Things to Do in Monterey & Beyond

Top Activities & Events for 2015

Monterey is a small town with many fun activities. You will find ongoing things to do in Monterey such as kayaking, fishing and whale watching.

However, this waterfront village hosts several fun festivals and events. Highlights include the annual History Festival, the AT&T Pro-Am Golf Tournament and the Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony on Cannery Row.

You will also find several fun music festivals such as the Jazz Bash by the Bay, the Monterey Bay Reggaefest and the Monterey Jazz Festival. Other popular annual events include the Monterey Wine Festival, the Monterey Beer Festival and Art in the Adobes.

In addition to activities in Monterey, you will also find the top events in the surrounding communities including Carmel, Pacific Grove and Pebble Beach.

Top Events Each Month

Click on the links below to jump ahead to a specific month.

April May June
July August September
October November December
January February March

April 2015

  • Good Old Days Celebration: The county's largest arts and crafts fair with more than 200 artists and food vendors on hand all weekend long.
    • Dates: April 11 and 12
    • Location: Downtown Pacific Grove
    • Admission: Free

  • Pebble Beach Food & Wine: Every year, this event draws more than 250 wineries and 75 chefs for a food and wine extravaganza. For four days, sip wines, watch cooking demonstrations, and mingle with other food and wine lovers.
    • Dates: April 9 - 12
    • Location: Several locations around Pebble Beach

  • Sea Otter Classic: See both professionals and amateurs compete in cycling's North American Opener. Races include mountain bike cross country, downhill, dual slalom, short racing, and more. You can also attend the consumer bike expo, one of the largest in the world.
    • Dates: April 16 - 19
    • Location: Monterey, CA

  • Big Sur International Marathon: The Annual Big Sur Marathon attracts runners from around the world. It's a moderately difficult course with amazing views from the Pacific Ocean to beautiful redwoods.
    • Date: April 26, 2015
    • Location: Big Sur

  • Merle Haggard: See Merle Haggard at the Golden State Theater in Montery. Show starts at 8pm.
    • Date: Wednesday, April 29
    • Location: Golden State Theater
    • Tickets: On Sale Now

May 2015

  • Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix: This is the second year of this competition in Monterey. This TUDOR United SportsCar Championship features two styles of cars, Prototype and GT (Grand Touring). Practice and qualifying rounds occur the first two days with the feature event on the final day.
    • Dates: May 1 - 3
    • Location: Monterey

  • Wildflower Triathlon Festival: Head to the southern end of Lake San Antonio for this year's Wildflower Triathlon Festival. Although water levels are low, they are still high enough for this year's swimming events.
    • Dates: May 1 - 3
    • Location: Lake San Antonio

  • Steinbeck Festival: This annual festival, held at the National Steinbeck Center in Salinas, features films, speakers, panel discussions and more on the history of the area and John Steinbeck's work.
    • Dates: May 8 - 10
    • Location: Steinbeck Center in Salinas, CA
    • Schedule & Ticketing Info: Official Website

  • Salinas Valley Fair: This year marks the 71st year for this fun, family friendly festival. It features rides, live music and carnival rides. You can also watch local animal competitions, sample local wines and enjoy a variety of fair treats.
    • Dates: May 14 - 17
    • Location: Salina Valley Fairgrounds
    • Admission: $8 per person at the entrance

  • Monterey Rock & Rod Festival: Heading into its 9th year, this event raises money for the Gateway Center of Monterey County, Inc. For two days, it features hundreds of classic cars, street rods and muscle cars from 1975 or before.
    • Dates: May 15 & 16
    • Location: Monterey Fairgrounds and Custom House

  • Boz Scaggs: See him perform live at the Sunset Center in Carmel by the SEa at 8pm.
    • Date: Friday, May 22
    • Location: Sunset Center
    • Tickets: On Sale Now

  • California Roots Music & Arts Festival: Join other music lovers for this year's California Roots Music & Arts Festival. This year's three day festival typically features artists such as Damian "Jr Gong" Marley, 311 and Rebelution. In total, you can watch more than 40 bands play every year.
    • Dates: May 22 - 24
    • Location: Monterey County Fairgrounds
    • Tickets: On Sale Now

  • Castroville Artichoke Festival: If you love artichokes, you must head down to the Monterey County Fair and Event Center for this year's Castroville Artichoke Festival. This annual event features a classic car show, a beautiful art gallery and a family-friendly parade. You can also sample hundreds of fun artichoke dishes.
    • Dates: May 30 - 31
    • Location: Monterey County Fair & Event Center
    • Admission: Free

  • Winemakers' Celebration: During this one day event, you can enjoy wines and meet wine makers from Monterey County wineries. Take more than 100 wines as you sample small bites made from local ingredients. It's an event for anyone that loves wine!
    • Dates: TBD
    • Location: Carmel-by-the-Sea on Dolores Street between Ocean and 7th
    • Admission: TBD

June 2015

  • Monterey Wine Festival: Stop by to sample the award winning wines, sample the best Chowder on the west coast and more.
    • Dates: June 5, 6, & 7
    • Location: The Monterey Custom House Plaza

  • Cooking for Solutions: Enjoy two days of gourmet food samples created by some of the best chefs in the US. Other highlights for this unique event at the Monterey Bay Aquarium include meeting the chefs, learning more about food and wine pairing, and more.
    • Dates: June 6 & 7
    • Location: Monterey Bay Aquarium
    • Admission: Priced per session, learn more on their official website


  • Monterey Beer Festival: If beer is more your speed, then check out this year's Monterey Beer Festival. Discover new local beers, sample amazing gourmet goodies and meet other beer lovers.
    • Date: June 13
    • Location: Monterey County Fairgrounds

  • Carmel Valley Art & Wine Celebration: This one day celebration offers you the chance to taste some of the best wines from Monterey County. In addition, you get the chance to see gorgeous works from dozens of artists from around the world.
    • Dates: Saturday, June 20
    • Location: Carmel Valley Community Park
    • Tickets: On Sale Now

  • Monterey Americana Music Festival: This festival celebrates Americana Music, or as they call it, music with lyrics they can understand. This year's headliner is Dwight Yoakam. This one-day events lasts from 10am to 7pm and also includes live performances from artists such as Antsy McClain and the Trailer Park Troubadours, Jim Lauderdale, Hollow Wood and Casey Fraiser.
    • Date: TBD
    • Location: Monterey County Fairgrounds
    • Tickets: Range from $30 to $75 per person

July 2015

  • California Rodeo Salinas: During this four-day event, you get the chance to watch PRCA Professional riders as they compete for the top prize. Highlights for this event also include live music, horse shows and professional bull riders. In addition, this event features parades, a midway with family friendly rides and more.
    • Dates: July 16 - 19
    • Location: Salinas Sports Complex

  • Moss Landing Antique Street Fair: Browse thousands of collectables and antiques during this outdoor one day antique buying event. Fuel up for the day with the morning pancake breakfast and enjoy food from dozens of other booths all day long.
    • Date: July 26
    • Location: Moss Landing

  • Carmel Bach Festival: For three weeks, enjoy dozens of performances during the Carmel Bach Festival. This celebration of Johann Sebastian Back integrates music, education and ideas. It showcases performances created, inspired or influences by this legendary musician.
    • Dates: July 18 - August 1 (Pre-Fest Activities July 15 - 17)
    • Location: Sunset Center in Carmel-by-the-Sea

  • Feast of Lanterns: This summer festival offers locals a chance to celebrate Pacific Groves history and culture. It features a lantern parade, a fireworks display, and dozens of other fun activities.
    • Dates: TBD
    • Location: City of Pacific Grove

August 2015

  • Salinas Valley Half Marathon: Join other runners on a scenic route that starts at the historic Soledad Mission and ends at Pessagno Winery.
    • Date: August 1
    • Location: Salinas

  • Blues, Brews & BBQ: For two days in Monterey, you can sample the best craft beers as you listen to some of the best blues artists around. Make sure you also sample some of the best BBQ in the area. Last year's performers included Kenny Neal, Memphis Gold, Homeade Jamz Blues Band, Joe Louis Walker, Curtis Salgado, and Terrie Odabi.
    • Dates: August 8 & 9
    • Location: Monterey Fair Grounds
    • Tickets: TBD

  • Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance: Stop by Pebble Beach on the third Sunday of August to view almost 200 prized collector cars and motorcycles on the famed eighteenth fairway at Pebble Beach Golf Course.
    • Date: August 16
    • Location: Pebble Beach Golf Course

  • Sand City West End Celebration: Head just a few minutes northeast of Monterey to Sand City for their annual art and music celebration. This year, visit more than 100 artists open studios throughout this three day event. You can also stop by one of more than a half dozen stages to listen to one of the two dozens bands perform.
    • Dates: August 22 & 23
    • Location: Sand City, CA

  • The Monterey Scottish Games & Celtic Festival: This two-day festival is sure to be a hit! It includes highland dancing, pipe bands & solos and a number of athletic events. It also includes one of my favorites, Single Malt Whisky Tasting!
    • Date: TBD
    • Location: Monterey County Fairgrounds
    • Tickets: $15 per person, per day with discounts for those buying two days in advance

  • Monterey Bay Reggaefest: Enjoy live music all weekend long at this year's 19th Annual Monterey Bay Reggaefest. The fun starts on Friday, August 8 with artists such as the B-Side Players and the South Bay Allstars. Other performers this year include Beenie Man, Wayne Wonder and Anthony B.
    • Date: No Festival in 2015
    • Location: Monterey County Fairgrounds

  • First City Festival: The First City Festival is a rock festival that helps celebrate Monterey. This two day event features more than a dozen performers as well as a midway with rides, cold beverages and other unique entertainers.
    • Dates: TBD
    • Location: Monterey Fair and Event Center

  • Monterey Bay Greek Festival: A three-day event with Greek food, music and dancing. It's one of the best ways to enjoy the Greek culture. Head down to the Custom House Plaza and Fisherman's Wharf to participate in the fun. Admission is free.
    • Dates: TBD
    • Location: Custom House Plaza & Fisherman's Wharf

September 2015

  • Monterey County Fair: This year's annual Monterey County Fair offers live music, family entertainment and more. This year's performers are Dustin Lynch, Queen Nation and WAR. All performances are free with admission tickets.
    • Dates: September 2 - 7
    • Location: Monterey Fair Grounds
    • Tickets: Start at $7 per person, per day

  • Triathlon at Pacific Grove: In addition to the Olympic Length Triathlon on Saturday, this event also features a 5K fun run, a 10K race and more.
  • Lisa Lampanelli: See her live at the Golden State Theater at 7:30pm.
    • Date: Friday, September 18
    • Location: Golden State Theater
    • Tickets: On Sale Now

  • Monterey Jazz Festival: Heading into its 58th year, the Monterey Jazz Festival is the longest running jazz festival in the country. This year's event will once again feature top named artists as they have had in recent years such as Herbie Hancock, The Roots, and Gary Clark Jr. Other artists this year include Cecile McLorin Salvant, Charles Lloyd and Robert Glasper.
    • Dates: September 18 - 20
    • Location: Monterey County Fairgrounds

  • Nature Valley First Tee Open at Pebble Beach: Juniors from all over the US will compete at Pebble Beach Golf Links. You will also get to see many legendary golfers as they help mentor these up and coming athletes. It's a weekend you will never forget!
    • Dates: September 25 - 27
    • Location: Pebble Beach Golf Links

  • California International Airshow: This year's airshow in Salinas will feature The Thunderbirds! You will also get the chance to see professional air acrobats, interesting planes and more.
    • Dates: September 26 & 27
    • Location: Salinas, CA

  • FestaItalia: This annual event celebrates the local fisherman of Monterey. It's a three day event at the Custom House in downtown Monterey. It includes entertainment, raffles, a bocce tournament, a parade, Italian food and more. Admission is free.
    • Dates: TBD
    • Location: Custom House Plaza

  • Artists Studio Tour: Similar to SF's Open Studios, the Monterey County Artists Studio Tour event features open artists studios throughout Monterey. All studios participating will offer an open house. Artists will also be around to discuss their pieces and sell them to interested parties.
    • Dates: TBD

October 2015

  • Monterey Bay Oktoberfest: Drink German beer and dance to fun tunes at this year's Monterey Bay Oktoberfest. Live music provided by The Flying Dutchman and The Internationals. You can also enjoy family friendly activities such as the Dachshund Races, a Petting Zoo and Jump Houses.
    • Dates: October 3 & 4
    • Location: Monterey Country Fair Grounds

  • Butterfly Parade & Bazaar: This annual event is a welcoming of the Monarchs back to Pacific Grove. This annual event, by local elementary school children, starts at 10:30am. It is then followed by the annual Butterfly Bazaar behind Robert Down School.
    • Date: October 3
    • Location: Robert H. Down on Pine Avenue

  • Carmel International Film Festival: This years event will feature dozens of films from around the globe.
    • Dates: October 21 - 25
    • Location: Several venues around Carmel

  • WINEFEST!: During this year's annual wine tasting event, WINEFEST!, you get the chance to sample from more than 100+ amazing wines. In addition to wine, you can also watch graffiti artists create masterpieces, enjoy food from local food trucks, listen to live bands & DJs and sample some craft beers.
      • Date: TBD
      • Location: Monterey County Fair Grounds

  • Everything Italian! Monterey's Old Fisherman's Wharf Columbus Weekend Celebration: Head down to Fisherman's Wharf to enjoy family activities, special guest appearances, and live music from local musicians.
    • Dates: TBD
    • Location: Monterey Fisherman's Wharf
    • Admission: Free

November 2015

  • Big Sur Food & Wine Festival: This annual event showcases amazing wines from dozens of local wineries. In addition to wine, you can also sample the amazing culinary treats from top chefs from Big Sur, Monterey, and San Francisco.
    • Dates: November 5 - 7
    • Location: Several locations throughout Big Sur
    • Tickets: Events are individually priced, find details by clicking here

  • Big Sur Half Marathon: This popular half-marathon starts and finishes in Monterey. During this race, you will run along the beautiful waterfront as well as downtown Monterey. The event includes the half marathon, a 5k, and a 3k kids run.
    • Dates: November 8
    • Location: Starts at 610 Del Monte Avenue in downtown Monterey
    • Registration: On Their Official Site

  • Callaway Pebble Beach Invitation: This Pro-Am Tournament is held at three Pebble Beach Courses: Del Monte Golf Course, Spyglass Hill Golf Course, and the Pebble Beach Golf Links. It's planned for late November and will feature some of the biggest names in golf.
    • Dates: November 17 - 22
    • Location: Three Golf Course in Pebble Beach
    • Admission: The Public is Welcome All Days Free of Charge

  • Monterey Cowboy Poetry & Music Festival: This event is for everyone that loves cowboy poetry, western music, cowboy movies and western art and gear. During this three day event, you can listen to country music, enjoy some amazing food & wine, and mingle with other cowboys and those that love them. You can also check out the art and western marketplace, put in your bid for the Silent Auction, and pick your favorite during the Battle of the Bands.
    • Dates: November 20 - 22
    • Location: Monterey Convention Center

  • Pacific Grove Tree Lighting Ceremony: Festivities are from 5:30pm to 6:30pm on Forest Avenue in downtown Pacific Grove.
    • Date: November 30
    • Location: Forest Avenue in Pacific Grove

  • Cannery Row Tree Lighting: The 20th Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony is the day after Thanksgiving. This free event lasts from 5pm to 9pm. Stop by for family festivities and to get into the holiday spirit.
    • Dates: TBD
    • Location: Steinbeck Plaza and the Plaza in front of Bubba Gump's on Cannery Row

  • Salinas Holiday Parade of Lights: Stop by downtown Salinas for their Annual Holiday Parade of Lights event. This fun, local parade offers dozens of floats, kids, and many other participants. The parade starts at 6pm.
    • Date: TBD
    • Location: Downtown Salinas

December 2015

  • Christmas at the Inns: Enjoy another fun holiday tradition in Pacific Grove with the Christmas in the Inns. Stop by several locals inns for holiday fun. It starts at 584 Central Avenue and lasts from 6pm to 9pm.
    • Date: December 1 & 2
    • Location: Start at 584 Central Avenue in Pacific Grove

  • Holiday Parade of Lights: Another fun holiday activity in Pacific Grove is the 14th Annual Holiday Parade of Lights. During this parade, you will see local marching bands, holiday floats, dance teams, and Santa Claus! Stay after the parade to get some great holiday deals at local merchants.
    • Date: December 3 from 6pm to 7pm
    • Location: 584 Central Avenue in Pacific Grove

  • Stillwell's Fun in the Park: Stop by downtown Pacific Grove for the 22nd Annual Stillwell's Fun in the Park event. It's a huge holiday party with Santa, Frosty the Snowman and a full day of other fun, family-friendly activities.
    • Date: December 5, 10am to 4pm
    • Location: Caledonia Park in Pacific Grove

  • Streets of Bethlehem: This free community event is at the First Baptist Church in Salinas. It's from 6:00pm to 8:30pm each night.
    • Dates: TBD
    • Location: First Baptist Church at 1130 San Vincente Avenue

  • Annual Tree Lighting & Sunset Center Holiday Party: Carmel-by-the-Sea invites the public to their annual Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony and Holiday Celebration. Enjoy the holiday party in the lobby of the Theater where you will find wine, cookies, and coffee. The Tree Lighting Ceremony starts at 4:30pm at Devendorf Park on Open and Junipero Avenues. The tree will be lite at around 5:45pm.
    • Date: TBD
    • Location: Sunset Center & the Corner of Ocean Avenue and Junipero Avenue

  • Christmas in the Adobes: Head over to Monterey for the 31st Anniversary of Christmas in the Adobes. This event includes several fun activities in the historic adobes such as fandango dance lessons, listening to bagpipes, or enjoying cookies and refreshments. You can also participate in games, history and other fun activities for the entire family.
    • Date: TBD
    • Location: Historic Downtown Monterey

  • Inns of Distinction Tour: This annual event takes you through seven unique, historic inns in downtown Carmel. Each one opens up a few rooms to the public for you to see.
    • Date: TBD
    • Location: Downtown Carmel

  • Jingle Bell Run/Walk: Join other runners and walkers in Pacific Grove for the 2015 Jingle Bell Run/Walk. This annual event starts at Lover's Point Park. Registration starts at 7:30am with the official 5k run starting at 9am.
    • Date: TBD
    • Location: Lover's Point Park in Pacific Grove
    • Registration: TBD

  • Santa's Fly In: Head over to the Carmel Valley Airfield for the 57th Annual Carmel Valley Santa's Fly-In. His helicopter will make an appearance in the sky starting around 10:30am. After Santa and Mrs. Claus arrive, they will hop in their sleigh and join other local community organizations in a parade. After the parade, stay for the holiday picnic with food, drinks, holiday activities, and more.
    • Date: TBD
    • Location: Carmel Valley Airfield & Community Park

  • First Night Monterey: This New Year's Eve celebration in downtown Monterey is an alcohol-free event for the entire family. This year's theme is SeaChanges, the Seaquel! It includes art, live music, and other fun holiday activities. Festivities start at 3pm and last until shortly after the New Year.
    • Date: December 31
    • Location: Downtown Monterey

January 2016

  • Rio Grill's Resolution Run: Start the New Year out right at the 25th Annual Rio Grill's Resolution Run. It includes both a 5k and a 10k. Dogs and strollers are welcome.
    • Date: TBD
    • Location: Starts at the Crossroads Shopping Mall in Carmel

  • Monterey Swingfest: The 22nd Annual Monterey Swingfest was set for January 15 through the 19. It includes workshops, dancing, contests, live music, and more.
    • Dates: TBD
    • Location: Monterey Hyatt Regency

  • Whalefest at Monterey Fisherman's Wharf: Stop by for the chance to see whales in the water as well as to learn more about them. The festival includes lectures and documentaries as well as musical and theatrical performances. The two-day event will also include live music, whale watching trips on the bay, and more.
    • Dates: TBD
    • Location: Monterey Fisherman's Wharf

February 2016

  • AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am: Head to Pebble Beach for one of the best PGA Tour events each year. This year's event will include 156 professionals and 156 amateurs. The purse is $6.8 million for the professionals.
    • Dates: TBD
    • Location: Pebble Beach
    • Tickets: TBD

March 2015

  • Jazz Bash by the Bay: Annual event the celebrates jazz, swing, blues, ragtime, and other musical genres. This year's event will feature more than 25 performances in several intimate settings all around Monterey.
    • Dates: TBD
    • Location: Portola Hotel & Spa, Monterey
    • Tickets: TBD

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Other Fun Things to Do in Monterey

Cannery Row: This fun entertainment district features dozens of shops, restaurants and attractions. It's a fun way to spend the day or even just a few hours. On this page, you will discover a full list of things to do on Cannery Row.

Top Monterey Museums: The small town of Monterey hosted a number of important events in the history of California. Today, you can visit the sites of some of these events as well as their great modern art museum and the gorgeous Museum of Monterey (which showcases more of this city's history).

Wine Tasting: Monterey County features several places to taste its local wines. You can either taste right in Monterey, head to Carmel for some tasting or spend the day out at the wineries. On this page, you will find out details on the best places to taste wine and tips on getting around during your adventure.

Monterey Bay Aquarium: One of the best aquariums in the US is right here in Monterey. This is one of the most popular things to do in Monterey as they offer several amazing exhibits. You can watch the penguins play, see a variety of fish in their large aquarium or spend some time learning with their hands on exhibits.

> > Things to Do in Monterey

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