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When you envision a California getaway, you may picture scenic shorelines, crashing waves and sun-kissed skies. You can find all of that and more if you make your way to Monterey County.

Visitors to Monterey County will not be short on discovering iconic landmarks, a storied history, sustainable and diverse culinary offerings, top-notch vineyards and wineries, varied landscapes from scenic coastal views to rugged terrain, world-class art and more. The destination has a population of nearly 435,000 residents and boasts 99 miles of prime Pacific coastline, a world famous aquarium, 45,000 acres of premium vineyards, 65 tasting rooms, 82 wineries, more than 20 golf courses including the famed Pebble Beach Golf Links, hillside elevations of over 5,500 feet and more than 220 lodging properties. The destination welcomes more than 4.8 million overnight visitors annually.

Monterey County is situated on California's stunning Central Coast with its northern border

approximately 100 miles (160 km) south of San Francisco and about 50 miles (80 km) from San

Jose. Its southern border is approximately 240 miles (385 km) north of Los Angeles. It is easily

accessed by scenic Highway 1 or Highway 101.

The Monterey Regional Airport (MRY) is conveniently located just 10 minutes door-to-door from downtown Monterey, 15 minutes from Carmel-by-the-Sea and 45 minutes from Big Sur. Known for its short and hassle-free security lines, visitors can fly direct via international and domestic connections on Alaska Airlines, Allegiant, American Airlines, United Express and US Airways. Direct flights include Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW), Denver (DEN), Las Vegas (LAS), Los Angeles (LAX), Phoenix (PHX), San Diego (SAN), San Francisco (SFO) and Seattle/Tacoma (SEA). Charter and private flights are also available.

Other large airports near Monterey County include: Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport (SJC), located 75 minutes from Monterey, and  San Francisco International Airport, located less than 2 hours from Monterey.

Plan your trip and discover more can't-miss destinations like these by visiting


The historic fishing town offers iconic attractions like Cannery Row, Old Fisherman's Wharf and Monterey Bay Aquarium, where the "Into the Deep: Exploring Our Undiscovered Ocean" exhibit opens this spring. Visitors will discover many California firsts, including the first state capital, first brick house, first public library and first printing press, which printed "The California," California's first newspaper.

Carmel Valley

Reminiscent of the French countryside, this sun-kissed region offers rolling hills covered in grapevines, olive groves and lavender fields as well as more than 20 wine tasting rooms and wineries. If you're undecided on accommodations, consider Los Laureles Lodge, a historic property with old horse barns converted into rooms and a saloon restaurant. Carmel Valley is also home to America's first co-ed spa, Refuge.

Moss Landing

This small fishing village, located at the mouth of the Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Reserve, is the ideal destination for those who enjoy outdoor recreation and wildlife. Moss Landing is a popular spot for surfing and nature watching, including year-round whale watching on Monterey Bay, as well as a hidden gem for antiquing.

Pacific Grove

Founded in the 1870s, this historic town's Victorian-style homes evoke yesteryear nostalgia, and each spring a purple carpet of ice plant blooms spans the coastline. Picturesque Lovers Point Park and Beach is a popular spot for surfing, swimming and picnics, and you'll find some of the area's best tide pooling, too. In addition, Pacific Grove CiderWorks – the only cider tasting room in Monterey County – offers temptation in the form of award-winning hard cider, pear cider and pear port.


If the beach is calling, Marina offers miles of beachfront and stretches of sand dunes. It's the spot for active adventures such as hang-gliding, paragliding and skydiving. In addition to sampling a selection of restaurants, visitors can explore the remnants of Fort Ord, a military training ground that closed in 1994. The area also offers luxury accommodations and family-friendly hotels, including Hampton Inn & Suites by Hilton scheduled to open spring 2022, which features amenities including a pool, gym, meeting rooms, business center and expansive breakfast area.


This vibrant agriculture hub is the county seat of Monterey and a culinary hotspot thanks to the growing food scene and numerous breweries. Emma's Bakery & Cafe has quickly become a local favorite, while authentic Italian is what's for dinner at Mangia, Eat on Main. Home of the nationally renowned National Steinbeck Center, Salinas also hosts the annual California International Airshow and California Rodeo Salinas.


This up-and-coming city boasts easy beach access for sunset views. It's packed with activities from skateboarding to rock climbing and golfing at former military golf courses Black Horse and Bayonet. Plus, the town provides access to Fort Ord National Monument and its 86 miles of trails for hiking, biking or horseback riding and an array of diverse dining options, including several Black-owned restaurants.

Salinas Valley

A rich agricultural region known as the "Salad Bowl of the World," this fertile area is home to Pinnacles National Park and more than two dozen wineries and tasting rooms, including an expanded second tasting room at Joyce Wine Company. Most of the wineries are connected by the scenic River Road Wine Trail, which runs along the Santa Lucia Mountains.


Monterey County is committed to educating visitors on how they can visit responsibly to protect themselves and our community, as well as lessen their impact on our destination and preserve it for generations to come. Its Travel Responsibly initiative aims to provide visitors with safety and convenience tips as well as ways to conserve and be environmentally friendly.

For specific tips and details on how to Travel Responsibly, visit


By. Family Features Editorial Syndicate

A leading source for high-quality food, lifestyle and home and garden content, Family Features provides readers with topically and seasonally relevant tips, takeaways, information, recipes, videos, infographics and more.

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