Beaches & State Parks in Monterey California
Discover the outdoor wonders of Monterey Bay at dozens of parks and Monterey Bay beaches located near Comfort Inn Monterey by the Sea.
Pinnacles National Monument -
Rising out of the chaparral-covered Gabilan Mountains, east of Salinas Valley, are the spectacular remains of an ancient volcano. Massive monoliths, spires, sheer-walled canyons and talus passages define millions of years of erosion, faulting and tectonic plate movement. Within the monument's boundaries lie 24,000 acres of wildlands for hiking, climbing, bird watching and sightseeing. The rock formations are connected by 30 miles of hiking trails - from easy loops to wilderness trails - that access geological formations, spectacular vistas and wildlife communities. The Pinnacles' rock formations are excellent for technical climbers. Visit www.nsp.gov/pinn.
Point Lobos State Reserve -
Two miles south of Carmel, Point Lobos State Reserve is a coastal treasure. The ever-changing skies and shifting seas form a kaleidoscope of Nature's handiwork. The jewel of the California State Parks, the Reserve encompasses 750 acres of underwater wonders and 550 acres of protected trails and views. Whales and dolphins are visible in the distance, and seals bark on offshore rocks at Punta de los Lobos Marinos. Bold headlands, coves and meadows are popular for picnics, scuba diving, jogging, birding, and photography.
Monterey Recreational Trail -
One of the nation's most scenic byways, the Monterey Recreation Trail is 18 miles of paved cycling and walking path from Castroville to Pacific Grove, with few major roads or railroads to cross. The Trail accommodates skaters, bicyclists and four-wheeled surreys that seat up to four people. The Monterey Bay section between Seaside and Pacific Grove is busy with surreys, rollerbladers, and joggers, but elsewhere cyclists rule the road. Bicycle rental companies can set you up with cycles, scooters, and skates.
Monterey County Parks -
Monterey County's several state and regional parks are open year round for outdoor recreation. Jacks Peak Park in Monterey and Garland Ranch Park in Carmel Valley offer excellent hiking trails and gorgeous mountain and coastal views. Point Lobos State Reserve in Carmel is a perfect destination for an afternoon picnic. Andrew Molera State Park and Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park in Big Sur offer hiking trails and horseback riding tours.
Monterey State Historic Park -
Monterey State Historic Park includes historic buildings, restored gardens, adobes, and the State Historic Park Visitor's Center located in the Custom House Plaza. Take a 5-hour walking tour that will acquaint you with Old Monterey's historic adobes. One fee of $5 per person gives you entrance to all the MSHP properties for informative and enjoyable activities for individuals the whole family.
Dennis The Menace Park -
This famous playground in downtown Monterey is known for its whimsical equipment, which includes a drinking fountain inside the mouth of a lion, a swinging rope bridge, a roller slide, a life-sized hedge maze, and a real steam train engine. Created in 1956 by cartoonist Hank Ketcham, this fun Monterey park celebrates being a kid. The free park is open daily at 10 a.m.
Monterey County Fairgrounds & Exposition Park -
Monterey Fairgrounds is home to the annual Monterey County Fair each August, featuring carnival rides, 4-H livestock competitions and auctions, live music, entertainment and traditional fair exhibits. The Monterey Jazz Festival, Blues Festival, World Music Fest, the Book Fair, and many popular festivals are held throughout the year. Visit www.montereycountyfair.com.
Ventana Wilderness Sanctuary -
Ventana Wilderness Sanctuary defends the animal and plant species native to Monterey Bay and the Central Coast of California. The Sanctuary's wildlife protection and habitat restoration are leading efforts to preserve endangered species in California. Programs include the California Condor Recovery Program, a bald eagle monitoring program, and the Creamery Meadow restoration. Go to www.ventanaws.org.
Monterey Bay Beaches
Monterey State Beach -
Monterey State Beach is the largest beach area on the Monterey Bay. It stretches from Wharf #2 in Monterey to the town of Seaside. The paved Recreation Trail winds its way along the beach or enjoy a shoreline stroll. Ocean paddling, beach volleyball, kayaking, canoeing are popular things to do at Monterey State Beach. Facilities include restrooms, snack bars and restaurants and ample parking.
San Carlos Beach -
San Carlos Beach marks the end of Cannery Row, adjacent to the Coast Guard Pier in Monterey. Despite its chilly temperatures, San Carlos Beach is a popular jumping-off point for scuba divers. Monterey Bay is home to 70 percent of the world's invertebrate life. The beach's shallow grade makes this Monterey beach a great choice for families looking for a place to cool their toes. Beach facilities include a grassy area, picnic tables, and an outdoor shower.
MacAbee Beach -
Monterey's tiniest beach, MacAbee Beach, is located in the heart of Cannery Row. Kayakers launch from it, scuba divers occasionally wade ashore at it, and children and parents dabble barefoot in the waves. A few blocks inland are food, drink and shops galore.
The dune-backed beach at Seaside is a fantasy of kites, kite-drawn sand buggies, and excited kids playing in the surf. The soft, white sands shelve gently, but do drop off suddenly, so watch small children. It's possible to walk several miles on the beach, southwest towards Monterey or northeast towards Sand City. If you need refreshments or beach gear, there's a shopping plaza across Highway One.
Lover's Point -
Enjoy the tranquility of the ocean, beach and a lovely park with magnificent views of the Monterey Bay. Lovers Point Beach is paradise for diving, kayaking, family beach picnics, and volleyball. Just a distance from Comfort Inn Monterey by the Sea, Lover's Point is the perfect place to relax and watch a magical Monterey sunset.
Asilomar State Park and Beach -
Asilomar State Park and Beach in Pacific Grove meanders along Sunset Drive, its tide pools giving way to a sweeping stretch of pale sand at Spanish Bay. Minute coves, linked by paths and boardwalks, offer sheltered spots for tide pooling, wildlife-spotting and watching sunsets. A setting of natural beauty, this Monterey Bay beach is an outstanding place for swimming, surfing, and kite flying. A boardwalk links Asilomar State Beach with 17-Mile Drive in Carmel.
Big Sur -
Big Sur enjoys several outstanding wild beaches, but visitors should expect to hike to reach most of them. The 4,800 acres of Andrew Molera State Park are laced with hiking and biking trails, and the Big Sur River Bobcat Trail is an easy 3-mile hike that passes the Cooper Cabin, Big Sur's oldest structure, and ends at a pleasant, sandy beach. State park admission fees include parking.
Bixby Creek Bridge -
Bixby Creek Bridge, commonly referred to as Bixby Bridge, is the iconic emblem of Big Sur. The massive bridge was built between 1931 and 1932 and opened the Big Sur coastline to automobile traffic. The bridge spans over 700 feet long and is one of the most photographed landmarks in California.
Pfeiffer Beach -
One of Monterey County's most beautiful beaches, Pfeiffer Beach is located within Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. After a year of renovations, visitors can enjoy improved beach access, increased parking, and new restrooms.
Garrapata State Park Beach -
Seven miles south of Carmel, Garrapata State Park offers 2879 acres of Big Sur beauty, with trails leading through piney forests to awesome beaches. Beach accesses are marked with signs at the turnouts. Soberanes Point is a favorite spot for its panoramic views. Rock climbers enjoy the rocks at the south end of the beach. The surf can be dangerous.
Carmel River State Beach -
Carmel is blessed with pleasant Carmel River State Beach at Carmelo Road, known as Carmel River Lagoon and Wetlands Natural Preserve. This is a wonderful place to watch birds and wildlife while the children play in the shallow lagoon. A small overland trail leads to Monastery Beach. A modern cross marks the spot where Gaspar de Portola erected a cross in 1769.
Carmel Town Beach -
Carmel Town Beach in Carmel-by-the-Sea is locally renowned for good surf and excellent dog-walking areas. An annual sandcastle contest is testimony to the quality of the silvery sands, punctuated by outcroppings of rock. The beach is level with the modest parking lot on Ocean Avenue. Restaurants and shops are located within walking distance of the beach.
Marina State Beach -
Off Highway One, Marina State Beach has 170 acres of protected dunes and sandy beaches. It's very popular with locals for kite flying, hang-gliding, and surf-casting. Although surfing is allowed, the shoreline waters are dangerous for wading or swimming. A boardwalk leads across the dunes to the beach where dogs are allowed off leashes. Walk to the nice cafe and observation deck.
Moss Landing State Beach -
Moss Landing offers a range of activities including surfing, wind-surfing, canoeing and kayaking, hiking, horseback riding and surf fishing. Birdwatchers will have plenty to see. Boaters may use the pier and jetty. Moss Landing is located between Monterey and Santa Cruz.