California is known for its stunning beaches and coastlines, but the Monterey area is especially impressive with its coastal terrains, aquariums, hiking trails, and museums for all ages. Take a scenic ride along 17-Mile Drive after a relaxing day at your Monterey vacation rental, or opt for sea adventures with a whale-watching cruise. From fine art museums to antique malls, there is something in Monterey to interest everyone. Consider these top 10 things to do when planning your next vacation.

1. Explore the Monterey Bay Aquarium

Get an up close and personal look at California’s sea creatures when visiting this popular attraction. The Monterey Bay Aquarium features an open sea exhibit where you and the kids can see sea turtles, sharks, jellyfish, and stingrays. The aquarium is home to thousands of schools of fish, as well as 45 interactive exhibits of birds, invertebrates, octopi, and reptiles. Take a guided or self-guided tour to see how these sea creatures survive in California.

2. Get in a Game of Golf at the Pebble Beach Golf Club

Perfect your swing or get in some practice at the driving range when venturing to Pebble Beach Golf Club, one of the most impressive golf courses in California, located within minutes of your Monterey vacation rental. Enjoy 18 holes of golf, then savor lunch or dinner at the clubhouse restaurant before exploring the nightlife in the city.

3. See Masterpieces at the Monterey Museum of Art

Art enthusiasts find themselves enthralled by the expansive collection of artwork dated back to the 19th century at the Monterey Museum of Art. Browse through 14,000 pieces of art that include paintings, photography, and contemporary art from artists such as Armin Hansen, Ansel Adams, and Pablo Picasso. Join in on one of the interactive workshops and community programs during your stay by signing up for an art class or summer camp for the kids.

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4. Attend the Monterey Jazz Festival

Time your vacation rental reservation in September so you can enjoy the sights and sounds of the annual Monterey Jazz Festival. This three-day event hosts world-renowned artists who perform on seven stages in the downtown area. The festival also includes an international shopping bazaar, jazz-focused films, food and beverage booths, and a Jazz Legends formal gala. Top off your trip with Hawaiian fare at Hula’s Island Grill or fresh seafood and steak at the Chart House.

5. Catch a Show at the Golden State Theatre

Feel as if you are in an old movie palace when catching a show at the Golden State Theatre. This Monterey attraction in the downtown area has been restored with more than 1,000 velvet seats and a sky canopy to enhance the experience when attending concerts, film festivals, or private partys in the theatre. For additional nightlife, browse the downtown area that is home to nightclubs, bars, and restaurants, such as Lallapalooza and Planet Gemini Taqueria and Club.

6. Shop at the Old Monterey Marketplace

Pick up some fresh fruits and vegetables and homemade arts and crafts all at the same place when you drop by Old Monterey Marketplace and Farmer’s Market. This vibrant community center spans three blocks and is home to local vendors selling organic produce, fresh flowers, homemade jewelry, and furniture. Food vendors also line the marketplace, serving up local barbecue, Italian fare, and samples of Mediterranean, Indian, and Mexican food. After your shopping trip, stop in at Rosine’s Restaurant for some American cuisine. The Cannery Row Antique Mall is also a popular attraction for shoppers, with more than 100 antique dealers on site.

7. Take a Wine-tasting Tour With AG Venture Tours

Plan for a half day or full day of touring the wine countries of California with AG Venture Tours. This tour company, located within minutes of your Monterey vacation rental, offers agricultural education and wine tasting at each site. Spend the day touring the Salinas Valley or the Santa Cruz Mountains with stops at wineries along the way. The professional guides offer vineyard walks at each site and even provide transportation to and from your vacation rental.

8. Enjoy an Adventure By the Sea

Explore the Monterey Bay coastline on and off land with a scenic outdoor adventure with Adventures by the Sea. This Monterey outfitter offers lessons for the entire family to learn how to paddleboard or kayak the waters. Take a guided kayaking tour to see the California mountains and experience the refreshing feel of the sea, or climb on a paddleboard with an expert guide by your side.

9. Hike the Monterey Bay Coastal Recreational Trail

Outdoor enthusiasts flock to the Monterey Bay Coastal Recreational Trail to explore the 18 miles of trails that lead to the Pacific Grove. Rent mountain bikes from Adventure by the Sea, or lace-up your hiking boots to explore the trails on foot. The path runs right along the waterfront with access to fresh seafood at Fisherman’s Wharf when hunger strikes.

10. See the Whales With Discovery Whale Watch

For a whale-watching experience you won’t forget, check out the sight-seeing tours from Discovery Whale Watch. This outfitter takes you on a three-hour tour of the bay area by boat so you can see the whales jumping out of the water. The professional guides, often naturalists or marine biologists, offer tidbits about the sea creatures, conservation, and the Monterey area while on board the cruise.

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