Are you seeking a getaway this spring? Monterey County offers the best of California with its epic outdoor adventures, abundant farm-to-table dining, renowned wine country and world-class events. Discover why now is the moment to visit our swoon-worthy destination including must-visit experiences and notable places to stay for 10 types of travelers.
What kind of travel-seeker are you? Use the list below to help you plan the perfect spring escape.
THE BEACH GO-ER
Monterey County offers 99-miles of coastline including dramatic cliffs with everything from breathtaking waterfalls to rocky shores perfect for the avid tidepooler to sandy beaches suitable for surfing, fishing and swimming. Enjoy a visit to the beach with fewer crowds at the mile-long Carmel River State Beach in Carmel-by-the-Sea or local favorite, Del Monte Beach in Monterey, a hidden gem with a boardwalk and picnic tables.
Stay: Monterey Tides in Monterey is located directly on the beach and nestled beneath miles of sand dunes. The hotel is the perfect spot to catch one of California’s majestic sunsets, enjoy oceanfront dining and get in some beach time.
THE WILDFLOWER CONNOISSEUR
Spring brings the vibrant return of wildflowers to the central coast including California poppies, calla lilies, sky lupine and more. There are several notable trails and parks to witness the spring blooms including Fort Ord National Monument, which features 35 species of rare plants and animals, Pinnacles National Park with nearly 100 species of wildflowers during its peak blooming season, and Pacific Grove’s “Magic Purple Carpet” featuring a majestic blanket of magenta ice plants along Ocean View Boulevard.
Stay: Centrella Inn is an award-winning National Historic Landmark in Pacific Grove that was built in 1889. The inn encapsulates the town’s Victorian charm and offers a complimentary breakfast, freshly baked scones and homemade cookies in the evening. Plus, it is within easy walking distance to the purple carpet phenomena that takes over the nearby coastline.
THE ECO-CONSCIOUS TRAVELER
Monterey County is a leader in sustainability and conservation, with more than 90 businesses certified by the Monterey Bay Area Green Business program. Travelers can choose from LEED-certified lodging options to a variety of recreation activities with ties to conservation including parks that protect endangered and threatened species like the California condors. Monterey County is also the epicenter of the sustainable seafood movement, led by Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch.
Stay: Blu Pacific Hotel in Monterey contributes to energy and resource conservation and is powered by solar power. The hotel offers a contemporary décor, free daily breakfasts and easy access to the destination’s top attractions.
Monterey County has several thriving food scenes ready for adventurous palates. Dine at more than 50 restaurants within one-square-mile in Carmel-by-the-Sea including Michelin Star, Aubergine. In Monterey, three historic buildings have been newly reimagined with elevated and sustainably sourced dining experiences including Cella Restaurant, Montrio and Stokes Adobe. Main Street in Old Town Salinas has several notable dining spots for the foodie including a new Italian restaurant, Mangia, traditional Mexican cuisine at Villa Azteca and European-inspired dining at Patria.
Stay: Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa offers dramatic oceanside views and is in the process of completing guest room renovations along historic Cannery Row in Monterey. The hotel recently launched a new high-end restaurant concept, Coastal Kitchen, in addition to its oceanfront terrace dining experience, Schooners.
Monterey County is known for its abundant wine production and signature varietals, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. The destination offers more than 65 tasting rooms throughout the county including stops along the expanding River Road Wine Trail in Salinas Valley. For an authentic vineyard tasting experience, try new additions including central coast-focused Cru Winery, family-owned Rustique Wines and a Carmel Valley favorite, Joyce Wine Company, opening its River Road tasting room in April.
Stay: Holman Ranch offers 14 guest rooms steps from its vineyard and winery in Carmel Valley. The historic ranch offers a luxurious escape with access to nature trails, a game room, firepit and the vineyard’s estate wines.
THE OUTDOOR ENTHUSIAST
With 13 state parks for hiking, miles of sand dunes for epic hang gliding and some of the world’s most famous golf courses, Monterey County offers endless opportunities for outdoor recreation. Travelers should add a visit to Andrew Molera State Park, celebrating 50 years, which offers miles of trails that wind through meadows, bluffs, beaches and hilltops in Big Sur. Toro Park in Salinas recently reopened Marks Ranch in fall 2021, allowing visitors to once again explore its varied wildlife, oak-studded rolling hills, meadows and 90 species of wildflowers.
Stay: V6 Ranch in Parkfield offers guests an authentic working cattle ranch vacation including cattle drives, cowboy academies, dude ranch weekends and wrangler rides. Visitors can choose from a variety of lodging options including glamping, bunkhouses, camping and the Parkfield Lodge. The Lodge features 10 rooms, each with its own unique theme honoring the Cholame Valley.
THE WILDLIFE LOVER
Animal and marine life sightings are a natural part of a visit to Monterey County. The spring season adds the addition of baby animals including baby gray whales and orcas, sea lions and seals and sea otters. Visitors can book wildlife sightseeing tours departing from Monterey or Moss Landing for viewing experiences filled with expert insight. One of the best spots to get an up-close look at marine life is the world famous Monterey Bay Aquarium, which will debut a new exhibit, Into the Deep: Exploring Our Undiscovered Ocean, on April 9.
Stay: Vision Quest Ranch in Salinas Valley gives guests the opportunity to have a safari-like experience steps away from the sounds of lions and tigers at the Monterey Zoo. Visitors can stay in tent-style bungalows with their own bathroom facilities, as well as enjoy a continental breakfast and the opportunity to meet and greet one of the Zoo’s many animals.
THE EDU-VACATION TRAVELER
Monterey County is brimming with history and educational experiences for those seeking to learn during their spring break. The city of Monterey was once the capital of Alta California and is the site of many California firsts including the first theatre, first designated building and countless other historical sites that can be explored through the Path of History self-guided tour. The county is also home to some of the best outdoor landmarks including one of the nation’s largest marine protected areas, Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.
Stay: Los Laurels Lodge in Carmel Valley dates back to the early 1830s and has a storied history including its origins as a family rancho to adding extensive stables for the racehorses of former owner, Muriel “Vanderbilt” Phelps. Travelers can now stay in the converted horse stalls or other unique lodging options and enjoy the properties onsite restaurant and saloon.
THE WELLNESS ENTHUSIAST
Travelers seeking a wellness escape can get their dose of physical and mental wellbeing. Visitors can choose from a spiritual hike in Big Sur that includes a visit to the New Camaldoli Hermitage to an equine experience that offers ways to find inner peace at Carmel Valley Ranch. The slow travel pace of the county also lends itself to travelers interested in disconnecting from today’s daily distractions and allowing them to be in the moment and take in the destination’s soul-nourishing scenery.
Stay: Casa Palmero at Pebble Beach is an intimate, Mediterranean-style hotel that offers morning yoga, a personal concierge, access to the Forbes Five-Star Spa at Pebble Beach and world-renowned golf courses including Pebble Beach Golf Links. Additional wellness offerings include delivery of healthful breakfast baskets, sound healing sessions and access to the resort’s members-only sports and fitness clubs.
THE EVENT GO-ER
Spring will bring the return of many exciting marquee events to Monterey County. From April 7-10, the largest cycling festival in North America, Sea Otter Classic, returns to WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, followed by the Big Sur International Marathon along Highway 1 on April 24. On May 7, the 29th annual Winemakers Celebration in Carmel-by-the-Sea will showcase more than 100 wines made from 42 different varietals along the village’s picturesque side streets. The three-day California Roots Festival will return to Monterey from May 26-29 featuring live music from the best of reggae rock and conscious hip-hop genres.
Stay: Embassy Suites by Hilton Monterey Bay in Seaside is the perfect host hotel to access events year round in Monterey County. The hotel, located two blocks from the beach, offers 225 stylish two-room suites with an indoor pool, fitness center, arcade, and complimentary breakfast buffet and nightly evening receptions including cocktails, beer, wine and snacks.
Please travel responsibly in Monterey County by following all current health and safety guidelines and respecting the area’s iconic landscapes by staying on trails and leaving no trace behind. Now is the moment to book your spring vacation! Plan your trip now and download the See Monterey app in the Apple App Store or Google Play Store.