Monterey is a charming coastal city near Pacific Grove, California, where you can enjoy your beachside vacation and still do many things including relaxing on the beach. Here are the top six things to do when you are in this city.

1. Lovers Point Beach and Park

Lovers Point beach

Lovers Point Beach | Glorious Sunrise

Lovers Point Beach is a star attraction in Monterey; not only is it a beach, but it also has a park and is a state marine reserve, too. The park is surrounded with majestic cypress trees unique to the Bay Area and has a small picnic area inside. It ends at the sea with a hill of rocks that you can climb to get a cool view of the sea.

There are stairs from the park that lead you down to the beach areas. The first beach area is a really nice spot to relax in. This is also where deep-diving instructors give classes to their students.

2. Monterey Bay Aquarium

Monterey Bay Aquarium

Monterey Bay Aquarium | Glorious Sunrise

Monterey Bay Aquarium is popular with locals and tourists alike from all over California. This sanctuary of sea animals is a wonderful way to learn more about the deep sea creatures. The first floor has a huge forest of kelp with fish of many varieties including large California bass fish, hammerhead sharks, and leopard sharks. There are smaller displays for many varieties of sea animals like sand dollars, tube anemones, and octopuses among others.

The second floor of this aquarium is a treasure indeed. You enter a huge dome to see fish swirling on the top, and then you enter the deep-sea area to see mesmerizing displays of many varieties of jelly fish. Next is the huge display with a giant turtle, fish, and sharks. Be sure to check out the cute sea otters which are a half-level down from the second floor.

3. Asilomar State Beach

Asilomar beach

Asilomar Beach | Pixabay

This beach is famous as a glorious sunrise/sunset spot. There is no place to sit here except for rocks, so do not expect a sandy beach. Parking is along the road. Plan to start in the evening and just come in time to park and walk a little inside to witness a gorgeous sunset. The waters here are choppy but are totally magical to gaze at.

4. 17-Mile Drive

Pebble beach

Pebble Beach | Pixabay

17-Mile Drive is a gorgeous route from Monterey to Pebble Beach and has so many interesting things en route. With rolling hills on one side merging into thick green forests, lined by gorgeous beaches on the other side, this road trip is sure to be in your good memories forever.

There are plenty of photo stops on the way. And the last stop, Pebble Beach, is a very interesting one. You can see the signature lone cypress tree surrounded by pebbles and rocks giving way to the vast ocean. It makes for a great movie setting!

5. Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary

Monarch butterfly sanctuary

Monarch butterfly sanctuary | Pixabay

This sanctuary is a great spot for nature lovers. The majestic Monarch butterflies overwinter here on the many eucalyptus tress, pine trees, and cypress trees here, all bunching together on these trees. It is an awesome sight to behold. Just be careful not to touch them because they are very fragile. Also, the sanctuary imposes a heavy fine of $1,000 if you get rough with these beautiful creatures.

This sanctuary offers the perfect temperature for these butterflies to survive winters. You can visit this spot only from October through February because this is their migration time. After that, these lovely insects migrate away for the upcoming spring.

6. Fisherman’s Wharf

Fisherman's Wharf

Fisherman’s Wharf | Pixabay

The fisherman’s wharf is a popular hangout for locals, and it also has may exciting things to do for tourists. Go whale watching, cruising, sailing and fishing from here. There are plenty of seafood restaurants that serve amazing food. Do try to taste fish and chips from any of them. There are many souvenir shops too that sell interesting mementos.

Seasonally, they keep changing the events that occur here. For example, during the Christmas season, they light up the whole old fisherman’s wharf with festive decorations and conduct live shows around a huge ornamented Christmas tree. They also do a lighted boat parade that literally makes the sea glow. There is also a Santa available for pictures and well-wishing.