Weekend Trip: Things to do in Monterey Bay

Weekend Trip: Things to do in Monterey Bay

Whether you have an entire week available or just 48 hours, Monterey Bay is a wonderful destination for relaxation with delicious eats and views of the Pacific. This trip was very unconventional for me, as I booked our accommodations the day of via Hotwire. While the $260 price point seemed like a lot, this was definitely the lowest I could find in the area at the “80% recommended” rating. I also compared the pricing with hotels and Airbnb’s in Lake Tahoe, Napa Valley, and Sonoma and this was the cheapest rate I found by a long shot. In under 48 hours, we split our time between Monterey, Santa Cruz, and stops in between. Here are my weekend itinerary and recommendations of things to do in Monterey Bay! 


Accommodations and Location in Monterey Bay

  • Accommodations: Comfort Inn in Marina, CA (just outside of Monterey) at $260/night
  • Location: Monterey, CA is roughly 2.5 hours south of San Francisco and approximately 5.5 hours north of Los Angeles
  • Monterey is Known for: its famous aquarium, cannery row, Fisherman’s Wharf, delicious seafood, and beaches
  • Santa Cruz is Known for: being home to UC Santa Cruz, bustling boardwalk, and laid-back vibe
  • Weather: Similar to San Francisco, the weather can be very unpredictable here. Despite it being summer, definitely pack jeans and a sweater.

Day 1: Monterey and Pacific Grove

  • Asilomar State Beach (Pacific Grove): This picturesque beach is home to a beautiful jagged coastline yet flat trail perfect for a romantic stroll or dog walk.
  • Lover’s Point Park (Pacific Grove): We unexpectedly stumbled upon Pacific Grove’s Feast of Lanterns the day we ventured out here so it was absolutely packed. The highlight of this rocky destination for me was seeing the two most adorable otters having dinner right below Lover’s Point.
  • Hotel 1110 for dinner (Monterey): I cannot recommend this plant-filled rooftop restaurant enough. It is quite the task finding an affordable Monterey dinner spot with a modern and stylish atmosphere, but I have Yelp to thank for this feat. The roof is tastefully decorated and equipped with fire pits for windy nights. I highly suggest the eggplant parmesan ($12) and deconstructed tiramisu ($6). Check in on Yelp for free wine with your entree!
  • English Ales Brewery (Marina): What a unique tavern! Service was phenomenal and I was most intrigued by the steins lining their ceiling. Apparently if you purchase a stein, you are able to use it every time you come back in to get a 22oz pour, but only pay for a 16oz.

Day 2: Salinas, Capitola, and Santa Cruz

  • Salinas River National Widlife Refuge: An easy 20 minute hike takes you to a vast – and very quiet – beach where a diverse range of birds play and search for food. The first thing we saw at the beach, however, was what appeared to be a very large ship in the distance. Naturally, we had to check it out. Another 20 minute walk along the beach led us to what was a very old and rusted barge. It was quite the sight! I did a Google search, but no one seems to know the history behind the stranded vessel.
  • Lunch at Sushi Garden (Capitola): Just delicious. We ordered 4 rolls between the two of us and that was more than enough.
  • Pleasure Point Beach (Santa Cruz): The view of multiple surfers along the wavy coastline at Pleasure Point is gorgeous. This was the highlight of my Sunday.
  • Downtown Santa Cruz: You could spend the entire afternoon along Pacific Avenue if you have the time. The bustling street is home to popular stores (e.g. Urban Outfitters), local boutiques, a theater, and restaurants/bars.
  • Santa Cruz Mountain Brewery: Located among other breweries and taprooms, Santa Cruz Mountain Brewery is a friendly casual spot with outdoor seating and fresh food.

Highlights of Our Weekend in Monterey Bay in Pictures:

Things to do in Monterey Bay

Looking down at Asilomar State Beach

Things to do in Monterey Bay

The topography at Asilomar State Beach

Things to do in Monterey Bay

Complementary wine at Hotel 1110

Things to do in Monterey Bay

Chicken, salmon, and eggplant parmeson at Hotel 1110

Things to do in Monterey Bay

Tiramisu and flan at Hotel 1110

Things to do in Monterey Bay

Ceiling of steins at English Ales Brewery

Things to do in Monterey Bay

The entrance to Salinas River National Wildlife Refuge (we took the Beach Trail)

Things to do in Monterey Bay

The mysterious abandoned barge at Salinas River National Wildlife Refuge

Things to do in Monterey Bay

The sights at Pleasure Point


Do you have any questions or suggestions on a trip to Monterey Bay? Let me know in the comments!




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Comments ( 30 )

  1. ReplyAlexandria Iveson
    Love the photos and the travel inspiration. Monteray bay looks really cool and your meal from Hotel 1110 looks incredible!
  2. Replyambujsaxena05
    Monterey bay looks expensive yet exotic! $260 being the cheapest room tariff shows that the place is a hot tourist destination! Loved the narration of your blog and would love to check out Hotel 1110 since i love rooftop restaurants.
    • ReplyAuthorEmma @ theweekendabroad.com
      It really is! Basically all of California on the coast is pretty expensive! If you love rooftops, you'll definitely love Hotel 1110.
  3. ReplyRahat Arora
    Love the photos and tips. Monterey Bay is a cool place great post, thanks for sharing.
  4. ReplyThewanderingdarlings
    Great post! I'm not familiar with the area so was great to read your take on it and learn about it. Loved your photos
  5. ReplyKimberly Kruty
    I love the way you wrote this blog. I like how you broke it up into different days and still included recommendations
  6. ReplyHelene Choo
    Your photos are absolutely gorgeous! Looks like surfing there would be fun... I tried surfing in Bali and completely failed, haha! Wouldn't be averse to doing it again though, considering the amazing landscape:) Thanks for sharing!
    • ReplyAuthorEmma @ theweekendabroad.com
      Helene, it's so funny you mention that because the first and only time I tried surfing was in Bali! I failed miserably and still have a scar on my leg to prove it haha. Thanks for your kind words!
  7. ReplyWho do I do
    I've not been to Monterey Bay ... looks like a perfect place for a weekend getaway. So much to do there from walking along the beach, hiking to hitting the shops. Would love to try the rooftop restaurant! That tiramisu looked delish!!
    • ReplyAuthorEmma @ theweekendabroad.com
      Exactly! For a small town, there's definitely a lot to do. Thanks for your kind comment!
  8. Replylexie
    I did love your experiences and guides, the photos are magnificient I can see that you really did enjoyed this trip :) happy travelling
  9. Replylisa
    I loved the pictures and the information on this post! its so nice to read about new places. Thanks.
  10. ReplyFarah Al Zadjaly
    You had me at the food and then it wad all love after that. It looks so beautiful. FarahFaz- http://www.worldoffaz.com/
  11. ReplyYeshi
    I'd go just for the sushi and seafood! You crammed quite an itinerary in one weekend and it seemed worth it from your beautiful pictures. I like the day-by-day write up!
  12. Replypennyglobetrove
    The bay looks so calm and inviting. I'm struggling against the urge to scout online and buy a ticket for some R&R right now.
  13. ReplyShaily
    Nice Post, very beautiful pictures and detailed description. Thanks for sharing the helpful info. Loved it..!
  14. Replydigitaltravelg
    Enjoyed reading your post on Monterey Bay and thanks for sharing all the information, Asilomar State Beach looks like a great place to visit. Great photos too. Bookmarked.
  15. ReplyAlicia
    Love the photos and tips. Monterey Bay has such a cool Cali vibe without seeming too into itself! :)

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