The Monterey Peninsula is a stress-free escape from the hustle and bustle of modern life.

Quick Notes:

  • The low-key area is full of relaxing activities.

  • There abundant wildlife-watching opportunities

  • Fine dining options abound

As the setting of the HBO series Big Little Lies, Monterey Bay, which connects the city of Monterey and Santa Cruz, gives off stunning coastal vibes that are paired with an indulgent small-town ambiance. Area visitors will find no shortage of things to see and do during their time here.

Old Fisherman’s Wharf

Old Fisherman’s Wharf is one of Monterey’s most famous attractions for a reason. Early morning visitors can see live commercial fishing activities on the section of the Wharf that’s known as Municipal Wharf II or they can wait until later to visit the Museum of Monterey and the Custom House. D

During lunch or dinner time, hungry visitors have plenty of options. One of the most popular restaurants on the pier is the rustic Paluca Trattoria an authentic Italien seafood restaurant with a breathtaking view from every table. A second notable restaurant, Big Fish Grill, offers views of sea lions and sea otters frolicking just outside.

Old Fisherman’s Wharf offers a substantial amount of interesting retailers ranging from candy shops to jewelry stores. Their gift shops have a wide selection of local souvenirs and Morning Star Pearl is said to be the best place to get beautiful pearls without breaking the bank. The Wharf also connects tourists with whale watching, fishing, and boat tours.

Monterey Bay Whale Watch and the Monterey Bay Aquarium


Ocean wildlife is one of the biggest highlights for visitors to Monterey Bay. Two of the area’s top attractions can allow visitors an up-close and educational experience of the area’s world-class marine animals.

Monterey Bay Whale Watch is the place to go for a true glimpse at one of nature’s largest and most beautiful creatures. They tour year-round and maintain one of the highest success rates for spotting ocean wildlife when compared to similar operations. Visitors should bring their camera in order to capture whales, dolphins, sea otters, seals, orcas ad more, in their natural habitat.

A second option, The Monterey Bay Aquarium, is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the conservation of the ocean and the animals that call the area home. With constantly updating exhibits and a fresh look at marine wildlife, there are things to do for visitors of all ages.

McWay Falls and 17- Mile Drive

There are only two waterfalls that flow into the ocean and McWay Falls, located in Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park is one of them. The falls drop by 80 feet and the serene area surrounding them causes many visitors to feel like they’ve just stepped into a dream. They can relax on the beach or take a dip in the crystal turquoise water or picnic with friends. There are also ample opportunities to hike, view wildlife, or to simply experience nature near the ocean.

McWay Falls is a beautiful and remarkable waterfall dropping into an untouched cove on the California coast.

Visitors who are up for an afternoon ride can head down 17- Mile Drive, a scenic road that follows the Monterey Peninsula coastline offering a picture-perfect view of the ocean scenery. Along the way, drivers will encounter a view of the area’s famous Lone Cypress tree, sweeping panoramas, and the boardwalk above the beach at Spanish Bay. While some travelers take a non-stop drive down the coast, others take things more gradually. They set aside time to linger at some of the many shops and restaurants catering to visitors and locals alike.

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