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The 10 best things to do in Monterey

Sought by Spanish explorers, immortalized in John Steinbeck novels and fictionalized by Pixar animators in “Finding Dory,” Monterey enjoys a celebrity larger than its quiet coastal setting might imply. Yet, much of the town’s allure is courtesy of is its enchanting, namesake bay. Exceptionally rich in nutrients, Monterey Bay hosts scores of marine life, from cute furry sea otters to ferocious killer whales, within clear, turquoise waters strewn with giant strands of swaying kelp. Whether you kayak over it, bike alongside it or simply gaze upon it with a sunset drink, the Monterey Bay radiates hypnotizing beauty. Some say the best way to experience is it is submerged with air tanks strapped to your back, but for those without a scuba license—or with little desire to meet a shark—the following spots should do nicely. Done something on this list and loved it? Share it with the hashtag #TimeOutDoList and tag @TimeOutEverywhere. Find out more about how Time Out selects the very best things to do all over the world.

The best hotels in Monterey

Given its spectacular bayfront setting, world-famous aquarium, plethora of things to do and immediate access off Highway 1, Monterey hosts its fair share of travelers. Lodging leans toward cozy inns—some of which are getting a 21st century refresh—while a handful of larger properties flex their waterfront muscle. Properties tend to be clustered around Cannery Row, a touristy, waterfront thoroughfare lined with former sardine factories that was immortalized in John Steinbeck novels. Disregard the sea otter plushy-filled shops and head straight for the shore. Whether you dive, kayak, or simply peer into its sealife-filled waters, the Monterey Bay casts a spell.