Top Snapshot Spots in Monterey

Must-Visit Photo Ops

There is no shortage of beautiful photo ops in Monterey County–Everywhere you look there's another breathtaking view waiting to be captured, but few places are downright iconic for the destination. Here is a list of the top spots for photographers to get that quintessentially Monterey shot. Whether you're taking Holiday photos, family portraits, or simply chasing that epic Instagram-worthy photo, you're sure to find it here in Monterey County. 

Remember to share your Monterey moments with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @SeeMonterey!

Monterey Bay Coastal Recreation Trail

The waterfront Monterey Bay Coastal Recreation Trail stretches through a stunning 29 miles, from Castroville all the way to Pacific Grove. The epic pedestrian and bike path hugs the coast while hitting iconic hot spots like Old Fisherman's Wharf, Cannery Row, Monterey Bay Aquarium and Asilomar State Beach. During the spring, a phenomenon known as the "Magic Purple Carpet" springs up along Pacific Grove's coastline–magenta ice plant blankets the rocky coast for a truly neon spectacle. It will be hard to choose from just one snapshot spot along the way!

Point Lobos State Natural Reserve

Coined as "the greatest meeting of landing and sea in the world" Point Lobos begs to have its photo taken. Whether you capture a frame of the crashing waves along the rocky coast, a still of the redwoods or a snapshot of a sea otter grooming her pup there's something here to bring out your inner photographer.

Whale Watching

We may be biased, but an opportunity to see these gentle giants out on the open sea is completely unmatched. Plan a whale watching tour with Monterey County's many expert guides for an unforgettable experience you'll cherish forever. Snap a few pics, but take some moments to just be with the whales and the sea.

Sand City West End Murals

Striking works of art can be appreciated all over Sand City as this seaside town continues to grow its transformative public art gallery! Use this map to roam the streets of the West End to take in all of the vibrant outdoor murals created by local and visiting artists, and take a few photos of your favorites. The mural pictures is "La Neta" on the corner of Ortiz and Contra Costa by artists Arsenio Baca (@abacaart), Natalia Corazza (@naticorazza), Sea Sevilla @artdesevilla, Gerardo Ivan Zambrano (@gi.zambrano) and Avelino Sanher (@avelsanher) of La Neta Murals (@la.neta.murals).

Monterey Wine Trail

Get a slice (or wedge) of the "salad bowl of the world" and take the road less traveled through the Monterey Wine Trail in the Salinas Valley. Weaving through Steinbeck country you will pass a variety of agriculture fields producing everything from lettuce, broccoli to Pinot Noir grapes. Hahn Winery and Wrath Wines boast some of the best views of the region's rolling hills, plentiful vineyards and lush fields.

Wildlife Viewing in Moss Landing

Moss Landing is perhaps the top place to spot sea otters in their natural habitat in Monterey County! Sea otters flock to a particularly protected cove near the dunes at Moss Landing State Beach where you can often find them huddled together in "rafts" which can contain up to 40 otters. A tour with Elkhorn Slough Safari and Monterey Bay Eco Tours on the Elkhorn Slough offer unique opportunities to hear from expert naturalists on a guided tour.

High Peaks Trail at Pinnacles National Park

With its unique jagged formation and rock spires from weathered remains of an ancient volcano, Pinnacles National Park offers so many great opportunities for photographs, especially while catching your breath on the strenuous High Peaks Loop. Traverse the unique landscapes to discover spectacular views of rock formations, sweeping vistas, and opportunities to view the protected California Condor in its natural habitat.

Afterwards, reward yourself with a plate and glass full of local food & wine. Nearby Downtown Soledad and Monterey Wine Trail offer up the best of the region's bounty.

Carmel Beach

Evening sunsets are a community event at Carmel Beach. Join the locals on the beautiful white sands and bring a picnic meal and a bottle of wine while you watch the greatest show in nature's evening schedule.

Marina State Beach

With expansive sandy beaches, rolling waves and graceful hang gliders overhead it's hard to mess up a picture at Marina State Beach. Take the Reservation Road exit off Highway One which leads to a convenient parking lot with easy access to the beach below. If you're lucky you might even spot a migrating whale spout or a few twirling dolphins in the distance!

Point Pinos

Point Pinos Lighthouse is the oldest continually operating lighthouse on the West Coast, but part of what makes it such an alluring target for photographers is its setting. It's located on the beautiful Pacific Grove coastline, next to the scenic Pacific Grove Municipal Golf Links, surrounded by cypress trees. It's so scenic, in fact, that almost every photo taken of it looks postcard-worthy.

Garland Ranch Regional Park

A favorite hiking spot in Carmel Valley, Garland Ranch Regional Park has a variety of scenic landscapes and great wildlife viewing from the trails. Bonus, the park is dog-friendly, so bring your pup along for some cute pics in front of the glorious vistas.

Murals in Downtown Salinas

Discover the heart of Downtown Salinas on a walking tour to see the murals, sculptures and significant historic architecture in Salinas City Center painted by local and visiting artists! The mural pictured is "Pulchritudinous" by Salinas-based painter and muralist Gregory Gallardo (@GregoryTheArtist), and is located off Main Street, just north of West Gabilan Street. Click here for a map of public art in Salinas, CA.

Laguna Grande Regional Park

While visiting Seaside for an amazing meal at one of 60+ family-owned eateries, take a stroll at Laguna Grande Regional Park. The park loops around a scenic lake and is a great place for a picnic!


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