From dramatic coastal views to verdant fields and sun-drenched mountain ranges, Monterey County’s pristine natural beauty offers the perfect getaway to unwind, indulge and be transformed. Here are 20 reasons to visit Monterey County in 2020!
1. Join the city of Monterey in celebrating its 250th anniversary on June 3, 2020. Celebrations include walking history tours, commemorative food and beverage offerings, the installment of a new 15-foot abalone sculpture and more.
2. In January, Nobel prize-winning author John Steinbeck’s novel "Cannery Row" celebrates its 75th anniversary. Add the National Steinbeck Center in Salinas to your must-visit list to learn about the man behind the novel, as well as why the old cannery street in Monterey was named after it.
3. Monterey County is known for its robust list of food and wine events - from the Pebble Beach Food and Wine Festival in April to the Salinas Valley Food and Wine Event in August. New in 2020, Carmel-by-the-Sea hosted its first Culinary Week from Jan. 19-26 including special menus and immersive events.
4. Three of Monterey Peninsula’s premier golf courses will host the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am golf tournament from Feb. 3-9. Ticketholders can watch top PGA Tour professionals team up with Hollywood celebrities, world-renowned musicians and the captains of the industry as they compete on the famed Pebble Beach Golf Links, Spyglass Hill Golf Course and Monterey Peninsula Country Club Short Course. Tournament proceeds benefit hundreds of nonprofit charities.
5. Adults can return to their summer camp days at the new lodging site, The Camp at Carmel Valley. Choose to lodge in cabins, houses or tents while enjoying a wide array of both self-guided and partnered activities including yoga, wine tasting, basket weaving and equine.
6. Experience the largest cycling festival and consumer trade show in North America during the Sea Otter Classic at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey October 1-4. The event includes a variety of bike races and fun rides for every age.
7. Marathon runners should mark their calendar for the Big Sur International Marathon on April 26. This 26.2 mile coastal marathon is considered one of the most beautiful in the world, as well as one of the most challenging.
8. From paragliding off Marina State Beach dunes to rock climbing the rocky spires and pinnacles at Pinnacles National Park, Monterey County is a premier active getaway for outdoor enthusiasts. Choose to explore 19 parks, an estuarine reserve, a marine sanctuary and more than a dozen beaches during your visit.
9. Artichoke lovers can head to Monterey County Fairgrounds and Event Center from May 30-31 for the annual Artichoke Festival. Enjoy artichoke cooking demos, artichoke-themed art, an artichoke parade, a farmers’ market and plenty of artichoke tasting opportunities.
10. 2020 is the year for hotel renovations. Guests will enjoy refreshed accommodations at many popular lodging properties, including the Monterey Marriott Hotel, Portola Hotel and Spa, Hotel Abrego and Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel and Spa, as well as the Sandpiper Inn in Carmel-by-the-Sea.
11. Watch jaw-dropping aeronautical acrobatics from the United States Air Force Thunderbirds and more during the California International Airshow in Salinas from June 6-7. Onlookers will enjoy military demos, fly-bys and aircraft displays that will span over the Monterey Peninsula and Salinas Valley.
12. For more aircraft thrills, the new Yanks Air Museum will open its doors in the summer of 2020 in Greenfield. The museum will feature a world-class collection of restored aircrafts that reflect the entire spectrum of American aviation, as well as an education center devoted to stimulating and educating new generations about aviation.
13. From July 16-19, Salinas hosts the famed California Rodeo Salinas at the Salinas Sports Complex – an event that dates back to 1911. The largest rodeo in California, the event attracts more than 600 top-ranked professional cowboys and cowgirls and is a family-friendly, affordable event featuring western entertainment, shopping and more.
14. The quaint fishing village of Moss Landing becomes the antique capital of the world during the Moss Landing Antique Fair on July 26. Attendees can visit more than 200 antique booths with one-of-a-kind vintage items and furnishings.
15. September may be California wine month, but Monterey County offers wine tasting experiences year-round. Visitors can choose from 65 tasting rooms throughout Carmel-by-the-Sea, Carmel Valley, Monterey and Salinas Valley.
16. The city of Monterey has hosted the longest continuously running jazz event in the world since 1958. Held on Sept. 25-27, the Monterey Jazz Festival features more than 500 artists performing on eight stages, as well as art exhibits, jazz clinics and seminars.
17. In October, Monterey’s popular tourist hub, Old Fisherman’s Wharf, will celebrate its 175th anniversary. Known for its year-round whale watching adventures, fishing excursions, restaurants serving clam chowder and gift shops, Fisherman’s Wharf will mark the occasion with a birthday bash on Oct. 11.
18. The charming Victorian town of Pacific Grove has a long history with monarch butterflies. Named Butterfly Town USA, hundreds of monarch butterflies migrate to the town’s sanctuary to overwinter from mid-October to mid-February.
19. Monterey’s neighboring coastal city Seaside has been seeing a renaissance over the last year. From new additions, including Other Brother Beer Company for beer lovers to the unique coffee shop-recording studio combo Counterpoint Coffee, Seaside is quickly becoming a trendy spot to explore.
20. Rounding out the list is the must-visit attraction, Monterey Bay Aquarium. Dedicated to marine research and conservation for more than 35 years, the Aquarium is home to more than 35,000 creatures representing 550 sea life and marine species including the county’s famed sea otters. Add a behind-the-scenes tour or sleepover for an intimate experience of the Aquarium’s world-class exhibits.