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Monterey Beaches, Parks & Open Spaces

Monterey Beaches, Parks & Open Space

Monterey County has miles of unspoiled beaches that stretch both north and south of  the City of Monterey.

For State and Local Parks and Beaches in and around Monterey, Please scroll down the page or click on Monterey, Big Sur, or Moss Landing.

Monterey State Parks,
Beaches and Nature Preserves

Asilomar State Beach and Conference Grounds

800 Asilomar Ave., Pacific Grove, CA     (831) 646-6440‎

Located on the Monterey Peninsula in Pacific Grove, Asilomar (meaning “a refuge by the sea”) State Beach and Conference Grounds offer breathtaking views of the cypress, surf and sand.

Carmel River State Beach

The mile-long beach features a bird sanctuary in a lagoon (just before the Carmel River empties into the sea) featuring a wide variety of waterfowl and song birds. Monastery Beach, also known as San Jose Creek Beach, is part of the park and is popular with scuba divers. Ocean and swimming and wading are extremely dangerous.

Marina State Beach

The beach is best known for hang-gliding. Radio-controlled gliders and kites are also popular. The beach is a favorite site for picnics. Water recreation is extremely hazardous due to strong rip currents.

Monterey State Historic Park

The area served as California’s capital under Spanish, Mexican and U.S. rule. The U.S. flag was first officially raised in California here on July 7, 1846, bringing 600,000 square miles, including California, into the Union.

Monterey State Beach

The beach is a favorite place for surfers and tidepool watchers. Fishing is popular, too. The cities of Monterey and Seaside share the park, which has three separate beaches approximately a mile apart.

Point Lobos State Natural Reserve

The reserve contains headlands, coves and rolling meadows. The offshore area forms one of the richest underwater habitats in the world popular with divers. Wildlife includes seals, sea lions, sea otters and migrating gray whales (from December to May).

Zmudowski State Beach

The beach is a popular fishing area, featuring perch, kingfish, sole, flounder, halibut, bocaccio (tomcod), jacksmelt, lingcod, cabezon, salmon, steelhead and occasional rockfish. Swimming and water sports are hazardous because of strong rip-currents.

Monterey City Parks

Descriptions and locations of local area parks.

Big Sur Parks & Beaches

Andrew Molera State Park — Campgrounds

Containing 4,800 acres, Andrew Molera State Park is located in the spectacular Big Sur Area. The Big Sur River runs through the park. Miles of trails wind through meadows, beaches and hilltops. Primitive campsites, popular with hikers and bikers, are located approximately one third mile from the parking area.

Fremont Peak State Park — Campgrounds (elevation 3,169 feet.)

It features expansive views of the Monterey Bay from its hiking trails in the grasslands of the higher peaks of the Gavilan Range. Other views include the San Benito Valley, Salinas Valley, and the Santa Lucia Mountains east of Big Sur. Fremont Peak has ten primitive family campsites and 40 picnic areas. Two of the park’s six group camps, which will accommodate up to 50 people and can be reserved at Ticketron outlets; the remaining four must be reserved through the park supervisor. The group picnic area is first-come-first-served.

Garrapata State Park

The park offers two miles of beachfront, with coastal hiking and a 50-foot climb to a beautiful view of the Pacific. With 2,879 acres, the park offers diverse coastal vegetation with trails running from ocean beaches into dense redwood groves.

Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park — Campgrounds

The park stretches from the Big Sur coastline into nearby 3,000-foot ridges. The park features redwood, tan oak, madrone, chaparral, and an 80-foot waterfall that drops from granite cliffs into the ocean from the Overlook Trail.  A panoramic view of the ocean and miles of rugged coastline is available from the higher elevations along the trails east of Highway 1. The park offers Environmental Camping only. Located west of the highway a little over 1/4 mile from the parking lot, Saddle rock (No 1) and South Garden (No. 2) are the park’s only campsites. Visit their Web site for additional information.

Limekiln State Park — Campgrounds

The park contains 716-acres. The park features breathtaking views of the Big Sur Coast. The park features the beauty of the redwoods, the rugged coast and the cultural history of limekilns. Co-managed with California Land Management, the parks has 43 campsites.

Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park — Campgrounds

The park has 800 acres of redwoods, conifers, oaks, sycamores, cottonwoods, maples, alders and willows – plus open meadows. Hikers can enjoy the many scenic loops, including a self-guided nature loop. Overlooks provide spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean and the Big Sur Gorge. Campsites are along the Big Sur River.

Point Sur State Historic Park

The park has an active US Coast Guard lightstation that sits 361 feet above the surf on a large volcanic rock. The facilities were established for the safety of seagoing vessels moving up and down the Big Sur coast.

Moss Landing Park & Beaches

Moss Landing State Beach

It features offshore fishing and horseback riding trails. The beach is also popular with surfers and windsurfers. Offering coastal views and dune protection from afternoon winds, the beach is a favorite place for picnics.

Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve

This Web site is dedicated to the Elkhorn Slough Reserve.  The area is great for kayaking.  Lots of wildlife to view.

Address: 1700 Elkhorn Rd, Watsonville, CA 95076
Phone: (831) 728-2822

Salinas River State Beach

The beach is a popular fishing site. The beach protects one of Monterey Bay’s most interesting sand dune areas and is home to many species of wild birds, including Western meadowlarks, hawks, jays, valley quail, finches, towhees and sparrows as well as shorebirds that winter along the bay.




What’s on Tap


Monterey Festivals & Events:

Pacific Grove Butterfly Days – Oct. 6, 7 & 8 2017

Parade, bazaar, special events at the Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary

Annual Monte Foundation Fireworks Extravaganza! – Oct. 8, 2017

Capitola Wharf, Capitola, CA

Monterey Pumpkin Patches—Oct. 2017

Whale Watching – Dec. through May


For more event information, click on our Festivals & Events page for Monterey.



Top Attractions:

Monterey Bay Aquarium

The Aquarium is your window to marine life in the Monterey Bay!

Cannery Row

Historic Cannery Row is great destination for hotels, shopping, dining, and, oh, yes, the Aquarium!

Monterey Fishing

Fall is fishing and crabbing season!

Kayaking and SCUBA Diving

The rocky bottom around Monterey make it perfect for ocean adventures!

Whale Watching – Whale Watching December through May


Pebble Beach…need I say more.


For more information on local attractions, click on the Attractions or Recreational Activities.




Monterey’s Summer Advisories:

Traffic Conditions. Rush hour traffic can be extremely challenging – especially on Highway 1 between Seaside and Monterey. Also, 68 between Highway 1 and 101 can be extremely slow. It’s a good idea to plan ahead and arrive early and leave late. Go to to learn about road conditions.

Yes, it’s still water, water, water! California is undergoing an extreme drought. If you are planning a lake vacation be sure to check about water levels. That rafting trip, fishing, or skiing can be impacted.

EXTREME fire danger. The drought has created a very dangerous combination of dry vegetation and no moisture in the air to help contain any fire. Please use extreme caution during your trip.

Carmel Valley and Big Sur have major wildfires. Authorities expect them to burn through the end of August! Google for the latest news.