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Big Sur + Monterey see + do

The big draw in Monterey and Big Sur is the spectacular natural beauty. Whether you're coming to visit the aquarium, play golf, or laze the day away, nearly every activity on the peninsula is inspired by the scenery. The local pace reflects this: Come nightfall, the sidewalks roll up, so plan to get an early start. Note that the major sights in the area are spread out; driving between Monterey and Big Sur takes 45 minutes with no traffic, more during rush hour or on holiday weekends.

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Carmel-by-the-Sea, Carmel-by-the-Sea

Originally founded as an artists' colony in the early 20th century, Carmel (also known as Carmel-by-the-Sea) has the look and feel of a Christmas snow-globe...more

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Hotel Photo
Carmel Mission, Carmel-by-the-Sea

Though currently surrounded by ranch-house subdivisions, the Carmel Mission was once the only building for miles around. Spanish missionary Father Junípero...more

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Hotel Photo
Golf, Pebble Beach

The marquee course at Pebble Beach, Pebble Beach Golf Links (pictured) is every bit as gorgeous as it looks in the hundreds of pictures you've seen of it. It's...more

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Hearst Castle, San Simeon

Publishing magnate William Randolph Hearst's monument to himself is by far the best-known attraction on the California coast. Perched high atop La Cuesta...more

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Henry Miller Memorial Library, Big Sur

The brilliant and controversial writer was a native New Yorker, but his archive is here, in the town where he lived for 18 years and wrote some of his best...more

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Hiking, Big Sur

The best hiking in Big Sur isn't right along the coastline. Because the cliffs here tower a thousand feet high and drop precipitously to the pounding surf...more

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Horseback Riding, Andrew Molera State Park

If you can't commit to a hike but want to go where cars can't, consider hitting the trail on horseback. Molera Horseback Tours runs guided rides that wind...more

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Kayaking, Monterey

Monterey Bay supports one of the world's most diverse ecosystems and spans a whopping 5,300 square miles. A National Marine Sanctuary since 1992, it's an...more

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Hotel Photo
Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey

This aquarium is one of the best in the world, and the top reason to visit touristy downtown Monterey. Press your nose against the glass of a million-gallon...more

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Music Festivals, Big Sur + Monterey

The famous annual Monterey Jazz Festival brings in jazz and blues luminaries from around the world the third weekend in September. Past performers have included...more

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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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