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The Salinas Valley is famous as the inspiration for John Steinbeck's stories and as amazingly productive cropland


About California Regions  ·  California Regions  ·  Monterey - Big Sur

Monterey - Big Sur Region

The coastal stretch of Monterey Bay is a magnet for visitors from all over California mixing a magical blend of ocean fog, quiet beaches, pine forests and some of the nicest towns and resorts in the state. The Monterey Bay Aquarium is the biggest draw for families and day-trippers but the entire region has something for everyone. 
For more on Santa Cruz and the Monterey Peninsula, including Big Sur and Carmel, go to Top Destinations where you will find hotels, scenic drive maps, things to do and other local information. Californians rate this one of their favorite destinations in the state.
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Monterey-Big Sur Region Map

Central Coast Central Coast Monterey Area Monterey Area Carmel-by-the-Sea Monterey Santa Cruz Santa Barbara - Paso Robles Bakersfield - Sequoia Yosemite - Mammoth San Francisco - Wine Country
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Mix miles of scenic highways hugging a rugged coast with romantically foggy villages, world-famous golfing, and one of the most famous drives along the Big Sur coast and you will know why this region brings visitors back time and again.
Heading south from San Francisco and the Bay Area, Santa Cruz and its family-friendly Beach Boardwalk amusement park is the first big stop. The Santa Cruz Mountain ridge divides the coast from the valley and I-5 interstate highway is filled with deeply wooded hiking trails on the coast side.
Farther south, on the drier side across from the Salinas Valley is Pinnacles National Monument, a playground to spelunkers. Hikers can also skip the caves and stick to the many daylight trails in the park.

Monterey, Carmel, Pebble Beach and Pacific Grove attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors with the Monterey Bay and its namesake Aquarium. There is also whale- and sea otter-watching, fine shopping and dining, beachcombing, cycling, golfing (seaside or in the Carmel Valley) and even driving the 17-Mile Drive where the very rich charge a fee for us to share their views momentarily. Add to that one of the prettiest of the California Missions on a hill with a view of the ocean.

Experience the windy and wild coast south of Point Sur all the way to San Simeon. The crowds (and choice of services and lodgings) diminish and nature reigns. Take your time and stop to enjoy the parks and beaches along the way.


Ron Niebrugge
The drive between Monterey and San Simeon on Highway 1 - the Big Sur Coast - is among the most beautiful in the world

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