What's the best time to visit Monterey, CA?
The best times to visit Monterey are in the spring (April to early June) or fall (September to early November), offering mild weather and fewer tourists compared to summer. Despite being a popular destination with high summer occupancy, Monterey enjoys a pleasant climate year-round.
These seasons also host unique local festivals, like the Pebble Beach Food & Wine and Monterey Jazz Festival, providing an authentic experience away from peak tourist times.
Monterey is one of the most beautiful destinations on the California coast and the perfect place for a laid-back getaway. It’s also a great base if you want to explore the surrounding area along the Central Coast, including lush Carmel-by-the-Sea.
Monterey itself has plenty to offer visitors. You can see the beauty of nature at Point Lobos State Natural Reserve, which preserves a wild stretch of coastline, or get more up close and personal with wildlife at the world-famous Monterey Bay Aquarium.
There is also a quaint old town, centered around Cannery Row, with old buildings, cute boutiques, and bars and restaurants for every taste.
There’s certainly a lot to see and do, which makes it clear why this place is so popular among tourists. But when’s the best time to visit Monterey, CA for your travel style and budget? Here’s our take.
The Overall Best Time to Visit Monterey, CA
The best time to visit Monterey is either spring (April-early June) or fall (September-early November), when the weather is warm and mild, but you avoid the high season crowds of the summer.
Monterey is very popular among tourists, which means that if you visit during the high season it may be hard to find a good deal on a hotel room or wait in line for popular shops.
According to local news, on some popular weekends in the summer, nearly 90% of hotel rooms in town are fully booked! Luckily, Monterey is blessed with a warm, mild climate that is beautiful pretty much all year round, so you don’t need to come in the summer to enjoy good weather.
Daily high temperatures range from the high 50s to the low 70s all year round. In the spring and fall, expect average high temperatures of 62-68 degrees Fahrenheit according to official U.S. climate data, and chilly evenings.
This area of the California coast is cool even in the summer, so you won’t be missing out on prime beach weather by coming later in the season.
In fact, the warmest month of the year is actually September, with an average high temperature of 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Fall and spring do get more rain than the summer, so there’s a higher chance of precipitation affecting your plans than during July or August.
However, if you come during late spring or early fall, your chances of rain are also fairly low. Arguably, fall and spring are livelier in Monterey than the summer, even though summer is the official peak tourist season.
That’s because there are plenty of festivals all year round in the town, but the ones during the shoulder season are more geared to locals instead of tourists.
Enjoy these popular festivals along with locals:
- Pebble Beach Food & Wine (April)
- California Roots Music & Arts Festival (May)
- Monterey Jazz Festival (September)
- Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey (September)
Cheapest Time to Visit Monterey, CA
The cheapest time to visit Monterey is during the winter, which is the town’s official off season. Not as many people visit Monterey during the winter, but those who do can have a special experience for less money.
According to the official website for Cannery Row, the most popular area for tourists in town, many hotels offer special packages for tourists visiting during the off-season.
If you visit during the winter, you can get a hotel room in even an upscale hotel for a discounted rate.
Besides lower prices for hotel rooms, many hotels offer package deals for off-season travelers, such as tickets to popular attractions, dinner credits, and discounts on booking whale-watching tours with the price of your hotel room.
You just want to make sure not to visit during the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro Am, which happens in early February each year. During this very popular golf tournament, hotel room prices tend to skyrocket.
Least Busy Time to Visit Monterey, CA
The least busy time to visit Monterey is during the winter, when chillier weather tends to chase most visitors away. Although visitor numbers peak during the summer, Monterey is a year-round destination with plenty to offer each season.
There are also periods during the winter when the town gets crowded, such as during the PGA golf tournament and during Christmas. Christmas in Monterey is beautiful, with gorgeous lights, a Candy Cane Lane set up for kids, and events such as Christmas on the Wharf.
If your main goal is avoiding crowds, you should avoid the holidays as well, as people come from all over to check out the lights. However, it is worth braving a few extra people to see the magic of the Central Coast decked out in holiday lights.
Outside of those few weeks, winter in town is fairly quiet. You can enjoy many popular attractions by yourself, and not have to wait in line for tours or restaurants.
Worst Time to Visit Monterey, CA
In terms of weather, the worst time to visit Monterey is the winter, but those who hate crowds usually agree that the summer is the worst time to visit.
Winter doesn’t have the most pleasant weather of the year in the Central Coast. Temperatures can get chilly, only reaching the high 50s, and downright cold in the evenings. Winter also has the highest chances of rain, which can affect your plans for hiking and other outdoor activities.
However, winters never get truly cold in this part of California. If you are willing to bundle up with a few extra layers, including a waterproof jacket, you can still enjoy plenty of activities during this time of year.
Winter also has some perks in Monterey, besides the lower crowd levels. According to locals, the best sunsets are found between November and March.
Winter is also the best time to go whale watching for gray whales — and even potentially see baby whales. If you’re someone that doesn’t like a lot of crowds, then summer will probably be the worst time to visit for you.
During popular holiday weekends, the population of Monterey more than doubles! There are long lines for restaurants, traffic along scenic areas of the coast, and crowds at popular viewpoints.
Many people come during the summer to take advantage of warmer temperatures, and for families, this is the only time they can visit because of school breaks.
If you are more flexible with your timing, it’s much better to visit during late spring or early fall. The weather is still beautiful, but there are much fewer people.
Monterey, CA by Month: Climate & Activities
Still unsure about the best time to visit Monterey? Take a look at our summary of the weather and climate by month below:
January in Monterey is cool and often rainy, with temperatures ranging from 44 to 58°F (7 to 14°C). This month is ideal for visiting indoor attractions like the renowned Monterey Bay Aquarium, exploring the historic Cannery Row, and enjoying the area’s seafood restaurants.
February continues with similar cool weather, perfect for whale watching tours to see migrating gray whales, exploring the Monterey Museum of Art, and taking scenic drives along the Pacific Coast Highway.
As spring approaches, temperatures in Monterey range from 45 to 60°F (7 to 16°C). March is great for strolling through Fisherman’s Wharf, visiting the Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History, and exploring the local wine tasting rooms.
Spring temperatures in April range from 46 to 62°F (8 to 17°C). It’s an ideal time for hiking in Point Lobos State Natural Reserve, experiencing the Pebble Beach Food & Wine Festival, and enjoying golfing at the world-famous Pebble Beach Golf Links.
May sees warmer temperatures from 48 to 64°F (9 to 18°C). This month is perfect for exploring the beautiful Carmel-by-the-Sea, kayaking in the Monterey Bay, and attending the annual Monterey Wine Festival.
Summer arrives with temperatures between 50 to 66°F (10 to 19°C). June offers opportunities for attending the Monterey Jazz Festival, exploring the coastal trails and beaches, and visiting the historic Colton Hall Museum.
July maintains mild temperatures from 53 to 68°F (12 to 20°C). Celebrate Independence Day with fireworks over the bay, enjoy the California Rodeo Salinas, and explore the vibrant marine life while snorkeling or scuba diving.
Temperatures in August range from 54 to 69°F (12 to 21°C). Visit the annual Monterey Car Week and Concours d’Elegance, hike in the nearby Garland Ranch Regional Park, and enjoy the summer concerts at the Carmel Bach Festival.
As fall begins, temperatures range from 54 to 70°F (12 to 21°C). September is perfect for attending the Monterey Jazz Festival, one of the longest-running jazz festivals in the world, exploring the coastal dunes at Marina State Beach, and enjoying wine tasting in the Salinas Valley.
October sees cooler temperatures from 49 to 68°F (9 to 20°C). Enjoy the vibrant fall colors in the area, attend the Monterey Bay Birding Festival, and explore the historic sites of Old Monterey.
Fall temperatures in November range from 44 to 63°F (7 to 17°C). This month is ideal for relaxing at the local spas in Monterey, exploring the art galleries in Carmel-by-the-Sea, and enjoying the tranquility of the off-season on the Monterey Peninsula.
Winter brings cooler temperatures ranging from 40 to 58°F (4 to 14°C). December is festive with holiday events and lights, perfect for visiting the festive streets of Pacific Grove, enjoying whale watching tours, and experiencing the Christmas at the Inns event in Pacific Grove.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some of the most common questions people ask about finding the right time to visit Monterey:
When is the off-season for Monterey?
Winter is the off-season in Monterey. Once the holiday crowds die down in January, there are few other visitors around.
What is the coldest month in Monterey, CA?
The coldest months are December, January, and February, but even then temperatures are usually in the high 50s during the day.
So, What’s the Best Time to Visit Monterey?
The best time to visit Monterey is during the spring or fall, when beautiful mild temperatures and thinning crowds make for the perfect experience. To save money, visit during the winter, just pack a raincoat and extra layers.