

End the day by treating yourself to a cocktail while the sun goes down and dinner at any of the top restaurants in the area. One of our favorites is Bistro Moulin.

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Day 2
Carmel-by-the-Sea and Pebble Beach

Be prepared to never want to go back home after Day 2! Start the day with a cup of coffee and a pastry in one of the many mom-and-pop cafes along Ocean Avenue in Carmel-by-the Sea. If your heart desires, check out the chic boutiques all over town. Once you're ready, jump in the car and enjoy one of the most beautiful drives in the world: the 17-Mile Drive.

Allow yourself plenty of time to cover the entire drive and be prepared to stop and admire the many beautiful vistas along the way. It's well worth the fee ($11.25 per vehicle) and you'll bring home memories that will last a lifetime.  Enjoy lunch at one of the world famous golf courses along the drive, including Pebble Beach Golf Links and the Inn at Spanish Bay.

Once you've had some time to rest back at your hotel, treat yourself to a pre-dinner drink followed by a leisurely meal at any of the restaurants throughout town. If you're craving Italian, be sure to check out Il Tegamino or Portabella.

Day 3
Carmel Valley

From Carmel, it's a quick drive on Carmel Valley Road to the village of Carmel Valley. While many think of Monterey County for its beaches, golf, and luxury experiences, it's also one of California's primary wine regions. Many of the wineries in the area have tasting rooms throughout Carmel Valley.

If you're looking for a golf experience but didn't have the opportunity to play Pebble Beach, the golf courses at Quail Lodge and Carmel Valley Ranch are two of the best in the county. Both resorts also have excellent spas and outdoor experiences for you to enjoy. 

End your trip to Monterey County with an excellent dinner at Lucia Restaurant & Bar, located at Bernardus Lodge in Carmel Valley.

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