Tourists don’t often think of Monterey, California when considering a holiday to The Golden State. Yet, it is the exact place people should consider if they want an authentic taste of the real California. Located in the state’s rugged central coast, Monterey is filled with historical buildings, landmarks, and festivals that shouldn’t be missed. While some better-known parts of California are more superficial, Monterey offers visitors the real deal.
Originally famous as the Spanish capital of California, and later on, the hub of the fish canning industry, Monterey has retained its unmatched charm. California's State Route 1 (SR 1) runs through the town and offers a great escape to those coming and going to Monterey. Whether staying for a few days or a few weeks, Monterey's relatively quiet environment has everything a car enthusiast (or any tourist) will need.
Local Favorite: TripasIf you didn't grow up eating tripe, then you might want to steer clear of tripas on a trip to Monterrey. More adventurous foodies may want to order up some tripas tacos, however. Tripas is an authentic Mexican-originated food that is eaten around the U.S. and is popular in the Monterrey area. Tripas is made from pig or cow intestines, though some taco stands and restaurants will use goat intestines instead. It is used as a taco filling and is typically sold at taco stands along the streets. The tripe tacos are made up of boiled and grilled intestine meat. It is topped with coriander, chili sauce, and chopped onions. Tripe may not sound appetizing, but the ingredients are cooked to a bronze color and are tender.
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Monterey Bay Aquarium
Old Fisherman's Wharf
Del Monte Beach
San Carlos Cathedral
Cannery Row Monument
Top Tourist Attractions
Monterey Bay Aquarium
The Monterey Bay Aquarium is located in the old Hovden Cannery building. It offers a splendidly designed building that has been repurposed for the public. The aquarium focuses many of its exhibits on the local marine life. Visitors can explore the fish that come from the bay, but there are also exhibits giving tourists a look at other marine animals from further afield.
There is always something going on at the aquarium and both children and adults will be delighted at all of the great displays available. The aquarium’s daily shows and animal feedings are likely to keep the kids engaged during the visit.
Head due south of the Monterey Peninsula and waiting are some of the most amazing views in the world. The seaside town of Carmel is just a stone’s throw from Monterey, but visitors can take a scenic 17-mile drive to the town instead.
The breathtaking coastal scenery makes the long route worth every extra mile as the views are sure to leave an impression on even the most jaded traveler. The 17-mile drive is filled with views of sandy beaches, cliffs, and pine-scented forests. It is the perfect drive to unwind.
WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca
WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca is a racetrack that features both auto and motorcycle racing. Located just outside of town, it hosts racing events throughout the year including a round of the Superbike World Championship.
Visitors can head to the track to watch one of the races or even volunteer to be a part of the race day presentation. Laguna Seca also has a recreational campground. Travelers don’t even have to attend a motorsport event but can show up and set up on the campsite for some sleeping under the stars.
Allen Berg Racing School
Want to learn how to drive a Formula Renault car from a real Formula One driver? Look no further than the Allen Berg Racing School. The school can teach wannabe drivers the ins and outs of race car driving as they get behind the wheel of a Formula Renault car. The school offers its lessons at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. Here, participants will have the opportunity to experience what real racecar drivers do on race day.
Monterey Car Week
A good time to visit Monterey is during the Car Week held in August every year. The week’s events include “The Quail” and “Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance” among others. These events bring together gearheads from all over the globe. Exhibits include rare cars, classic cars and a lot more.
Point Lobos State Natural Reserve
Monterey is nestled in such a beautiful part of the world that it is difficult not to spend time exploring the local natural attractions. Just outside of Monterey, visitors will find Point Lobos State Natural Reserve. The place is made up of unique rock formations, caves, and cliffs. It is a great place to stroll and snap scenic nature photos to post on Instagram. No filter will be necessary when taking pictures at Point Lobos.
There are also a lot of hiking trails nearby, and explorers can find unique locations to look down over the Pacific Ocean. Depending on the time of year, sightseers may even spot seals, sea otters or whales.
Monterey may not be the first city one thinks of for a holiday to California, but its natural beauty and unique vibe make it the perfect destination for a vacation. Add in Car Week’s ability to bring car enthusiasts together, and Monterey ticks all the boxes for a memorable holiday.