Monterey, CA | Cruise port of call | CruiseBe
No votes yet

Monterey, CA

Monterey is a city in the Monterey County area of Monterey Bay in California.
Monterey is one of the more beautiful coastal cities of California and can make for a great two day trip for those visiting San Francisco or a weekend getaway for California natives. It was originally the state capital of California, and has more historic buildings in its downtown than any other city west of Santa Fe. Today it is best known for its beautiful coastline, its world-class aquarium and from the many John Steinbeck novels set there, including

Cannery Row

and Tortilla Flat.

Rugged terrain and vicious Pacific currents made much of the California coast virtually unexplorable to European ships. After a disastrous attempt to explore this... Read more

Monterey, CA

Monterey is a city in the Monterey County area of Monterey Bay in California.
Monterey is one of the more beautiful coastal cities of California and can make for a great two day trip for those visiting San Francisco or a weekend getaway for California natives. It was originally the state capital of California, and has more historic buildings in its downtown than any other city west of Santa Fe. Today it is best known for its beautiful coastline, its world-class aquarium and from the many John Steinbeck novels set there, including

Cannery Row

and Tortilla Flat.

Rugged terrain and vicious Pacific currents made much of the California coast virtually unexplorable to European ships. After a disastrous attempt to explore this new territory by sea, Spanish missionaries in Mexico launched a series of overland expeditions from San Diego. Monterey was established in 1770 by Father Junipero Serra and soon became a Spanish military base with a small fort or "presidio" located near a calm harbor that could provide shelter to supply ships. The military presence eventually gave way to a thriving commercial trade that brought in many enterprising foreign merchants.

Once Mexico gained its independence from Spain, Monterey became the capital of Alta California under Mexican rule. From this era come many classic stories of flirtation, fashion, and politics in the Mexican colonial era. Lands once owned by the government began to come into private hands, and local families began to consolidate their property and power into business enterprises based on the ranches or "ranchos," where they raised cattle or invented the famous Monterey Jack cheese.

Monterey soon fell under American power in the Mexican-American War and remained the capital of the territory. A delegation of writers drafted the constitution which marked the entrance of the State of California into the United States of America. This era saw the mass northward migration of ambitious people in search of gold, which led to a near desertion of the town. Monterey soon recovered, however, and today is known for its magnificent natural beauty, world famous Aquarium, and temperate year-round climate.

The Monterey Peninsula has the largest population of sea otters on the California coast. The abundance of marine wildlife visible from the shoreline is one of the primary attractions of the region. Seals, sea lions, and sea otters are visible year-round, and migrating whales are commonly seen in the fall and spring months.

Alvarado Street serves as downtown Monterey's "main drag." It has superb restaurants, a selection of bars, and unique shops.

Text is available under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0

Monterey, CA: Port Information

Cruise ships anchor offshore, and passengers are transported ashore to the city center by tender boats. 

Get around Monterey, CA

Monterey-Salinas Transit provides convenient public bus service to the nearby towns of Carmel and Pacific Grove, as well as to historical Salinas and breathtaking Big Sur. MST runs a free trolley through Monterey's downtown during the summer months, especially busy weekends.

For car drivers, garage parking is available, and street parking is often free for periods of two hours on weekends and after 6 PM. The Cannery Row area (where the Aquarium is located) has an aggressive, expensive parking ticket policy. 

What to see in Monterey, CA

  • Monterey Bay Aquarium

    , 886 Cannery Row, ☎ +1 831-648-4888. May 29-Sept 6 and all holidays 9:30 AM-6 PM, Summer weekends 9:30 AM-8 PM, winter 10 AM-5 PM, other dates 10 AM-6 PM. This large aquarium specializes in exhibiting local sea life in typical local habitat displays, and has many spectacular exhibits. It is particularly known for its Kelp Forest exhibit, three stories high, filled with several varieties of giant kelp and a wide variety of marine animal species, and also for its million-gallon Open Sea exhibit with large blue fin and yellow fin tunas, mahi-mahis, sharks (including an occasional Great White Shark as a very temporary visitor, before being released back to the ocean), ocean sunfish (mola-molas) and sea turtles. The best exhibits include a large tank of silver sardines that swim around and around above one's head, and one of rescued sea otters deemed unreturnable to the wild and therefore kept at the aquarium. (The Aquarium has rescued and released back to the wild over 500 sea otters.) Feedings of the various tanks are scheduled throughout the day and are fascinating, particularly the Open Sea exhibit feeding at 11 AM each morning, and feedings in the Kelp Forest exhibit during which a diver in full dive gear enters the exhibit's water, feeds the fish, and talks to the Aquarium's visitors from inside the exhibit. Quite expensive, but for a good cause (the Aquarium is privately funded, and much of the money goes for conservation research), and most visitors will consider a visit well worth the charge. 
  • Monterey State Historic Park

    , 20 Custom House Plaza. The historic downtown area known as Old Monterey, containing a number of historic buildings. Follow the yellow plaques in the sidewalk along the Path of History to take in some of the town's most intriguing buildings. Informational signs are posted at each stop. Maps can be found at the California State Parks office near Customs House Plaza. Guided tours are also available.
  • Pacific House Museum, 20 Custom House Plaza. Offers detailed displays on local history and Native American life.
  • Maritime Museum of History. Showcases exhibits that revolve around Monterey's history as a port, and the history of both seafaring and commercial fishing, from the whaling era to the present day.
  • Old Whaling Station. Don't miss the whalebone sidewalk. Whalebone was once a common material for sidewalks in seaside towns; it is very likely this is the last one of its kind.
  • Presidio of Monterey Museum, Corporal Ewing Rd (from Lighthouse Blvd. heading east, follow the signs to the Museum), ☎ +1 831 646-3456, fax: +1 831 646-3917. M: 10 AM-1 PM; Th-Sa: 10 AM-4 PM; Su: 1 PM-4 PM; Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years Day. Gives the history of the Presidio of Monterey from pre-history through the War on Terror. 
  • Monterey Museum of Art. Has two locations. The 559 Pacific Street location, across from Colton Hall, has eight galleries, with both permanent and rotating exhibitions. The La Mirada building is one of Monterey's Mexican-era adobes. Located at 720 Via Mirada, near Monterey Peninsula College, it has four galleries, plus great views of Monterey Bay. One Thursday a month, the Pacific Street location hosts "Art After Hours," with free admission, light appetizers, and drinks.
  • Seals at the wharves. There are two piers and a breakwater that provide excellent viewing of sea lions. Monterey's original "Fisherman's Wharf" generally has a handful of sea lions lounging about, and occasionally, harbor seals on the beach next to the pier. Larger groups of sea lions can generally be found at the more industrial wharf ("Municipal Wharf #2") a short walk to the east from Fisherman's Wharf. Wharf #2 has a small fishing industry warehouse still in operation, so numerous sea lions have made it their home. Towards Cannery Row from Fisherman's Wharf, near the Coast Guard station (reached by driving on Del Monte west from Fisherman's Wharf, through the traffic tunnel and taking the first exit and then the first right turn), there is a large breakwater that is generally occupied by a huge number of sea lions, piled on the breakwater's rocks. One can walk part way down that breakwater on its paved portion and view the sea lions from only a few feet away through a steel fence at the end of that paved portion. Additionally, sea otters can often be seen in the bay, and harbor seals can often be seen at Hopkins Beach, just west of the Hopkins Marine Station (part of Stanford University) that is just west of the Aquarium, or in the calm waters next to Fisherman's Wharf, particularly resting on the tops of rocks that are just above the ocean level (sea lions can jump from the water up to places like the top of the breakwater, harbor seals can't).

What to do in Monterey, CA

  • Dennis the Menace Park (10 minutes walk south from Fisherman's Wharf). Closed Tu. A giant kids park that includes a full sized train, numerous bridges, ducks and geese you can feed and paddle boat rentals. One of the better free municipal parks in Northern California.
  • Monterey Bay Sailing. Monterey Bay Sailing offers sailing trips on Monterey Bay and the chance to see sea otters, sea lions, and harbor seals. This is a safe and eco-friendly activity for all ages.
  • Play on the dunes and the shore at one of the city's five public beaches. Enjoy a romantic or family style Monterey bonfire on the beach.
  • Monterey Bay Coastal Trail. 29 mile-long (47 kilometer-long) walking/biking trail. Bikes available for rent at several places along the path (and at some other places, e.g. Monterey Transit Plaza). Multi-passenger surrey bikes are particularly popular and available for rent.
  • Monterey Bay Kayaks, 693 Del Monte Ave. Offers kayaking equipment rentals as well as guided kayaking tours, classes, and fishing trips.
  • Wharf Theater. Shows often include local interpretations of hit musicals.
  • Golden State Theatre. This recently refurbished theatre offers diverse, family-friendly shows centering around the themes of classic cinema and musical theater. It's worth a trip just to see the ornate interior of the theater.
  • Monterey County Fairgrounds, Fairgrounds Rd. The fairgrounds hosts the annual Monterey Jazz Festival and hosted the one-time Monterey Pop Festival in 1967. Other music festivals occur throughout the year, and the locally famous Monterey County Fair occurs every year in late August.
  • Several companies offer year-round whale watching boat tours, departing daily from Fisherman's Wharf. The area is particularly famous for sightings of gray whales as they travel to warmer waters during the winter and early spring.
  • Get your wet suit on and go Scuba Diving. The Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary has the most amazing kelp forests on the West Coast, and an incredible collection of marine life.
  • Get a panoramic view of the Monterey Bay (and Carmel to the south) from Jack's Peak County Park, the highest point on the Monterey Peninsula and amazingly free of crowds.
  • Laguna Seca Raceway. 1021 Monterey-Salinas Highway. Famous indy car and motorcycle race track.
  • Golf at the local public courses Rancho Cañada, Bayonet and Black Horse, Laguna Seca Golf Ranch, Monterey Pines Golf Course. If you're lucky, you might be able to get a tee time at the world-renowned Pebble Beach.
  • Find out about upcoming events on the events calendar of the Monterey County Convention and Visitors Bureau website.

What to eat and drink in Monterey, CA


The local specialties are artichokes and sanddabs. Artichokes can be found at nearly every restaurant - fried, grilled, broiled, boiled, in soup, on pizza and almost any other way you can imagine. The nearby town of Castroville is "the artichoke center of the world," and the local source for the wealth of artichokes. Sanddabs are a local seafood, often served fried. Clam Chowder in sourdough bread can be found at Fisherman´s Wharf. Abalone is available, too, but expensive. The area is notable for other seafood delicacies, including calamari and Dungeness crab.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium runs a "Seafood Watch" program and keeps a list of which sea life is overfished and which are safe, and environmentally friendly, to eat. Pick a copy of the list up at the Aquarium, or around town. Many local restaurants have signed on to the Seafood Watch program.

Monterey's status as a tourist destination has provided it with a wealth of restaurants beyond what might be expected in a community this size. Almost every cuisine, from oriental to occidental, may be found represented - and usually represented well - in the local area, including the neighboring communities of Pacific Grove, Seaside, and Carmel-by-the-Sea and the Carmel Valley.

  • Ambrosia India Bistro, 565 Abrego St, ☎ +1 831-641-0610. 11:30 AM-2:30 PM, 5 PM-9:30 PM daily. Authentic Indian cuisine from appetizer to dessert. Faults in the service are redeemed by the extraordinary flavors and presentation of the meal. 
  • The Fishwife's Turtle Bay Taqueria, 431 Tyler St. Creative Mexican dishes with Caribbean flair and a wide selection of salsas, served in a relaxed and colorful (literally) atmosphere. Claim your table with a number flag – stuck into the back of a rubber turtle.
  • Crystal Fish, 514 Lighthouse Ave, ☎ +1 831-649-3474. A local favorite for sushi.
  • Epsilon, 422 Tyler St. A truly charming restaurant - cozy, well-lit, hand-decorated, with superb Greek food and passionate staff. The spanakopita with a Greek salad can make a meal on its own.
  • Rosine's, 434 Alvarado St. A downtown, family-friendly classic serving up wonderful portions of comfort food. Famous for its spectacular cakes - make sure you have someone to share with!
  • India's Clay Oven, 150 Del Monte Ave. The second best Indian food in the area, after Ambrosia's. Try the "naan burrito" - a perfect blend of Indian tradition and Monterey historical heritage!
  • East Village Cafe, 498 Washington St.
  • Tarpy's Roadhouse, 2999 Monterey-Salinas Highway. For a taste of Monterey history head to this historic former homestead, housed in a beautiful stone building nestled into a hillside. Classy atmosphere with classic California cuisine - accompany your meal with one of the many local wines on offer.
  • Tabouli's Deli & Mid-Eastern, 309 Lighthouse Ave. If you are looking for a relatively cheap (particularly for Monterey prices), but great meal, Tabouli's is a great place. Tabouli's has great food and great company. The owner and cook are friendly but not overbearing. Because he's the only one running the place usually, it's not a place to go if you are in a hurry.
  • Pizza My HeartDel Monte Center on Munras. Great, cheap pizza, made with all fresh ingredients, and open until 10 PM. If you're looking for a live show that night, just ask the staff; they know everything going on in town.
  • Parker-Lusseau Pastries, 539 Hartnell St. Tucked away in the historic Fremont Adobe building next door to the post office, this small patisserie offers some of the best French pastries and lattes this side of the Atlantic.
  • Bubba Gump's Shrimp Co., Cannery Row. Good food, obviously including seafood. This is a more recognizable location set in the background of many smaller seafood places in the Cannery Row area - explore the options as you walk around.
  • Hula's Island Grill, 622 Lighthouse Ave, ☎ +1 831-655-4852. 11:30 AM-9:30 PM. Hula's Island Grill and Tiki Room is an intimate local's restaurant offering a dining experience in a tropical setting. Offers fun, friendly, enthusiastic service, fresh fish, steaks, seafood, and an overall menu which includes a hint of Asian, a dash of Latin and a touch of Caribbean, all with Hawaiian inspiration. 
  • Compagno's Market and Deli, 2000 Prescott Ave (at Taylor), ☎ +1 831 375-5987. Mon-Fri 10 AM - 6 PM, Sat-Sun 9:30 AM - 5:30 PM. The deli is a little out of the center of town and easy to miss, but it's worth a short car trip. They make great sandwiches with excellent quality cold cuts, delicious meatballs made in-house, very fresh vegetables, and use tasty bread in several varieties. Very popular with local military men and women and civilians. Nice service, too. Be patient; you will wait on line, and they won't rush you.


Monterey has many superb vineyards located near the town. There are a number of tasting rooms located on Cannery Row, all within an easy walk. Some, such as Scheid Vineyards, Bargetto Winery, Baywood Cellars, and Silver Mountain Vineyards provide wines from only one winery. A Taste of Monterey allows visitors to try wines from throughout Monterey County while taking in a spectacular panoramic view of Monterey Bay through their windows.

Monterey-Salinas Transit's bus route Number 24, also called "The Grapevine Express", leaves from downtown Monterey and stops at all the wineries in nearby Carmel Valley. A daypass, which allows riders to hop on and off at will, is $4.50 as of December 2008. Maps and schedules, which detail the wineries that the route stops at, are available at Monterey County Visitors Centers.

Alvarado Street has the densest collection of bars and pubs in the area. The Mucky Duck is famous for its weekly trivia nights, while Lallapalooza has the widest selection of martinis.

  • Wine from the Heart, 241 Alvarado St (Alvarado St brick walkway next to Portotal Hotel), ☎ +1 831-641-9463. 11-8 Tue, Fri & Sat; 11-6 Mon, Wed & Thur. Boutique wine shop and tasting room specializing in wines from artisan, partner and family wineries throughout California, with a special selection of Monterey Bay Area boutique wines. Offers over 30 wines for tasting at either the bar or at their comfortable tables or sofas. Over 150 different wines are also available for purchase. 
  • Indian Summer (just across the Customs House Plaza, behind the Portola Plaza Hotel). A hookah bar with an exotic atmosphere and local brews. Try to plan a visit during a live belly dancing show.
  • Sly McFly's, Cannery Row. Provides live musical entertainment most nights of the week.
  • Carbones Old School New Rules (on the 200 Block of Lighthouse Ave). This is a fantastic bar featuring a large back patio area with fire pit. On Fridays and Saturdays Carbones OSNR features both live music and belly dancers and on Sunday features free pool.
  • Club Octane.
  • Doc Rickett's Lab.
  • Planet Gemini, Cannery Row. Often hosts live comedy nights.
  • Wave Street Studios (Wave Street Studios), 774 Wave St (Walk down the stairs to the bike path to get to the entrance), ☎ +1 831-655-2010. Both an intimate live venue and a recording studio, Wave Street Studios is a great place to see a show.
  • Scheid Vineyards, 751 Cannery Row (Across from the Intercontinental Hotel entrance), ☎ +1 831-656-9463. 11 AM-7 PM. A tasting room with a swank wine-bar atmosphere, Scheid Vineyards sells wine, wine-related items, and locally produced cheeses and charcuterie.​

Shopping in Monterey, CA

  • Monterey Imports (Galarie Monterey), 482 Alvarado St, ☎ +1 831 674-1773. assembles the finest examples of Indian, Nepalese and Tibetan jewelry, statues, sculptures, incense, meditation tools, music cds, textiles (including yoga clothing, pashmina shawls and casual wear) and accessories to be found on the Central Coast.
  • The Del Monte Shopping Center, 1140 Del Monte Center (off Highway 1 at Munras Avenue). Offers a selection of typical mall chain stores, as well as several local restaurants and a large cinema complex.
  • Fisherman's Wharf. Provides plenty of opportunities to find that perfect Monterey postcard or souvenir (who do you know who doesn't want a plush sea otter??). You can also buy the day's latest catch fresh off the boat.
  • Cannery Row. Sports a Pebble Beach Golf shop, where virtually every item on display somehow incorporates the famous Lone Cypress (C) logo. It also has a number of overpriced, tacky specialty shops and overpriced, mediocre restaurants, including a Ghiaradelli store.

Safety in Monterey, CA

Use your common sense as in any other port you visit. It will be enough to keep you safe. 

If you find yourself in an emergency situation (of any kind), dial 911 on your phone.

Language spoken in Monterey, CA

The California Constitution states that English is the official language of the state of California, Californian English is the main language and Spanish is the de facto second language, and a knowledge of even rudimentary Spanish is useful, but not a necessity in most places. Los Angeles has some of the largest Hispanic populations north of Mexico. The state is highly influenced by Spanish culture, as California was one part of the Spanish empire until 1821, and then to Mexico for a short while after until ceded to the USA in 1848. In fact, some of its residents declared it an independent country for about a month (The Bear Flag Republic) in the midst of the Mexican-American War 1846-1848, and many of California's cities were named after saints or phrases in Spanish (such as Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento, and San Jose). Store and street signs are sometimes written in both English and Spanish in major metropolitan areas, and "Spanglish" (a mixture of English and Spanish) is often used and heard throughout the state. Most businesses in California have at least a few employees that are bilingual in English and Spanish. Also, Armenian, Chinese, Japanese, Tagalog, Korean, Vietnamese, Hindi, Punjabi, and Khmer are also widely spoken among Asian Californian populations.

Despite all the languages that are spoken, foundational knowledge of either English or Spanish is more than enough to ensure a successful trip to California. All people that you are likely to encounter speak English and Spanish is studied as a second language in schools by many young people and is also spoken natively by many service industry workers. That said, English is emphatically the more useful of the two.


5:33 pm
July 4, 2022


18.5 °C / 65.3 °F
scattered clouds

16.63 °C/62 °F
overcast clouds

13.82 °C/57 °F
scattered clouds

15.2 °C/59 °F
broken clouds

15.38 °C/60 °F
sky is clear



Travelers recommend visiting the following places of interests

17-Mile Drive, Monterey, CA
Average: 10 (10 votes)

17-Mile Drive is a scenic road through Pebble Beach and Pacific Grove on the Monterey Peninsula in California, much of which hugs the Pacific coastline and passes famous golf courses, mansions and scenic attractions, including the Lone Cypress, Bird Rock and the 5,300-acre Del Monte Forest of Monterey Cypress trees. The drive serves as the main...
Monterey State Historic Park, CA
Average: 9.4 (10 votes)

Monterey State Historic Park is a historic state park in Monterey, California. It includes part or all of the Monterey Old Town Historic District, a historic district that includes 17 contributing buildings and was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1970. The grounds include California's first theatre, and the Monterey Customs House, where...
Monterey Bay Aquarium, CA
Average: 9.8 (11 votes)

The Monterey Bay Aquarium (MBA) is a public aquarium located in Monterey, California, United States. The aquarium was founded in 1984 and is located on the site of a former sardine cannery on Cannery Row. It has an annual attendance of more than two million visitors. It holds thousands of plants and animals, representing more than 600 species on...
Monterey Museum of Art, CA
Average: 9.2 (10 votes)

The Monterey Museum of Art (MMA) is the only nationally accredited art museum between Santa Barbara and San Jose and is located in Monterey, California. It was founded in 1959 as a chapter of the American Federation of Arts. The Monterey Museum of Art collects, preserves, and interprets the art of California from the nineteenth century to the...
Cannery Row, Monterey, CA
Average: 9.7 (10 votes)

Cannery Row is the waterfront street in the New Monterey section of Monterey, California. It is the site of a number of now-defunct sardine canning factories. The last cannery closed in 1973. The street name, formerly a nickname for Ocean View Avenue, became official in January 1958 to honor John Steinbeck and his well-known novel Cannery Row. In...
Pebble Beach Golf Links, Monterey, CA
Average: 9.2 (10 votes)

Pebble Beach Golf Links is a golf course on the west coast of the United States, located in Pebble Beach, California. Widely regarded as one of the most beautiful courses in the world, it hugs the rugged coastline and has wide open views of Carmel Bay, opening to the Pacific Ocean on the south side of the Monterey Peninsula. In 2001 it became...
Fisherman's Wharf, Monterey, California
Average: 9.6 (10 votes)

Fisherman's Wharf is a historic wharf in Monterey, California, United States. Used as an active wholesale fish market into the 1960s, the wharf eventually became a tourist attraction as commercial fishing tapered off in the area. Fisherman's Wharf is technically known as The Old Fisherman's Wharf, to distinguish it from the current commercial...
Lake El Estero, Monterey, CA
Average: 9.1 (10 votes)

Lake El Estero is part of the building blocks of Monterey, California and has been classified as a citywide park. Originally a salt-water lagoon, its outlets to the bay were cut off because of over flooding. The 24.7-acre (100,000 m2) park has become an estuary to many migrating birds and ongoing improvements have been made into preserving...
Cathedral of San Carlos Borromeo, Monterey, CA
Average: 9.5 (10 votes)

The Cathedral of San Carlos Borromeo, also known as the Royal Presidio Chapel, is a Roman Catholic cathedral located in Monterey, California, United States. The cathedral is the oldest continuously operating parish and the oldest stone building in California. It was built in 1794 making it the oldest (and smallest) serving cathedral along with St...
Wharf Theater, Monterey, CA
Average: 9 (10 votes)

The Bruce Ariss Wharf Theater as it is officially known today began its history after World War II when Ariss, an artist and friend of John Steinbeck, returned to the city of Monterey after working with his father's construction company. The original Wharf Theater Friend Yanko Varda introduced Bruce Ariss to Angelo Di Girolamo whose brother had...