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  • Monterey
  • Monterey
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  • Monterey

Monterey, California Holidays

​Monterey has come a long way since literary legend John Steinbeck wrote his gritty account of life among the town's canning factory workers. But that was then and this is now, because today Monterey is a charming coastal gem - and the sardines that fed the canneries are long gone. What's left is a town rich in history, with beaches to splash about on,  a string of interesting museums - and some of the best scenery that the California coast has to offer.

The sardines may have moved on from Monterey Bay, but the ocean remains very much a part of life here. The catch is brought in daily at Fisherman's Wharf still, and that means the local restaurants are brimful of fresh seafood. There's plenty of other marine life on Monterey holidays too, and down at the Wharf sea lions lounge on the rocks, while sea otters play in the waves. You can even spot migrating whales offshore from February through to May.

All around the coast here the scenery is spectacular, and trips along the Pacific Highway reveal amazing vistas from the flat wetlands north of Monterey, to the towering cliffs and stunning bridges of Big Sur. There are State Parks to explore; beaches to stop at; and some great surfing along sandy stretches fringed with endless Pacific breakers. You can surf at some of the beaches in Monterey itself, too - or just stick to paddling with the kids.

Back on dry land and Monterey's Cannery Row, which fronts the water, sees the main action. Wander its  handsome old warehouses, now converted to shops, galleries and restaurants, and maybe stop off at one of its wine tasting rooms for a cheeky glass or two. After all, good times are what Monterey holidays are all about.

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Monterey Aquarium

Monterey Aquarium

Famed as one of America's best, this aquarium boasts an amazing 350,000 marine animals and 550 different species. The highlight is a three-storey glass tank where you can watch leopard sharks, jellyfish and sea otters swimming through a giant kelp forest. Plus you can see giant octopuses, penguins and sea turtles, have fun in the kids' Splash Zone, and touch bat rays and starfish.

17-Mile Drive

This is one of the top scenic drives anywhere, and runs from Pacific Heights to Pebble Beach, with some stand-out sights along the way. You'll see: the iconic Lone Cypress, perched on its outcrop for the past 250 years; sandy beaches; some stunning mansions; marine wildlife; the emerald fairways of some top-notch golf courses; and, of course, famous Pebble Beach Lodge.

Old Fisherman's Wharf

Monterey holidays just aren't complete without a visit to the Wharf. Here it's all about people and ocean watching: sea lions on the rocks;  sea otters in the water; and both fishing boats and fishermen bringing in the catch. There's also a clutch of restaurants to stop off at, stalls selling seafood and clam chowder, and plenty of shops to browse.

Monterey Jazz Festival

The oldest jazz festival of them all takes place over a long weekend every September, when Monterey swings to an amazing array of top jazz musicians and singers from round the world. Dates for 2014 are September 20-22, so book your tickets early.

Water World

There's plenty to do out on the water on Monterey holidays. Cruises and glass-bottom boat tours leave from Fisherman's Wharf. Surfers can ride the waves at Asilomar and Marina State Beaches. There's some great underwater action for experienced divers. Fishermen can go out in search of cod and salmon. And kayaking trips provide the perfect way to get up close to sea otters.


Fly Drive Holiday: Yosemite and The Mountains

San Francisco – Lake Tahoe – Yosemite/Mariposa County – Monterey – Santa Cruz

Our suggested fly drive itinerary is perfect for those who love the great outdoors and want to savour some truly remarkable scenery. Start your holiday in San Francisco and see the many sights it has to offer before heading on to Lake Tahoe where you can partake in a variety of watersports or adopt a more sedate approach and simply enjoy the stunning surroundings. Journey onwards to captivating Yosemite, home to a sublime collection of cascading waterfalls and striking mountain scenery. Your fly drive discovery culminates along California’s coast in the beachside towns of Monterey and Santa Cruz, the ideal place to relax and unwind before heading back home.
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Private Monterey Coastal Sights by Bike  
Discover the shimmering waters, dramatic coastline and relaxed vibe of Monterey on this 4-hour bike tour. From £86pp

Surfing Lessons in Santa Barbara  
Learn to surf in beautiful Santa Barbara, with an expert instructor showing you how to ride the perfect wave. From £59pp

Santa Barbara Electric Bike Tour
Enjoy the beautiful sights of Santa Barbara, including the historic Mission and State Street while riding an easy-to-use electric bike. From £67pp

You can add tickets for activities to your booking later.

Don’t forget your ESTA
If you are travelling to the USA, the US authorities have imposed a requirement for passengers travelling under the Visa Waiver Programme (VWP), to register for Electronic Travel Authority. Passengers who have not applied for and received travel authorisation via ESTA prior to travel may be denied boarding of the aircraft or be denied admission at the US entry destination. However, neither possession of a visa, nor meeting the basic requirements for travelling visa-free on the VWP, guarantees admission to the United States. As with most countries, the final determination of admissibility is made by immigration officials at the port of entry.

How do I apply for ESTA? 
There is an application form online which is available at Prior to travel, you will need to visit this website and fill in the online application.

When should I apply for my travel authorisation?
If you intend to travel to America, you must apply for entry via ESTA at least a minimum of 72 hours prior to travel.

How long is the travel authorisation valid for?
Your ESTA will be valid for up to two years, or until your passport expires. It is also valid for multiple entries to America. However you must amend any necessary data, such as date of travel and your address whilst in the US.

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