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California Destinations - Monterey Peninsula

Home to the cities of Monterey, Carmel by the Sea, Pacific Grove, and the Pebble Beach Resort, the Monterey Peninsula is one of the most popular destinations in California.

The Monterey Peninsula offers some of the most gorgeous coastal scenery in California, a smorgasbord of activities for families and adults, and access to both Big Sur, and the diverse wildlife of the Monterey Bay Marine Sanctuary.

 Signature Sights
17-mile Drive: Dramatic windswept seascapes, luxurious mansions and the striking settings of fairways and greens of Pebble Beach's world-famous links courses combine to make the drive around Lover's Point and 17-mile Drive one of the most scenic in the world. Cannery Row: Cannery row is an historic stretch on the Monterey waterfront where sardine canneries from a once-thriving fishery now host shops, restaurants, and other attractions. The subject of local author John Steinbeck's book by the same name, Cannery Row's scenic location and vibrant atmosphere make it a favorite for Monterey visitors. Cannery Row is also home to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, which is a popular addition for a day tour.
Fisherman's Wharf: A haven for seafood lovers, marine life enthusiasts and souvenir shoppers, Fisherman's wharf is an exciting place to meander around and enjoy the sounds of the sea lions and seafood cocktails, or to use as a launching point for a variety of water-based activities, including nautre cruises, kayaking and whale watching. Monterey Bay Aquarium: This world-class aquarium is among the largest, and most highly-regarded in the world. It features a variety of excellent exhibits focused on marine life in the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Popular attractions include the sea otters, the enormous pelagic tuna tank, and the surreal jellyfish exhibit.
Carmel Mission: Final resting place of California's famous missionary and mission founder, Father Junípero Serra, Carmel's Mission San Carlos Borromeo del Río Carmelo represents one of the best-preserved of California's 21 missions. Pebble Beach: Home, once again, to the US Open in 2010, the golf links at Pebble Beach remain hallowed ground for golfers worldwide.
Highlight Attractions  

Downtown Carmel
Carmel by the Sea is famous for the charm of its downtown architecture, its sidewalk cafès and the myriad galleries that draw art aficionados en masse every year. A gorgeous beach at the bottom of town completes a world-class romantic setting.

Point Lobos State Park:
A hidden gem for hiking and beach-combing enthusiasts, Point Lobos features miles gorgeous, accessible trails through along unspoiled rocky coastline. Sea lions, harbor seals, otters and waterfowl are here in abundance.

Monarch Butterflies
A remarkable round-trip migration that takes several generations to complete begins and ends in Pacific Grove, where millions of Monarch Butterflies congregate every winter.

Monterey Historic State Park:
Once a Spanish, then Mexican settlement, Monterey was the first capital of California. The Historic Park features the state's first theatre, customs house, and several other 19th century historical buildings, as well as the maritime museum.

Point Pinos Lighthouse:
The oldest continuously operating lighthouse on the west coast of the United States, the Point Pinos lighthouse, in Pacific Grove, is open to the public.

Downtown Monterey:
Upscale bars, taverns, restaurants and hotels, define Monterey's vibrant downtown area.

Downtown Pacific Grove:
Pacific Grove's quiet and understated streets, feature quaint restaurants and shops, along a beautiful stretch of the peninsula's coast.

 Signature Activities

Kayak: Sea kayaking tours, offered both along the Monterey waterfront, as well as 15 miles to the north through the marine wetlands of Elkhorn Slough, are a great way to see the local scenery and wildlife up-close. Sea otters, harbor seals and an abundance of waterfowl are among the things you'll see while kayaking in the area.

Go whale watching: The Monterey Bay Marine Sanctuary is a haven for not only the migratory species like the humpback and gray whales that wend their way up and down the west coast of North America each year, but also for year-round pelagic species like blue and right whales, orca, and several species of dolphins. A morning on the Bay with these incredible creatures is one for the memory vaults.

Golf: The links courses of Pebble Beach are, of course, among the most revered golfing destinations in the world. Several other excellent courses, both on the peninsula and within easy striking distance, offer plenty of attractive alternatives as well.

Dine: Enjoy culinary delights from seafood cocktails on the wharf to a wide array of gourmet options available throughout the peninsula and surrounding areas.

Sail: A few outfitters offer sailing trips out of Fisherman's Wharf. These are a wonderful way to get out onto the bay, minus the hum of the diesel engines on the power boats, and enjoy the bay and its wildlife with only the sound of the wind to accompany.

Taste wine: The peninsula is a short drive from the wineries and tasting rooms of Carmel Valley, and a midland drive of 45 minutes to an hour from the wineries of the Salinas Valley and the Santa Cruz Mountains. Several wineries also feature tasting rooms in and around the peninsula.

Cycle: The peninsula is a great place to enjoy by bicycle. Rental shops are in handy locations, and there are great trails along the coast, as well as mountain biking opportunities for the more adventurous.

Gallery hop: Carmel is home to a thriving artist community. Dozens of galleries host a dazzling array of paintings, sculpture, jewelery and other offerings from local artists.

Comb the tidepools: With starfish, anemone and shore crabs headlining a long list of intertidal species, tidepool combing is fun, relaxing, and a wonderful way to introduce kids to nature.

Go horseback riding: Scenic guided walking tours are available in Pebble Beach and in nearby Big Sur. For more experienced riders, full gallop beach experiences are available north of town.

 Other Popular Activities

Take a narrated nature cruise:
A narrated tour on the waters off Fisherman's Wharf and Cannery Row gives you a chance to see some of Monterey's most engaging wildlife (otters, harbor seals, sea lions and more) up close.

Hike: Coastal and inland trails are plentiful both within the populated area of the peninsula, and in the more natural settings of Point Lobos and Andrew Molera State Parks to the south.

Fish: Depending on the time of the year, salmon, albacore tuna and rockfish can all be caught in abundance on trips departing from Monterey's harbor.

Stroll: With picturesque beaches, yacht-lined docks and historic Victorian and Spanish architecture, there are myriad venues to simply relax and enjoy a quiet stroll.

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