Monterey County

Monterey County

Monterey County for Every Travel Personality: Festivals, Events, and Activities By Gowri Chandra

There are a thousand ways to think about Monterey County, California. It’s the land of John Steinbeck and Robert Louis Stevenson, to name a few. It’s the ultimate seaside getaway, with its dramatic scenery and miles of surf. It’s even where you’ll find the Monterey Bay Aquarium, which inspired the animators of the film Finding Dory.

But Monterey County is also home to some of the best in the nation when it comes to music, food, wine, and golf. Here you’ll find a variety of music and food festivals that showcase award-winning wines and innovative cuisine, and the best locally farmed produce. Plus the salty northern surf and massive redwoods are the perfect backdrop for Big Sur hikes, crisp afternoon rounds of golf, or just an evening stroll after a day of touring wineries.

Read on for more reasons to visit Monterey County, where you can experience all the best of California. Then, take Monterey County's travel personality quiz and enter to win one of three unique getaways.

Top-tier vineyards and farm-fresh dining

Monterey County is in many ways a unique food and wine destination, and it’s perfectly positioned to showcase the best of both. To begin with, it’s home to a lush farming region, the Salinas Valley, which is renowned for its fresh produce and is even nicknamed the “Salad Bowl of the World.” Its many restaurants and wineries are built on this incredible heritage. For a crash course in local cuisine, head to Carmel-by-the-Sea and book a tour with Carmel Food Tours, where you’ll spend three hours tasting and sipping. Along with the food, you'll get a dose of local history. And of course, vineyard-hopping is a must. Folktale and Bernardus wineries, both in Carmel Valley, are known for their wines and offer exceptional tasting experiences. At the Big Sur Food and Wine Festival, held in November, you can join lectures, tours, and even hikes with local producers, while the Pebble Beach Food & Wine festival, held each April, features Michelin-starred and James Beard Award winning chefs. The more intimate Salinas Valley Food and Wine Festival happens every August and showcases Monterey’s terroir. Here you’ll find local farmers, breweries, and vineyards offering the best of farm-to-table and garden-to-glass.

Extraordinary outdoors

Beyond its food scene, Monterey County is known for its beautiful vistas and natural sites – and you won’t have to travel long distances to reach them. Point Lobos is perhaps one of the most iconic -- you’ve no doubt seen photos of its luminous turquoise coves. The area offers trails for beginners and experienced hikers, and be sure to bring your binoculars to spot whales and sea lions. If you’re traveling with kids, Asilomar State Beach is also a great stop; it has tide pools and stretches of flat sand. For those looking to get active, Pebble Beach Golf Links is often called one of the PGA’s most beautiful courses. And if you’re feeling particularly ambitious, run the Monterey Bay Half Marathon in the morning and celebrate with a winery tour in the evening. For a lower-key experience, paddleboard on Monterey Bay in the morning, and walk to nearby Schooner's on Cannery Row in Monterey for a cocktail with a view.

A world-class art and music scene

Many people don’t realize that Monterey County is home to one of the longest running jazz festivals in the world, the Monterey Jazz Festival, which just celebrated its sixtieth anniversary. Originally headlined by Billie Holiday, it has recently featured diverse acts such as The Roots, mandolin prodigy Chris Thile, and Common. And don’t just breeze by the art galleries in Carmel-by-the-Sea. You’ll see impressive paintings and sculptures on display, and might even leave with a new addition to your living room. For literary and history buffs, a visit to the National Steinbeck Center in Salinas should be on your list. The Monterey Museum of Art is also a great spot to visit. It offers captivating exhibits featuring everything from local artists' work to urban street photography, all skillfully rendered. Plus, the views from the gallery are stunning. Make some time for Dali 17, at the Museum of Monterey – a fun exposition space for lovers of the artist Dali, with prints and yes, his famous Mae West lips sofa.

Ready to visit? Enter the sweepstakes to win your ideal getaway, and take a short quiz to discover which Monterey County experience best suits your travel personality. Then plan your one-of-a-kind trip at

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