24 hours in Monterey: top five things to do

April 29, 2019 — by Selena Liu

Living in the Bay Area, we often say we’re lucky to be located near the ocean, but in reality, Saratoga is still about an hour away from the water.

For my money, if you truly want to enjoy the ocean, Monterey is the best place to go. With multiple scenic attractions paired with restaurants and shopping centers, Monterey trumps all other oceanside cities because it’s not too crowded, allowing visitors to enjoy the scenic view of the ocean, but it’s also well developed, allowing them to enjoy other attractions during their visit.

Here are the top five things to do during a day trip to this beautiful seaside city:

Check out the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Located right next to the beach, the Monterey Bay Aquarium is home to hundreds of fascinating marine organisms. From reptiles to jellyfish to penguins, the aquarium houses 45 interactive exhibits, and its auditorium, shows documentaries about marine life. During certain times in your visit, you can also watch the staff feed animals. To top it all off, students receive a admission ticket discount and pay $39.95 instead of the adult price of $49.95. With new organisms coming into exhibits nearly every day, you can be certain that every time you visit the aquarium, you’ll find something new.

Enjoy scenic views on the 17-Mile Drive.

The 17-Mile Drive isn’t just an ordinary road. Anybody who coasts along the path will see the breathtaking scenery of the Pacific Ocean, the beach and the Del Monte forest. The 21 marked points of interest along the path will not only show you the greatest landmarks along the trail, like the Lone Cypress or a view of the Pebble Beach Resorts, but these points are also great locations for pictures. Typically, people only choose a few select landmarks to visit during the drive, but if you want to enjoy all of the scenery, the entire drive, including stopping to see the landmarks, will take around two hours to complete.

Shop your heart out at Cannery Row.

This famous shopping district that John Steinbeck based his 1945 novel “Cannery Row” on is a tourist hotspot that is home to many high-end boutiques. In addition, the district also features the Cannery Row Antique Mall, one of the most historical shopping centers in the world — the mall sells 1900s-era themed souvenirs such as unique furniture, utensils, and carpets.

Enjoy high-quality seafood at Old Fisherman’s Wharf.

If you’re looking for a place with good seafood and high-quality restaurants, Old Fisherman’s Wharf is the place to go. Located right next to Cannery Row and Monterey Bay Aquarium, the wharf is a street full of restaurants and shops right next to the sea. On top of the food, the wharf also holds activities like whale-watching and kayaking. Some of the best restaurants at the wharf include Old Fisherman's Grotto and Crab House. While these restaurants are moderately pricey, ranging from $20 to $40 per meal, they do have great selections of seafood, oysters, and steaks.

Play a round of golf at Pebble Beach Golf Links — if you’ve made a reservation in advance and have a fat wallet.

While reservations to play on this gorgeously scenic golf resort must be made nearly a year in advance, nothing will stop visitors from enjoying the breathtaking views of the grass, sand and ocean. Since the golf link is closer to the southern side of Monterey, you’ll also be able to see the beaches of Carmel as you enjoy the view.

Moreover, if you play golf and manage to snag a reservation on this resort, which is one of the most popular golf links in the world, you’re in for an amazing experience. While prices to play on the link are $600, which is much higher than average, the opportunity to play on Pebble Beach itself is a rarity, and if you ever decide to book a round, be prepared for the high cost but one that is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

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