Monterey is a gorgeous bayside town with pristine beaches, rich history, and trendy waterfront restaurants. The sunny Californian coastal town is a tourist hotspot with beautiful weather, pristine beaches, and seafood restaurants.
With all the fantastic things Monterey has to offer, it’s a must-see location ideal for your next vacation.
We’ll show you the best, cheapest, least busy, and worst times to go and how to score the best deals when booking. Read on to learn more about Monterey and start planning your trip today!
Why You Should Visit Monterey, CA
Monterey, CA, is a beach destination with a natural reserve, an aquarium, and rugged coastal hiking trails. The area is home to the popular tourist area Cannery Row, and nearby is the world-famous golf course Pebble Beach.
Endless activities and moderate temperatures make Monterey an ideal vacation spot any time of year. You can try one-of-a-kind activities like whale watching and coastal bike tours or enjoy a leisurely afternoon wine tasting.
Staying in Monterey is also great because of its location. You can visit other tourist hotspots for day trips, like Carmel-by-the-Sea, Pebble Beach, and San Jose.
Overall Best Time to Visit Monterey, CA
The best time to visit Monterey is from April to July. The weather is lovely with moderate temperatures and little rain, and you can experience the city before the big tourist rush.
Prices are reasonable during the best time but watch out for event weekends when visitors flock to Monterey and prices spike. The weather is ideal at the best time to visit Monterey, staying around 55°F most days.
It won’t get below freezing, but the hottest temperatures are pretty chilly at about 66°F in July. Expect partial cloud cover, low humidity, and comfortable water temperatures.
Experience Monterey at its best in the spring and early summer, and fill up your days with outdoor activities. The Monterey Peninsula Recreational Trail is great for hiking or biking, and the Path of History trail will teach you about the local history of Mexican settlements.
Or, spend time in the city and book a table at a waterfront restaurant like Chart House on Cannery Row. One of the top things to do at the best time is events and festivals.
The California Roots Music and Arts Festival happens in May, and Carmel Culinary Week and the International Blues Festival are in June. Don’t forget to visit the Artichoke Festival in July for a unique experience.
Cheapest Time to Visit Monterey, CA
Winter is the cheapest time to visit Monterey, CA. Chilly weather discourages tourism, and prices are lower as a result.
Visit from December to February and enjoy deals on flights, accommodation, and more. Monterey doesn’t have a major airport, so it might be tricky to save money on travel.
You can fly into a larger airport like San Francisco International Airport and take a smaller plane to Monterey Regional Airport. Or, book a rental car in San Francisco and drive the two hours to Monterey.
The weather is cold at the cheapest time, with temperatures ranging from 45°F to 60°F. Although it rarely snows or freezes over, water temperatures are chilly at around 55°F, so you may want to visit during a different time if you want a beach vacation.
Cloudy days are frequent in the winter, and about half of your days will be overcast if you visit during the cheapest time. Compared to the best time, the cheapest time isn’t as pleasant.
You’ll have to deal with colder temperatures and fewer things to do, but some people may enjoy the quieter crowds. You can still have a good time if you check out indoor activities like the aquarium or the Colton Hall history museum.
Least Busy Time to Visit Monterey, CA
Fall, from September to November, is the least busy time to visit Monterey, CA. The heavy tourist crowds of late summer are gone, temperatures are decreasing, and prices are dropping, making fall an ideal time to visit.
It’s still warm enough to swim most days, and the rain is infrequent. Experience Monterey with smaller crowds and enjoy quiet beaches and faster restaurant wait times.
The fall is a great time to visit, and there are still some local events, like the jazz festival in September. Also, head to nearby Carmel in October for an international film festival. It’s easier to score deals on flights during the least busy time.
Tickets are generally cheaper, even to fly into Monterey Airport. Book well in advance and keep your schedule flexible to get the best deal possible.
Fall days in Monterey can get quite chilly, so we recommend planning indoor activities just in case. See the San Carlos Cathedral, the historic Pacific House, or the Monterey Museum of Art. You can also take a winery tour and sample local drinks.
Worst Time to Visit Monterey, CA
August is the peak tourist season in Monterey, making it the worst month to go. Prices skyrocket, and it can be hard to find accommodation.
However, we have plenty of tips to help you visit should you choose August for your trip. Fortunately, the weather is still pleasant in August. Temperatures range from comfortable 55°F to 66°F, with few or no rainy days.
August isn’t the hottest month, but it’s the clearest, making it great for swimming if you don’t mind the crisp temperatures. Save money during the worst time by planning free activities.
Monterey has a lot of outdoor beauty that you can see for free, like the seaside Lovers Point Park, Monterey State Beach, and Fisherman’s Wharf, an old fishing pier ideal for photo ops. Also, check out the Monarch Grove Butterfly Sanctuary, just ten minutes from Monterey.
August may be the worst for tourism, but it’s the best for whale watching. Book a whale-watching excursion, and you can go out on a boat with an experienced tour guide. Or, sit on the shore or a pier and spot whales in the distance.
Things to Consider
These tips can help you make the most of your time in Monterey:
- The city is walkable, and you don’t necessarily need a car. You can fly into Monterey and walk to see the top sights. Or, book a rental car for day trips out of the area.
- Monterey is chillier than you might think! The temperatures are crisp and cool even in the summer, so pack a jacket and layered clothing.
- Drive down to Carmel-by-the-Sea. The tiny beach village of just 3,000 people is a great day trip from Monterey, and you can go shopping, tour quaint neighborhoods, and visit top restaurants and bars.
- Monterey is an ideal destination for golf lovers. Pebble Beach is just a few minutes away, on the southwest part of the Monterey Peninsula, and it’s the location of many major golf events. The AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am is the most famous, hosting stars from Tiger Woods to Aaron Rodgers. You can buy tickets to an event or book a tee time.
- See the wildlife. Monterey is home to sea lions, harbor seals, grey whales, and countless fish species. You can snorkel to see underwater sea life. Or, relax on the shore and spot mammals like sea otters from a distance.
- Monterey has a rich history. People have lived on the coastal bay for thousands of years, from the Native Rumisen to the Spanish conquistadors. You can discover the area’s history at local museums or historic walking trails.
Frequently Asked Questions
Learn more about the Monterey area with these frequently asked questions:
What is the hottest month in Monterey, CA?
The hottest month in Monterey is October, with a high of 67°F. Temperatures peak in the afternoons around 4 pm, and evenings are cool at around 50°F.
Monterey doesn’t have a warm season, so be prepared for cool temperatures year round. October, the hottest month, still requires a sweater and maybe some indoor sightseeing on colder days.
How many days do you need in Monterey Bay?
Monterey Bay has endless things to do, and you could easily spend a week or more. Seven days is the ideal amount of time. You can see the top sights, sample the best restaurants, and explore the area in a week.
Spend a few days in Monterey, touring historical sites, swimming in the ocean, or whale-watching. Then, spend at least a day in Carmel-by-the-Sea’s fairytale village, and don’t forget to check out Pacific Grove’s coastal beauty.
Is September a good time to visit Monterey, CA?
Yes, September is an excellent time to visit Monterey. The tourist season is at its tail end with bright, sunny days, events, and bustling city streets. Head to Monterey in September and enjoy temperatures in the 60s, a few cloudy days, and moderate humidity.
Prices are not as high as in August, making September a perfect alternative for late summer travelers. Don’t miss the Monterey Jazz Festival when you’re there, and go whale-watching on a boat outing before you leave.
What months are best for Pebble Beach?
The Pebble Beach Golf Links are best from September to November. Conditions are drier, and the golf course is at peak quality. However, you can book any time of year, as long as it’s not raining heavily.
Avoid June and July at Pebble Beach, as the summer tends to be cloudy. If you visit during the summer, Pebble Beach is best at midday. It may be too foggy to golf in the mornings.
What are the best months to visit Carmel?
Carmel is beautiful from September to November. The days are clear, and temperatures are ideal for cozy days in a cafe or museum. Fall is also great for saving money, as it’s the offseason and tourists have gone home for the summer.
When can you see whales in Monterey Bay?
You can see whales in Monterey Bay year-round. However, the best time for whale watching is August, when grey whales are more likely to show themselves. You might also see whales during the migration season over the window.
Is it cheaper to stay in Carmel or Monterey?
Monterey is cheaper than Carmel. Carmel has a more exclusive scene, with bed and breakfasts or rentals, while Monterey offers hostels and motels. Monterey also has more affordable restaurants.
If you want to see Carmel-by-the-Sea but like the prices of Monterey better, stay in Monterey and drive down to Carmel village for the day. It’s only a 12-minute drive south.
So, When Should You Visit Monterey, CA?
The best time to visit Monterey, CA, is spring and early summer, from April to July. You’ll beat the tourist crowds in August and be in time for fun events like the blues festival. Stay at the best time and book your trip to this gorgeous beach town today!