Towering rock spires, sweeping coastal views, architectural marvels and some of the Monterey Peninsula’s last undeveloped wildlands. Discover them all when you explore the rich and diverse landscapes you find only in Monterey County.
Once upon a time a man named Hugh Comstock lived in Carmel-by-the-Sea. He so loved his artist wife, that he built her an English fairytale cottage to display her collectible dolls. That whimsical home became the first of 21 fairytale cottages that still offer their touch of magic to this seaside town.
Built in 1791, the Mission Nuestra Senora de la Soledad is rich in California history. The 13th of the 21 California missions is surrounded by the lush agriculture fields and miles of vineyards in the Salinas Valley.
Toro Park spans 4,756 acres, just six miles from Salinas. This popular stop on the Central Coast Birding Trail is a haven for wildlife that includes deer, coyote and mountain lions. Rare golden eagles soar on wind currents overhead while 20 miles of hiking trails lead to sweeping Salinas Valley and Monterey Bay views.
Fort Ord National Monument is cherished for its historical and cultural significance. More than 1.5 million American Army troops trained here between World War I through Operation Desert Storm. Today, this coastal gem provides more than 86 miles of trails where you can hike, bike and ride a horse over rolling hills and through unique Central Coast chaparral.
Pinnacles National Park is a geological wonderland teeming with wildlife that includes the endangered California condor. Thirty-two miles of trails carry hikers through talus caves, alongside fragrant meadows and on to the jutting volcanic spires for which Pinnacles is known.
Look up…way up! And view the tallest measured tree species on earth: giant redwoods growing along the Big Sur coastline. Average mature trees hit about 200 to 240 feet high (some even taller!) with trunk diameters of 10 to 15 feet.
From swimming to surfing, beach volleyball to kayaking, Lovers Point Beach and its 4.4-acre park have provided a popular Pacific Grove spot for beachside fun for over 100 years. Its unique east-facing location makes it one of the only West Coast locations where you can watch sunrises over the water.
Just north of Monterey State Beach, Fort Ord Dunes State Park holds 170 acres of protected dunes, the highest dunes on the Central Coast. While dolphins play in the waves off shore, steady winds and waves offer a siren call to morning surfers, afternoon hang gliders and kite-flying enthusiasts all day long.
Under the Waves
In Moss Landing, Elkhorn Slough’s protected waters, salt marsh and mudflats are home to the highest concentration of southern sea otters on the California coast. Witness mama otters drift past with fluffy pups safe on their bellies. And you’re bound to catch always-hungry otters nibbling on clams, oysters, abalone and sea urchins.
At 28 feet, the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Kelp Forest is one of the tallest aquarium exhibits in the world. Spy rockfish hanging from kelp blades and camouflaging red octopi. Witness sardines, slender leopard sharks and wolf-eels weave among swaying kelp fronds, just as they do in the wild.
From sun-bleached beaches to dense woodlands to exotic marine life, Monterey County offers an intoxicating mix of some of North America’s most remarkable landscapes.