When you think of California the first few things which come to mind are endless beaches and palm trees.
With 840 miles of coastline there’s an abundance of both: from long sandy beaches stretching for miles to picturesque rocky cliffs, from busy popular beaches to wild, almost untouched hidden spots.
We lived all over California and loved discovering charming beach cities on our road trips from La Jolla and Laguna Beach in Southern California to breathtaking places like Mendocino and Bodega Bay in the North.
I can assure you whatever your beach craving is you will find it in California.
There are so many cities, towns and villages along the coast that choosing just one is really hard to do!
However, when I think of the most memorable beach town my family have been to, Monterey has to be on top of the list.
Monterey is located on the southern edge of Monterey Bay on the Central Coast in California. It is about 2 hours south from San Francisco and one of the favorite places for a small getaway for Bay Area locals.
Monterey is perfect for families as it has something for everyone: beaches with calm water- perfect for kids, trails for hiking, golf courses and scenic coastal road.
As for us, our favorite place to visit in Monterey was always Monterey Bay Aquarium!
It is one of the most impressive aquariums I personally have been to and we visited quite a few to be able to compare!
With exhibits like Mission to the Deep, Open Sea, Life on the Bay, Giant Pacific Octopus or the Jellies Experience, it will amaze not only children but grownups alike!
Aquarium with 35,000 animals belonging to over 550 species will guarantee the day full of educational experiences and fascinating encounters .
You can visit Monterey Bay Aquarium live camera remotely by live cameras.
You also can explore Cannery Row right next to the Aquarium. It is usually booming with tourists strolling along boutique hotels, small shops and various restaurants. It’s charming, although many find it to be too touristy and overpriced.
Not far from Cannery Raw is Old Fisherman’s Wharf, offering abundance of little souvenir stores, fashion boutiques and more restaurants.
This is the place to go if you’re interested in a whale-watching tours or renting a kayak to explore the bay by water. But even just a walk around offers amazing views of the Bay and sea lions, sun bathing on the beach!
It’s a good place to try seafood if you’re a fan.
We always enjoyed eating at Bubba Gump. It offers a good selection of food choices as some of my family members are not big on sea food.
Monterey is conveniently located for adventuring out to nearby places worth seeing.
Take the famous highway 1 down to Caramel-by-the-Sea, another beach town which always attracted artists of all kinds for its white sand beach with breathtaking mountains as a backdrop and majestic Pacific Ocean. Carmel is known for its artistic vibe, displaying many art galleries and exhibits of local creatives.
Monterey County has some of the state’s most picturesque scenery and Big Sur attracts visitors for the most dramatic stretch of coastline not only in the state but in the country. You can find plenty of hiking opportunities if it’s something you enjoy and the views won’t disappoint!
Other great beach cities along California’s coast worth visiting are San Diego, Laguna Beach, Newport Beach, Long Beach, Redondo Beach, Hermosa Beach, Manhattan Beach, Santa Monica, Venice Beach, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz, Half Moon Bay, San Francisco, Bodega Bay, Mendocino, Fort Bragg. As you can see there is much to choose from! So keep exploring.