Whether you have an open itinerary or a packed to-do list, Monterey offers up some unique experiences that should be on your bucket list. Below we have put together some of our favorites, we dare you to grab life by the moments and try them all!

1. Try some authentic Monterey abalone

Looking for something a little more adventurous than the typical calamari or clam chowder bread bowls? Try some local Monterey abalone! Abalonetti Seafood Trattoria on Old Fisherman's Wharf has a couple of abalone dishes on the menu including an abalone sandwich.

Abalonetti Bar & Grill

2. Paraglide in Marina

Get a different perspective and take to the skies of Monterey. Paragliding in Marina gives you an exciting way to get some of the best views of sand dunes and the Monterey Bay coastline.

Hang Gliders on Marina State Beach

3. Take a Vineyard Tour

Nothing says California quite like sunshine and walking through grapevines. Take the opportunity to get an intimate look at the wine making process in a top California wine region. Both Folktale Winery in Carmel Valley and the Hahn ATV tours in the Salinas Valley offer fun and informational vineyard tours.

Folktale Winery & Vineyards

4. Hike to the Fire Tower at Garland Park

On the hunt for a hike with a view? A lesser known trail is the Snively’s Ridge hiking trail at Garland Park. This hike can be a bit challenging, but once you reach the top you are rewarded with a gorgeous view. On a clear day you can see all of Carmel Valley and the coastline up to the edges of Santa Cruz.

Garland Ranch Regional Park

5. Pack a Picnic

Looking for something a little less strenuous? Pack a picnic and soak in the views at one of these hot spots.

6. Witness a breaching whale

Both Moss Landing and Monterey offer lots of options for whale watching in the Monterey Bay. If you are lucky, you may see a whale breach fully out of the water which makes for an incredible scene.

Whale tail

7. See an endangered California Condor in flight

Due to conservation and rehabilitation efforts, the endangered California Condors are making a slow yet steady comeback. The central California population is around 70 birds and can be seen mostly down the Big Sur coast or in Pinnacles National Park.

Condor Flyover

8. Find clusters of migrating Monarch Butterflies

Every fall, thousands of Monarch Butterflies migrate north and pass through the town of Pacific Grove. At the Monarch Grove Sanctuary, you can witness bright orange clusters of the butterflies hanging from tree branches taking a quick rest before continuing their journey.

Monarch butterflies in eucalyptus trees at Monarch Grove Sanctuary

9. Camp under the stars in Big Sur

There are tons of beautiful campsites along the Big Sur coast that are convenient for those who looking to rough it out. Forget your gear? Fernwood Resort and Big Sur Riverside Campgrounds offer tent cabins that give you a similar outdoors experience without the hassle. If you are really looking to kick the glamping up a notch check out the yurts and human nest at Treebones Resort on the south coast of Big Sur.

Human Nest at Treebones Resort

10. Explore Pinnacles National Park

Pinnacles is the newest National Park and offers up no shortage of exploration. With plenty of birds and wildlife, miles of hiking trails, awesome rock climbing, and two caves to discover there is something for every visitor.

Pinnacles National Park

11. Scuba dive in the Kelp Forests

Getting below the waves and swimming through the kelp forests is an experience like none other. Become one with Mother Nature as you stride and dive alongside the marine animals that call the Monterey Bay home; you may even end up nose-to-nose with a harbor seal!

The Drop Off

12. Kayak along the wharf

Not Scuba certified? You can still get an intimate and up close look at the sea life in Monterey Bay via a kayak. Paddle towards Cannery Row and Old Fisherman’s Wharf where you’ll get a unique view of Monterey and get to see plenty of sea otters and sea lions along the way!

Kayaker having fun

13. Play a round of golf with an ocean view

Golf enthusiasts know about Monterey because of the infamous Pebble Beach golf courses, but there are so many more courses to explore! If you are looking for a golf course with an ocean view we also recommend checking out Pacific Grove Golf Links or Bayonet and Black Horse Golf Courses.