Spring break is the ideal time for college students to take a break from the stress of campus life and enjoy some quality time with friends. With its picturesque coastline, charming seaside towns, and abundance of outdoor adventures, Monterey County is not only a top California road trip destination, it’s also a fun place to visit. From beaches and hiking to a vibrant arts scene, spring break in Monterey, California offers something for everyone.

Spacious & Budget Friendly Hotels & Resorts

Across Monterey County, you’ll find a variety of lodging options, from inns and resorts to hostels. (You could even opt to camp for the ultimate outdoorsy experience.)

Budget-friendly hotels like Days Inn and the newer Econo Lodge Bay Breeze provide clean, no-frills accommodations that fit almost any budget. The newly renovated Monterey Hostel is also an ideal spot for groups of friends wanting to stay together, though private rooms are also available.

If you’re traveling with just one or two friends, consider bunking up in a bed and breakfast, which provides a comfortable place to stay and a morning meal. The Victorian Inn is a centrally located—and charming— option that offers not only breakfast but also hosts an afternoon wine and cheese hour each day as well.

Fun Things to Do

Two girls smiling at sunset on the rocky shores of Pacific Grove in Monterey County

If you’re interested in hitting the beach, the popular Monterey State Beach is a good place to start, whether you want to try surfing or prefer to lounge on the sand.

For kayaking or stand-up paddleboarding, head to Lover’s Point in Pacific Grove and book with Adventures By The Sea. You could also cruise aboard the El Cat, a 37-foot, electric-powered catamaran for a guided wildlife tour. Check out exhilarating activities like skydiving, rock climbing, and scuba diving for the ultimate thrill.

If you prefer to stay on land, Pinnacles National Park is a popular spot for outdoor activities like hiking, stargazing and rock climbing.

For a unique, eco-friendly experience, consider taking a hand car tour in Marina, where you can ride hand-cranked railway cars through scenic landscapes. And for those with a taste for adrenaline, visit the iconic Laguna Seca raceway to witness thrilling racing events and even try your hand at driving a racecar.

Finally, a Monterey spring break wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Old Fisherman's Wharf, which offers incredible seafood, unique shops, views of sea otters playing in the Pacific Ocean and, of course, the world-famous Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Where to Eat

Monterey County boasts a wide variety of food options, no matter what cuisine you’re craving. For a casual breakfast or brunch, check out First Awakenings, a great place to eat fresh, quality food, or From Scratch, which makes incredible pancakes, granola and mimosas. Just looking for a quick morning pick-me-up? Head to Counterpoint Coffee for delicious espresso drinks and cool vibes.

This is an image of the exterior of Dust Bowl Brewing Co. in Monterey at sunset. Various groups of friends sit at wooden bench style seating in the breweries outdoor area, laughing and drinking beer together.

For lunch, check out Dust Bowl Brewing Company’s selection of craft beer and fresh tacos or take out from Ocean Sushi, known for its incredible Japanese food. Some great dinner spots include El Cantaro, which offers vegan Mexican food, and Peter B’s Brewpub, which is known for being a good place to watch sports and enjoy a unique bar menu.

For dessert, treat yourselves with Revival Ice Cream’s handcrafted, unique flavors like Eucalyptus Mint Chip and Banana Caramel.

Must-Attend Events

There are many interesting things to do during your Monterey spring break. First Fridays at the Monterey Museum of Art is a free weekly event with after-hours access to the museum and live music. The museum also hosts creative classes like painting and candle making, which would be fun to take with a group of friends.

You won’t want to miss the Night Market 831, held on the first Friday of every month at the Sand City Art Park. It features local vendors selling food, drinks, and crafts, along with live music and interactive art experiences, creating a festive atmosphere for the community.

For a taste of the local scene, Alvarado Street farmers' market on Tuesday evenings showcases three blocks of international cuisine vendors as well as makers selling their jewelry, art, clothing and other goods. Looking for a fun night out? Try Pearl Hour cocktail bar, which hosts live jazz on Wednesdays and Sundays, as well as offers other weekly events with DJs and burlesque dancing.

No matter what you and your friends are looking for, Monterey is a perfect place to visit over spring break. From beaches to hiking trails, cultural happenings to great food, you’ll have unique experiences together that you’ll never forget.