Monterey Bay Aquarium

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Monterey Bay Aquarium: Our most recommended tours and activities

Pacific Coastal Highway Tour to Monterey & Carmel

1. Pacific Coastal Highway Tour to Monterey & Carmel

Travel along the scenic Pacific Coast Highway from San Francisco to Monterey and Carmel-by-the-Sea. This full-day tour takes you along California’s stunning coast to experience the beauty of Highway 1. When you arrive at the Monterey peninsula, follow the 17-Mile Drive through Pebble Beach to visit the Lone Cypress, where your guide will stop for you to take photos of the rugged, beautiful coast. As your tour continues, visit Monterey city where you can walk down Cannery Row, or visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium (for an additional cost). From Monterey, your tour continues to the coastal town Pacific Grove, which features charming Victorian-era buildings; and the artsy Carmel-by-the-Sea, where you will visit the historic mission established in 1770. On the way back to San Francisco, drive through Silicon Valley, the tech capital of the United States; and, as you circle round the north end of San Francisco, catch a glimpse of the Seal Rocks in the distance.

Monterey: 17-Mile Drive Self-Guided Audio Tour

2. Monterey: 17-Mile Drive Self-Guided Audio Tour

Experience the ultimate scenic drive between Pacific Grove and Pebble Beach on a self-guided tour in your vehicle. Take advantage of the flexibility to set your own pace, stopping to take in the many sights and views along the 17-Mile Drive. Start by downloading the app that will function as your personal guide, audio tour, and map all in one (download instructions received via email after booking), then begin your self-guided adventure. You'll embark on this scenic drive in downtown Monterey near the historic Fisherman's Wharf. Discover Cannery Row, the delightful waterfront street bordering Pacific Grove. Optionally, stop at the Monterey Bay Aquarium to get an up-close look at a large variety of sea creatures (entry not included). Take in the views from Point Joe, the rocky southwestern end of Spanish Bay, also known as the Restless Sea. Journey to Bird Rock and Seal Rock, and try to spot seals, sea lions, and local birds. Next, you'll continue through Crocker Grove to the Lone Cypress, which stands dramatically at the edge of a cliff against crashing waves. End your tour at the world-famous Pebble Beach, a paradise of pristine white sand and sensational coastal cliffs. The audio tour is curated by local guides and creative writers and is narrated by professional voice artists. Along with written descriptions, most tour stops have animated videos allowing you to visualize what you cannot see, such as snapshots from different centuries or building interiors.

San Francisco: Monterey and Carmel Tour

3. San Francisco: Monterey and Carmel Tour

Begin your tour by traveling south on the famous Pacific Coast Highway, California Highway 1. Head to Monterey and Carmel-by-the-Sea. At your first rest stop in Davenport, you will have a chance to take a selfie with the whole Pacific as your backdrop.  At Monterey, you will have 2 hours on your own to explore. You can visit the world-famous Monterey Bay Aquarium, rent a kayak or paddleboard, hike along the coast, or take a bike to roam. You can also stroll among the quaint boutiques and art shops along the historic Cannery Row. Grab a seafood lunch at Old Fisherman’s Wharf.  Enjoy another eyeful of Pacific beauty along the scenic 17-Mile Drive through Del Monte Forest and take photographs of the hardy Lone Cyprus Tree. This famous road winds its way by magnificent homes and the spectacular coastline, between the greens and tees of world famous golf courses, and among the last remaining forest of a rare species of the Monterey Cypress.  Your scenic drive finishes at Pebble Beach Village. Upon arrival in the enchanted town of Carmel-by-the-Sea, you can explore the boutique shops on Ocean Avenue and be dazzled by the white sandy beach. If there is time, you can visit the historic Carmel Mission. Then, it will be time to head back to San Francisco. 

San Fran: Carmel, Monterey & Big Sur Full-Day Private Tour

4. San Fran: Carmel, Monterey & Big Sur Full-Day Private Tour

Explore the Big Sur and Monterey areas of California at your own pace, and avoid the hassle of organized bus tours. Traveling by private car, enjoy the comfort of seeing the places you want to see without worrying about your departure or arrival time. Learn more about the famous landmarks with a reliable service, offering maximum security and, most of all, the best level of hospitality in the industry. Following a pick-up from your accommodation in San Francisco (pick-ups in other cities in the Bay Area are available on arrangement), get recommendations on the best places to stop to take pictures or explore further; you decide where you want to go. Take a scenic drive from San Francisco to Carmel and Big Sur via State Route 1, the north-south highway that runs along most of the Pacific coastline of California. Travel the forested road of 17-Mile Drive. Discover the Mission District and Monterey Bay Aquarium. See all the sights of Fisherman's Wharf. Drive down to the Big Sur Bixby Creek Bridge, and marvel at the flora and fauna of Poit Lobos State Reserve south of Carmel before your return to San Francisco.

Monterey: 17-Mile Drive Self-Guided Audio Tour

5. Monterey: 17-Mile Drive Self-Guided Audio Tour

Experience one of the most famous scenic drives in the world with a live GPS route and auto-playing narration for a complete hands-free and fully guided driving experience along the 17-Mile Drive. Simply download the app and drive hands-free like Google maps. On approaching an attraction, it’s photo pops up and you will hear its audio story, just like having a local guide sitting with you. The tour is developed by local tour guides, curated by creative writers, narrated by professional voice artists and put together using an award-winning platform. At Point Joe, stop and listen to the audio guide to learn about the European explorers that first came to this part of the coast. Later, drive past Bird Rock, where you can see Brandt's cormorants, pelicans, and California sea lions sharing the rock. At your next stop, get to see the harbor seals at Fanshell Overlook and learn about their pupping season from your guide. As you continue your drive, learn about the history of the 5000-acre Del Monte Forest of Monterey Cypress trees and listen to the intriguing story of a 250-year-old Lone Cypress that isn't entirely alone. Finally, stop at the Lodge at Pebble Beach and rest at one of the public areas or putter around in one of the many charming shops in the area. 

From San Francisco: 2-Day Monterey & Yosemite Tour

6. From San Francisco: 2-Day Monterey & Yosemite Tour

Explore the beauty of Northern California in just 2 days with a trip to the coastal towns of Monterey and Carmel on the first day and Yosemite National Park on the second day. Get the most out of your trip on this small-group guided tour. Day 1 Start your day with a convenient hotel pickup and drive along the scenic Pacific Coast Highway. Pass coastal mountains overlooking turquoise waters and sandy beaches, where windsurfers ride the waves.  Watch sea lions enjoying the warm sun on the rocks. Discover Monterey‘s Cannery Row, made famous by Steinbeck‘s novels. Browse the boutique shops or enjoy a famous fish delicacy offered by the many restaurants dotting the shoreline. Next, continue along Pacific Grove and onto the 17-Mile Drive, stopping along the way to photograph famous landmarks like Pebble Beach golf club and the lone cypress tree. Stop in Carmel, considered one of the most beautiful villages along the pacific coast, before heading inland through the San Joaquin valley to the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Spend the night in Oakhurst, just outside Yosemite National Park. Day 2 Start the second day by entering Yosemite National Park through the Mariposa Grove of giant sequoias. Walk through this ancient forest of 3000-year-old trees that can reach 36 feet in diameter. Continue to the famous Yosemite Valley Tunnel View, featuring views of Yosemite's famous granite cliffs, carved out by ancient glaciers. Take a walk, a swim, or a bike ride around the base of Yosemite Falls. Enjoy your free afternoon to discover this spectacular park before heading back to San Francisco, where you will be dropped off around 8 PM.

Other Sightseeing Options in Monterey Bay Aquarium

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What people are saying about Monterey Bay Aquarium

Overall rating

4.5 / 5

based on 181 reviews

Excellent tour, covered all the major spots along California coast from Santa Cruz to Monterey to Carmel by the sea with important stops along the coast with appropriate time to take photos. Our your guide Doug and river Jason were pretty amazing and Doug has a thorough knowledge and passion and he was did an excellent job explaining all the important history on the tour. 17 Mile drive and pebble Beach were pretty amazing and beautiful. In Carmel, if you do not plan to shop, consider walking to the beach, it's a 0.5 mile walk slightly tedious walk (considering all the elevations) from the bus stop but it's worth it. In Monterey, aquarium will always be sold out when you arrive unless you dont book it prior, so 2 he is a little long, but considering it in life's lunch stop too, it totally makes sense. Apart from cannery row, consider taking a walk across lovers point trail in Pacific Grove which is just next to cannery row, it's pretty scenic.

this guide I would highly recommend any visitor/traveler to do, to enjoy some of the sights you might miss otherwise. And definitely pay to enter Pebble Beach.... it is well worth the $11.25. Absolutely beautiful and informative!

Loved this tour! We learned so much about the area from Alex. He’s a charismatic guide with a sense of humor. We had beautiful views along the coast. Highly recommend!

George was a terrific tour guide. He provided useful and interesting information everywhere we went.

George our tour guide was funny and knew a lot about San Fransisco!