8 Reasons Why You Need to Pack Your Bags for Monterey

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Deal Expert, Chicago
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From coastal drives to world-class wines, here’s why you need to pack your bags and explore Monterey County. Like, right now.

1) There are 99 miles of coastline, so that means 99 miles of this:

Morning meditation

Flickr/Caroline Gray

And this:

6873589314_26fb146ba7_k (1)

Flickr/Dan K

Oh, and this!

Bixby Creek Bridge - Highway 1

Flickr/JamieJennings

2) Between the Monterey Bay Aquarium, the bay itself and the county’s direct access to the Pacific Ocean, there are plenty of opportunities to see these:

Monterey Bay Aquarium

Flickr/Karlis Dambrans

And these!

KAYAKING AND PHOTOGRAPHY IN MOSS LANDING: MONTEREY BAY

Flickr/John C. Bruckman

Short-beaked Common Dolphin

Flickr/Tory Kallman

And, because it’s winter and its their migrating season, these!

Over here!

Flickr/Vanessa Carney

The best way to witness the wonders of the Pacific is by sailing on it. Hop on a whale-watching cruise or fishing boat to experience Monterey’s unique nature first-hand.

3) Gorgeous coastlines make for unbelievable beaches. And you know what that means…

Gorgeous sunsets…

Monterey

Flickr/Othman Al-Zanki

Surfing galore…

EGJ-8337.jpg

Flickr/Ed

And shell and sea glass collecting.

sea glass

Flickr/Cat Klein

The best time to have fun in the sun is during Monterey’s warm season, which lasts from July to mid-October and has an average daily temperature above 67 degrees. If you visit anytime from December to April, it will be a bit chillier, but usually not below 40 degrees.

The county even has secret beaches that look like this!

Last Rays: Pfeiffer Beach Rock

Flickr/KP Tripathi

Pfeiffer Beach (pictured) is one of the most beloved places in Big Sur, but also one of the hardest to find. Sycamore Canyon Road leads to the beach, but is unmarked. To find it, you’ll want to drive a quarter mile south of Sur Station or 1.1 miles north of the Ventana entrance. Turn west on Sycamore Canyon and follow that for around 2 miles to the parking area. Once you’re there, you can revel in the beach’s lavender sand, splash in the creek or just sit back and take in the sunset. The tide is strong, so save the swimming for an other beach.

4) There are over 85 vintners in Monterey. That’s a lot chardonnay, pinot noir, syrah and cabernet.

monterey (11 of 29)

Flickr/Sergio

And you can sip them while staring at this…

wine horizon

Flickr/Bill Selak

Or this:

Sundown- Vineyards, Salinas Valley & Gabilan Mtns

Flickr/Rod Heywood

Monterey County is one of the largest growing and producing regions in California, in part thanks to the “Blue Grand Canyon,” the deep marine canyon on Monterey Bay. The deep, cold waters of the bay bring fog and moderate temperatures to the area throughout the farming season and ensure a rich diversity of growing conditions. Try one of the 42 varieties of wines grown here, and you’ll see what we mean.

5) The county is home to dozens regional and state parks, including Point Lobos State Natural Reserve, which is “the crown jewel of the State Park System,” according to Lonely Planet, thanks to its mountainous terrain and sandy beaches.

It looks like this:

Point Lobos Sunset

Flickr/Kirk Lougheed

Plus, it’s the top spot for sea otter sightings!

California Sea Otter

Flickr/Eliya

Sea Otters Playing

Flickr/Michael Yang Photography

California Sea Otters

Flickr/Jared Hughey

The park is also home to sea lions, seals, deer, coyotes, bobcats, mountain lions and a wide variety of songbirds. You can enter the park on California Highway 1 about 3 miles south of Carmel-by-the-Sea. Passenger cars are charged $10 to enter.

AND there’s Big Sur State Park, which looks like this:

Big Sur Coast #2

Flickr/TLC Fotografie

Andrew Molera Panorama

Flickr/Dare*2*Dream

It also has this!

Paradise

Flickr/UGnzlz

And tons of these.

Redwoods in Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, CA, USA

Flickr/Ron Kroetz

Located 26 miles south of Carmel on Highway  1, Big Sur boasts forests of giant redwoods, a diverse array of wildlife and miles upon miles of scenic trails.

6) Monterey County has the cutest towns!

Like Carmel by the Sea…

Cottage Of Sweets

Flickr/Doug Stocks

Carmel-by-the-Sea Art Galleries

Flickr/WanderingYew2

And Monterey!

Cannery Row in Monterey, CA

Flickr/Samantha Decker

HDR downtown Monterey at the start of a very stormy day :)

Flickr/PhotoDingo

The colorful Fish Hopper on Monterey Bay

Flickr/Dave Toussaint

7) There are dozens of beautiful, quaint hotels and B&Bs to stay in throughout the county.

Like Carmel Valley Ranch, the 4-Diamond family-friendly resort that spreads over 500 acres of the Santa Lucia foothills…

tzoo.hd.12119.2714.299684.CarmelValleyRanch

And gives guests access to everything from beekeeping lessons to world-class golfing.

tzoo.hd.12119.2714.299682.CarmelValleyRanch (1)

Or the 4-Star Pine Inn, “a favorite with generations of Carmel-by-the-Sea visitors” (Fodor’s).

tzoo.hd.31035.2732.294810.pineinn

Built in 1889, this historic property was the first hotel in Carmel and is chock full of old-school elegance and charm.

tzoo.hd.31035.2732.294808.pineinn

8) Still have doubts? A deal on your hotel should help.

otter

Flickr/KrustyKreme

So get packing! He won’t take no for an answer.

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