As the country says goodbye to summer, Monterey County is gearing up for its most extraordinary season on the Central Coast. From a wide range of world-class events to delectable food and wine celebrations and the return of majestic monarch butterflies, Monterey County is jam-packed with must-see fall festivities for every kind of traveler. Here is a look at the top fall getaways at this iconic California destination:
WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca will kick off September with two championship races at its 11-turn, 2.238 mile road course. First up, visitors can catch prototypes and grand touring cars battle it out on the Corkscrew (a one-of-a-kind turn in motorsports) during the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship from September 13 through 15. The raceway will then prepare to welcome the Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey IndyCar Series Championship for the first time in 15 years from September 20 through 22.
Races of another kind will take shape in both October and November, as Monterey County hosts the Monterey Bay Triathlon and Monterey Bay Half Marathon. Elite and amateur triathletes will compete in one of the most scenic triathlons in the world in Pacific Grove from October 19 through 20. The Monterey Bay Triathlon offers an Olympic distance triathlon, Sprint distance triathlon, Aqua Bike race and a Kids Fun Run. On November 10, runners will convene in historic downtown Monterey to run along Cannery Row, the Monterey Bay and downtown Pacific Grove for the Monterey Bay Half Marathon. With scenic views of waves crashing on rocky beaches, Victorian-era homes and aquatic wildlife, runners are guaranteed unrivaled views.
The Monterey Jazz Festival returns for its 62nd year welcoming more than 500 artists who will perform nonstop on eight stages at the Monterey County Fair and Event Center from September 27 through 29. Voted “World’s Best Jazz Festival” by readers of JazzTime magazine, the festival attracts top-name performers in jazz and boasts art exhibits, jazz clinics and seminars.
In the charming seaside village of Carmel-by-the-Sea, local artists and winemakers will gather along the Carmel Art Walk for the town’s first Meet the Makers event on October 12. Visitors can meet artists in their galleries while sipping Monterey County wine.
Every fall, thousands of Monarch butterflies migrate to the pines and eucalyptus trees of the Monarch Grove Butterfly Sanctuary in “America’s Last Hometown,” Pacific Grove. Visitors are invited to celebrate this annual tradition at the town’s Butterfly Parade & Bazaar on October 5. Kindergartners come dressed as the famed butterflies, while others dress in costumes including otters, farmers, pioneers and clowns.
As a destination featuring 46,000 acres of premium vineyards, Monterey County’s wineries and tasting rooms host a variety of events to celebrate wine harvest season. Bernardus Lodge and Spa in Carmel Valley hosts its fourth Barbecue, Grape Stomp and Oyster Shuck on October 5. Offering the unique opportunity to spend the afternoon in the resort’s Ingrid’s Vineyard, guests can enjoy wine tasting, live music, fresh Pacific Gold Oysters, family-style barbecue and grape stomping.
Carmel-by-the-Sea hosts its 31st annual Taste of Carmel on October 3. A town home to the only Michelin-starred restaurant between Los Angeles and Los Gatos, Aubergine at L’Auberge Carmel, event-goers can expect to enjoy world-class dining, top-rated wines, live music, culinary education experiences and a silent auction showcasing area restaurants, inns and boutique goods.
Carmel Valley Ranch, set in the rolling hills of Carmel Valley, launched a new Sunset Dinner in the Garden available now through October 26. Guests can join executive chef Tim Wood three nights a week for lawn games, live music and a family-style meal featuring locally-sourced foods including Swank Farms heirloom tomato and burrata, Santa Maria-style grilled tri-tip, strawberry-lavender shortcake and s’mores.
Big Sur Food and Wine Festival returns from November 7 through 9 with delicious cuisine, acclaimed wines and exquisite scenic views. Local and visiting restaurateurs, resorts and wineries from all over will team up for dinners and tasting at unique Big Sur locations, with proceeds benefiting the local community.
The Farm, an agricultural education center located in Salinas Valley, will host a variety of family-friendly events in October. Visitors can enjoy puppet shows, pumpkin races and hayrides during its Fall Festival; an evening experience including live music and pumpkin picking under the fall moon; and the opportunity to carve a pumpkin vase to display handpicked flowers from The Farm’s organic fields.
Established on Halloween in 1916, Carmel-by-the-Sea will celebrate its 103rd birthday throughout the month of October with a variety of festive events. Visitors can race gourds during the village’s annual pumpkin roll on October 5 followed by a citywide Halloween Party on October 26. Festivities include a parade, barbecue and birthday cake!