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Monterey County in a nutshell

Nature occurs in the drama of rocky promontories bathed in crashing waves, the silhouette of tenacious cypress trees clinging to cliffs, the panorama of a scythe-shaped bay giving way to the vast Pacific Ocean. The sweeping mountain ranges the peaks of which get lost in the fog and whose foothills help shape the fertile valley below. These images of Monterey County astonish the first-time visitor and provide the inspiration to return again and again.

History can be found in the parade of cultures which have dominated Monterey County at various times, beginning with the Native Americans, continuing through the Mexican era and Spanish colonial times, the Mediterranean fishermen and Asian abalone divers and fish processors. Each culture left its own unique mark, which can still be found in the architecture, cultural traditions, food and the arts. Collectively, they lend a depth and richness to the scenic beauty of the area.

Novelists John Steinbeck and Henry Miller, poet Robinson Jeffers, and photographer Ansel Adams all documented the singular natural beauty and unique history of Monterey County: the fertile inland valleys, rolling hills of the Santa Lucia Mountain range, dramatic rock formations of Pinnacles National Monument, craggy coastline of Big Sur and the constantly changing waters of the Monterey Bay.

Motorists traveling US Highway 101 through Monterey County will bear witness to the county's number one industry, agriculture. The Salinas Valley is home to over a quarter million irrigated acres growing row crops such as lettuce, broccoli, onions, carrots, melons and others. All are carefully planted, tended and harvested daily, and virtually every stage of the growing cycle can be seen right from the highway. In addition Monterey County boast more than 40,000 acres of grapes which make their way into fine Monterey County wines.

If Monterey County's spectacular coastline is your calling, consider State Highway One. This Scenic Highway will take you along CaliforniaÂ’s most amazing stretch of coastline, the coast of Big Sur, with sheer mountain cliffs rising from the ocean to form the majestic coastal mountain range.

Throughout Monterey County there are hundreds of unique and wonderful places to lodge for the night, whether the sky is the limit, or you are on a budget. Choose a rustic bed and breakfast inn, a posh seaside resort, a simple motel, or pitch your tent in a Big Sur campground. With over 200 hotels, motels and resorts on the Monterey Peninsula alone, finding a room at the inn will be part of the adventure.

Dining around Monterey County is another great adventure, with hundreds of gourmet eateries to choose from. Many local establishments specialize in seafood, caught fresh daily in the Monterey Bay, and nearly all take advantage of the cornucopia of fresh vegetables grown in the Salinas Valley to create one of a kind signature dishes. Ethnic restaurants are also plentiful in the area. Whether it's fine dining or casual fare you crave, you can always find a way to compliment your meal with a great Monterey County wine!

Once you've satisfied your appetite, let your curiosity take over as you explore Monterey County's great amusements and attractions. Enjoy a stroll down Carmel's Ocean Avenue in search of a unique piece of art. Explore the interactive exhibits at the Monterey Bay Aquarium; take a whale watching cruise, or a nice Sunday drive along the famed 17-Mile Drive in Pebble Beach.

If exploring the great outdoors is more your style, enjoy an invigorating hike at one of the area's several regional parks. Or, book a tee-time at one of over 25 golf courses county-wide, including the world famous Pebble Beach Golf Links. Monterey Bay is home to 80 percent of the world,s invertebrate life, which can best be seen up close and personal, so consider bringing (or renting) scuba gear. Monterey Bay is also a wonderful place to explore by kayak, or on a deep-sea fishing excursion. Landlubbers can spend their leisure time riding horses, in-line-skating or bicycling along the waterfront recreation trail. Extreme adventurers may want to check out the skydiving and parasailing opportunities in Marina.

Big Sur and its natural beauty are well worth the 30-minute drive from the Monterey Peninsula. In addition to the jaw-dropping rugged coastal views, the village of Big Sur boasts several unique art galleries, wonderful restaurants and several upscale resorts.

The Salinas Valley, home to the county's $3 billion agriculture industry, is approximately 25 miles east of Monterey. Visitors to the area will enjoy exploring the National Steinbeck Museum, with its interactive exhibits and tributes to the legendary author John Steinbeck. For those who enjoy the fruit of the vine, the Salinas Valley is home to more wine tasting rooms than any other area in the county. The Boronda Adobe in North Salinas was home to one of the area's early settlers and is open for public tours. In the south county, visitors can tour the old Spanish missions in Soledad and Jolon, and the Agriculture and Rural Life Museum in King City.

Monterey coast aerial view
Monterey coast aerial view

Sunrise in Monterey Bay
Sunrise in Monterey Bay



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Source: Monterey CVB
Last modified: 20041001
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