As many people prepare to say goodbye to summer, fall brings Monterey County, Calif., To the region’s “second summer” and its hottest temperatures of the year. These optimal conditions and less crowds make it the perfect season to explore the incredible natural beauty of this iconic central coast destination. To help travelers plan their perfect getaway, the Monterey County Convention and Visitors Bureau (Monterey County CVB) has compiled the 5 best things to do for visitors to the destination this fall.
# 1: indulge in local food and wine
Monterey County is known for its agricultural generosity, the catalyst for an amazing food and wine scene. An essential stop on any trip should include the Pezzini Farms in Castroville. The 80-year-old staple offers patrons the opportunity to taste the original green vegetable – the artichoke – for which the city is celebrated. Visitors can also set their sights on new dining options that have popped up across the county in recent months. From Taco Shack Vegan Kitchen in Monterey’s historic Cannery Row to multiple additions in Carmel-by-the-Sea, including women-owned Gem Village, powered by local farmers’ markets, and Edwin’s Carmel, specializing in dishes from Southeast Asia, there is something for everyone’s taste buds.
Carmel Valley is a wine lover’s paradise, with new tasting rooms including Albatross Ridge’s Tasting Cottage and Scratch, in more established places like Folktale Winery & Vineyards, the latter working on a wine soon to be launched and which has been aged under Monterey Bay. Other notable wineries include the Scheid Vineyards tasting room, which offers low-calorie, alcohol-free wine with no residual sugar, and the new Lepe Cellars tasting room, both located in Carmel-by-the- Sea. In the Salinas Valley, the family business Rustique is the newest addition to the River Road wine route.
N ° 2: Book an experiential tour
Visitors can sweat it out on the new hand-car tours to Fort Ord Dunes State Park in Marina. Walking enthusiasts ply the old Monterey Branch railroad line that once connected Monterey to San Francisco on this scenic tour. Head further inland to explore the region’s lush vineyards on the VineCycle tour, or sample local food and drink as cyclists cycle from Carmel-by-the-Sea to State of Point Lobos when visiting Carmel Bikes, Bites & Bevs – both of which use electrically assisted mountain bikes (e-bikes), making the tours accessible to all fitness levels.
For sea lovers, head to Moss Landing to experience Sea Goddess Whale Watching, which offers guaranteed whale watching all year round thanks to its location in Monterey Bay Canyon known for attracting an abundance of marine life. Or for an educational overland tour, step back in time with a visit to King City’s Museum of Farm and Rural Life of Monterey County (MCARLM). The museum grounds include a 19e school of the century, one of the last railway depots in the South Pacific and an early 20e blacksmith of the century.
N ° 3: Enjoy an unparalleled landscape
Get out and explore the area’s natural beauty by playing golf in Bayonet and Black Horse in Seaside, paragliding atop the sand dunes of Sand City and Marina, hiking in Toro Park in Salinas, or hiking kayaking at Lovers Point in Pacific Grove. No trip to Monterey County is complete without a stop at one of the area’s great beaches, like Del Monte Beach in Monterey or Carmel Beach, which is pet-friendly.
Those who prefer the wind in their hair will love seeing Monterey County’s 99 miles of coastline driving along the iconic US-1 Coastal Freeway or 17-Mile Drive through Pebble Beach. Classic cars are available for hire through Monterey Touring Vehicles, with choices ranging from a 1954 Chevrolet Bel Air Cabriolet to a 1938 Rolls Royce Phantom III.
N ° 4: Discover the fall events
Several of Monterey County’s beloved events are back this year, including the California Rodeo Salinas (September 23-26), one of the top 10 rodeos in the United States and the largest in California with hundreds of cowboys and cowgirls. In Monterey, there’s the cycle-packed Sea Otter Classic (October 7-10) and the two-week Carmel Bach Festival at the Sunset Center in Carmel-by-the-Sea (October 23-November 5). While the Monterey Jazz Festival (September 24-26) is sold out, visitors can still check out the MJF After Hours program which extends live jazz to hotels, restaurants and other venues across the city each evening.
At the end of the season, the Big Sur Food & Wine Festival (November 4-6) brings together the best and brightest Central Coast chefs and winemakers in one of the world’s most rugged places.
N ° 5: Spot the local fauna
There is no better place to view marine life than the famous Monterey Bay Aquarium, filled with penguins, sharks, jellyfish and more. Celebrate Sea Otter Awareness Week (September 19-25) by visiting Elkhorn Slough in Moss Landing, home to Monterey County’s highest concentration of cute and playful animals, as well as tons of migratory birds , sea lions and other wildlife. Fall is a great time to visit the Monarch Grove Butterfly Sanctuary in Pacific Grove, as they flock to the area from October and stay there for the winter.
Visitors are encouraged to responsibly travel in Monterey County following all applicable health and safety guidelines and respecting the area’s iconic landscapes by staying on the trails and leaving no traces behind. For more information on fall events in Monterey County and to plan and book a trip, visit www.SeeMonterey.com.