10 Free Things to do in Monterey County
Monterey County is a family-friendly destination with many attractions and an endless amount beauty. If you’re looking to stretch your budget on your next central coast trip, we created a list to help you. Check out these activities and attractions to experience for free, right here in Monterey County.
Tide Pools in Asilomar
It wouldn’t be a trip to Monterey without visiting at least one beach. You can access most beaches in the area for free, but Asilomar State Beach is a favorite among tourists and locals. Walk the paths and visit this rugged beach with tide pools, where you’ll find crabs, sea anemones, sand dollars and sea urchins. Asilomar is part of the Asilomar Marine Reserve, which is a protected area, so please leave all marine life and resources (including rocks and shells) at the beach. To learn more, visit their website.
Walk Down the Monterey Rec Trail
The Monterey Bay Recreation Trail is only a short 3-minute walk from the Portola Hotel & Spa. This scenic trail stretches from Seaside, towards the east of us, all the way to Pacific Grove, northwest of us. Either way you venture out, this trail leads to lovely views of the Monterey Bay.
View from the Monterey Rec Trail
Secret Gardens of Old Monterey
Monterey has many beautiful historic gardens that California State Parks keeps and maintains. There is no admission fee to enter and they are all within walking distance of the Portola Hotel & Spa. For more information, visit their website.
Path of History
Take a free self-guided tour on the Path of History near the Portola Hotel. Walk down the path, see the notable historic buildings, and learn about the earliest known history of Monterey. View the brochure to see highlights of what is on this tour.
Just a quick 5-minute walk from us is Fisherman’s Wharf. This attraction is free to enter, and has many restaurants, shops, and activities. Walk down the wharf to window shop, or see some marine life. It is very common to see harbor seals and sea otters in this area, so keep an eye out for theses cute creature while you explore the area.
Fisherman’s Wharf in Monterey
During the summer, the Monterey-Salinas Transit offers a free trolley to take you to and from some of Monterey’s most popular attractions, including Cannery Row, the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and Fisherman’s Wharf. There are also a few stops, near the Portola Hotel & Spa, making it so easy to take advantage of this free service.
Point Pinos Lighthouse Grounds
The oldest continuously operating lighthouse on the west coast is right here in Pacific Grove. Point Pinos Lighthouse has been in operation since February of 1855, and is free to visit its beautiful grounds. You can visit the outside of this charming lighthouse and learn more about its history Saturdays and Sundays 1-3pm.
Point Pinos Lighthouse
Go on a Hike
Historic Cannery Row offers many experiences from food to fun. Getting on to Cannery row is free, and while you’re there, window shop at one of their many unique shops, or take in the ocean breeze at Steinbeck Plaza and McAbee Beach.
Dennis the Menace Park
If you’re traveling with the kids be sure to take them to Dennis the Menace Park. It’s a unique playground with many attractions, and was actually designed by Henry King Ketcham, the creator of the Dennis the Menace comic strip! It is free and is the perfect place to let your kids explore, play, and let out a little energy.
Dennis the Menace Park
Plan Your Next Visit to Monterey
We hope this list provided some ideas on how to stretch your budget on your next visit to Monterey. With nearby access to Monterey’s most popular attractions, the Portola Hotel & Spa is a great choice for accommodations. Check out our current special offers and packages to make the most of your stay with us. See you soon!