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Recognized internationally for its gnarled Monterey cypresses twisted by cold ocean winds, and immortalized in John Steinbeck's novel Cannery Row, the Monterey Peninsula has heaps of unique character. Chinese and Italians built a fishing port and sardine cannery here in the 1880s. Today, Monterey thrives on tourism. Monterey Bay Aquarium, built over the waters at the end of Cannery Row, awes with its magnificent marine exhibits. Its waters open directly to the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary – a vast marine habitat for sea otters, dolphins, sharks and whales to thrive. Scuba diving here is sensational amid the kelp beds. The ...

Recognized internationally for its gnarled Monterey cypresses twisted by cold ocean winds, and immortalized in John Steinbeck's novel Cannery Row, the Monterey Peninsula has heaps of unique character. Chinese and Italians built a fishing port and sardine cannery here in the 1880s. Today, Monterey thrives on tourism. Monterey Bay Aquarium, built over the waters at the end of Cannery Row, awes with its magnificent marine exhibits. Its waters open directly to the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary – a vast marine habitat for sea otters, dolphins, sharks and whales to thrive. Scuba diving here is sensational amid the kelp beds. The former warehouses and processing factories of Cannery Row today put a smile on every shopper's face. Immediately south of Monterey is the genteel town of Carmel, with its spectacular 17-mile-drive wending around the Pebble Beach golf course and along a spectacularly scenic stretch of coast. Nearby, too, are the wineries and spas of Carmel Valley, and Salinas – setting for many John Steinbeck novels and, today, the Steinbeck Center. And Pacific Grove is the setting for the annual migration of monarch butterflies. Big Sur is a short drive away.

Christopher Baker
About the Expert

Christopher P. Baker has authored guidebooks to Costa Rica, California, and various Caribbean islands for Frommer's, Lonely Planet, and National Geographic, among others.

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Christopher Baker for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Any time is good. Mid-summer can be surprisingly foggy and cold.