Sign up for email & receive your FREE copy of our 

20 Things to Do in San Francisco Under $10 eGuide!

We respect your email privacy

Things to Do in Monterey & Beyond

Top Activities & Events for 2015 & 2016

Monterey is a small town with many fun activities. Visitors always enjoy ongoing things to do in Monterey such as kayaking, fishing, and whale watching.

However, this waterfront village also hosts several fun festivals and events during particular seasons. 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.

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

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

  • 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: November 27
    • Location: Steinbeck Plaza and the Plaza in front of Bubba Gump's on Cannery Row

  • 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

  • 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: November 29
    • 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: December 2 - 5
    • Location: First Baptist Church at 1130 San Vincente Avenue

  • Annual Tree Lighting & Carmel Plaza Party: Carmel-by-the-Sea invites the public to their annual holiday tree lighting ceremony and celebration. Enjoy entertainment and refreshments beginning at 3:30pm. The mayor will then light the tree at around 5:45pm, rain or shine.
    • Date: December 4
    • Location: Devendorf Park, at Ocean and Junipero Avenues

  • Pink Martini: Head over to the Golden State Theater to see Pink Martini live. The show starts at 7:30pm.
    • Date: Tuesday, December 8
    • Location: Golden State Theater in Monterey
    • Tickets: On Sale Now

  • Christmas in the Adobes: Visit Monterey's past at this anual event, where you can see the adobes by candlelight while enjoying refreshments and live entertainment. There is plenty of history and other fun activities for the entire family.
    • Date: December 11 & 12
    • 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: December 6 from 2pm to 5pm
    • 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: December 12
    • Location: Lover's Point Park in Pacific Grove

  • Santa's Fly-In: Santa Claus makes his annual Carmel Valley Fly-in at the Carmel Valley Airfield. His helicopter will make an appearance in the sky starting around 10:30am. After Mr. 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 26th annual Rio Grill's Resolution Run. It includes both a 5k and a 10k. Dogs and strollers are welcome.
    • Date: January 1
    • Location: Starts at the Crossroads Shopping Mall in Carmel

  • Monterey Swingfest: The 23rd annual Swingfest will include workshops, dancing, contests, live music, and more.
    • Dates: January 14 - 18
    • Location: Monterey Hyatt Regency

  • The Beach Boys: Enjoy The Beach Boys at the Golden State Theater in Monterey. The show starts at 8pm.
    • Date: Friday, January 11
    • Location: Golden State Theater
    • Tickets: On Sale Now
  • Whalefest at Monterey Fisherman's Wharf: Stop by for the chance to see whales in the water and learn more about these fantastic animals. 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: January 23 & 24
    • Location: Monterey Fisherman's Wharf

February 2016

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

March 2016

  • 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: March 4 - 6
    • Location: Portola Hotel & Spa, Monterey
    • Tickets: Available soon

April 2016

  • 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: March 31 - April 3
    • Location: Several locations around Pebble Beach

  • Good Old Days Celebration: The county's largest arts and crafts fair with more than 225 artists and food vendors on hand all weekend long.
    • Dates: April 9 & 10
    • Location: Downtown Pacific Grove
    • Admission: Free

  • 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 14 - 17
    • Location: Monterey, CA

  • Clint Black: Enjoy of evening of Clint Black at the Golden State Theater in Monterey. Show starts at 8pm.
    • Date: Thursday, April 21
    • Location: Golden State Theater
    • Tickets: On Sale Now

  • 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 24
    • Location: Big Sur

May 2016

  • 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 27 - 29
    • Location: Monterey County Fairgrounds
    • Tickets: On Sale Now

    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: TBD
    • 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: TBD
    • Location: Lake San Antonio

  • 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!
  • 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: TBD
    • Location: Steinbeck Center in Salinas, CA

  • 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: TBD
    • 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: TBD
    • Location: Monterey Fairgrounds and Custom House

  • 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: TBD
    • Location: Monterey County Fair & Event Center
    • Admission: Free

June 2016

  • Monterey Wine Festival: Stop by to sample the award winning wines, sample the best Chowder on the west coast and more.
    • Dates: TBD
    • 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: TBD
    • Location: Monterey Bay Aquarium
    • Admission: Priced per session

  • 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: TBD
    • 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: TBD
    • Location: Carmel Valley Community Park

  • Monterey Bacon Festival: Enjoy an entire day of bacon flavored food and drinks. Head over to the stage to enjoy your bacon with some live music. This year's event lasts for two days.
    • Date: TBD
    • Location: Monterey County Fairgrounds

July 2016

  • 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: TBD
    • 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: TBD
    • 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: TBD
    • 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 2016

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

  • 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: TBD
    • 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: TBD
    • Location: Sand City, CA

September 2016

  • 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: TBD
    • Location: Monterey Fair Grounds
    • Tickets: Start at $7 per person, per day

  • 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

  • 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.
  • 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

  • Lisa Lampanelli: See her live at the Golden State Theater at 7:30pm.
    • Date: TBD
    • 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: TBD
    • 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: TBD
    • 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: TBD
    • Location: Salinas, CA

  • 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 2016

  • 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: TBD
    • Location: Robert H. Down on Pine Avenue

  • Monterey History Fest: Discover Monterey's local history and celebrate its heritage with special exhibitions, games, cultural groups, and guided tours of the area's most famous sites. All activities are free to the public.
    • Date: TBD
    • Location: Throughout Monterey (including Custom House Plaza, Fisherman's Wharf, Colton Hall, Lower Presidio Historic Park, and Cannery Row)

  • Carmel International Film Festival: This year's event will feature dozens of films from around the globe.
    • Dates: TBD
    • Location: Several venues around Carmel

Other Activities You Might Enjoy

whale watching
kayaking tours
cannery row
Whale Watching
Tours Near
Monterey Bay
Top Kayaking
Tours on the
Monterey Bay
Top 10 Attractions
& Every Day

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

New! Comments

Thanks for visiting! Do you have a question or comment about what you just read? Leave me a note below!

Back to the Top

Sign up for email & receive your FREE copy of our 20 Things to Do in San Francisco for Less than $10 eGuide!

We respect your email privacy

amazon disclosure


walking tours

about the author

cheap and clean lodging

50 free things to do

north beach

fishermans wharf

murals in sf

pier 39

sf with kids

wine tours

theater calendar

Contact | Home