Today is Plan for Vacation Day, a day to get inspired for what the year ahead holds and not only plan your time off but book your time off! Book now and book directly with our local hotels, attractions and restaurants for the best rate, warm hospitality, the most availability and flexibility for your stay, and the opportunity to support a local business.
Start planning an amazing getaway by doing your research, and get inspired by what Monterey County has to offer, including annual events, things to do & places to stay for every budget and need. Look for deals & special offers too, including travel packages found directly through local hotels for savings when you stay longer, or discounts on experiences like whale watching. Use the See Monterey app to create a personalized itinerary to organize your visit, and book hotels, restaurants and attractions directly through the app!
Monterey County boasts extraordinary experiences and epic events year-round for a trip that leaves you truly inspired and transformed. Discover the destination by season, including notable places to stay for each seasonal draw, and book ahead of time directly with our owner-operated hotels for the best rate and service.
Use the jump-list below to help you plan and book the perfect vacation to California’s central coast.
SPRING VACATION (March, April, May)
Spring brings warmer temperatures and longer days and nights to California’s central coast. The wildflowers are in full bloom, like Pacific Grove’s vibrant purple carpet, making nature walks & hikes especially bright & beautiful during this time of year. Scenic drives along the coast on Highway 1 and on Pebble Beach’s 17-Mile Drive are a springtime must.
THINGS TO DO
- Explore the spring scenery on two-wheels on picturesque bike rides through the destination
- Venture out on hiking trails for all levels and abilities at one of the many county, state and national parks within the destination for National Park Week (April 16 - 24)
- Stroll through local farmers' markets to taste the fresh bounty of the Salinas Valley “Salad Bowl of the World.” *Farmers’ markets are open seasonally, so be sure to check individual schedules here
- Find the top 5 places to spot sea otters in their natural habitat for World Otter Day (May 25)
- Eat, shop and experience local women-owned businesses in Monterey County in celebration of International Women's Month in March and local AAPI-owned businesses in Monterey County in celebration of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month in May
- Whalefest Monterey (March 18 - 19)
- Sea Otter Classic (April 20 - 23)
- Monterey Winemakers' Celebration (May 6)
- Mother's Day (May 14)
- California Roots Festival (May 25 - 28)
PLACES TO STAY
If you’re looking for a good spot to see the purple carpet bloom in Pacific Grove, book a picturesque stay at one of the charming inns located along the coastline. Seven Gables Inn overlooks Lover’s Point Cove and is just steps from the purple ice plants that bloom in the spring. Nearby Centrella Inn is an award-winning National Historic Landmark that encapsulates the town’s Victorian charm, offering a complimentary breakfast with freshly baked scones and homemade cookies in the evening. Book in advance, as rooms tend to fill up quickly!
SUMMER VACATION (June, July, August)
Trade in your summer heat for the cool coastal breezes of the Monterey Bay! Venture to Fort Ord National Monument & Los Padres National Forest to enjoy some well-deserved respite on nature walks, bike rides & hikes. And nothing says summer like a quintessential California sunset, so head to California's central coast to revel in the days last rays at some local favorite places to watch the sunset.
For classic car enthusiasts, there is nowhere else to be in the summer than at Monterey Car Week. Beautiful classic cars take to the streets, golf courses, parks & WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca for a week packed with events.
THINGS TO DO
- Wet your whistle with locally brewed craft beers at breweries & taphouses throughout the destination, like Post No Bills in Sand City and Other Brother Beer Co. in Seaside
- Dip your toes in the river as you listen to live music on Sundays at Big Sur River Inn. Every summer they host local bands who fill the afternoons with joyous tunes
- Head to Monterey County's vibrant arts district, Sand City, to see a flourishing public art gallery of dozens of street murals created by local and visiting artists. Use the Mural Walking Tour map as your guide
- Whether you sail, scuba, surf or whale watch, get out on the Monterey Bay however you like best for World Ocean's Day (June 8)
- Soak in the sun at beaches throughout the destination for National Beach Day (August 30)
- U.S. Women's Open (June 5 -9)
- Carmel Culinary Week (June 2 - 9)
- Artichoke Festival (June 10 - 11)
- Father's Day (June 18)
- Juneteenth831 at Laguna Grande Park in Seaside and Juneteenth Coalition events (June 19)
- Superbike Speedfest (July 7 - 9)
- Monterey Beer Festival (July 8)
- Carmel Bach Festival (July 14 - 30)
- Classic MotoFest of Monterey (July 14 - 16)
- Monterey Peninsula Pride (July 15)
- California Rodeo Salinas (July 20)
- Salinas Valley Food & Wine Festival (TBD)
- Monterey Car Week & Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance (August 11 - 20)
- Sand City West End Celebration (TBD)
- Monterey County Fair (August 31 - September 4)
PLACES TO STAY
Stay at Monterey Hotel for special deals! When you book an overnight stay directly with this boutique hotel, you get 2 complimentary beer flights at Alvarado Street Brewery with their Beer & Stay Package. More great hotels in downtown Monterey include BLu Hotel Pacific and Hotel Abrego.
FALL VACATION (September, October, November)
Monterey County experiences a “second summer” during the fall, making this season the best time of the year for warm weather activities, like walking the Monterey Bay Coastal Recreation Trail, lounging at the beaches and hiking for all levels & abilities. The fall also brings the very special migration of monarch butterflies to the Pacific Grove, also known as “Butterfly Town U.S.A.” These inspiring butterflies are on the rise can be seen at the Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary.
THINGS TO DO
- Chase the waves by surfing along Monterey County's coast for California Surf Month
- Support our local winegrape growers and vintners this California Farm & Farmers Month and California Wine Month by visiting wineries & tasting rooms throughout Monterey County and enjoying the fruits of their labors AKA drink more wine!
- Eat, drink and shop at Hispanic-owned businesses in Monterey County in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month
- Recognize and honor the cultural traditions, histories, contributions and ancestral sacred sites of the Esselen, Rumsen, Chalone, Sureño, Chunchunes and Guatcharrone peoples native to Monterey County in celebration of Native American Heritage Month and Indigenous Peoples Day (October 9). When visiting Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, know that this is a sacred place for the Esselen Tribe of Monterey County. The tribe has installed an interpretive sign at the Esselen district of Ecgeajan, where Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park now lives. Learn about this sacred ground by reading the informative sign and move about this space with respect by staying on designated trails
- Grand Prix (INDYCAR) (September 8 - 10)
- Monterey Greek Festival (September 22 - 24)
- Monterey Jazz Festival (September 22 - 24)
- Rebels & Renegades Music Festival (October 6 - 8)
- Big Sur Food & Wine Festival (TBD)
- Monterey Bay Half Marathon (November 10 - 12)
- Thanksgiving (November 23)
PLACES TO STAY
Spend autumn in sun-kissed Carmel Valley at Hidden Valley Inn & Los Laureles Lodge. The drive in promises gorgeous valley & vineyard views and most of Carmel Valley’s wine tasting rooms, like Scratch Wines, Joyce Wine Company and Parsonage Winery are walking distance from each other at Carmel Valley Village.
WINTER VACATION (December, January, February)
Though the weather cools down a bit during the winter in Monterey County, there is no snow! Need we say more? The cool, crisp air lends itself well to hiking at Pinnacles National Park, especially on some of the more strenuous (but rewarding!) trails. And of course, there’s no better way to warm up during the winter than with a piping hot bread bowl of the best clam chowder in Monterey County.
MORE THINGS TO DO
- Embark on a winter whale watching tour of the Monterey Bay for sightings of gray whales, orca, dolphins & porpoises and more
- In honor of renowned-author John Steinbeck's birthday (Feb. 27), visit three essential John Steinbeck stops in Salinas, including the National Steinbeck Center
- Eat, shop and experience local black-owned businesses in Monterey County in celebration of Black History Month in February
- AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am (January 31 - February 6, 2023)
- Christmas at the Inns (TBD)
- Christmas in the Adobes (December 8 - 9, 2023)
- First Night Monterey (December 31, 2023)
- Monterey SwingFest (January 10 - 14, 2024)
PLACES TO STAY
Book a winter getaway with Inns of Monterey, a collection of five boutique hotels, including Casa Munras Garden Hotel & Spa, Spindrift Inn, Monterey Bay Inn, Victorian Inn and Wave Street Inn. All are in the city of Monterey, which is filled with holiday cheer during the holidays! Old Fisherman’s Wharf, Cannery Row, and historic adobes throughout the city are festively decorated, with an ice-skating rink situated near the bay for family-fun.