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Cities for Outdoor Enthusiasts in Monterey Bay Region 

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  • 1

    Santa Cruz

    4.5
    129 reviews

    Relax at the beach, enjoy the out of the box patrons, and hike around in the forest...all in one day. This is a great place to live or visit. Not big in the commercial scene but definitely in love with the surrounding nature. If you get the chance go and see the butterflies when they are migrating.

  • 2

    Monterey

    4.5
    124 reviews

    Take a walk along Canney Row, go for a delicious meal at Louie Linguini's, dip your toes in the sea and go and visit the sealions by the marina. There are lots of things to see here and a good trip to pair with Carmel which is just up the road.

  • 3

    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 ...

  • 4

    Pebble Beach

    4.5
    30 reviews

    Pebble Beach is mostly a golf course and a road. It's a quasi-gated community since the roads in are controlled by the Park Service who charge a fee for entry unless you know someone on the inside (but they don't really check). The drive is amazing and has several pull offs where you can stop to watch the whales, sea ...

  • 5

    Pescadero

    4.5
    11 reviews

    Head over the foothills to the small town and beach of Pescadero. Pescadero State Beach (read parking lot, toilets, and trash cans) is a wide, clean expanse of sand that's popular with locals--when I lived in Palo Alto, I'd go there at least a couple times a month. And don't miss the artichoke bread from Arcangeli Grocery Store--perfect for a ...

  • 6

    Capitola

    4.5
    17 reviews

    A small town atmosphere only a short distance from Santa Cruz. A fun place to explore and grab a bite.

  • 7

    Moss Landing

    4.5
    8 reviews

    Moss Landing is a tiny town north of Monterey on Hwy 1. If you travel up 1 instead of turning right toward 101, you'll go by Moss Landing. I like stopping here for lunch and to look at the otter rafts that take refuge in Elkhorn Slough.

  • 8

    Pacific Grove

    4
    16 reviews

    A little foggy for my taste, but otherwise a charming coastal community with first-rate access to some of the most breathtaking dive sites in the Monterey Bay. It can feel like middle America with all its old Victorian's, but this spot is an oceanographer's Mecca and home to Stanford's Hopkins Marine Station. I could imagine growing old along this stretch ...

  • 9

    Carmel Valley

    4.5
    16 reviews

    This is a beautiful location that usually gets missed because of it's proximity to Carmel, Big Sur, and Monterey. The drive through these roads are unbelievable. Plus, it's getting more known for it's wine and other "fun" stuff.

  • 10

    Ben Lomond

    4
    2 reviews

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

  • 11

    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 ...

  • 12

    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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  • 13

    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.

  • 14

    Gilroy

    3.5
    14 reviews

    I drive through Gilroy often but hardly ever stop. The Garlic Festival is amazing, and Gilroy really is the garlic capital of the world.

  • 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

    I mostly like Salinas because I read a lot of Steinbeck when I was a kid. Without that, I might think this is just some boring town in the middle of California.

  • 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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