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Otters. Wine tasting. Whale watching. Clam chowder. Monterey is among the most lovely cities alongside the California coast – and essentially the most traditionally necessary! Well-known for its unimaginable 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 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 highway journey? We’ve received a number of different posts you’ll need to try, 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 every part it’s essential 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 hearth and an enormous bathtub – it’s heaven.
  • The right way to Get Round: Inside city, you’ll be able to stroll or bike in all places. However to see the close by points of interest alongside the Monterey Peninsula and California coast, you’ll desire a automotive. Use Kayak to browse rental automotive offers.
  • High 3 Highlights: The world-famous Monterey Bay Aquarium, kayaking by means 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 be taught concerning the space’s wealthy historical past. And watch Huge 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 Huge Sur. Should you’re driving the Pacific Coast Freeway, you’ll go proper by means of city – and it’s one among 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 largest metropolis middle, Monterey county encompasses coastal cities like Carmel-by-the-Sea, Pacific Grove, Moss Touchdown, and Huge Sur, and stretches inland to embody the Salinas Valley, Los Padres Nationwide Forest, and Pinnacles Nationwide 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? Should you’re a John Steinbeck fan, there’s an excellent 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 advocate studying Cannery Row earlier than your journey, as it’ll actually improve your go to! Or maybe you acknowledge Monterey because the setting of the TV present Huge Little Lies. The present was filmed throughout city (though, for no good cause, 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 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 yr to go to Monterey is in spring between March and April. California’s springtime might 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 greatest time of yr to go to Monterey is within the fall between September and October: the climate is ideal and it’s extra prone to be clear and sunny. The worst time to go to Monterey is between Could and August, when all the 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 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 outdoor 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 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 dwelling to Monterey’s world-famous aquarium, a number of seashores, the InterContinental The Clement Monterey, and lots of different outlets, and is the bustling epicenter of Monterey.

In between the outlets 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 an enthralling 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 realm’s various inhabitants of employees seem in between storefronts, and the small, well-preserved properties that after housed these employees interrupt and in any other case trendy stretch. Maintain a watch out for indicators explaining the historic significance of those landmarks otherwise you would possibly miss them!

Should you’ve learn John Steinbeck’s novella Cannery Row, you then’re already accustomed to this road and its historical past. And in the event you’ve by no means learn his novel, then choose up a duplicate earlier than heading out in your journey in Monterey! It’ll 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 below are a number of highlights alongside Cannery Row:

  • See the real-life inspiration behind Steinbeck’s Cannery Row: Steinbeck’s influences will be seen in all places alongside this stretch, and I’m not simply referring to Cannery Row Monument on Steinbeck Plaza. The actual-life inspiration for his novella and the entire historic locations and folks which had been immortalized as characters from his ebook will be seen right here. As an 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 ebook, 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. Study concerning the historical past of Cannery Row, its significance in Monterey, and its position in Steinbeck’s literature.
  • McAbee Seashore is the right escape from city. Steps from Cannery Row – actually, down a set of stairs proper off Steinbeck Plaza – this sandy expanse (at low tide, not less than) 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 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 growth within the sardine business. 

In 1923, on the peak 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 as a consequence of tough climate, and multiple hundred ft of the wharf collapsed. For sure, a lot of sardines had been returned to the bay that day. (In hindsight, this incident positively 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 Warfare II, when the inhabitants of sardines was depleted due to overfishing (whoops). And like the remainder of Monterey, Fisherman’s Wharf turned a vacationer attraction as an alternative of a middle of fishy business!

At the moment, this pier is stuffed with outlets, 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 onerous to choose a favourite, however Carousel Candies is on the prime of our listing. Choose up all of the fudge, candies, saltwater taffies, and dipped apples you’ll be able to eat (plus extra to take dwelling) at this heavenly-smelling, shiny pink institution. We advocate the penuche fudge — oh, and in the event 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 Huge Little Lies (you’ll be able to see locations the place some scenes had 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 contains a native and sustainable menu of rigorously 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 essential 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 components of Arizona, Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico. 

So yeah: it was sort of an enormous deal. After all, simply because Spain and Mexico claimed the realm as their very own didn’t essentially imply a lot – a lot of Alta California was nonetheless totally below Indigenous management! Earlier than Spain arrived to colonize the realm, 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 at the present time)

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 dwelling within the space. Monterey shortly turned a middle for business, with a various inhabitants of employees to gas its fast development and enlargement.

Within the mid-1800’s, shortly after being claimed by the US, Monterey shortly turned 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 improbable 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 destroy your personal business, a indisputable fact that Monterey, sadly, needed to be taught twice. You possibly can be taught 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 reworked Monterey, as new canneries popped up in a single day alongside at present’s Cannery Row. Sardines had been fished from Monterey Bay by the boatload, transported throughout the road (alongside walkways that may nonetheless be seen at present) to be canned or became fertilizer, and dropped off onto ready railroad automobiles straight behind the canneries. Enterprise was booming, and Monterey was quickly often called the sardine capital of the world!

However because the sardine canning business grew, the sardine inhabitants declined. And through WWII, whilst troopers all around the world relied on cans of sardines for his or her rations, the business floor to a sudden, screeching halt. Monterey realized its second lesson in destroying animal populations for revenue, and the commercial 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. Be sure you learn all of the indicators alongside the waterfront as you discover!

At the moment, Monterey’s economic system depends on tourism relatively than business, and it’s best identified for its pioneering strategy to marine conservation and analysis.

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

  • Monterey State Historic Park: An amazing place to begin 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 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 properties, and pleasant gardens.
  • Pacific Home Museum:  On a self-guided stroll by means of the Pacific Home Museum and Reminiscence Backyard, you’ll hint a bit of California’s wealthy historical past, spanning its Native American origins by means 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 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 lately restored, however the architectural magnificence continues to be one thing guests can respect at present. Subsequent door there’s a museum, the place you’ll find outdated images and drawings of the chapel and items of the church’s historic whale-bone sidewalk. You too can 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 a lot 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 bushes, 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 in the event you don’t observe the tour precisely, I like to recommend studying by means of it to get some context for this space! We noticed a lot 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 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 basically 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. Mushy, white sand, glorious surf, and ideal sunsets make this cease price your time. Deliver a night picnic, take an extended stroll on the scenic path, or simply sit and hearken to the waves crashing onto the seashore. This seashore can be canine pleasant, so that you simply would possibly make a number of furry associates. (Oh, and maintain a watch out for Mulan! She’s an enormous 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 truly faces east — so you’ll be able to rely on a stupendous seashore dawn in the event you get up early sufficient! A breakwall makes for calmer waters, so in the event you can bear the chilly, it’s an excellent 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 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 among the largest aquariums on this planet – and among the best! Positioned in a transformed sardine cannery (in fact), the non-profit aquarium is centered round analysis and marine conservation and is dwelling to hundreds of marine species, together with many which are 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 one among 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 ft tall and gently waves backwards and forwards – and also you’ll get to see all of it up shut, as in the event you had been scuba diving within the waters simply outdoors the aquarium’s again doorways (which can be on our bucket listing)

It’s actually unimaginable, and also you’ll achieve a brand new appreciation for the kelp forests which are dwelling to Monterey Bay’s distinctive marine ecosystem – the right context for going kayaking, diving, or boating by means 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 understood for its position in rescuing and rehabilitating sea otters. Within the early Nineties, there have been solely 50 southern sea otters left in California. The state of affairs turned 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 the event you look carefully, you would possibly 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 the moment, 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 wish to defend our oceans! You possibly can even meet the ocean otters earlier than your journey on the reside Sea Otter cam. 

Be sure you buy a ticket for the aquarium earlier than your journey.


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Go Whale Watching 

Whale-watching in Monterey is a bucket listing expertise. Monterey provides 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 among 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 means of mid-April to see grey whales, dolphins and orcas as they migrate south, or go to from mid-April by means of mid-December to see humpback whales, blue whales, dolphins, and orcas. (Psst: for extra particulars, we’ve received a whole put up about whale watching in California!)

You may get an excellent 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 too can see whales offshore at Garrapata State Park, particularly in the event you do the hike to Sobrantes Level & Whale Peak.

However for the very best whale watching expertise and to essentially rise up shut and private with these big, majestic creatures, take a Whale Watching Tour. Departing from Previous Fisherman’s Wharf, this tour can even offer you an incredible 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 nearly 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! Vital: be sure that your canine is sporting 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 best ways to discover the beautiful shoreline and expertise Monterey’s phenomenal marine wildlife. The Monterey Bay Nationwide Marine Sanctuary is dwelling 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 far more. And the realm 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 seemingly 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 advocate renting kayaks in Monterey from Adventures by the Sea and heading out on a self-guided journey. Or in the event you’re new to sea kayaking, take one among their guided excursions.


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Eat Contemporary Seafood

If there’s one sort of meals Monterey is understood for and does actually, actually nicely, it’s seafood. And no marvel, since recent seafood is swimming proper outdoors 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 customers and eating places in shopping for and serving sustainable seafood. This system isn’t simply native: it serves as a worldwide 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 take pleasure in sustainable (and scrumptious) sea-to-table eating. 

Monterey is understood for a number 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, 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 recent seafood in a tomato saffron broth – typically 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 positively an area favourite (and Jeremy’s favourite, too).

And naturally, native seafood is at all times 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.

  • Previous Fisherman’s Grotto: from the surface, it won’t seem like a lot. However inside, the restaurant has that outdated 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 true 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 thought. The purpose is, the clam chowder right here is subsequent stage – it’s even gained the native “greatest clam chowder” award for the final 16 years. Their “Monterey Fashion 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 price 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 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 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 attempt 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 straight on the ocean, so in the event you’re seated outdoors, you’ll hear the sound of the waves pounding the shore as you eat. Should you’re fortunate, you’ll be able to even see otters enjoying within the kelp forests simply offshore! The menu contains a sustainable sea-to-table collection 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 calm down 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. Calm down 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 identified for its plentiful marine life and exquisite mountaineering paths. However that actually 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 beautiful. The ocean may be very clear and the underside turns into improbable 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 carry 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 anticipate 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 delicate 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 beautiful 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 great, and the tidepools are tiny, enchanted swimming pools crammed with 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 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 conceal and hunker down ready for the tide to rise. However arrive a little bit earlier than and the water might be simply shallow sufficient to see them earlier than they conceal!

Throughout our journey, low tide fell proper earlier than sundown, which meant we had 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 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 the moment, it’s a lovely and well-maintained strolling and biking path that cuts proper by means of 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 properties 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 among the greatest locations to go mountaineering 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 wonderful mountaineering — and also you don’t must go far (or climb excessive) to take pleasure in it. 

When mountaineering close to Monterey, you’ll be able to anticipate sweeping views of the Pacific coast and trails that wind by means 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, contains every part 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 info on what you would possibly see at totally different instances of the yr.
  • Jacks Peak and Skyline Path: This quick .8-mile loop at Jack’s Peak Park is a superb bang to your buck in the event you’re quick on time. You’ll hike by means 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 offers 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 a better stage of safety than different parks, so it’s actually necessary to remain on trails and go away every part 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 Level Lobos Loop Path takes you all around the reserve for a style of every part 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 inventive expression, and this space isn’t any exception! Galleries, murals, and museums abound. 

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

  • Monterey Museum of Artwork: 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 range of California’s “previous, current, and future.” Everlasting collections embrace works by a variety 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 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 Forties after fleeing the struggle in Europe. The gathering contains greater than 580 items, together with etchings, tapestries, sculptures and lithographs! Issues would possibly get a little bit bizarre… and in the event you actually wish to, uh, improve your go to, maybe partake in one among 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 vital presence within the historical past of Monterey and Cannery Row, we needed to embrace 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’ll be able to’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 dwelling. If we’ve been too refined on this put up, permit me to come back proper out and say it: Steinbeck is among the biggest American authors, and also you want to learn some Steinbeck!! Begin with Cannery Row to your journey, however after that, we advocate 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 highway accesses Pebble Seashore Resorts, together with the well-known Pebble Seashore Golf Hyperlinks. Which, in the event you’re into golf, is a reasonably 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 simply’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 be the brand for the Pebble Seashore Firm – might be someplace round 250 years outdated, so whereas it’s not historical, 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 this planet: in Pebble Seashore, and at Level Lobos State Pure 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 Seashore, Stressed Sea, Seal Rock, and Crocker Grove. You too can cease on the Pebble Seashore Customer Middle if you wish to be taught extra concerning the space’s historical past, or Pebble Seashore Golf Hyperlinks when you’ve got 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 the entire stops alongside the drive so you’ll be able to take pleasure in it to the fullest.Should you nonetheless need the good thing about a information however you’d choose a extra energetic tour of 17-mile drive, you’ll be able to take an e-bike tour as an alternative. This 3.5-hour tour enables 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 among California’s many wine nations, 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 circumstances and microclimates permit growers to provide 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 number of of our favorites: 

  • Tasting rooms on Cannery Row: A Style of Monterey is positioned close to McAbee Seashore and provides greater than 90 native wines and has an incredible 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’ll be able to take pleasure in a tasting on the patio with ocean views.
  • Blue Fox Cellars: Positioned in Carmel Valley, this small, family-owned vineyard supplies a hands-on tasting with the winemaker himself. You possibly can pattern wine and revel within the beautiful 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 courses, 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 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 focuses on Portuguese and Spanish varieties. The tasting room is housed in an enthralling 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 price 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 understand this little city must be some sort of coastal fairytale city, and it’s! Monterey’s subsequent door neighbor – only a few minutes down Freeway One – is an enthralling little city perched on a bluff overlooking the ocean. 

Carmel has a quaint, walkable “downtown” space crammed with cafes and galleries and exquisite, storybook properties perched on hills rising above the ocean. 

Considered one of 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, sort 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 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 advocate this local-created downtown Carmel strolling tour, which can 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 type, storybook properties in Carmel!
  • Take a meals 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: Lovely artwork usually comes from lovely locations, and Carmel-by-the-Sea isn’t any exception. This beautiful Pacific shoreline attracted an artsy combine of parents from the early days, and the identical is true at present with nearly 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 nicely price 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 — the truth is, it’s identified 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 shade, Pacific Grove places on a fleeting however attractive spectacle in April or Could 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 lovely seaside city can be identified for its charming Victorian properties, a few of which have been became quaint mattress and breakfasts. There’s positively 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 might need among the best 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 right spot for a romantic sundown dinner!
  • Meet the Monarch Butterflies: Nicknamed “Butterfly City, USA,” Pacific Grove welcomes hundreds of monarch butterflies that spend the winters right here (not in contrast to 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 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 frequently working lighthouse on the Pacific, and nonetheless operates at present. You possibly can 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 “Nice Tide Pool” at Level Pinos is among the richest tidepools habitats on this 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 points of interest alongside Cannery Row. 

The resort sits straight alongside the water, which meant that even our normal room got here with an ocean view by means 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 start 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 bathtub whereas Jeremy and Mulan relaxed in entrance of the fireplace, listening to the rolling waves muffling the decision of seagulls and barking sea lions outdoors.

Pay attention: we aren’t usually luxurious resort individuals. However then I received pregnant and nicely, issues modified. Issues like my capacity to sleep by means of the evening, particularly on an uncomfortable mattress

And after our keep on the InterContinental The Clement Monterey, I don’t suppose 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 advocate a keep on theInterContinental The Clement Monterey sufficient. Should you’re on a tighter funds, 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 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 we now have 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 Accommodations 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, dangerous jokes, poetic descriptions of cioppino, and aggressive strategies to learn Steinbeck are 100% our personal and never our sponsor’s fault.

Our High Journey Suggestions & Assets

Listed below are our favourite journey suggestions & sources for saving cash and planning journey logistics! For extra suggestions, try our journey suggestions 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 suggestions: fly mid-week or on the weekend; fly carry-on solely on a funds 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 to ebook motels (we love their versatile cancellation coverage) and Hostelworld to ebook hostels (low deposit, simple change/cancellation, and glorious critiques). For trip leases, we choose to ebook utilizing VRBO as a result of they have decrease charges and higher assist than Airbnb, and we’re not followers of Airbnb’s unethical observe document. You too can ebook trip leases on Expedia and We additionally use TrustedHousesitters as each hosts (for our dwelling 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 recommend it – go to our Journey Insurance coverage Information to seek out out why. We advocate both World Nomads or SafetyWing for worldwide journey insurance coverage. SafetyWing is among the few insurance policies that covers Covid-19, they usually have glorious month-to-month insurance policies which are good for Digital Nomads and long run vacationers!
  • Journey Credit score Card: We ebook 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 provides improbable journey perks like journey insurance coverage, journey delay and cancellation protection, misplaced baggage reimbursement, and rental automotive protection, which helps defend us on our travels. Study extra right here.
  • Vaccines & Meds: We use the journey guides on the CDC web site to analysis beneficial medicines and vaccines for worldwide journeys. We at all times advocate getting each vaccine beneficial 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 an area’s perspective and a historical past lesson whereas sight-seeing! We ebook our excursions utilizing Viator and GetYourGuide.
  • Transportation: We use Rome2Rio to determine easy methods to get from place to position, and ebook native transportation on-line utilizing Bookaway wherever we are able to. Once we ebook a rental automotive, we use Kayak to check rental firms and discover the very best deal.
  • Baggage Storage: Each time we’re testing early or profiting from an extended 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 info (like web site login particulars, financial institution information, and so forth) secure, even whenever you’re linked to an unsecured community whereas touring. Plus, it enables you to use Netflix & different streaming websites overseas! We use NordVPN. Use the code WANDERLUSTPROMO whenever you enroll!
  • 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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