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Things to do in Big Sur + Monterey Bay

From classic must-see sights to insider hot spots and local haunts, there are countless things to do in Big Sur + Monterey Bay. How do you decide? Start with our travel guide and get our favorite Big Sur + Monterey Bay attractions and activities—shops, museums, parks, nightclubs, coffee shops, tours, and more.

Our international team of editors and writers handpick the best things to do in Big Sur + Monterey Bay to help travelers discover authentic, local experiences. Whether a hidden boutique with handcrafted products, a popular local festival, a bakery with a cult following, or a picnic-worthy park, Travel + Leisure guides the way, providing information and inspiration. From beaches and bars to cultural attractions and up-and-coming neighborhoods, our list will help you make the most of your romantic getaway, family vacation, or trip with friends. Below find Travel + Leisure’s top picks for what to do in Big Sur + Monterey Bay.

  • 17-Mile Drive

    Tour the 17-Mile Drive—preferably in a convertible—around the legendary Pebble Beach Golf Links, ogling fantasy mansions with ocean views. More
  • Adventures by the Sea

    Take a kayak tour ($50) of the bay from Cannery Row. More
  • Bay Tree Bookstore

    The University of California at Santa Cruz mascot, the banan slug, adorns hats, mugs, t-shirts, and other goodies at the campus store. More
  • Berry Creek Falls Trail

    Although the 12-mile trail takes about six hours, moderate hikers can easily handle it (pick up a map at the ranger station before starting out). More
  • Buzzard's Roost

    The hike through Big Sur is challenging with lots of switchbacks. More
  • Cannery Row

    The old canneries made famous by John Steinbeck are now filled with shops, restaurants, and galleries. More
  • Clautiere Vineyard

    Don’t miss this out-of-the-way (and out-of-the-ordinary) vineyard, which specializes in Rhône Valley varietals (think Grenache and Mourvèdre) and s... More
  • Clos LaChance Winery

  • CordeValle Golf Course

  • Cottage of Sweets

    The old-time candy shop is a sweet-lover's inspiration. More
  • Garlic Festival

    That they serve garlic ice cream is no surprise in the garlic capital of the world, where the annual Garlic Festival dazzles garlic lovers with foo... More
  • Giant Dipper

    Along with a sparkling strand and a gently honky-tonk wharf, Santa Cruz has a boardwalk graced with the Giant Dipper—one of the oldest wooden rolle... More
  • Green Acres Lavender Farm

    Aromatic soaps and sachets are for sale here. More
  • Hearst Castle

    Tour Hearst Castle, perched high on La Cuestra Encantada (“the enchanted hill”) nine miles north of Cambria. The closest thing California has to a ... More
  • Hearst San Simeon State Park

Explore things to do in California for more options.


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