Best of Monterey County 2023


No matter your reason for visiting Monterrey County in 2023, its beaches, 17 17-mile drive, and Poppy Hills Golf Course make this region the place to be!

Visit Tor House and Hawk Tower, home to poet Robinson Jeffers. It offers the perfect spot for enjoying pine and huckleberry lattes or one of their delectable doughnuts!

1. Monterey Bay Aquarium

Monterey Bay Aquarium is an enchanting must-see destination, captivating visitors of all ages with breathtaking kelp forest habitats and marine life feedings on daily schedules. Take an exclusive behind-the-scenes tour for an insider view of this remarkable attraction.

The Aquarium has received many honors and awards, such as being named one of the top aquariums worldwide by TripAdvisor. Known for its innovative marine life exhibits and ocean conservation efforts, the aquarium was even used as the inspiration behind Disney/Pixar’s Finding Dory movie! One scene from the HBO miniseries Big Little Lies was also shot there.

A significant expansion of the aquarium was completed in 1996 and included the Open Sea Wing, which showcases schooling Pacific mackerel and other pelagic fish, as well as other pelagics in a circular exhibit designed to illustrate their sleek bodies. Another addition included the Jellyfish Exhibit, which highlights various jellyfish species – and has since been recognized as one of the best displays nationwide.

Splash Zone at the Aquarium is another top-rated attraction, where visitors can get close to bat rays, sea cucumbers, starfish, and more in an interactive touch pool experience. Plus, there’s always the novelty factor of African penguins, too – always making for memorable moments at this attraction!

Experience an unforgettable visit by visiting the Aquarium during a weekday when fewer visitors are compared to weekends and the peak tourist season. Aquarium hours of operation are 10 am-5 pm daily.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium is just five miles and 15 minutes from Carmel Green Lantern Inn. For an economical visit, book our Monterey Bay Aquarium Package; this special deal gives two days at the aquarium for just the price of one! If planning a visit early is best – as morning hours tend to be much quieter with more animals on display!

2. National Steinbeck Center

The National Steinbeck Center in Salinas stands out from other museums as being unique and interactive; one exhibit features a vintage typewriter that allows visitors to feel its weight, hear its clicks, and try writing letters, comments, or even the first words of their novel akin to John Steinbeck who wrote such prolifically decades ago. This move forms part of a new strategy to make museums more experience-based than passive spectatorship-based institutions.

The Center aims to offer audiences experiences and information that stimulate learning about human nature, literature, history, agriculture, and the arts through John Steinbeck’s works. This is achieved by offering educational activities that are interactive and enjoyable as well as exploring his rich Salinas Valley environment, which inspired Steinbeck to write his stories and novels – specifically by spotlighting Mexican, Chinese, Italian, and Portuguese communities that played vital roles in his life and work.

The Steinbeck Center aims to reach and engage all members of its local community through education, cultural events, and public programs. One initiative The Steinbeck Center offers is its Young Authors program, which encourages local students to explore Steinbeck’s themes through essay writing. Furthermore, four major Steinbeck events, such as the Festival de Steinbeck or Birthday Celebration, occur annually at their location.

National Steinbeck Center attempts to broaden its audience through partnerships with local artists, such as sculptor Norma Luna and painter Michael Josephs, to draw more people in and showcase works influenced by Steinbeck’s narrative. This partnership helps bring attention to both museums while supporting the creative works of those inspired by Steinbeck.

Monterey County boasts something for every type of traveler, from admirers of Fisherman’s Wharf to kayaking through Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve with harbor seals swimming nearby. Monterey’s rich agricultural landscape, stunning coastal scenery, and wine trails attract people worldwide.

Experience what makes the county special this spring by exploring its most striking and captivating spots. With new restaurants, hotels, and experiences being introduced all the time – the region remains ever-evolving!

3. Alvarado Street Brewery

This restaurant and brewery serves gastro-pub-inspired fare featuring their house beers made on-site in an old historic building in downtown Monterey. There are 140 seats across three sites (shaded sidewalk patio seating for 80, 50-seat Beer Garden in back), and full bar service is available to diners.

Brewing can be seen from the bar area thanks to large glass windows that give patrons an incredible view of their stainless steel tanks. Their signature Peninsular Pilsner and malty Yeast of Burden pale ale are excellent selections, but there’s something here for every palate on their menu – led by chef Jeremiah Tydeman in the kitchen, who works to develop dishes that complement his brewery’s offering.

Design-wise, the restaurant features both vintage and contemporary elements in its decor. Large images of vintage beer bottles sit atop sleek metal tables reminiscent of those found at traditional brewpubs; overall, the space feels comfortable without being overly fancy or fussy – perfect for an easygoing coastal town!

Alvarado Street stands out from its competition thanks to its signature bottle and can labels. Alvarado Street has taken full advantage of this opportunity by customizing each label with whimsical or nostalgic graphics that perfectly capture the spirit of their core beers. Their penchant for oddball designs has certainly paid off: their beers have won several accolades at beer competitions over time!

Even though Hill never imagined himself entering the brewing industry, fate had different plans for him. After working in hospitality for some time, he and his father opened Alvarado Street with fresh, vibrant flavors as their focus. With his creative mind and restless spirit, Hill never feels bound by tradition – every beer produced is tweaked to improve it further.

Alvarado Street Brewery stands out as an exceptional brewery that has achieved balance among beer, food, and setting. By mixing modern West Coast flair with classic beach town hospitality, they have created an enjoyable experience.

4. Alta Bakery

At Cooper Molera Adobe complex, this cafe stands out more than your average coffee and pastry shop. Crafted on-site with precision and care, its artisanal pastries, cakes, and tarts are made into exquisite works of art, while its menu boasts cooked-to-order items like salmon toast, and avocado toast along with daily soups salads, paninis bowls as well as mimosas, wines, beers, and kombuchas to complement them all!

This bakery also offers delicious baked goods such as flaky croissants and tasty muffins, perfect for enjoying the beautiful scenery in their garden seating area. Be sure to grab yourself a seat outside! You won’t regret it.

No wonder this place is popular with residents and visitors; with an atmosphere that feels warm and welcoming, friendly staff members, ample seating, and ample table service – this restaurant will quickly become one of Monterey County’s go-to spots!

Alta Bakery + Cafe opened for business at this year’s historic 2.5-acre National Trust site in Monterey in April, marking its second turn as a bakery after serving as Pioneer Bakery. Alta features the Cooper family cattle brands dusting rustic loaves, embossed on espresso drink foams and printed labels of jams and olive oils from this heritage site, with interpretation signs and exhibits in an adjacent museum connecting visitors’ experiences with gardens, orchards, and 19th-century structures that comprise Cooper Molera Adobe complex.

Ben Spungin, former Pastry Chef at Restaurant 1833 and Bernardus Lodge, is widely respected for his creative cakes and hand-painted chocolates. In addition to having an in-depth knowledge of regional ingredients and growers’ markets, his creativity can also be found here!

Breakfast offerings on the a la carte menu at Tazzina Cafe of Santa Cruz include homemade bread such as the signature avocado toast; spreads like Big Spoon Roasters’ Chai Almond Peanut Butter from Durham, North Carolina, and homemade Granola made with Straus Greek Yogurt; egg bakes featuring stewed tomatoes, herbs, and ricotta; Tazzina Coffee from Santa Cruz can also be purchased by the bag!