Best of Monterey Bay® Visitors Guide

Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park Established in 1933, this popular state park offers hikes through dense redwood canyons leading up to scenic peaks. Located within its 850 acres are the Big Sur Lodge and freshly renovated cabins, a store, a restaurant, campground, and numerous sites for picnicking, swimming and fishing. 31 miles south of Carmel on Highway 1, Big Sur. (831) 6671112, Pinnacles National Park The jagged remains of a long-extinct volcano jut out of the Salinas Valley to form this hiker’s paradise, with 32 miles of trails, two talus caves and spectacular terrain that doubles as a launch site for California condors being reintroduced to the wild. A must-see for outdoor enthusiasts. Tent and RV camping available at east entrance. From Salinas, Highway 101 south 25 miles to Soledad, Highway 146 east 13 miles to park. (831) 389-4485, Point Lobos State Natural Reserve “The greatest meeting of land and water in the world,” as landscape artist Francis McComas called it, Point Lobos offers 14 interconnecting trails that wind through lovely Monterey pine forests, cypress groves and breathtaking, rugged coastal scenery. Whalers Cove and other locations provide plenty of opportunities to view 250 bird and animal species, including sea otters, sea lions and, from December to April, migrating gray whales. A well-designed, tiny museum also offers a glimpse into the history of the whaling industry. 2 miles south of Carmel on Highway 1, Carmel. (831) 6244909, Veterans Memorial Park This 50-acre city park offers overnight RV and group camping facilities, trails, picnic areas and play fields in Monterey. Check in at the kiosk for availability, as camping is provided on a first-come, first-served basis. Athletes love the challenging staircase that kicks off an ascent to impressive Monterey Bay views from the top of Huckleberry Hill. At the end of Skyline Drive, Monterey. (831) 646-3865, bit. ly/VeteransMP Horseback Riding There aren’t many better ways to survey the natural splendor than atop a gentle steed. Giddy-up. Monterey Bay Equestrian Center Explore Salinas River State Beach on horseback. Just south of Moss Landing, these folks also offer lessons, day camps, ponies and petting zoos. 19805 Pesante Road, Salinas. (831) 663-5712, Pebble Beach Equestrian Center A guided, 80-minute trail ride leads through the stunning Del Monte Forest, past Cypress Point and onto the beach near Seal Rock, where pinnipeds and otters cavort. Don’t forget the camera. Group tours, riding lessons and pony rides for small children also available. 3300 Portola Road, Pebble Beach. (831) 622-5985, Off-Roading The gamut of recreational activities is truly complete given the opportunity to navigate natural terrain in a vehicle as rugged as it is intelligent. Land Rover Experience at Quail Lodge The area’s only four-wheeling operation takes riders through twisting oak groves, over log piles and through hairpin turns while making steep ascents and descents on a two-track trail. 8205 Valley Greens Drive, Carmel. (831) 620-8854, Roadtripping There are some epic drives, as those who travel the Pacific Coast Highway in Big Sur can attest. Cruise the Carmel Valley Road or take the River Road wine tour. And let’s not forget 17 Mile Drive in Pebble Beach. While your own vehicle may be fine, there are other options. Monterey Touring Vehicles How cool would it be to cruise the coast in a 1965 Mustang convertible? Or maybe a ’57 Porsche 356, also top down? Perhaps ride along in elegance in a ’38 Rolls Royce, complete with chauffeur? You can. Monterey Touring Vehicles offers a fleet of close to 40 classic cars for rent—everything from sports cars to ’60s muscle, from a VW Bus to a DeLorean. They get you oriented and then off you go. 2228 Del Monte Ave., Monterey. (831) 337-8800, Sea Car Tours Buzz Monterey in an open top vehicle that talks. Follow the itinerary and a device in the Sea Car informs you about sights along the way. The diminutive vehicle options include a quiet electric, so you can hear the waves—and the narrative. 230 Alvarado St., Monterey. (831) 884-6807, Rock Climbing Hang on to your carabiners. The few but intense climbing choices merit a permanent space in your memory bank. Garrapata State Park On the south end of Garrapata, a series of 15- to 20-foot cliffs rising from the sandy beach offer a great chance for beginners and more advanced climbers to hone their skills. Highway 1, 6 miles south of Carmel. (831) 624-4909, Pinnacles National Park Primeval spires and volcanic crags offer a range of challenges to serious rock climbers in an otherworldly, thoroughly fascinating locale. Pinnacles also offers great hiking and cave exploring. Highway 146 (west entrance), east of Soledad. East to Hollister, south on Highway 25, east on 146 for east entrance. (831) 3894486, Sanctuary Rock Gym Whether you’re looking for a fully indoor experience or you’re training for outdoor rocks, the region’s only indoor climbing gym has what you’re looking for—and they’ve been doing it since 1996. Go solo for bouldering options or team up with a buddy (it’s a famously friendly gym), or take a class to develop your skills. 1760 Fremont Blvd. #D2, Seaside. (831) 8992595, Skydiving The area’s plane jumpers swear there’s no better way to experience Monterey Bay than seeing it from above. Skydive Monterey Bay An unequaled 18,000-foot tandem launch height translates to one minute of free falling, then four minutes of breathtaking views of the bay. The adrenaline-soaked experience defies words. 721 Neeson Road #1, Marina. (831) 384-3483, 40 The Best of Monterey Bay ® 2023-2024 Parker Seibold Monterey Bay Aquarium