Monterey Events in July: Fourth of July, Festivals & More Fun Things to Do

Jill on a windy day at the Golden Gate Bridge

by Jill Loeffler  •

Updated: July 2, 2021

Discover the best Monterey events in July 2021. Find out what's happening in the bay area for Fourth of July and get details on the top festivals this month.

Monterey Events in July

This year, some of my favorite July festivalsthe Monterey Beer Festival, Santa Cruz Mountains Winery Passport Day, and Carmel Bach Festivalhave been postponed. Find information on the top activities that will still take place in Monterey, Carmel-by-the-Sea, Santa Cruz, and more.

Disclaimer: I receive a small commission from some of the links on this page.

Fourth of July in the Monterey Bay Area

All of these Monterey events in July are on the Fourth of July holiday unless otherwise noted.

Aptos: This year's Fourth of July celebration will not include the usual pancake breakfast and party in the park, but the "World's Shortest Parade" is on! The parade is only a block and a half long, but has been drawing thousands of locals and tourists for over half a century. It's a family-friendly event with live music, arts and crafts, and games for kids of all ages. The parade starts at 10 am and runs from State Park Drive to Trout Gulch.

Carmel-by-the-Sea: Their annual festival will not take place this year, but they are offering a live concert in the park. The show will begin at 2 pm and the band will play until 3:30 pm. The performance is by a 38-member orchestra and they will play jazz, blues, rock, and others. They will also have an open rehearsal and sound check from 10 am to 12:30 pm and the public is welcome to listen in. Bring lawn chairs and a picnic lunch as well! 

Monterey: This year, the annual Fourth of July pancake breakfast will take place on Colton Hall Lawn, but due to the pandemic, the usual parade and fireworks show have been canceled.

Pacific Grove: This is one of the few towns that will host its traditional festival in full this July 2021, starting at 11 am and ending at 3 pm. It will include live music and entertainment, food and drinks, and more. Head to Lighthouse Avenue to join in on the fun.

Santa Cruz: This year, the city has adopted a Covid-safe approach to their classic Santa Cruz Firecracker 5K race, where runners can start at 8 am with the whole group, or a socially distanced start until 11 am.

Scotts Valley: The festivities kick off at 3 pm with a parade along Scotts Valley Drive. They will also have a plane flyover by Little Tampico.

Watsonville: This year's events will take place around City Plaza, starting with the Mayor's Bike Ride at 12:45 pm, followed by the Red, White, and Blue Concert from 2 to 3 pm. The traditional parade down Main Street has been canceled this year, but that won't stop the town from decking out for the Spirit of Watsonville Neighborhood Parade, where homes and businesses will show off their patriotism and individuals can follow the tour.

Monterey Beer Festival (moved to October)

Date: 10/16

Location: Monterey County Fairgrounds at 2004 Fairground Road in Monterey

If beer is more your thing, then check out this year's Monterey Beer Festival. Discover new local beers, sample amazing gourmet goodies, and meet other beer lovers.

You will find rare selections from the breweries such as Sierra Nevada, Anchor Steam, and other lesser known ones. There will also be food to pair with your tasty brews.

This 21-and-over only event will start at 12:30 pm and end at 4 pm. Each ticket purchased will let you taste the great beers, and also allow you to take home a souvenir glass too!

>> Visit their site for ticketing information

California Rodeo Salinas (moved to September)

Dates: 9/23 - 9/26

Location: Salinas Sports Complex at 1034 North Main Street, Salinas

During this four-day event, you get the chance to watch PRCA Professional riders as they compete for the top prizes. 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.

You and your family can enjoy loads of exciting rodeo experiences including clowns, barrel races, a heritage museum, a kids corral, and the always spectacular Miss California Rodeo contest.

>> Visit their site for a full schedule of events and ticketing information

Hotel & Lodging Recommendations

Monterey: You will find the largest selection of hotels in and around Monterey. Higher end picks include the Spindrift Inn and Portola Hotel and Spa. You will also find some more budget friendly options if you move a few additional blocks away from the waterfront. Find my top picks for all budgets here.

Carmel-By-The-Sea: This seaside town is a bit smaller, but still offers plenty of accommodations. You will find some great luxury hotels as well as several quaint bed and breakfasts. Here are my top picks for Carmel-By-The-Sea.

Pacific Grove: This small community sits just to the north west of Monterey. They offer several great places to stay including a couple of great bed and breakfast and some budget-friendly options. Find my top 5 picks here.

Are you ready to book? Make sure to check out the great deals below.

TripAdvisor: Compare prices, read recent guest reviews and find a wide selection of options.

Moss Landing Antique Street Fair

Date: Canceled for 2021

Location: Moss Landing

Browse thousands of collectibles and antiques during this outdoor one-day antique buying fair. Fuel up for the day with the morning pancake breakfast and enjoy food from dozens of other booths all day long.

This annual event hosts more than 200 vendors selling all types of antiques. You will be able to find pretty much any collectible antique you could imagine and more.

When you decide to take a break and grab a bite, there are choices such as a fish fry, hot dogs, burritos and the local specialty, artichokes prepared in numerous ways.

Tickets cost $5 per person while children 12 and under are free with an adult.

Carmel Bach Festival (moved to October)

Dates: 10/23 - 11/5

Location: Sunset Center in Carmel-by-the-Sea

For three straight weeks, you can enjoy dozens of performances during the Carmel Bach Festival. This celebration of Johann Sebastian Bach integrates music, education and ideas. It showcases performances created, inspired or influenced by this legendary musician.

Musicians come from all over the world come to entertain and let you hear the magical songs that made Bach famous. Some of these will include a cappella groups, full orchestras, duets, and others to let you experience his music as originally intended.

This event has over 40 concerts during the three weeks. Some of these concerts are free while others require a ticket.

An event that everyone loves is the annual gala which rings in the festival season. This party includes live music, food and drinks, and a private performance for attendees.

>> Visit their site for more details

Feast of Lanterns (postponed until 2022)

Dates: Canceled for 2021

Location: Lovers Point Park in Pacific Grove

This summer festival offers locals and visitors a chance to celebrate Pacific Groves history and culture. It features a lantern parade, a fireworks display, and dozens of other fun activities.

This celebration has a history that has been ongoing for over 100 years and continues to excite and delight all who attend it. The lantern parade to the beach, and then fireworks that light up the whole bay, are a must see for anyone who loves a celebration. The Feast and Pageant starts at 10:30am and ends at 10 pm.

Additional activities related to this special event include the Opening Ceremony, the Feast of Dancing, a Pet Parade and more. Make sure to check the schedule for dates and times of events.

>> Visit their site for more details

MotoAmerica Superbike Speedfest

Dates: 7/9 - 7/11

Location: WeatherTech Raceway at Laguna Seca

Get ready to rev up your engines, hear the roar of some of the fastest racing bikes anywhere, and see the best motorcyclists race around the Laguna Seca race track for 3 days. You will be thrilled and amazed by the speed and skill of these bikes and the riders all weekend long.

If you want to take a break from the races, there are loads of family-friendly events and presentations for you to check out and enjoy. You can also visit the Paddock, where the bikes will be parked, and see them up close.

For those that want to as close to the action as possible, check out the Premier Pit Row tickets. There is nothing else like them for true Superbike fans.

Tickets can be for one, two, or all three days depending on your choice.

Ideas for More Fun Things to Do

In addition to all of these fun Monterey events in July, make sure to check out some of the other fun things to do around the bay.

Whale Watching: Head out on the water this July to catch the whale migrating through the waters off the bay. This time of year, you will be looking out for humpback and blue whales. You will also get the chance to see dolphins, tortoises, and lots of birds. This tour leaves from Fisherman's Wharf daily. Find tickets for all days in July.

Monterey Bay Aquarium: The Monterey Aquarium is a must see for all visitors to Monterey. You will love the huge Open Seas aquarium. My other favorite is the Kelp aquarium with a variety of kelp from the Monterey Bay. The aquarium is open daily in July.

Historic Walking Tour: Discover the history of this amazing area. On this two-hour walking tour, you will have the choice for a stroll down Cannery Row or past locations written about by John Steinbeck. Each one offers you a look back at the long history of this waterfront town. Find out more and pick up your tickets today.

Santa Cruz Mountains Passport Day

Date: Canceled for 2021

Location: Numerous wineries throughout Santa Cruz and local area

The Santa Cruz Mountain Passport offers you admission and tastings at wineries all around the Santa Cruz Mountains all year long.

However, four times a year, they offer special passport days. This July, take advantage of this extra special passport day where wineries in the region offer additional fun. Options include food samples, special tastings, and entertainment.

>> Visit their site for a list of participating wineries and to learn more

Additional Fun Events Nearby

San Francisco Events | Sonoma | Napa

Wharf to Wharf Race: Monterey Events in July

Date: In person race canceled, but you can sign up for their free virtual race (49 miles in 49 days)

Location: Starts at Santa Cruz Wharf near the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk and ends at the Capitola Wharf near Capitola Village.

The Wharf to Wharf footrace is one of the most popular Monterey events in July. This 6-mile run has been ongoing for more than 45 years and continues to get better each year.

The race starts at 6:30 am. The race is limited to only 16,000 people, so make sure to sign up as far in advance as possible to get a spot.

Please check the link below for a course map and other information to help you have the best run of your life.

>> Find out more on their site

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