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 without doubt one of the most stunning cities alongside the California coast – and probably the most traditionally necessary! Well-known for its unbelievable aquarium – half interactive museum, half animal conservation facility, half analysis lab – Monterey has masses to supply as a weekend journey from San Francisco. Which is why we go to Monterey a number of instances a yr!

Simply two hours down the Pacific Coast Freeway from San Francisco, Monterey’s world-class aquarium, fascinating historical past, recent seafood, wealthy arts scene, and a number of the nation’s finest wines make this coastal paradise a must-visit vacation spot. Our lays out all the most effective issues to do in Monterey that will help you plan your journey!

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Monterey At-a-Look 🐋

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

  • When to Go: March and April for nice climate, spring flowers, monarch butterflies and grey whales.
  • The place to Keep: The fabulous InterContinental The Clement Monterey is the best-located lodge 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 hearth and an enormous bathtub – it’s heaven.
  • Learn how to Get Round: Inside city, you’ll be able to stroll or bike all over the place. However to see the close by sights alongside the Monterey Peninsula and California coast, you’ll desire a automobile. Use Kayak to browse rental car offers.
  • High 3 Highlights: The world-famous Monterey Bay Aquarium, kayaking by 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 be taught concerning the space’s wealthy historical past. And watch Large Little Lies to see Monterey on the silver display!

Monterey FAQ’s

  • The place is Monterey? Monterey is positioned on the California coast, about two hours south of San Francisco and slightly below an hour north of Large Sur. If you happen to’re driving the Pacific Coast Freeway, you’ll move proper by city – and it’s one in all 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 National Park. However for the sake of this put up, 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? If you happen to’re a John Steinbeck fan, there’s a very good 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 is going to 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 purpose, there have been a LOT of pointless photographs driving over the Bixby Bridge… which is definitely 45 minutes south of Monterey!) And if that doesn’t ring a bell, you then’ve most likely heard of the world-famous Monterey Bay Aquarium, which is arguably the most effective within the nation, and probably the world. (I’m able to argue about it, anyway.)
  • When is the most effective time to go to Monterey? The perfect time of yr to go to Monterey is in spring between March and April. California’s springtime can be in full bloom, and this time of yr additionally overlaps with the monarch butterfly migration, gray whale migrations, and the ice plant bloom in Pacific Grove. The second finest time of yr 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 type of bizarre northern California coastal quirks – summer time is the worst time of yr 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 outside are only the start of Monterey issues to do. Throw in some wine-tasting, marine critters, and recent seafood, and also you’re all set for an unbelievable coastal getaway! 

A world-class aquarium, fascinating historical past, a wealthy arts scene, and a number of the nation’s finest wines make this small city a must-visit vacation spot.  Listed here are the most effective issues to do in Monterey.

Discover Cannery Row

As soon as lined with sardine canneries (which I’m positive smelled … nice…), this central stretch of city is now dwelling to Monterey’s world-famous aquarium, a couple of seashores, the InterContinental The Clement Monterey, and plenty 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 numerous inhabitants of staff seem in between storefronts, and the small, well-preserved houses that when housed these staff interrupt and in any other case trendy stretch. Preserve a watch out for indicators explaining the historic significance of those landmarks otherwise you would possibly miss them!

If you happen to’ve learn John Steinbeck’s novella Cannery Row, you then’re already acquainted with this avenue and its historical past. And for those who’ve by no means learn his novel, then choose up a duplicate earlier than heading out in your journey in Monterey! It can add a captivating layer of depth to this bustling space and the individuals who lived there in a long time previous.

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

  • See the real-life inspiration behind Steinbeck’s Cannery Row: Steinbeck’s influences could be seen all over the 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 all the historic locations and other people which have been immortalized as characters from his e-book could be seen right here. As an illustration, 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 walking tour!
  • Take a Guided Tour: This tour brings Steinbeck’s characters to life as you discover Cannery Row on foot. Study 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, no less than) is a perfect spot for picnicking, kayaking, or simply taking within the view. In distinction to a number of the extra wild and pristine seashores within the space, McAbee is lined with outdated 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 totally 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 increase within the sardine trade. 

In 1923, on the peak of the sardine explosion in Monterey, the biggest 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 multiple hundred toes of the wharf collapsed. Evidently, a lot of sardines have been returned to the bay that day. (In hindsight, this incident positively ought to have been taken as an indication of the upcoming collapse of the sardine trade, however ya know … there was cash to be made!)

The Wharf was reconstructed and expanded, and the sardine trade continued to increase proper up till it utterly crashed after World Struggle 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 trade!

In the present day, this pier is stuffed with retailers, eating places, confectioneries, and whale-watching excursions. On the weekends, you’ll typically discover the plaza out entrance filled with native distributors promoting handicrafts and art work or performing stay music or magic methods. 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 onerous to select a favourite, however Carousel Candies is on the high of our checklist. Decide up all of the fudge, goodies, saltwater taffies, and dipped apples you’ll be able to eat (plus extra to take dwelling) at this heavenly-smelling, shiny pink institution. We suggest the penuche fudge — oh, and for those who purchase two items of fudge, you get one free!
  • Take a self-guided walking 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’ll be able to see locations the place some scenes have been filmed!).
  • Water and Leaves: If all of the strolling, buying, 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 incorporates a native and sustainable menu of fastidiously crafted drinks and recent 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’ll be able to’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

Study About Monterey’s Wealthy Historical past

Monterey performed a important position within the historical past of not simply California, but in addition 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 underneath 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 USA within the mid-1800’s, Monterey welcomed teams of immigrants from Japan and China, becoming a member of the Mexican residents nonetheless dwelling within the space. Monterey rapidly grew to become a middle for trade, with a various inhabitants of staff to gas its speedy progress and enlargement.

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

Sadly, killing animals en masse is a good way to destroy their inhabitants and spoil your individual trade, a indisputable fact that Monterey, sadly, needed to be taught twice. You may be taught extra about Monterey’s whaling historical past on the Old Whaling Station on Heritage Harbor.

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

However because the sardine canning trade 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 trade floor to a sudden, screeching halt. Monterey realized 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 lodge,InterContinental The Clement Monterey, was as soon as a cannery, as was the Monterey Bay Aquarium and plenty of different buildings alongside the city’s central strip. You’ll want to learn all of the indicators alongside the waterfront as you discover!

In the present day, Monterey’s economic system depends on tourism relatively than trade, and it’s best recognized for its pioneering method to marine conservation and analysis.

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

  • Monterey State Historic Park: An awesome 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 positioning the place the Spanish first arrived within the early seventeenth century. Be a part of a guided tour or take a self-guided tour alongside the Monterey Strolling Path of Historical past to see outdated whalebone sidewalks, historic houses, and pleasant gardens.
  • Pacific House Museum:  On a self-guided stroll by the Pacific Home Museum and Reminiscence Backyard, you’ll hint a bit of California’s wealthy historical past, spanning its Native American origins by 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 turning into a museum, the constructing served as a courthouse, pub, church, and extra, so that you’ll actually be experiencing a bit 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 just lately restored, however the architectural magnificence continues to be one thing guests can respect immediately. Subsequent door there’s a museum, the place yow will discover outdated images and drawings of the chapel and items of the church’s historic whale-bone sidewalk. You may also take a docent-led tour to complement your expertise of this historic landmark. 


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Take a Self Guided Strolling Tour

This walking 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, underneath cypress timber, and previous historic canneries on this beautiful 2-hour self-guided strolling tour. You’ll additionally be taught 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 for those who don’t comply with the tour precisely, I like to recommend studying by it to get some context for this space! We noticed many of the landmarks on our stroll from the lodge to get breakfast at Tidal Coffee, and understanding 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 lodge) to Del Monte Seashore, Monterey State Seashore, and Sand Metropolis seashore simply up the highway. 

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 here are the most effective seashores in Monterey and the encircling areas:

  • Carmel Beach: Seashores aren’t scarce in California, however Carmel seashore is one thing particular. Comfortable, white sand, glorious surf, and excellent sunsets make this cease value your time. Carry a night picnic, take an extended stroll on the scenic path, or simply sit and take heed to the waves crashing onto the seashore. This seashore can also be canine pleasant, so that you simply would possibly make a couple of furry mates. (Oh, and preserve a watch out for Mulan! She’s a giant fan.)
  • Lover’s Point Beach: 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’ll be able to rely on an attractive seashore dawn for those who get up early sufficient! A breakwall makes for calmer waters, so for those who can bear the chilly, it’s a very good place to take a dip. (Simply in case, although, carry a wetsuit. The Pacific is freezing!)
  • Asilomar State Beach: This attractive seashore, simply west of Pacific Grove, is a mixture of stunning sandy shores and hidden, rocky coves. The Asilomar Coastal Path takes you alongside the size of the seashore, making it simple to discover the dunes, tidepools, and coves.


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​​Go to the Monterey Bay Aquarium

The world-famous Monterey Bay Aquarium is without doubt one of the largest aquariums on the earth – and the most effective! Situated in a transformed sardine cannery (in fact), the non-profit aquarium is centered round analysis and marine conservation and is dwelling to 1000’s of marine species, together with many which might be discovered solely right here in Monterey Bay.

Within the aquarium’s 35 displays, you’ll see playful otters, marvel at mesmerizing jellyfish, find out about 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 one in all my favourite displays, you’ll additionally discover out what makes Monterey Bay’s waters so particular: its enchanting kelp forests! Stuffed with teeming marine life, the kelp grows 100 toes tall and gently waves forwards and backwards – and also you’ll get to see all of it up shut, as for those who have been scuba diving within the waters simply exterior the aquarium’s again doorways (which can also be on our bucket checklist)

It’s actually unbelievable, and also you’ll achieve a brand new appreciation for the kelp forests which might be dwelling to Monterey Bay’s distinctive marine ecosystem – the proper context for going kayaking, diving, or boating by 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 scenario 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 taking part in within the water round Monterey, and for those who look carefully, you would possibly see little tags on a lot of them, figuring out otters that spent a while on the aquarium earlier than being launched again into the wild! 

In the present day, almost all the ocean otters in California stay close to Monterey Bay (you’ll additionally see a lot 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 wish to defend our oceans! You may even meet the ocean otters earlier than your journey on the live Sea Otter cam. 

You’ll want 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 provides a number of the finest whale watching in California, which in flip is a number of the finest 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 remark of Grey Whales.

Monterey Bay is without doubt one of the finest locations to see grey whales in Northern California. There are two seasons for whale watching in Monterey Bay. Go to from mid-December by mid-April to see grey whales, dolphins and orcas as they migrate south, or go to from mid-April by mid-December to see humpback whales, blue whales, dolphins, and orcas. (Psst: for extra particulars, we’ve received a complete put up about whale watching in California!)

You may get a very good 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 Point Lobos Natural State Preserve. You may also see whales offshore at Garrapata State Park, particularly for those who do the hike to Sobrantes Point & Whale Peak.

However for the most effective 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 will even provide you with an amazing 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 by 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 Old Whaling Station close to Fisherman’s Wharf to find out about 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 guide!


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Kayaking with a dog in Monterey Bay California
Kayaking with Mulan in Monterey Bay! Necessary: be sure that your canine is carrying a well-fitted life vest, like this one, and is skilled to go away wildlife (like otters and sea lions) alone.

Go Kayaking in Monterey Bay

Kayaking in Monterey Bay is one of the simplest ways to discover the gorgeous shoreline and expertise Monterey’s phenomenal marine wildlife. The Monterey Bay Nationwide Marine Sanctuary is dwelling to an unbelievable quantity of marine life (together with greater than 30 species of whales and dolphins), wealthy kelp forests, salt marshes, mudflats, deep-sea corals, and rather more. And the world has a number of the finest 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 probably 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 each time.We suggest renting kayaks in Monterey from Adventures by the Sea and heading out on a self-guided journey. Or for those who’re new to sea kayaking, take one in all 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 nicely, it’s seafood. And no surprise, since recent seafood is swimming proper exterior city. 

Along with being tremendous recent, you’ll be able to 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 straight 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’ll be able to get pleasure from sustainable (and scrumptious) sea-to-table eating. 

Monterey is thought for a couple of native specialties. There’s a particular Monterey Bay type 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, typically 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 recent seafood in a tomato saffron broth – typically served with pasta – seems on the menus of virtually each restaurant in Fisherman’s Wharf. The dish displays Monterey’s Italian immigrant historical past, and it’s positively a neighborhood favourite (and Jeremy’s favourite, too).

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

  • Old Fisherman’s Grotto: from the surface, it won’t appear to be a lot. However inside, the restaurant has that outdated cash really feel as if Dean Martin or Frank Sinatra have been going to be seated within the soft 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 determine the age of clams by scent – okay, not likely, however you get the concept. The purpose is, the clam chowder right here is subsequent degree – it’s even gained the native “finest clam chowder” award for the final 16 years. Their “Monterey Type Chowder” has a slight hit of smoky bacon that provides depth and taste – attempt it in a garlic butter toasted sourdough bread bowl. Oh, and don’t skip the crab: we ordered a recent 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 most effective Cioppino we’ve ever eaten. The tomato and saffron broth was flavorful and wealthy, and the seafood – I imply, they need to empty the bay for each bowl judging by how a lot seafood they cram onto it: calamari, recent fish, shrimp, mussels, clams… mmm. The stew was served on a mattress of scrumptious linguini, which is an addition I can’t consider isn’t normal. Just about each restaurant in Fisherman’s Wharf has a Cioppino, however in our opinion, Cafe Fina is the most effective place to attempt it!
  • The C at the InterContinental The Clement Monterey: Situated proper on the boardwalk in Cannery Row, the floor-to-ceiling home windows and charming outside patio have a number of the finest ocean views on Cannery Row – excellent for watching the sundown! The C restaurant sits straight on the ocean, so for those who’re seated exterior, you’ll hear the sound of the waves pounding the shore as you eat. If you happen to’re fortunate, you’ll be able to even see otters taking part in within the kelp forests simply offshore! The menu incorporates a sustainable sea-to-table number of native seafood fare. All the things 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 calm down with a glass of wine!
  • Schooners: This restaurant within the Monterey Plaza lodge has a heated terrace that mainly hangs over the ocean! Schooners serves American delicacies – with a deal with seafood, in fact. Calm down with a traditional burger and beer or stay 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 plentiful marine life and exquisite mountain climbing 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 stunning 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 could be very clear and the underside turns into improbable with hurrying, preventing, 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 elevate with unbelievable 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 anticipate prey. The snapping shrimps with their set off claws pop loudly. The stunning, 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 gentle 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 threat of sounding like a damaged document, you should learn Cannery Row earlier than/throughout/after your journey!

Anyway, Level Lobos is fantastic, and the tidepools are tiny, enchanted swimming pools crammed with complete miniature universes of marine life. Ugh, now I’m simply embarrassing myself attempting to explain it after that Steinbeck quote. Ignore me. 

Head to Weston Seashore in Level Lobos for tide pooling. Journey Tip: You’ll wish 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 disguise and hunker down ready for the tide to rise. However arrive just a little earlier than and the water can be simply shallow sufficient to see them earlier than they disguise!

Throughout our journey, low tide fell proper earlier than sundown, which meant we have been trying to find 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 motorcycle 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 Trail traces what was as soon as a railroad line working from San Francisco proper as much as the loading docks of the canneries of Monterey. In the present day, it’s a stunning and well-maintained strolling and biking path that cuts proper by city and alongside the coast!

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

Bike, hire a surrey, or stroll the path south for so long as you want earlier than turning round and heading again to Monterey. You may choose up a motorcycle, 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 without doubt one of the finest locations to go mountain climbing close to Monterey Bay California

Take a Hike

With near-perfect climate, ocean views, and exquisite forests, Monterey and the encircling peninsula make for some superb mountain climbing — and also you don’t must go far (or climb excessive) to get pleasure from it. 

When mountain climbing close to Monterey, you’ll be able to anticipate sweeping views of the Pacific coast and trails that wind by enchanting redwoods and Monterey pines. 

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

  • Asilomar Trail: 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 — excellent for working or strolling. Plus, it’s a good way to discover Asilomar Seashore — simply hop off the boardwalk wherever you need.
  • Soberanes Point 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 number of the park’s resident wildlife — sea otters, sea lions, harbor seals, and even migrating grey whales! Head to our whale watching guide for extra info on what you would possibly see at totally different instances of the yr.
  • Jacks Peak and Skyline Trail: This brief .8-mile loop at Jack’s Peak Park is a good bang to your buck for those who’re brief on time. You’ll hike by 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 mountain climbing on the Skyline path offers you spectacular ocean views from the highest of a ridgeline and an opportunity to see Miocene-epoch fossils. 
  • Point Lobos State Reserve: South of Carmel Bay, Level Lobos State Reserve is an absolute gem on the Central Coast. The geology, vegetation, 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 necessary to remain on trails and depart the whole lot the way you discovered it. There are many trails to select from primarily based on how a lot time you wish to spend, however the 6.5 mile Point Lobos Loop Trail 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 repute for quirkiness and inventive expression, and this space is not any exception! Galleries, murals, and museums abound. 

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

  • Monterey Museum of Art: For a mixture of new and outdated California artwork, head to the Monterey Museum of Artwork. Works date from the top 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 images 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 biggest 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 Forties after fleeing the conflict in Europe. The gathering consists of greater than 580 items, together with etchings, tapestries, sculptures and lithographs! Issues would possibly get just a little bizarre… and for those who actually wish to, uh, improve your go to, maybe partake in one in all California’s completely authorized natural crops earlier than your go to. (When in California, proper?)
  • National Steinbeck Center: Okay, so the Steinbeck middle isn’t technically in Monterey — it’s in Steinbeck’s hometown of close by Salinas — however with Steinbeck’s vital presence within the historical past of Monterey and Cannery Row, we needed to embody this spot. If you happen to’re a fan of any Steinbeck novel (or if a go to to Monterey garners your curiosity – AND IT SHOULD) you’ll be able to’t miss a go to to the Nationwide Steinbeck Heart. 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 dwelling. If we’ve been too delicate on this put up, permit me to come back proper out and say it: Steinbeck is without doubt one of the best American authors, and also you want to learn some Steinbeck!! Begin with Cannery Row to your journey, however after that, we suggest Grapes of Wrath, East of Eden, or Of Mice and Men.


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

Benefit from the Surroundings on the “17 Mile Drive”

The 17 Mile Drive incorporates 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 price to drive this specific stretch of coast, you ask? It’s owned and maintained by the Pebble Beach Company. The highway accesses Pebble Seashore Resorts, together with the well-known Pebble Seashore Golf Hyperlinks. Which, for those who’re into golf, is a fairly large deal. 

You may, nonetheless, get your price 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 wish 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 brand for the Pebble Seashore Firm – might be someplace round 250 years outdated, 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 earth: in Pebble Seashore, and at Point Lobos State Natural Reserve

Your complete drive is scenic and exquisite, however be sure that to additionally pull over for a few of our favourite stops: Spanish Bay Beach, Restless Sea, Seal Rock, and Crocker Grove. You may also cease on the Pebble Beach Visitor Center if you wish to be taught extra concerning the space’s historical past, or Pebble Beach Golf Links when you 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 info and historical past about all the stops alongside the drive so you’ll be able to get pleasure from it to the fullest.If you happen to nonetheless need the good thing about a information however you’d want a extra lively tour of 17-mile drive, you’ll be able to take an e-bike tour as an alternative. This 3.5-hour tour permits you to discover the drive at a barely slower tempo, plus you’ll be able to benefit from the wind in your hair as you bike alongside the coast.


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Go Wine Tasting

Though Monterey isn’t one in all 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 trade on this space: the primary grapes have been planted by Spaniards within the late 1700s. Since then, the wine trade 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 here are a couple of of our favorites: 

  • Tasting rooms on Cannery Row: A Taste of Monterey is positioned close to McAbee Seashore and provides greater than 90 native wines and has an amazing view.  Bargetto Winery has two areas: one on Cannery Row and one on the base of the Santa Cruz Mountains. On the Cannery Row location, you’ll be able to get pleasure from a tasting on the patio with ocean views.
  • Blue Fox Cellars: Situated in Carmel Valley, this small, family-owned vineyard offers a hands-on tasting with the winemaker himself. You may pattern wine and revel within the beautiful mountain views from the outside 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 definitely worth the effort!
  • The Wine Experience: Situated 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 be taught a factor or two. Mix your individual 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. Here’s a list that will help 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 recognize 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 crammed with cafes and galleries and exquisite, storybook houses perched on hills rising above the ocean. 

Certainly one of its claims to fame is that that is the house of none apart 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 best 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’ll be able to see most of this charming city by foot!

  • Take a strolling tour: This walking tour brings to life the structure and historical past of Carmel-by-the-Sea. A neighborhood information tells the tales of Carmel’s artists, cottages, and landmarks. We additionally suggest this local-created downtown Carmel walking 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 numerous fairytale type, storybook houses in Carmel!
  • Take a food tour: Try 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: Stunning artwork typically comes from stunning locations, and Carmel-by-the-Sea is not any exception. This gorgeous Pacific shoreline attracted an artsy combine of oldsters from the early days, and the identical is true immediately with virtually 100 galleries in a single sq. mile of downtown Carmel. The Carmel Art Association is a good 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 nicely value a go to. On the northernmost tip of the Monterey Peninsula, Pacific Grove provides a dramatic, rugged, and exquisite shoreline together with its personal sandy seashores. 

Pacific Grove welcomes extra than simply ocean-seeking vacationers — actually, 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 coloration, Pacific Grove places on a fleeting however attractive spectacle in April or Might every year — 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 positively not native and really invasive.)

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

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

  • Eat at The Beach House Restaurant: Overlooking stunning Lover’s Point Beach, The Seashore Home Restaurant and Bar may need the most effective views in Pacific Grove. Their informal menu options native seafood — attempt the Seafood Pasta for a style of recent 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’ll be able to go to the Pacific Grove Monarch Sanctuary to take a tour with a docent. It doesn’t matter what time of yr you go to, you’ll be able to all the time try the Monarch Gallery on the Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History to find out about these annual guests.
  • Go Tidepooling at Point Pinos Lighthouse: This historic maritime landmark is the oldest frequently working lighthouse on the Pacific, and nonetheless operates immediately. You may take excursions of the outdated 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 “Great Tide Pool” at Point Pinos is without doubt one of the richest tidepools habitats on the earth!

The place to Keep in Monterey

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

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

The lodge sits straight alongside the water, which meant that even our normal room got here with an ocean view by floor-to-ceiling home windows. We have been handled to gorgeous dawn views over the ocean every morning – and I’m not even a morning individual!

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 night time studying Steinbeck in a bubble tub whereas Jeremy and Mulan relaxed in entrance of the hearth, listening to the rolling waves muffling the decision of seagulls and barking sea lions exterior.

Hear: we aren’t usually luxurious lodge individuals. However then I received pregnant and nicely, issues modified. Issues like my potential to sleep by the night time, particularly on an uncomfortable mattress

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

If you happen to’re visiting Monterey for a particular weekend, we will’t suggest a keep on theInterContinental The Clement Monterey sufficient. If you happen to’re on a tighter price range, test low season and mid-week charges; we’ve seen availability as little as $200 per night time, which is a freakin’ steal for a lodge this luxury! Click on the button under to test charges and availability to 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 duplicate of Cannery Row but?! Drop us a remark under!

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

xo Lia & Jeremy signature graphic


Psst: Save this put up for afterward Pinterest!

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 Accommodations and we have 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 all the time, all opinions, unhealthy jokes, poetic descriptions of cioppino, and aggressive solutions to learn Steinbeck are 100% our personal and never our sponsor’s fault.

Our High Journey Ideas & Sources

Listed here are our favourite journey ideas & sources for saving cash and planning journey logistics! For extra ideas, try our travel tips resource page or our guide to planning a trip.

  • 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 price range airline; and take red-eyes or early morning flights.
  • Lodging: We normally keep in budget-friendly trip leases, boutique motels or personal rooms in hostels. We use Booking.com to e-book motels (we love their versatile cancellation coverage) and Hostelworld to e-book hostels (low deposit, simple change/cancellation, and glorious evaluations). For trip leases, we want 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 document. You may also e-book trip leases on Expedia and Hotels.com. We additionally use TrustedHousesitters as each hosts (for our dwelling and our fur-child) and vacationers!
  • Journey Insurance coverage: We all the time, all the time, ALWAYS purchase journey insurance coverage for worldwide journeys, and we STRONGLY recommend it – go to our Travel Insurance Guide to seek out out why. We suggest both World Nomads or SafetyWing for worldwide journey insurance coverage. SafetyWing is without doubt one of the few insurance policies that covers Covid-19, they usually have glorious month-to-month insurance policies which might be excellent 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 will we earn money again that we will spend on extra journey, however the card provides improbable 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. Learn more here.
  • Vaccines & Meds: We use the journey guides on the CDC website to analysis advisable drugs and vaccines for worldwide journeys. We all the time suggest getting each vaccine advisable by the CDC! You may get them at your major 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 tips on how to get from place to position utilizing public transit, and e-book native transportation on-line utilizing Bookaway wherever we will. After we e-book a rental automobile, we use Kayak to check rental firms and discover the most effective deal.
  • Baggage Storage: At any time when we’re trying out early or profiting from an extended layover, we use LuggageHero to soundly retailer our baggage whereas we’re working round. Use the code PRACTICALW for two hours of free baggage storage on us.
  • What to Pack: Here are the travel essentials that we carry on each journey. We even have packing lists for hot weather, cold weather, and plenty of extra. Check out all of our packing guides!


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