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Cities for Family Travelers in Monterey Bay Region 

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  • 1

    Monterey

    4.5
    124 reviews

    Monterey has always been the stuff of dreams and legend. Haphazard Spanish explorer Sebastian Vizcaino arrived here in 1602 and sealed his fame and fortune by describing Monterey Bay in mythical terms and then naming it after the ruler who sent him. In 1769, Gaspar de Portola came looking for Vizcaino’s Monterey, but continued on after a brief stop, since ...

  • 2

    Santa Cruz

    4.5
    129 reviews

    Youthful city. A lot of hippies (and beware of hobos). I love the vibe over here. Good place to spend the whole day with the family

  • 3

    Carmel Valley

    4.5
    16 reviews

    We stayed here a couple of times (airbnb) and got to stay in some lovely homes. It's slightly off the beaten track and it has a laid back charm. Although the choice of eating places is not as much as in Carmel, on the other hand, there are lots of farms and wineries to explore.

  • 4

    Pacific Grove

    4
    16 reviews

    Where I go to relax and unwind on the busy Monterey Peninsula, this ex-Methodist beach retreat town has Victorian houses, a quaint downtown that you can walk around in less than an hour (yummy bakeries!), and a historical lighthouse out by the state beach. In winter, stop off at the monarch butterfly grove to see thousands of those migratory creatures ...

  • 5

    Carmel

    4.5
    81 reviews

    Charming little town with a fairytale like aroma. Quite touristy but in a subtle and elegant way. Lots of unique little stores and good restaurants. Numerous places to explore. Excellent picture spots everywhere. Stuff aren't cheap here I must add. But if I have to get ripped off somewhere it better be the lovely Carmel-by-the-sea rather than the tacky Cannery ...

  • 6

    Pescadero

    4.5
    11 reviews

    It's just a small podunk town, and a historical stagecoach stop, inland from Hwy 1 south of San Francisco and Half Moon Bay. But you'll find enough here to amuse yourself for the day. Go tidepooling at the rocky, windy beaches and visit Point Pigeon Lightstation. Then head downtown for artichoke-cheese bread from Norm's before petting the baby goats and ...

  • 7

    Capitola

    4.5
    17 reviews

    Cute little resort town. We had a low maintenance casual lunch at a pub for burgers & sodas with a view of the water. Little main street area was fun for us to buy taffy & fudge etc. My son made a Build a Bear-like Sea Otter at a little store. Had a local seaside town feel.

  • 8

    Ben Lomond

    4
    2 reviews

    My old stomping grounds! Hanging out by the river before, DURING and after school!

  • 9

    Pebble Beach

    4.5
    30 reviews

    Drive along the 17 Mile Drive and enjoy the amazing panorama. Don't forget to stop by the lone Cypress. Only downside, it costs $10...

  • 10

    Hollister

    3
    1 review

    If you're into the great outdoors and miles and miles of farmland, Hollister is the place to visit. Come here for sky diving and if you're interested in going to the Haunted Corn Maze during Halloween. Close proximity to the Gilroy shopping outlets and cheap(er) and larger homes, compared to the Bay Area, but a bit too far from "civilization."

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  • 11

    Moss Landing

    4.5
    8 reviews

    Go Kayaking in Estuary. Great meals at Fish Factory. Watch birds, otters and sea lions and sun set from your dining table.

  • 12

    Aptos

    4.5
    4 reviews

    Nice little beach town south of Santa Cruz. The beach is long and broad with brownish sand. On a clear day you can see all the way to Monterrey.

  • 13

    Gilroy

    3.5
    14 reviews

    Calling itself "Garlick Captial of the World" the smell a garlick smell permeates the air. Most of the world's pickled, minced and powdered garlick comes from Gilroy. It's a place to pause at, look around and, unless one is here for the annual Gilroy Garlick Festival, leave.

  • 14

    Boulder Creek

    3
    3 reviews

    A hellhole, infested with rednecks. This place should be so great. It's a beautiful woman with a personality disorder. Is it drugs, or disenchanted former loggers, or the not-so-hidden white power factions? It's just not a healthy place. It is hard to fathom why this town is so crunky. The redwood trees are beautiful, the proximity to the fantastic Big ...

  • 15

    Marina

    4
    7 reviews

    Marina is almost a suburb of the more popular Monterey. As you come in on Hwy 1 going north, you're probably looking toward the beach, so you don't notice the strip malls and cheap housing on the other side of the highway.

  • 16
  • 17

    Salinas

    3.5
    11 reviews

    Salinas is just the city I pass through to get to Monterey.

  • 18

    Seaside

    4
    13 reviews

    Seaside is a dinky little beach town next to Monterey. There's nothing else going on there.

  • 19

    San Juan Bautista

    4.5
    3 reviews

    Something about this town keeps bringing me back, pulling me off Hwy 101 to its old-fashioned Wild West downtown. Everyone flocks to the old Spanish colonial mission that starred in Hitchcock's classic thriller "Vertigo". But there are other reasons to stick around afterward, like the antiques shops, quaint garden restaurants and a state historic park. Pick up a loaf of ...

  • 20

    Watsonville

    3
    1 review

    they grow great strawberries

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