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41 Marvelous Issues to Do in Monterey, California


Monterey is a beautiful town along the California coast, just two hours south of San Francisco on Highway One! Kayaking, hiking, whale watching, wine tasting, a world-famous aquarium, Cannery Row, Fisherman’s Wharf, and more: here’s everything you need to know to plan a trip to Monterey, California.

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Otters. Wine tasting. Whale watching. Clam chowder. Monterey is likely one of the most lovely cities alongside the California coast – and essentially the most traditionally essential! Well-known for its unimaginable aquarium – half interactive museum, half animal conservation facility, half analysis lab – Monterey has hundreds to supply as a weekend journey from San Francisco. Which is why we go to Monterey a number of instances a 12 months!

Simply two hours down the Pacific Coast Freeway from San Francisco, Monterey’s world-class aquarium, fascinating historical past, contemporary seafood, wealthy arts scene, and a few of the nation’s greatest wines make this coastal paradise a must-visit vacation spot. Ours lays out all the very best issues to do in Monterey that can assist you plan your journey!

Psst: Planning a California coast street journey? We’ve acquired a couple of different posts you’ll need to check out, or click on right here to see all of our California journey guides.


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Monterey At-a-Look 🐋

Right here’s a bite-sized snapshot of the whole lot it’s good to know to plan your journey!

  • When to Go: March and April for excellent climate, spring flowers, monarch butterflies and grey whales.
  • The place to Keep: The fabulous InterContinental The Clement Monterey is the best-located resort in Monterey, proper off the water within the middle of Cannery Row and a 3-minute stroll to the Monterey Bay Aquarium and the seashore. Plus, even normal rooms include a fire and an enormous bathtub – it’s heaven.
  • Find out how to Get Round: Inside city, you may stroll or bike in every single place. However to see the close by sights alongside the Monterey Peninsula and California coast, you’ll need a automobile. Use Kayak to browse rental automobile offers.
  • High 3 Highlights: The world-famous Monterey Bay Aquarium, kayaking by way of kelp forests and subsequent to otters within the waters of Monterey Bay, and taking a whale watching tour from Fisherman’s Wharf.
  • Earlier than You Go: Learn John Steinbeck’s novella Cannery Row to study concerning the space’s wealthy historical past. And watch Large Little Lies to see Monterey on the silver display screen!

Monterey FAQ’s

  • The place is Monterey? Monterey is positioned on the California coast, about two hours south of San Francisco and just below an hour north of Large Sur. Should you’re driving the Pacific Coast Freeway, you’ll cross proper by way of city – and it’s considered one of our favourite stops on Freeway One!
  • Wait, is Monterey a city or a county? It’s each! Whereas the city of Monterey is the county’s greatest metropolis middle, Monterey county encompasses coastal cities like Carmel-by-the-Sea, Pacific Grove, Moss Touchdown, and Large Sur, and stretches inland to embody the Salinas Valley, Los Padres Nationwide Forest, and Pinnacles Nationwide Park. However for the sake of this publish, we’re specializing in issues to do within the city of Monterey, in addition to the encircling areas on the Monterey peninsula.
  • The place have I heard of Monterey earlier than? Should you’re a John Steinbeck fan, there’s a superb likelihood you’ve heard of Monterey – he grew up in close by Salinas, and far of his writing was about this space, together with the novella Cannery Row. I strongly suggest studying Cannery Row earlier than your journey, as it should actually improve your go to! Or maybe you acknowledge Monterey because the setting of the TV present Large Little Lies. The present was filmed throughout city (though, for no good motive, there have been a LOT of pointless pictures driving over the Bixby Bridge… which is definitely 45 minutes south of Monterey!) And if that doesn’t ring a bell, you then’ve in all probability heard of the world-famous Monterey Bay Aquarium, which is arguably the very best within the nation, and probably the world. (I’m able to argue about it, anyway.)
  • When is the very best time to go to Monterey? The very best time of 12 months to go to Monterey is in spring between March and April. California’s springtime can be in full bloom, and this time of 12 months additionally overlaps with the monarch butterfly migration, gray whale migrations, and the ice plant bloom in Pacific Grove. The second greatest time of 12 months to go to Monterey is within the fall between September and October: the climate is ideal and it’s extra more likely to be clear and sunny. The worst time to go to Monterey is between Might and August, when your entire coast is shrouded in “June gloom” and chilly, foggy days are the norm. Sure, that is a kind of bizarre northern California coastal quirks – summer season is the worst time of 12 months right here! We visited in November, and the climate was clear, sunny and heat.


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Issues to Do in Monterey

Historical past, tradition, arts, and open air are only the start of Monterey issues to do. Throw in some wine-tasting, marine critters, and contemporary seafood, and also you’re all set for an unimaginable coastal getaway! 

A world-class aquarium, fascinating historical past, a wealthy arts scene, and a few of the nation’s greatest wines make this small city a must-visit vacation spot.  Listed below are the very best issues to do in Monterey.

Discover Cannery Row

As soon as lined with sardine canneries (which I’m certain smelled … nice…), this central stretch of city is now residence to Monterey’s world-famous aquarium, a couple of seashores, the InterContinental The Clement Monterey, and lots of different retailers, and is the bustling epicenter of Monterey.

In between the retailers and eating places, you’ll see proof of Monterey’s storied previous. Walkways criss-cross overhead, which as soon as housed industrial gear to shuttle sardines from the ocean into the canning services, and a captivating strolling path has changed what was as soon as a bustling railway which transported cans of sardines and passengers up and down the California coast. 

Murals portraying the world’s various inhabitants of employees seem in between storefronts, and the small, well-preserved houses that after housed these employees interrupt and in any other case fashionable stretch. Maintain an eye fixed out for indicators explaining the historic significance of those landmarks otherwise you may miss them!

Should you’ve learn John Steinbeck’s novella Cannery Row, you then’re already accustomed to this avenue and its historical past. And in case you’ve by no means learn his novel, then choose up a replica earlier than heading out in your journey in Monterey! It would add an interesting layer of depth to this bustling space and the individuals who lived there in many years previous.

Apart from popping into each store that strikes your fancy, listed below are a couple of highlights alongside Cannery Row:

  • See the real-life inspiration behind Steinbeck’s Cannery Row: Steinbeck’s influences will be seen in every single place alongside this stretch, and I’m not simply referring to Cannery Row Monument on Steinbeck Plaza. The true-life inspiration for his novella and the entire historic locations and other people which had been immortalized as characters from his e-book will be seen right here. For example, the unique, still-preserved Pacific Organic Laboratories constructing (aka Doc’s Lab) nonetheless sits at 800 Cannery Row, the place it was as soon as inhabited by famed marine biologist and BFF of Steinbeck Ed Ricketts. To see all of it and join actual life to the e-book, take this self-guided strolling tour!
  • Take a Guided Tour: This tour brings Steinbeck’s characters to life as you discover Cannery Row on foot. Be taught concerning the historical past of Cannery Row, its significance in Monterey, and its position in Steinbeck’s literature.
  • McAbee Seashore is the proper escape from city. Steps from Cannery Row – actually, down a set of stairs proper off Steinbeck Plaza – this sandy expanse (at low tide, at the very least) is a perfect spot for picnicking, kayaking, or simply taking within the view. In distinction to a few of the extra wild and pristine seashores within the space, McAbee is lined with previous concrete partitions paying homage to Monterey’s industrial previous.


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Stroll the Boardwalk at Fisherman’s Wharf

Previous Fisherman’s Wharf was first constructed within the mid-1800s for passengers and freight arriving in Monterey. The Wharf, run by the Monterey Metropolis Council starting in 1913, supported the completely different industries and populations that used the waters of Monterey Bay. Chinese language fishermen got here for abalone and squid, Portuguese whalers got here for the blubber of resident grey and humpback whales, Japanese fisherman got here for salmon and abalone, and the Italian fisherman ignited the growth within the sardine business. 

In 1923, on the top of the sardine explosion in Monterey, the most important cargo of sardines was about to depart Fisherman’s Wharf. A ship that was about to be loaded with 20,000 circumstances of sardines tipped onto the wharf attributable to tough climate, and a couple of hundred ft of the wharf collapsed. Evidently, a lot of sardines had been returned to the bay that day. (In hindsight, this incident undoubtedly ought to have been taken as an indication of the approaching collapse of the sardine business, however ya know … there was cash to be made!)

The Wharf was reconstructed and expanded, and the sardine business continued to growth proper up till it utterly crashed after World Battle II, when the inhabitants of sardines was depleted due to overfishing (whoops). And like the remainder of Monterey, Fisherman’s Wharf grew to become a vacationer attraction as an alternative of a middle of fishy business!

At this time, this pier is stuffed with retailers, eating places, confectioneries, and whale-watching excursions. On the weekends, you’ll usually discover the plaza out entrance full of native distributors promoting handicrafts and art work or performing reside music or magic tips. It’s Monterey’s very personal seashore boardwalk!

  • Carousel Candies: There’s no scarcity of sweet shops, taffy pullers, and fudge makers alongside Fisherman’s Wharf, so it’s arduous to select a favourite, however Carousel Candies is on the prime of our checklist. Decide up all of the fudge, candies, saltwater taffies, and dipped apples you may eat (plus extra to take residence) at this heavenly-smelling, shiny pink institution. We suggest the penuche fudge — oh, and in case you purchase two items of fudge, you get one free!
  • Take a self-guided strolling tour: This tour highlights the historical past of Fisherman’s Wharf, Portola Plaza, Customized Home Plaza, the Pacific Home Museum, the First Brick Home Museum, and different historic Monterey buildings. This tour is a should for historical past lovers — or followers of the HBO miniseries Large Little Lies (you may see locations the place some scenes had been filmed!).
  • Water and Leaves: If all of the strolling, purchasing, and fudge have gotten you dragging, perk up with a cup of tea or mug of espresso at Water and Leaves. This hip and classy cafe contains a native and sustainable menu of fastidiously crafted drinks and contemporary pastries. You’ve additionally by no means sweetened your tea like they do it right here — with six (sure, six) flavors of honey on faucet. Plus, you may’t beat the view.


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Sunrise view of Cannery Row in Monterey California
Dawn view of Cannery Row from our room on the InterContinental The Clement Monterey

Be taught About Monterey’s Wealthy Historical past

Monterey performed a essential position within the historical past of not simply California, but additionally Spain, Mexico, and the USA. You see, Monterey was the capital of Alta California, a large Spanish and later Mexican territory that included most of modern-day California, Nevada, and Utah, and elements of Arizona, Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico. 

So yeah: it was type of a giant deal. In fact, simply because Spain and Mexico claimed the world as their very own didn’t essentially imply a lot – a lot of Alta California was nonetheless absolutely below Indigenous management! Earlier than Spain arrived to colonize the world, Monterey was a part of the territory of the Ohlone tribe, who additionally lived in modern-day San Francisco and Oakland (and nonetheless do to this present day)

When California was taken over by the US within the mid-1800’s, Monterey welcomed teams of immigrants from Japan and China, becoming a member of the Mexican residents nonetheless residing within the space. Monterey rapidly grew to become a middle for business, with a various inhabitants of employees to gas its speedy progress and growth.

Within the mid-1800’s, shortly after being claimed by the US, Monterey rapidly grew to become a hub for the bloody, booming whaling business. Monterey Bay is a cease alongside the annual migration for Gray Whales (and lots of different whales), which meant it was additionally a unbelievable place to hunt and kill whales to make use of their blubber as gas. 

Sadly, killing animals en masse is an effective way to destroy their inhabitants and smash your personal business, a proven fact that Monterey, sadly, needed to study twice. You possibly can study extra about Monterey’s whaling historical past on the Previous Whaling Station on Heritage Harbor.

To not be deterred by the collapse of the whaling business, within the early 1900’s Monterey quickly re-emerged as a middle for sardine fishing and canning. The sardine canning business remodeled Monterey, as new canneries popped up in a single day alongside right now’s Cannery Row. Sardines had been fished from Monterey Bay by the boatload, transported throughout the road (alongside walkways that may nonetheless be seen right now) to be canned or became fertilizer, and dropped off onto ready railroad automobiles instantly behind the canneries. Enterprise was booming, and Monterey was quickly referred to as the sardine capital of the world!

However because the sardine canning business grew, the sardine inhabitants declined. And through WWII, whilst troopers everywhere in the world relied on cans of sardines for his or her rations, the business floor to a sudden, screeching halt. Monterey discovered its second lesson in destroying animal populations for revenue, and the economic period of Monterey ended. 

You’ll see proof of Monterey’s sardine canning historical past throughout Cannery Row, in transformed and deserted canneries nonetheless dotting the shoreline. Our resort,InterContinental The Clement Monterey, was as soon as a cannery, as was the Monterey Bay Aquarium and lots of different buildings alongside the city’s central strip. Make sure to learn all of the indicators alongside the waterfront as you discover!

At this time, Monterey’s economic system depends on tourism fairly than business, and it’s best recognized for its pioneering method to marine conservation and analysis.

Listed below are a couple of spots on the town to dive deeper into Monterey’s fascinating historical past: 

  • Monterey State Historic Park: A fantastic place to start out studying about Monterey’s historical past, the Monterey State Historic Park is a group of historic buildings and gardens, together with the location the place the Spanish first arrived within the early seventeenth century. Be part of a guided tour or take a self-guided tour alongside the Monterey Strolling Path of Historical past to see previous whalebone sidewalks, historic houses, and pleasant gardens.
  • Pacific Home Museum:  On a self-guided stroll by way of the Pacific Home Museum and Reminiscence Backyard, you’ll hint a chunk of California’s wealthy historical past, spanning its Native American origins by way of Spanish, Mexican, and American arrival in Monterey. The museum is housed in a 1847 constructing first used as a U.S. Navy storage facility. Earlier than changing into a museum, the constructing served as a courthouse, pub, church, and extra, so that you’ll actually be experiencing a chunk of Monterey’s previous!
  • San Carlos Cathedral: The oldest church and first stone constructing in California, the San Carlos Cathedral dates again to 1794. It’s now a working parish and was not too long ago restored, however the architectural magnificence continues to be one thing guests can respect right now. Subsequent door there’s a museum, the place you will discover previous photographs and drawings of the chapel and items of the church’s historic whale-bone sidewalk. You can even take a docent-led tour to complement your expertise of this historic landmark. 


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Take a Self Guided Strolling Tour

This strolling tour covers many of the Cannery Row space, starting and ending proper by InterContinental The Clement Monterey, the place we stayed. 

You’ll stroll previous seashores, below cypress timber, and previous historic canneries on this pretty 2-hour self-guided strolling tour. You’ll additionally study all about Monterey’s historical past of sardine fishing, in addition to the landmarks and individuals who impressed John Steinbeck’s novella Cannery Row.

Even in case you don’t comply with the tour precisely, I like to recommend studying by way of it to get some context for this space! We noticed many of the landmarks on our stroll from the resort to get breakfast at Tidal Espresso, and figuring out that historical past made the murals, statues, paths and buildings come alive as we explored the streets of Monterey.


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McAbee Beach off Cannery Row in Monterey Bay California
McAbee Seashore off Cannery Row in Monterey Bay, California

Hit the Seashore

Monterey is a coastal city, and meaning one factor: seashores! There are seashores throughout Monterey and the Monterey Peninsula, from proper within the middle of city at McAbee Seashore (steps from our resort) to Del Monte Seashore, Monterey State Seashore, and Sand Metropolis seashore simply up the street. 

That stated, take it from a Northern Californian: some seashores are, er, higher than others. (Though don’t fear, not one of the seashores in Monterey are as depressing as our own residence seashore, Ocean Seashore in San Francisco, which is actually the Arctic tundra.) 

Listed below are the very best seashores in Monterey and the encircling areas:

  • Carmel Seashore: Seashores aren’t scarce in California, however Carmel seashore is one thing particular. Gentle, white sand, wonderful surf, and ideal sunsets make this cease value your time. Carry a night picnic, take a protracted stroll on the scenic path, or simply sit and hearken to the waves crashing onto the seashore. This seashore can also be canine pleasant, so that you simply may make a couple of furry pals. (Oh, and maintain an eye fixed out for Mulan! She’s a giant fan.)
  • Lover’s Level Seashore: Lover’s Level Seashore is within the neighboring city of Pacific Grove and is a hotspot for boating, kayaking, and browsing. Due to the orientation of the Monterey Peninsula, it really faces east — so you may rely on a lovely seashore dawn in case you get up early sufficient! A breakwall makes for calmer waters, so in case you can bear the chilly, it’s a superb place to take a dip. (Simply in case, although, deliver a wetsuit. The Pacific is freezing!)
  • Asilomar State Seashore: This attractive seashore, simply west of Pacific Grove, is a mixture of lovely sandy shores and hidden, rocky coves. The Asilomar Coastal Path takes you alongside the size of the seashore, making it straightforward to discover the dunes, tidepools, and coves.


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​​Go to the Monterey Bay Aquarium

The world-famous Monterey Bay Aquarium is likely one of the largest aquariums on the planet – and among the finest! Positioned in a transformed sardine cannery (in fact), the non-profit aquarium is centered round analysis and marine conservation and is residence to 1000’s of marine species, together with many which can be discovered solely right here in Monterey Bay.

Within the aquarium’s 35 displays, you’ll see playful otters, marvel at mesmerizing jellyfish, study cephalopods and meet the nice Pacific Octopus. You’ll expertise the within of a wave because it crashes over you, see divers feeding stingrays and sharks, and meet penguins, puffins, and coastal seabirds. 

In considered one of my favourite displays, you’ll additionally discover out what makes Monterey Bay’s waters so particular: its enchanting kelp forests! Full of teeming marine life, the kelp grows 100 ft tall and gently waves forwards and backwards – and also you’ll get to see all of it up shut, as in case you had been scuba diving within the waters simply exterior the aquarium’s again doorways (which can also be on our bucket checklist)

It’s really unimaginable, and also you’ll acquire a brand new appreciation for the kelp forests which can be residence to Monterey Bay’s distinctive marine ecosystem – the proper context for going kayaking, diving, or boating by way of the Bay.

However my favourite attraction on the aquarium is the sea otter habitat, the place the world’s cutest marine mammals frolic and play. Monterey Bay Aquarium is thought for its position in rescuing and rehabilitating sea otters. Within the early Nineteen Nineties, there have been solely 50 southern sea otters left in California. The state of affairs grew to become so dire that many individuals thought these animals would go extinct inside only a few years. However due to the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s cautious efforts, that didn’t occur.

You’ll see tons of otters enjoying within the water round Monterey, and in case you look carefully, you may see little tags on lots of them, figuring out otters that spent a while on the aquarium earlier than being launched again into the wild! 

At this time, almost all the ocean otters in California reside close to Monterey Bay (you’ll additionally see lots of them in Morro Bay, Jeremy’s hometown). The aquarium’s rescue program has performed a key position on this success story, and these animals proceed to be ambassadors for the habitat restoration that’s essential if we need to defend our oceans! You possibly can even meet the ocean otters earlier than your journey on the reside Sea Otter cam. 

Make sure to buy a ticket for the aquarium earlier than your journey.


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Go Whale Watching 

Whale-watching in Monterey is a bucket checklist expertise. Monterey affords a few of the greatest whale watching in California, which in flip is a few of the greatest within the nation (yeah, we’re fairly superior). Oh, and it was additionally the primary: whale watching as an organized exercise dates again to 1950 when the Cabrillo Nationwide Monument in San Diego was declared a public spot for the commentary of Grey Whales.

Monterey Bay is likely one of the greatest locations to see grey whales in Northern California. There are two seasons for whale watching in Monterey Bay. Go to from mid-December by way of mid-April to see grey whales, dolphins and orcas as they migrate south, or go to from mid-April by way of mid-December to see humpback whales, blue whales, dolphins, and orcas. (Psst: for extra particulars, we’ve acquired a whole publish about whale watching in California!)

You may get a superb view of the whales from shore as they arrive to feed within the Monterey Submarine Canyon, which is the place most whale watching excursions embark from, in addition to at Level Lobos Pure State Protect. You can even see whales offshore at Garrapata State Park, particularly in case you do the hike to Sobrantes Level & Whale Peak.

However for the very best whale watching expertise and to actually rise up shut and private with these big, majestic creatures, take a Whale Watching Tour. Departing from Previous Fisherman’s Wharf, this tour may even provide you with a fantastic level to identify sea lions as you go out and in of the harbor. The tour takes you into the Monterey Bay Nationwide Marine Sanctuary, the place whales are noticed virtually day-after-day. The tour lasts 3-4 hours and is hosted by a marine biologist who explains conservation efforts in place to guard the whales and different wildlife within the space.Journey Tip: Are you as fascinated by whaling historical past as I’m?? Pay a go to to the Whalers Cabin & Museum in Level Lobos and the Previous Whaling Station close to Fisherman’s Wharf to study California’s whaling historical past. And for extra details about what whales frequent California’s coast and when, head to our whale watching in California information!


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Kayaking with a dog in Monterey Bay California
Kayaking with Mulan in Monterey Bay! Essential: be certain that your canine is sporting a well-fitted life vest, like this one, and is educated to depart wildlife (like otters and sea lions) alone.

Go Kayaking in Monterey Bay

Kayaking in Monterey Bay is the easiest way to discover the beautiful shoreline and expertise Monterey’s phenomenal marine wildlife. The Monterey Bay Nationwide Marine Sanctuary is residence to an unimaginable quantity of marine life (together with greater than 30 species of whales and dolphins), wealthy kelp forests, salt marshes, mudflats, deep-sea corals, and way more. And the world has a few of the greatest kayaking in all of California!

Out of your kayak, you’ll see seals and otters swimming proper subsequent to you as they frolic within the kelp beds, between boats within the harbor, and alongside seashores like Lovers Level Park. You’ll additionally doubtless see (and listen to) sea lions swimming and barking.

We go kayaking each time we go to Monterey (Mulan is a large fan, and has her very personal lifejacket) and we’ve seen dozens of otters and sea lions every time.We suggest renting kayaks in Monterey from Adventures by the Sea and heading out on a self-guided journey. Or in case you’re new to sea kayaking, take considered one of their guided excursions.


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Eat Recent Seafood

If there’s one kind of meals Monterey is thought for and does actually, actually effectively, it’s seafood. And no marvel, since contemporary seafood is swimming proper exterior city. 

Along with being tremendous contemporary, you may rely on consuming some sustainably caught seafood. The Monterey Bay Aquarium runs a Seafood Watch program, which helps information shoppers and eating places in shopping for and serving sustainable seafood. This system isn’t simply native: it serves as a world chief within the sustainable seafood motion and works instantly with producers, governments, and organizations to enhance their fishing practices.  

Many native eating places serve up fresh-as-can-be seafood in adherence to the Seafood Watch program, so you may take pleasure in sustainable (and scrumptious) sea-to-table eating. 

Monterey is thought for a couple of native specialties. There’s a particular Monterey Bay model clam chowder, which is made with bacon so as to add a wealthy, umami taste that completely compliments the cream, potato, and seafood chowder. You’ll see clam chowder on nearly each menu, usually in an accompanying sourdough bread bowl (thank San Francisco for that scrumptious addition – you’re welcome, everybody!)

Cioppino, a wealthy mariner’s stew made with all kinds of contemporary seafood in a tomato saffron broth – generally served with pasta – seems on the menus of just about each restaurant in Fisherman’s Wharf. The dish displays Monterey’s Italian immigrant historical past, and it’s undoubtedly a neighborhood favourite (and Jeremy’s favourite, too).

And naturally, native seafood is at all times the star in Monterey: strive an order of contemporary oysters, candy dungeness crab, fried sand dabs, and regardless of the “catch of the day” is.

  • Previous Fisherman’s Grotto: from the skin, it won’t appear like a lot. However inside, the restaurant has that previous cash really feel as if Dean Martin or Frank Sinatra had been going to be seated within the comfortable sales space behind you. However the actual draw right here isn’t the flowery inside – it’s the meals. You see, Jeremy grew up consuming clam chowder in a bread bowl with seemingly each single meal. He can establish the age of clams by odor – okay, probably not, however you get the concept. The purpose is, the clam chowder right here is subsequent degree – it’s even gained the native “greatest clam chowder” award for the final 16 years. Their “Monterey Model Chowder” has a slight hit of smoky bacon that provides depth and taste – strive it in a garlic butter toasted sourdough bread bowl. Oh, and don’t skip the crab: we ordered a contemporary crab cocktail which options roughly fourteen crabs value of candy, flaky deliciousness. (High your chowder with it for optimum Northern California-ness!)
  • Cafe Fina: This small restaurant in Fisherman’s Wharf served, to our shock, the very best Cioppino we’ve ever eaten. The tomato and saffron broth was flavorful and wealthy, and the seafood – I imply, they have to empty the bay for each bowl judging by how a lot seafood they cram onto it: calamari, contemporary fish, shrimp, mussels, clams… mmm. The stew was served on a mattress of scrumptious linguini, which is an addition I can’t imagine isn’t normal. Just about each restaurant in Fisherman’s Wharf has a Cioppino, however in our opinion, Cafe Fina is the very best place to strive it!
  • The C on the InterContinental The Clement Monterey: Positioned proper on the boardwalk in Cannery Row, the floor-to-ceiling home windows and charming out of doors patio have a few of the greatest ocean views on Cannery Row – good for watching the sundown! The C restaurant sits instantly on the ocean, so in case you’re seated exterior, you’ll hear the sound of the waves pounding the shore as you eat. Should you’re fortunate, you may even see otters enjoying within the kelp forests simply offshore! The menu contains a sustainable sea-to-table choice of native seafood fare. All the pieces on the menu is a standout, just like the Prawns & Dungeness Crab Pappardelle with oven-roasted tomatoes, capers, and lobster crème fraȋche. Come right here to look at the sundown and chill out with a glass of wine!
  • Schooners: This restaurant within the Monterey Plaza resort has a heated terrace that mainly hangs over the ocean! Schooners serves American delicacies – with a concentrate on seafood, in fact. Chill out with a basic burger and beer or reside it up in luxurious with a decadent seafood tower.


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Go Tide-Pooling at Level Lobos

Level Lobos is a state park recognized for its ample marine life and delightful mountaineering paths. However that basically doesn’t seize the magic of Level Lobos, so I’m going to cite the grasp California author himself, John Steinbeck, with this lovely excerpt from Cannery Row:

“It’s a fabulous place: when the tide is in, a wave-churned basin, creamy with foam, whipped by the combers that roll in from the whistling buoy on the reef. However when the tide goes out the little water world turns into quiet and wonderful. The ocean may be very clear and the underside turns into unbelievable with hurrying, combating, feeding, breeding animals. Crabs rush from frond to frond of the waving algae. Starfish squat over mussels and limpets, connect their million little suckers after which slowly raise with unimaginable energy till the prey is damaged from the rock. After which the starfish abdomen comes out and envelops its meals. Orange and speckled and fluted nudibranchs slide gracefully over the rocks, their skirts waving just like the attire of Spanish dancers. And black eels poke their heads out of crevices and watch for prey. The snapping shrimps with their set off claws pop loudly. The beautiful, coloured world is glassed over. Hermit crabs like frantic youngsters camper on the underside sand. And now one, discovering an empty snail shell he likes higher than his personal, creeps out, exposing his tender physique to the enemy for a second, after which pops into the brand new shell. A wave breaks over the barrier, and churns the glassy water for a second and mixes bubbles into the pool, after which it clears and is tranquil and wonderful and murderous once more…”

John Steinbeck, Cannery Row

So yeah. And on the danger of sounding like a damaged file, you should learn Cannery Row earlier than/throughout/after your journey!

Anyway, Level Lobos is great, and the tidepools are tiny, enchanted swimming pools full of whole miniature universes of marine life. Ugh, now I’m simply embarrassing myself making an attempt to explain it after that Steinbeck quote. Ignore me. 

Head to Weston Seashore in Level Lobos for tide pooling. Journey Tip: You’ll need to arrive 90 minutes earlier than low tide – test the tide tables to seek out out when low tide is. At true low tide, critters cover and hunker down ready for the tide to rise. However arrive a bit of earlier than and the water can be simply shallow sufficient to see them earlier than they cover!

Throughout our journey, low tide fell proper earlier than sundown, which meant we had been looking for shiny orange starfish and waving sea anemones within the tidepools throughout golden hour. We climbed to the highest of the rocky boulders bordering the tidal basin and watched the solar sink low behind the horizon. It was magical.


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Monterey Bay Recreation Trail in Monterey California
Take a stroll or go biking on a motorbike or 4-person surrey alongside the scenic, coastal Monterey Bay Recreation Path!

Discover the Monterey Bay Recreation Path

Stretching 18 miles down the coast, the Monterey Bay Recreation Path traces what was as soon as a railroad line operating from San Francisco proper as much as the loading docks of the canneries of Monterey. At this time, it’s a lovely and well-maintained strolling and biking path that cuts proper by way of city and alongside the coast!

The path passes by the colourful piers of Fisherman’s Wharf, sandy seashores full of lounging harbor seals, blooming pink ice plant fields (nicknamed “the magic carpet”), and colourful and ornate Victorian houses alongside Pacific Grove. 

Bike, lease a surrey, or stroll the path south for so long as you want earlier than turning round and heading again to Monterey. You possibly can choose up a motorbike, e-bike (y’all, they’re SO enjoyable) or a 4-person surrey bike at Adventures by the Sea simply off of Cannery Row.


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Point Lobos near Monterey Bay California
Level Lobos State Reserve is likely one of the greatest locations to go mountaineering close to Monterey Bay California

Take a Hike

With near-perfect climate, ocean views, and delightful forests, Monterey and the encircling peninsula make for some wonderful mountaineering — and also you don’t should go far (or climb excessive) to take pleasure in it. 

When mountaineering close to Monterey, you may count on sweeping views of the Pacific coast and trails that wind by way of enchanting redwoods and Monterey pines. 

And with most of the trails tracing the shoreline, you might even catch a glimpse of marine wildlife and seabirds. Lace up your boots and get your digicam prepared!

  • Asilomar Path: This one-mile path extends the size of the sandy and rocky Asilomar State Seashore, south of Pacific Grove and on the western fringe of the Monterey Peninsula. The path itself is amix of packed sand and boardwalk and is splendidly flat — good for operating or strolling. Plus, it’s an effective way to discover Asilomar Seashore — simply hop off the boardwalk wherever you need.
  • Soberanes Level and Whale Peak: This 2-mile loop — with a spur to Whale Peak — circles Soberanes Level in Garrapata State Park. This park, south of Carmel-by-the-Sea, consists of the whole lot from ocean seashores to redwood forests, with rocky headlands in between. The Soberanes and Whale Peak Trails present epic ocean views with an opportunity to see a few of the park’s resident wildlife — sea otters, sea lions, harbor seals, and even migrating grey whales! Head to our whale watching information for extra data on what you may see at completely different instances of the 12 months.
  • Jacks Peak and Skyline Path: This quick .8-mile loop at Jack’s Peak Park is a superb bang in your buck in case you’re quick on time. You’ll hike by way of one of many three remaining pure stands of Monterey Pine, see a waterfall and, in springtime, loads of colourful California wildflowers. There are greater than eight miles of trails to select from on this park, however mountaineering on the Skyline path provides you spectacular ocean views from the highest of a ridgeline and an opportunity to see Miocene-epoch fossils. 
  • Level Lobos State Reserve: South of Carmel Bay, Level Lobos State Reserve is an absolute gem on the Central Coast. The geology, crops, and animals are distinctive — and downright attractive. A part of the state park system, this “reserve” has the next degree of safety than different parks, so it’s actually essential to remain on trails and go away the whole lot the way you discovered it. There are many trails to select from primarily based on how a lot time you need to spend, however the 6.5 mile Level Lobos Loop Path takes you everywhere in the reserve for a style of the whole lot the park has to supply!


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Patronize the Arts

It doesn’t take a lot time in Monterey and the encircling communities to note the abundance of artwork. Northern California has a well-deserved popularity for quirkiness and creative expression, and this space is not any exception! Galleries, murals, and museums abound. 

Listed below are a couple of locations to patronize Monterey’s native artwork scene:

  • Monterey Museum of Artwork: For a mixture of new and previous California artwork, head to the Monterey Museum of Artwork. Works date from the tip of the nineteenth century to current day, and the museum emphasizes the variety of California’s “previous, current, and future.” Everlasting collections embody works by a spread of California painters in addition to the well-known pictures of Ansel Adams (of Yosemite fame). The museum itself is gorgeous, too, with expansive home windows and uncovered beams. 
  • Salvador Dalí Exhibition: The Salvador Dalí Exhibition homes the most important privately-owned assortment of Dalí work on the West Coast. This exhibition celebrates Dalí’s love of and connection to Monterey, the place he lived within the Nineteen Forties after fleeing the battle in Europe. The gathering consists of greater than 580 items, together with etchings, tapestries, sculptures and lithographs! Issues may get a bit of bizarre… and in case you actually need to, uh, improve your go to, maybe partake in considered one of California’s completely authorized natural crops earlier than your go to. (When in California, proper?)
  • Nationwide Steinbeck Middle: Okay, so the Steinbeck middle isn’t technically in Monterey — it’s in Steinbeck’s hometown of close by Salinas — however with Steinbeck’s important presence within the historical past of Monterey and Cannery Row, we needed to embody this spot. Should you’re a fan of any Steinbeck novel (or if a go to to Monterey garners your curiosity – AND IT SHOULD) you may’t miss a go to to the Nationwide Steinbeck Middle. With first version books, artifacts, interactive displays, and themed theaters primarily based on his novels, this museum brings to life each Steinbeck and his intimate connection to his residence. If we’ve been too delicate on this publish, permit me to return proper out and say it: Steinbeck is likely one of the best American authors, and also you want to learn some Steinbeck!! Begin with Cannery Row in your journey, however after that, we suggest Grapes of Wrath, East of Eden, or Of Mice and Males.


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The Long Cypress tree along the scenic 17 mile drive near Monterey, California
The Lengthy Cypress tree is essentially the most well-known landmark alongside the scenic 17 Mile Drive!

Benefit from the Surroundings on the “17 Mile Drive”

The 17 Mile Drive contains a fairly — and ritzy — stretch of California shoreline. This unique drive has some can’t-miss sights, however to entry them, you’ll want pay $10.50.

Why is there a payment to drive this specific stretch of coast, you ask? It’s owned and maintained by the Pebble Seashore Firm. The street accesses Pebble Seashore Resorts, together with the well-known Pebble Seashore Golf Hyperlinks. Which, in case you’re into golf, is a fairly large deal. 

You possibly can, nevertheless, get your payment reimbursed if you cease for lunch at one of many resort eating places (and pay $35). 

However there’s much more than…golf that makes this a spectacular drive. Image-perfect Pacific seashores, forests, and oceanside mansions offers you a thrill, plus there are some specific landmarks that you just’ll need to cease for.

The Lone Cypress stands proudly on a craggy rock outcropping, framed by the foaming Pacific Ocean. This tree – which can also be the emblem for the Pebble Seashore Firm – might be someplace round 250 years previous, so whereas it’s not historic, it’s been round longer than our nation. 

This cypress tree and its neighbors — different Monterey Cypress — are additionally uncommon. They solely develop in two locations on the planet: in Pebble Seashore, and at Level Lobos State Pure Reserve

The whole drive is scenic and delightful, however be certain that to additionally pull over for a few of our favourite stops: Spanish Bay Seashore, Stressed Sea, Seal Rock, and Crocker Grove. You can even cease on the Pebble Seashore Customer Middle if you wish to study extra concerning the space’s historical past, or Pebble Seashore Golf Hyperlinks you probably have any curiosity in golf.

If you wish to get much more out of this drive, you may get this self-guided audio tour. Get detailed data and historical past about the entire stops alongside the drive so you may take pleasure in it to the fullest.Should you nonetheless need the advantage of a information however you’d favor a extra lively tour of 17-mile drive, you may take an e-bike tour as an alternative. This 3.5-hour tour helps you to discover the drive at a barely slower tempo, plus you may benefit from the wind in your hair as you bike alongside the coast.


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Go Wine Tasting

Though Monterey isn’t considered one of California’s many wine international locations, it’s nonetheless in California, so … meaning wine. And when in California, wine tasting is a should. 

Wine rising isn’t a brand new business on this space: the primary grapes had been planted by Spaniards within the late 1700s. Since then, the wine business within the Monterey space has exploded. Numerous rising situations and microclimates permit growers to supply all kinds of wines, together with well-known Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays. 

However with the close by seashores and idyllic ocean views, wine tasting in Monterey is about extra than simply the wine. There are tons of tasting rooms and wineries within the space, however listed below are a couple of of our favorites: 

  • Tasting rooms on Cannery Row: A Style of Monterey is positioned close to McAbee Seashore and affords greater than 90 native wines and has a fantastic view.  Bargetto Vineyard has two places: one on Cannery Row and one on the base of the Santa Cruz Mountains. On the Cannery Row location, you may take pleasure in a tasting on the patio with ocean views.
  • Blue Fox Cellars: Positioned in Carmel Valley, this small, family-owned vineyard offers a hands-on tasting with the winemaker himself. You possibly can pattern wine and revel within the pretty mountain views from the out of doors patio, or take a break for some bocce ball within the courtyard. It’s a little bit of a schlep to get there, however so well worth the effort!
  • The Wine Expertise: Positioned on Cannery Row, the Wine Expertise is “greater than only a wine bar”: along with wine tasting, they provide lessons, customized wine labels, and customized mixing. Whether or not you’re a wine novice or a connoisseur, that is the place to study a factor or two. Mix your personal bottle of wine or take a tasting class to develop your now-sophisticated palate! 
  • Pierce Ranch Vineyards: With a tasting room in Monterey, Pierce Ranch Vineyards is positioned in southern Monterey County and makes a speciality of Portuguese and Spanish varieties. The tasting room is housed in a captivating Victorian home only a block from Cannery Row. Whereas wandering city, cease by for a tasting on the quaint entrance porch.

Need some extra wine tasting choices? Close by Carmel-by-Sea has its personal array of top-notch tasting rooms value a go to. Right here’s a listing that can assist you select what you’ll love! And talking of…


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Go to Carmel-by-the-Sea

With a reputation like Carmel-by-the-Sea, you realize this little city must be some type of coastal fairytale city, and it’s! Monterey’s subsequent door neighbor – only a few minutes down Freeway One – is a captivating little city perched on a bluff overlooking the ocean. 

Carmel has a quaint, walkable “downtown” space full of cafes and galleries and delightful, storybook houses perched on hills rising above the ocean. 

One in all its claims to fame is that that is the house of none aside from Clint Eastwood, who as soon as served as city Mayor. (Clint Eastwood would go on to serve on the California State Park and Recreation Fee beneath  Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. We, uh, type of have a factor for electing actors as politicians right here…)

One of the simplest ways to expertise Carmel throughout your journey to Monterey is to pop over for the afternoon and take a stroll. Only one sq. mile in space, you may see most of this charming city by foot!

  • Take a strolling tour: This strolling tour brings to life the structure and historical past of Carmel-by-the-Sea. An area information tells the tales of Carmel’s artists, cottages, and landmarks. We additionally suggest this local-created downtown Carmel strolling tour, which is able to solely take you about an hour (it’s a small city). This tour traces a scenic walkway, and this self-guided tour visits the various fairytale model, storybook houses in Carmel!
  • Take a meals tour: Take a look at the structure, wine, and vibrant culinary scene with a Carmel meals tour. Pattern native dishes and treats like chocolate, olives, pasta, wine, risotto, or truffles. Scrumptious and informative, you’ll love the structure and historical past as a lot because the meals.
  • Tour Carmel’s Galleries: Lovely artwork usually comes from lovely locations, and Carmel-by-the-Sea is not any exception. This beautiful Pacific shoreline attracted an artsy combine of oldsters from the early days, and the identical is true right now with virtually 100 galleries in a single sq. mile of downtown Carmel. The Carmel Artwork Affiliation is a superb place to see the work of over 100 native artists in a one-stop-shop.


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Pacific Grove, California in the springtime with a
Pacific Grove within the springtime with its “magic carpet” of blooming ice plant and calla lillies!

Go to Pacific G​​rove

Solely two miles from the city of Monterey, neighboring city Pacific Grove is effectively value a go to. On the northernmost tip of the Monterey Peninsula, Pacific Grove affords a dramatic, rugged, and delightful shoreline together with its personal sandy seashores. 

Pacific Grove welcomes extra than simply ocean-seeking vacationers — in truth, it’s recognized for the seasonal inflow of migrating Monarch butterflies! Go to within the winter to see a few of California’s most colourful seasonal residents.

Talking of colour, Pacific Grove places on a fleeting however attractive spectacle in April or Might annually — a “magic carpet “ of vibrantly pink blooming ice plant flowers. Planted within the early 1900s, it covers the Pacific Grove Coast in a blanket of magenta every spring. (Sadly, ice plant is gorgeous, however undoubtedly not native and really invasive.)

This lovely seaside city can also be recognized for its charming Victorian houses, a few of which have been became quaint mattress and breakfasts. There’s undoubtedly a little bit of quirkiness to Pacific Grove, too, with sights just like the Butterfly Home including to the colourful colours of this lovely city. 

Absorb Pacific groves colourful, quirky, Victorian charms with a few of our favourite issues to do: 

  • Eat at The Seashore Home Restaurant: Overlooking lovely Lover’s Level Seashore, The Seashore Home Restaurant and Bar may need among the finest views in Pacific Grove. Their informal menu options native seafood — strive the Seafood Pasta for a style of contemporary salmon, scallops, clams, and grilled prawns in a tomato-caper sauce. The meals, the view, and close by Lover’s Level Seashore make this the proper spot for a romantic sundown dinner!
  • Meet the Monarch Butterflies: Nicknamed “Butterfly City, USA,” Pacific Grove welcomes 1000’s of monarch butterflies that spend the winters right here (not not like my mother’s annual retreat to Florida). From mid-October to mid-February, you may go to the Pacific Grove Monarch Sanctuary to take a tour with a docent. It doesn’t matter what time of 12 months you go to, you may at all times try the Monarch Gallery on the Pacific Grove Museum of Pure Historical past to study these annual guests.
  • Go Tidepooling at Level Pinos Lighthouse: This historic maritime landmark is the oldest regularly working lighthouse on the Pacific, and nonetheless operates right now. You possibly can take excursions of the previous Victorian-era constructing, which additionally doubled as a social hub in Pacific Grove’s early days. Mix a go to to the lighthouse with some tidepool explorations — the “Nice Tide Pool” at Level Pinos is likely one of the richest tidepools habitats on the planet!

The place to Keep in Monterey

On our most up-to-date journey to Monterey, we stayed at lovely InterContinental The Clement Monterey, which is the best-located resort in Monterey – and that’s not an exaggeration. 

Smack dab on the middle of Cannery Row (in a transformed historic cannery, in fact) the resort is lower than a 3-minute stroll to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, McAbee Seashore, and the remainder of the sights alongside Cannery Row. 

The resort sits instantly alongside the water, which meant that even our normal room got here with an ocean view by way of floor-to-ceiling home windows. We had been handled to beautiful dawn views over the ocean every morning – and I’m not even a morning particular person!

However y’all, can we speak concerning the room? To begin with, there was a gas-powered, cozy AF FIREPLACE. Second of all, our rest room got here with a large bathtub – and a heat, fluffy gown. Which meant that I spent my Saturday evening studying Steinbeck in a bubble tub whereas Jeremy and Mulan relaxed in entrance of the fireplace, listening to the rolling waves muffling the decision of seagulls and barking sea lions exterior.

Hear: we aren’t sometimes luxurious resort folks. However then I acquired pregnant and effectively, issues modified. Issues like my capability to sleep by way of the evening, particularly on an uncomfortable mattress

And after our keep on the InterContinental The Clement Monterey, I don’t assume I can return.  It was good, and made our journey really feel extremely particular!

Should you’re visiting Monterey for a particular weekend, we are able to’t suggest a keep on theInterContinental The Clement Monterey sufficient. Should you’re on a tighter finances, test low season and mid-week charges; we’ve seen availability as little as $200 per evening, which is a freakin’ steal for a resort this luxury! Click on the button beneath to test charges and availability in your dates.


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Which of these items to do in Monterey are you most enthusiastic about? Is it the wine, the seafood, the tidepooling, the aquarium, or kayaking with otters? Oh, and have you ever picked up a replica of Cannery Row but?! Drop us a remark beneath!

Psst: Planning to discover extra of California? …. As California residents we have now LOTS of different posts – browse all of them or simply check out these:

xo Lia & Jeremy signature graphic


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Monterey is a beautiful town along the California coast, just two hours south of San Francisco on Highway One! Kayaking, hiking, whale watching, wine tasting, a world-famous aquarium, Cannery Row, Fisherman’s Wharf, and more: here’s everything you need to know to plan a trip to Monterey, California.

Disclaimer: Our most up-to-date journey to Monterey was sponsored by IHG Inns and we had been graciously hosted on the fabulousInterContinental The Clement Monterey! (Y’all, I used to be very pregnant and it was, truthfully, precisely what I wanted.) As at all times, all opinions, unhealthy jokes, poetic descriptions of cioppino, and aggressive recommendations to learn Steinbeck are 100% our personal and never our sponsor’s fault.

Our High Journey Suggestions & Sources

Listed below are our favourite journey ideas & assets for saving cash and planning journey logistics! For extra ideas, try our journey ideas useful resource web page or our information to planning a visit.

  • Reserving Flights: To attain flight offers, search on Google Flights or Kayak. Cash-saving ideas: fly mid-week or on the weekend; fly carry-on solely on a finances airline; and take red-eyes or early morning flights.
  • Lodging: We often keep in budget-friendly trip leases, boutique motels or personal rooms in hostels. We use to e-book motels (we love their versatile cancellation coverage) and Hostelworld to e-book hostels (low deposit, straightforward change/cancellation, and wonderful evaluations). For trip leases, we favor to e-book utilizing VRBO as a result of they have decrease charges and higher help than Airbnb, and we’re not followers of Airbnb’s unethical observe file. You can even e-book trip leases on Expedia and We additionally use TrustedHousesitters as each hosts (for our residence and our fur-child) and vacationers!
  • Journey Insurance coverage: We at all times, at all times, ALWAYS purchase journey insurance coverage for worldwide journeys, and we STRONGLY counsel it – go to our Journey Insurance coverage Information to seek out out why. We suggest both World Nomads or SafetyWing for worldwide journey insurance coverage. SafetyWing is likely one of the few insurance policies that covers Covid-19, they usually have wonderful month-to-month insurance policies which can be good for Digital Nomads and long run vacationers!
  • Journey Credit score Card: We e-book all of our journeys on our favourite journey bank card. Not solely can we earn money again that we are able to spend on extra journey, however the card affords unbelievable journey perks like journey insurance coverage, journey delay and cancellation protection, misplaced baggage reimbursement, and rental automobile protection, which helps defend us on our travels. Be taught extra right here.
  • Vaccines & Meds: We use the journey guides on the CDC web site to analysis really helpful drugs and vaccines for worldwide journeys. We at all times suggest getting each vaccine really helpful by the CDC! You may get them at your main care physician’s workplace or a walk-in pharmacy.
  • Excursions: We love reserving guided excursions, particularly meals excursions and strolling excursions, to get a neighborhood’s perspective and a historical past lesson whereas sight-seeing! We e-book our excursions utilizing Viator and GetYourGuide.
  • Transportation: We use Rome2Rio to determine find out how to get from place to put, and e-book native transportation on-line utilizing Bookaway wherever we are able to. After we e-book a rental automobile, we use Kayak to check rental corporations and discover the very best deal.
  • Baggage Storage: Every time we’re testing early or profiting from a protracted layover, we use LuggageHero to securely retailer our baggage whereas we’re operating round. Use the code PRACTICALW for two hours of free baggage storage on us.
  • VPN Service: A VPN retains your digital data (like web site login particulars, financial institution information, and many others) protected, even if you’re linked to an unsecured community whereas touring. Plus, it helps you to use Netflix & different streaming websites overseas! We use NordVPN. Use the code WANDERLUSTPROMO if you join!
  • What to Pack: Listed below are the journey necessities that we deliver on each journey. We even have packing lists for sizzling climate, chilly climate, and lots of extra. Check out all of our packing guides!




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