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My family and I took our second trip to Monterey County, California. This time, instead of a day trip, we spent three days in the quaint coastal town of Carmel-by-the-Sea. Monterey County, with its diverse landscapes, offering a variety of activities like beaches, hiking, scenic drives, and more, for the entire family to enjoy is the reasons why it is one of our favorite family travel destinations.


The last time we visited Monterey County, we took the almost 2-hour drive along the popular scenic Highway 1 from San Francisco to spend the day at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Being able to spend three days in this beautiful coastal area known for its state parks, beaches, and sea cliff views were enough time for my family and me to get to know Monterey County, California a bit more. But, trust me, even in those three days we realized there is so much more to do and see than we were able to accomplish, which definitely warrants another visit. But, here I am sharing some of our favorite things for families to do in Monterey County, California.

Carmel-by-the-sea Monterey County, California

Things for Families to do in Monterey County, California

Cannery Row

Cannery Row is the former home to the bustling sardine canning business. Now, families can enjoy shopping, dining, and views of Monterey Bay where you may even get a glimpse of California Sea Lions or even whales. If you look north towards the end of the row, you will find Monterey Bay Aquarium, which is one of my family’s favorite aquariums.

Monterey Bay Aquarium

A former sardine cannery is home to Monterey Bay Aquarium, where over 35,000 sea creatures, spanning over 550 species. The aquarium is well-known for its focus on the marine life of Monterey Bay. Our favorite exhibits include the three-story Kelp Forest, the walk-through tunnel in the wave crash gallery, Life on the Bay, and touch pools.

Fisherman’s Wharf

Lined with restaurants, shops, candy stores and more, it is the best place to take in the sights and sounds of Monterey. While there, we dined at Big Fish Grill located at the end of the wharf.  Dining at this restaurant, like most of those located in Old Fisherman’s Wharf, provided us with ocean views where we could view the wildlife of Monterey Bay. While there, we were able to watch otters swim and play in the water, hiding behind the docked boats.

Big Fish Grill Monterey County, California

17-Mile Drive

Behind the prestigious gates of Pebble Beach lies the infamous 17-Mile Drive. During our last visit, due to Concours d’Elegance, a very fancy car show, we were unable to do the drive. The 17-Mile Drive provides amazing scenic views from Pacific Grove to Pebble beach that make for some great photo opportunities. In fact, we think we took the perfect holiday card photo while on17-Mile Drive. Check my Instagram for more photos.

17-Mile Drive Tour_Monterey County, California

Big Sur

Before leaving Carmel-by-the-Sea, we took the scenic drive down the coast on the scary, narrow, two-lane State Route 1 in order to take in the sights of Big Sur. Big Sur is bordered by the Santa Lucia Mountains Pacific Ocean providing amazing cliff views of the shoreline. I must mention that all of the photos taken in Big Sur were done by my fearless husband. I was too chicken to get out of the car.

Thank you for reading about our favorite things for families to do in Monterey County, California.

If you’ve ever visited, we would love to read about your favorite things to do as well. Drop a comment below.