I don’t think there’s a stretch of Highway 1 more iconic than the one that travels along the Monterey County. Correct me if I’m wrong but Big Sur, Carmel, Pebble Beach, and Monterey, all together, make for the dreamiest road-trip! From scenic drives and fairytale-like villages, to sandy beaches and tall redwood forests, this list of 10 things to do along the Monterey County coast has something for everyone!
10 THINGS TO DO ALONG THE MONTEREY COUNTY COAST
1. FALL IN LOVE WITH THE 17 MILE DRIVE
The 17 Mile Drive is a beautiful scenic road through Pebble Beach and Pacific Grove. It passes through famous golf courses, mansions, and many scenic attractions; like the Lone Cypress, Bird Rock, and Del Monte Forest. The drive is absolutely breathtaking and the beaches are almost untouched. It costs $10.50 to enter this area but it is worth every penny!
2. EXPLORE CANNERY ROW
Cannery Row is a waterfront street in Monterey where you can shop, dine, visit historic museums, admire the ocean views, or visit the popular Monterey Bay Aquarium. And let’s be real, if you don’t explore Cannery Row, it’s like you never visited Monterey!
3. EAT YOUR HEART OUT AT OLD FISHERMAN’S WHARF
The Old Fisherman’s Wharf used to be a fish market in the 1960s, but today, the wharf is used as a waterside strip lined with sea-food restaurants featuring open-air clam bars, souvenir shops, a historical plaza, whale watching tours and sea lions that sleep in the nearby waters. Head over to the wharf for a delicious meal followed by an epic whale watching tour!
4. GET SANDY AT FORT ORD DUNES STATE PARK
I recently came across this State Park and I couldn’t believe my eyes, it is absolutely stunning! It was even harder to believe how long it took me to explore this place, considering I drive right by it all the time!
Anyway, Fort Ord Dunes State Park offers sandy trails that lead to the beach and a huge bluff-top platform where you can get some incredible views of Monterey Bay. It is one of the dreamiest places I’ve ever visited in Monterey County.
5. RELAX AT CARMEL BEACH
One of my favorite beaches to layout, relax, and dip my toes in the water is Carmel Beach. I love to stroll through the village-like town, explore the fairytale cottage houses, and end my day with a perfect sunset at this whimsical beach. White sand, rocky bluffs, and a pristine shoreline…what’s not to love? Plus, it’s dog-friendly so you’ll see the cutest doggies wandering about.
Don’t forget to explore Carmel Mission while you’re there! The Spanish architecture and lush courtyard gardens are so dreamy!
Looking for more epic stops to make along the California coast? Check out this blog post next!
6. GET LOST AT POINT LOBOS STATE NATURAL RESERVE
Point Lobos is the perfect place to wander, explore, and get lost! You can find scenic hiking trails, hidden beaches, wildlife, and sea animals! The best part – it’s all along the beautiful coast of Carmel Bay! Don’t miss out on this breathtaking beauty and the cutest sea otters!
P.S. You can access Gibson Beach from Point Lobos. It is an under-the-radar gem that can’t be missed!
7. WANDER THROUGH CALLA LILY VALLEY
Save this one for spring time! During this blooming season, the trail that leads to Garrapata Beach turns into a Calla Lily wonderland and it is a treasure you cannot miss! Make sure you bring a camera for this one!
8. ESCAPE TO BIG SUR
Out of all the things you can do in Monterey County, this is the one thing you absolutely cannot miss! Big Sur makes up the most beautiful stretch on Highway 1! Home to one of the most iconic landmarks in California, Bixby Bridge, and bordered by the Pacific Ocean on the West and the Santa Lucia Mountains on the East, this place is as magical as it gets! Whatever you do, don’t miss your chance of visiting Big Sur!
9. HIKE TO SEE MCWAY FALLS
McWay Falls is a stunning 80-foot-tall waterfall that flows year-round and empties on the beach shore. This is by far one of my favorite places to visit in Monterey County! The beauty here is just mesmerizing!
10. CATCH THE SUNSET AT PFEIFFER BEACH
Pfeiffer Beach is a little off the beaten path, but totally worth the effort. It is probably the most magical beache of all! This beach features an arched rock that allows for waves and sun rays to peak and shine through the arch. Pfeiffer Beach also features purple sand that comes from manganese garnet rocks in the cliffs. It is straight out of a movie! Make sure to plan a sunset beach day here!