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Top Things to Do in the Town of Monterey, California

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If you're looking for the best Monterey has to offer a visitor, try these things to do.

Monterey Bay Aquarium

Courtesy of the Monterey Bay Aquarium
Focusing on the marine life of the Monterey Bay that's just outside its windows, the aquarium is a favorite of kids of all ages, with live sea otters, touch pools - and special exhibits that make it seem new every time you visit.

Cannery Row

© Betsy Malloy Photography. Used by Permission.
Cannery Row is a mix of old cannery buildings, with sardine processing equipment rusting in empty lots next to fancy hotels. While that might sound less than appealing, it comes out - as Goldilocks might say - just right, with a rumpled kind of charm.

Walk from Fisherman's Wharf to Cannery Row

© Betsy Malloy Photography. Used by Permission.
This half-hour stroll is a great way to enjoy the scenery and it has no shortage of places to sit and take it all in if you get tired. Along the way you are likely to see California sea lions (often hanging out on the rocky jetty by the Coast Guard Station), harbor seals and sea otters.

Fisherman's Wharf

Monterey's popular tourist attraction is home to almost a dozen restaurants and souvenir shops, as well as a generous number of walk-up fish stands. Go all the way to the end to enjoy the bay view from the observation deck. Glass-bottom boat tours, whale watching tours and fishing expeditions leave from the wharf.

Museum of Monterey

©2010 Betsy Malloy Photography. Used by Permission.
It's all about Monterey, with historical exhibits, gorgeous art installations, lots of California art, textiles and decorative arts. There's also a focus on Monterey's maritime heritage and they have a fascinating collection of model ships.

Monterey State Historic Park

Spanish explorers first landed in Monterey in 1602 and it served as California's capital under Spanish, Mexican and U.S. military rule. Those early residents left behind a lot of great historic houses and buildings and the only way you'll get inside some of them is on a guided tour led by a park ranger. This tour gives you a peek at Old Monterey in a way you won't get anywhere else.

Take a Harbor Cruise

© Betsy Malloy Photography. Used by Permission.
You'll find bigger, fancier boats going out in the Monterey Bay, but I especially like the more intimate tour that makes the rounds of the harbor area itself. You'll get a chance to see things from water level and enjoy a new perspective on the place.

Whale Watching

Of all the places in California where you can watch whales, Monterey has the longest season. In fact, it lasts almost all year long and sometimes it can be spectacular.

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