One of the best ways to see some of Monterey’s star attractions is by setting out to sea—it’s where the animals are! Rent a single or double sit-on-top kayak from Monterey Bay Kayaks, get briefed on paddling 101 and shove off. Start by cruising the protected waters of the Monterey Harbor. Passing by the first wharf, spy seals hiding in the shadows and lounging on the cross-beams. Dart through docked sailboats, sharing the water with the occasional sea otter. Keep paddling toward the coast guard jetty and experience a sea lion symphony: hundreds of blubbery behemoths barking in unison and hitting the same high note. For further adventure, kayak beyond the harbor into the open waters, exploring kelp beds and going as far as the Monterey Bay Aquarium. If the weather’s fair, you’ll catch a tailwind back!
BONUS: Wash it all down with a handcrafted blonde ale and fish tacos at the nearby Peter B’s Brewpub.
WHERE TO STAY: Campers should check out Veteran’s Memorial Park. Just minutes from downtown Monterey, the 40 campsites here are pleasant and offer all the requisite amenities. Non-campers should check out the Hotel Abrego; at just two years old, this stylish modern establishment still has that new hotel smell and is within walking distance to The Wild Plum Café and Bakery, a tasty place to grab brunch. Try to get a lemon-glaze muffin before they sell out. (Note: The Sea Otter Classic bicycle race is April 14-17 and many hotels and campgrounds may be full.)