Drive to Monterey
Any route to Monterey provides a scenic drive. Several options will bring you to your destination.
From Points North
There are three routes to take from the north (San Francisco).
- The fastest is 101 South to 156 West (near Prunedale) to Hwy 1 South. This route is about 120 miles and takes roughly two hours.
- A second route travels a direct, yet partially twisty road towards Santa Cruz, then south to Monterey. Take 280 South to 85 South (San Jose area) to 17 South (Santa Cruz) to Hwy 1 South. Travel another 40 miles to Monterey. Hwy 17 can also be reached from Hwy 101. Take 880 South (San Jose area) and it will become Hwy 17. Follow this until it intersects with Hwy 1. Continue 40 miles on to Monterey. This route is about 115 miles and also takes roughly two hours.
The longest, yet most scenic route is Hwy 1 all the way from San Francisco. It is also about 120 miles, but the roads can be slow. Allow at least three hours for this journey.
From Points South
There are two routes to Monterey from the south.
- The fastest is Hwy 101 North (to Salinas), then west on Hwy 68, approximately 25 miles to Hwy 1. Allow 6 hours from Los Angeles, which is roughly 350 miles.
- The famous, scenic coastal route is California Highway 1 North, which winds through Big Sur and into Carmel and Monterey. While it is the same distance, the roads are narrower and the breathtaking views require a decrease in speed. Allow 7 hours from Los Angeles.
Getting Around Monterey
Once here, getting around is easy. The destinations of Monterey, Carmel-by-the-Sea, Pacific Grove, Pebble Beach and Carmel Valley are just minutes from one another, and the dramatic Big Sur coastal drive is only a short and extraordinary 45-minute drive away.
Rental cars are available at the Monterey Regional Airport.
Local bus transportation, provided by Monterey-Salinas Transit, is inexpensive and easy to use. Visitors in the summer months can also take advantage of the free WAVE (Waterfront Area Visitor Express) buses. They run continuously from 9 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on a circular route between downtown Monterey and the Monterey Bay Aquarium, stopping at various attractions in between.