Monterey can be a blast without having to drop a bundle. Check out our ideas on things to do to enjoy the beautiful city on the bay with activities for two under $40 or look at these Free Things to do in Monterey County!

  • During certain days in the summer, visitors can enjoy FREE transportation around Monterey with MST’s Monterey Trolley. Check their website for the most up-to-date schedule. Ride in style and leave the stress of driving and parking to your trolley conductor. The trolley makes convenient stops at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, designated parking garages, Old Fisherman’s Wharf and downtown Monterey.
  • Stop by the Monterey Peninsula Chamber Visitors Center located at Lake El Estero for free information and coupons for local attractions and restaurants. Download the Free See Monterey App to find the best itineraries and must-see activities in the area.
  • Traveling with kids? Take them to  Dennis the Menace Park at El Estero Park. The creator of the Dennis the Menace comic strip, Hank Ketchum, designed the children’s stomping ground himself. It includes three large slides, a climbing wall, suspension bridge, a giant adventure ship, and a Southern Pacific steam engine.
  • History buffs can get a taste of what Monterey was like in the early days during a self-guided “Path of History” tour. Visitors can simply download the walking map or utilize the cell phone tour.  On any day, Visitors to Monterey State Historic Park may take a cell phone tour of historic buildings by dialing (831) 998-9458, followed by a Stop Number when prompted. For a guided tour of Old Monterey, catch a Monterey Walking Tour Thursday through Sunday starting at 2 pm. Curious historians will embark on a 2-hour excursion with snippets of Monterey’s history beginning with the Spanish explorers. 
  • Outdoor enthusiasts on a budget can experience some of the best views of the Monterey Peninsula at Jacks Peak. This county park offers great day hikes throughout its 8.5 miles of trails. Pack a lunch and relax at one of the several picnic benches. For more great outdoor excursions in Monterey County check out the list of top hikes. Another way to see the views is to enjoy a leisurely bike ride along the scenic coastal recreational trail. Rent a bike at one of the fine bike rental companies along the trail and cruise hot spots such as Old Fisherman’s Wharf and Cannery Row.  For those with a larger party try the surrey, a four wheeled bike carriage that can seat up to six. For other bike rides check out the list of the top 10 bike rides in Monterey County.
  • The flat beach at Monterey State Beach is an excellent spot for beachcombing. The long stretch of sand provides treasure hunters of all ages with the thrill of the hunt.  Sea glass is among one of the more popular finds. Don’t forget to pack the marshmallows, graham crackers, and chocolates because it’s time to make smores! Del Monte Beach off Casa Verde Way permits bonfires in designated fire rings until 10 pm.
  • Head to Old Fisherman’s Wharf and get your fix of fresh clam chowder. Whether you’re buying a bread bowl full of the creamy goodness or trying multiple samples from wharf restaurants you are sure to stay on budget. 
  • While you’re in Monterey don’t miss out on the fabulous wines that Monterey County has to offer! Several tasting rooms are located on Cannery Row including Bargetto Winery and A Taste of Monterey.
  • Another great adventure to explore in Cannery Row is The Monterey Mirror Maze. Adults and youth are challenged as they try to find their way out of the psychedelic labyrinth. 
  • Is it Tuesday? If so, then mosey over to Alvarado Street in Oldtown Monterey for the freshest produce on the peninsula. The Oldtown Farmers' Market not only features great fruit and veggies but arts and crafts, musical performances, handmade jewelry, clothing, international food, flowers, and pastries as well. The market runs 4 pm-8 pm during the summer months and 4 pm-7 pm during the winter. 
  • Several great happy hours are to be had in Monterey but those at Esteban’s and Hula Island Grill and Tiki Room stand out amongst the crowd. These local eateries will get you in and out for under $40, even with a beverage or two.
  • Get a glimpse of art and culture in Monterey County and to head over the Monterey Museum of Art. Linger among their exhibits dedicated to American and early California paintings, photography, and contemporary art. Another museum to explore is The Monterey History & Art Association: Salvador Dalí at Custom House Plaza. Here you get an inside look into the surrealist artist Salvador Dali. This exhibition features the country's largest private collection with over 580 works including lithographs, etchings, rare sculptures, and tapestries. 

Search all lodging