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A stunning view of the Lone Cypress standing on the cliff over the Monterey Bay pacific coast

Monterey Bay Day Trip

Mountains, redwoods and the gorgeous Pacific Ocean; stunning natural beauty surrounds you in every direction. Whichever path you choose, there is plenty to see and do from San Jose to the Monterey Bay. 


Get an early start and grab a bite that'll kick-start your day from Bill's Cafe in Willow Glen. The menu includes a vast selection of tasty dishes, including many from the café's grouping of specialty creations.

For the most scenic route, head over the hill toward Santa Cruz and catch the iconic Highway 1. Stop at Moss Landing for birding to see several rare and endangered species and kayak the Elkhorn Slough alongside seals and sea otters.


Enjoy lunch at the legendary Phil’s Fish Market to feast on incredible fresh seafood – it’s so good, it was featured on the Food Network. Then head to the City of Monterey and experience Steinbeck’s famous Cannery Row now filled with unique boutiques and quirky souvenir shops. Stroll to the end of the row and dive into one of the world’s richest marine regions at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Be on the lookout to spot the world’s largest octopus!

If time permits, visit the charming Carmel-by-the-Sea and browse luxurious designer shops, wine taste or pop in to Hog’s Breath Inn, formerly owned by Clint Eastwood. Perhaps you’ll run into him there.



We’re going to warn you, there are a lot of options in Monterey Bay to experience a gorgeous sunset. Take a walk along the iconic white-sand beaches of Carmel or hop back in your car and explore the famous 17-mile drive – be sure to take a rest at the Lone Cypress and breathe it all in, but the views will most likely take your breath away. 


Don’t feel like driving anymore? Then the Fisherman’s Wharf is your stop for an evening filled with the best clam chowder and fried favorites followed by a sunset sailboat tour. Keep your eyes peeled for dolphins.


Dolphins swimming in the Monterey Bay

Stay the night and cross the extraordinary Bixby Bridge in the morning, but before you do, park for the best selfie location. 

A view of the Bixby Bridge over the Pacific Ocean on a beautiful sunny day.
Bixby Bridge


Spend the day hiking one of the many spectacular coastal trails. Big Sur’s Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park to McWay Falls is a must – the sight is unbelievable! And complete your adventure with dining on the patio overlooking the coast at Nepenthe Restaurant.

pfeiffer beach