Top 21 Romantic Things To Do In Monterey

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If you are looking to plan a day or weekend full of romance, adventure, and unforgettable memories, what is a better location than the gorgeous California coast? Find out all of the top romantic things to do in Monterey for date night or a couples weekend getaway for you and that special someone.

Monterey Romantic Things To Do

Monterey is one most beautiful towns along the California coast and is bursting with romance! From the romantic walks along the beach to an adventurous whale watching tour, Monterey has it all.

So if you are looking to amp up the romance and plan an epic anniversary, birthday surprise, or treat your significant other to a memorable day in Monterey, you have come to the right place. This post will provide you with plenty of amazing ideas of romantic things to do in Monterey.

If you need gift ideas for the California lover on your list, I’ve got you covered. Find out 21 California themed gifts, that will give you numerous one-of-a-kind ideas for an amazing gift to anyone who loves the golden state.

Let’s get started with the top 21 romantic things to do in Monterey, California!

Prefer video? Check out my 10 Top Things to Do in Monterey

1. Experience the 17-Mile Drive Together

Hop in your car and spend the day driving the picturesque Pacific coast. The 17-Mile Drive is by far one of the most stunning and scenic drives in California.

the 17 mile drive, one of the best romantic things to do in Monterey

The enchanting route features breathtaking natural beauty. You will wind along the coastline and experience magnificent views of the ocean, rugged coastal cliffs, sandy white beaches, multi-million dollar homes, and a legendary golf course, Pebble Beach Golf Links.

Don’t forget to keep your eyes peeled for the Lone Cypress, a Monterey Cypress tree that stands alone on a hillside overlooking Carmel Bay.

the 17 mile drive, one of the best romantic things to do in Monterey

If you really want to splurge and kick that romance into overdrive, you can book a night at one of the 5-star hotels along the 17-Mile Drive. We stayed at the Inn at Spanish Bay and our stay was exquisite. More about that experience is below.

Admission to 17-Mile Drive is $11.75 per vehicle. The gate fee is reimbursed with a purchase of $35 or more at any of the Pebble Beach Resorts restaurants.

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    The Pebble Beach Golf Links is a world-renowned golf course and is rated the number one public golf course in the entire country. If you and your date golfers, this is an opportunity you cannot miss.

    However, if golfing is not your thing, you can do what we did and sip on mimosas and bloody marys together at Stillwater Bar & Grill. Enjoy your brunch while taking in unbelievable views of Carmel Bay and the 18th hole at Pebble Beach Golf Links.

    Pebble Beach Golf Links

    Tip When Visiting Pebble Beach Golf Links and driving the 17-Mile Drive: Be aware of your speed and do not use your phone while driving unless is it mounted in your car. On our way to breakfast, we got a ticket for my husband holding his phone in his hand for directions. It was a huge bummer and there was no way of talking the police officer out of the ticket.

    3. Eat Your Heart Out On a Food & Wine Tour

    Eat like a local at some of the best-hidden eateries on a guided food tour! You and your date will get an insider’s view of the top local restaurants in Carmel-by-the-sea. Carmel is just down the coast from Monterey.

    During your journey, you will learn more about the history of this coastal town while tasting a variety of delicious food, desserts, and wine.

    The Carmel Food and Wine Tasting Walking Tour is a fun, and unique couples idea, that I am sure your date will love.

    Book your food & walking tour here

    4. Visit the Famous Monterey Bay Aquarium

    Explore the many wonders at Monterey Bay Aquarium, one of the best aquariums in the country! The Monterey Bay Aquarium is home to sea otters, penguins, sharks, and thousands of other sea creatures.

    jellyfish at the Monterey Bay Aquarium

    Be mesmerized by the translucent jellyfish gliding through the waters. Or get a front-row seat to the adorable sea otters whose playful antics will put a smile on just about anybody’s face.

    The Monterey Bay Aquarium is located at the edge of Cannery Row. Reservations are now required, be sure to book your tickets in advance.

    5. A Romantic Spa Day for Two in Monterey

    Plan an afternoon of romance and serenity at the Vista Blue Spa. The luxurious spa features panoramic views from its sun deck overlooking the Monterey Bay Marine Sanctuary.

    Book a romantic private spa suite, which includes a private balcony, soaking tubs with your choice of bath enhancement, and fresh fruit. The perfect way to relax together and enjoy the picturesque view of Monterey Bay.

    Vista Blue Spa was named one of Travel + Leisure Magazine’s Top Hotel Spas in the U.S and offers a variety of spa packages. You can find the Vista Blue Spa located on the top floor of the Monterey Plaza Hotel on Cannery Row.

    6. Book a Whale Watching Tour

    Whale watching might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of romantic things to do in Monterey. However, a whale watching tour is a great way to share a memorable and exhilarating experience with your partner.

    Book a whale watching tour in Monterey

    The whales you will most likely see near Monterey Bay are gray whales, humpback, and blue whales. You will also get the opportunity to see other marine life such as dolphins and sea lions during your cruise.

    Seeing these enormous and incredible mammals up close is truly a once-in-a-lifetime moment.

    Tip before you go Whale watching: If you or your date get seasick, make sure to book a larger boat and take some Dramamine an hour before your trip. Also, do not choose seats in the front. That is the rockiest spot on the vessel.

    Book your Whale Watching Tour here

    7. Go Wine Tasting

    You don’t have to go to Napa or Sonoma for an afternoon of wine tasting! Monterey County is one of the largest wine regions in California. With its unique microclimate, the region produces over 32 varietals of wine.

    ⭐️ Get my FREE guide What to Wear (And Not Wear) Wine Tasting in California

    go wine tasting together as a romantic thing to do in Monterey

    Plan a romantic afternoon of tasting delicious central coast wines at one or more of the tasting rooms along Cannery Row.

    A Taste of Monterey offers wine tasting with a view. The oceanfront tasting room and bistro feature expansive views of the Monterey Bay, a selection of over 100 wines, and a food menu of shareables, pizza, sandwiches, and more.

    If you are looking for a little bit more than just a wine tasting, The Wine Experience is the spot for you! The Wine Experience is a very unique tasting room; it offers experiences from wine tasting and custom blending to label personalization and interactive classes. Also, they offer a menu of small bites, assorted chocolates, and beer flights if you’re all wined out.

    8. Plan to Attend the Monterey Jazz Festival

    The Monterey Jazz Festival is a popular 3-day event held at The Monterey County Fairgrounds. Enjoy the festivities of shopping from the various vendors, a wide assortment of food, and of course, great company and music.

    The festival features a Grammy award-winning line-up of jazz musicians from old favorites and new artists as well. The jazz festival is typically held annually at the end of September.

    9. Rent a Kayak With Otters Seals and Sea Lions

    rent a kayak in Monterey Bay

    Explore Monterey by water on this adventurous full-day kayak tour! Paddle along with otters, seals, sea lions, and other marine life as you glide along Monterey Bay.

    This was by far one of the best parts of our trip! If you can request Miles, do it! He was so helpful, so full of awesome information about all the ocean life we’d see along the way and we enjoyed every minute of it! 10/10! Tip your guide they deserve it!” (read more reviews)

    Check rates & availability for Kayak Rental & Tour here

    10. A Romantic Dinner

    Sharing a dinner with your special someone could be the perfect romantic thing to do in Monterey.

    My husband and I had an anniversary dinner at the Bistro Moulin, a hidden gem in Monterey that just oozes with romance. The food, service, and intimate atmosphere was such a memorable and amazing way to celebrate our anniversary.

    The Bistro Moulin is a small and cozy French bistro only a two-minute walk from bustling Cannery Row. You must try their famous spinach gnocchi, and don’t forget dessert. Their profiteroles are to die for.

    11. Enjoy Yummy Ice cream at Revival

    Truly one of the best ice cream shops I have been to. Which I know, that’s saying a lot. Why you’ll love it? All of their Ice cream is made from scratch from fresh and locally sourced ingredients.

    They have unique and innovative flavors, vegan options, and awesome toppings like torched marshmallow. I recommend geting a combo cone or bowl and try more than one flavor.

    Their award winning Bees Knees it a fan favprite, and I can see why. The ice cream is made with locally sourced Monterey mixed in with their house made honeycomb candy.

    There is almost always a line outside of Revival. However, we went during the day around 3pm, and the line moved pretty quickly. But seriously any wait is worth it!

    12. Go to a Show at The Golden Gate Theater

    The Golden State Theater has been an entertainment venue in Monterey since 1926. The theater was recently restored and still has lots of its original historic charm including, the grand lobby and the plush velvet seats.

    The Golden State Theater puts on a wide variety of events such as concerts, comedy shows, and film festivals. To see their updated calendar of events, you can go here.

    13. E-Bike Along the Monterey Bay Coastal Trail

    Electric bikes are all the rage these days. If you haven’t been on one already, be prepared to have your mind blown by this new and popular way of transportation.

    rent a bike or e-bike together for the monterey bay coastal trail

    You and your partner can zip along the Monterey Bay Coastal Trail. A waterfront paved path that runs for 18 miles and offers spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean. Another option is to rent E-bikes and bike along the 17-mile drive!

    Free Romantic Things to Do in Monterey

    You don’t have to break the bank to impress your date in Monterey. There are plenty of free activities you can plan that will still sweep your date off their feet. Here are 8 free romantic things to do in Monterey

    14. Explore Cannery Row

    If this is your first, second, or third time visiting Monterey, stopping by Cannery Row is always a must! You will find so many fun and interesting things to do here on the main strip of town.

    stroll along Cannery Row, a top thing to do in Monterey

    Cannery Row, once a site for sardine canning factories, nothing says romance like sardines, is now a bustling waterfront street in Monterey. Cannery Row is full of shops, restaurants, art galleries, wine tasting, and attractions to keep you and your date entertained for hours.

    A visit to Cannery Row is the ideal location to start your romantic day in Monterey.

    15. Stroll Along McAbee Beach

    After exploring Cannery Row, make your way down to the stretch of sand at McAbee Beach, a short walk from the main street. Slip off your shoes and dip your toes in the chilly bay water.

    plan a romantic walk along McAbee beach

    During high tide, McAbee Beach turns into a cove and a small area of sandy beach. However, it still features beautiful views of Monterey Bay. Also, a visit to McAbee is a great way to get away from touristy Cannery Row for a moment and get some fresh sea air on your face.

    16. A Romantic Picnic on Lovers Point Beach

    With a name like Lovers Point Beach, is there a more perfect location to plan a romantic afternoon together? Lovers Point Beach is situated in Pacific Grove but can also be accessed from the coastal recreation trail.

    The views of Monterey Bay from Lovers Point are spectacular! Lovers Point features a rocky shoreline, sandy beach, and shimmering turquoise blue waters.

    Drop by Goodies Deli or Grove Market in Pacific Grove for freshly made sandwiches. Sprawl out on your blanket and enjoy your romantic picnic on the beach or at Lovers Point Park, a grassy landscaped community park of 4.4 acres, a short walk from the beach.

    17. Take a Hike and Visit Point Lobos

    Point Lobos State Natural Reserve is the best romantic location for nature-loving and outdoorsy couples. Point Lobos is a quick 7-mile drive from Monterey, and where you can find a plethora of amazing coastal hikes, beaches, tide pools, and marine life sightings.

    China Cove at the Point Lobos State Natural Reserve

    A great trail you can hike is the Bird Island Trail, a short and easy trail along the rugged coast. The Bird Island Trail features the stunning jade green waters at China Cove. You can view the cove from the trail or head down to the beach to get a closer look.

    The ocean at Point Lobos is home to many different species of wildlife. From dry land, you could have the opportunity to see sea lions, harbor seals, elephant seals, sea otters, and orcas.

    18. Sunset and Wine on the Beach

    Watch a beautiful sunset on the beach, an oldie but goodie romantic thing to do in Monterey. I am biased since I live here, but I think California has some of the most incredible sunsets around. The fiery sky reflecting off the deep blue ocean on the rugged coast is just perfection.

    Pop a bottle of red from one of the many tasting rooms on Cannery Row and take in this beautiful view with your special someone.

    For the best sunset experience in Monterey County, visit Carmel Beach in Carmel-by-the-Sea or Spanish Bay along the 17-Mile-Drive in Pebble Beach.

    19. Walk Old Fisherman’s Wharf

    Yes, it is very touristy, but a visit to Monterey is not complete without strolling along Old Fisherman’s Wharf. You can find just about anything at the Wharf. From whale tours, restaurants, shopping, confectionaries, and lots and lots of seafood.

    a romantic thing to do in Monterey: walk Old Fisherman's Wharf

    If you are a seafood lover like me, take your pick of the many restaurants that line the harbor for some fresh and local seafood. Paluca Trattoria sits seaside and serves authentic Sicilian seafood or try a taste of the best clam chowder in Monterey at Old Fishermans Grotto.

    20. Create Your Own Big Little Lies Tour

    Did anybody else “force” their significant other to watch Big Little Lies? Well if so, then you should already know, that the popular show on HBO was filmed and set in Monterey, California.

    Plan your own Big Little Lies tour and visit the top filming locations in Monterey. Such as the Bixby Bridge, Lovers Point Park, Old Fisherman’s Wharf, Del Monte Beach, Monterey Bay Aquarium, and more. Or cruise through Carmel Highlands and admire the expensive community in Monterey County with gorgeous views of the ocean.

    Complete your Big Little Lies tour and book a room at Portola Hotel & Spa on Cannery Row, where the cast stayed during filming.

    21. Walk the Romantic Purple Sand Beach at Pfeiffer Beach

    Did you know you can find a gorgeous and one-of-a-kind purple sand beach right here in California? Pfeiffer Beach is a unique destination in Big Sur, California, about a 45-minute drive from Monterey. Slightly out of the way, but so worth visiting!

    Pfeiffer beach purple sand beach

    The purple hues of the sand are caused by manganese garnet that has trickled down from the nearby mountains after a rainfall. Besides the purple sand, Pfeiffer Beach features the keyhole arch. The waves crashing through this massive rock formation in the Pacific is captivating.

    Pfeiffer Beach is great for walking the beach, catching the sunset, or relaxing for a picnic. It is one of the most romantic and beautiful beaches in California. 

    Tip before you go: On your way to Pfeiffer Beach, Big Sur, make sure to stop and snap a photo of the iconic Bixby Creek Bridge.

    Romantic Places To Stay In Monterey

    Wrap up your day of romance by spending the night together in Monterey. In a town like Monterey, there are so many options of outstanding hotels to stay in for every budget. I have two recommendations will surely make for a romantic stay in Monterey.

    the gorgeous pacific ocean along the 17 mile drive in monterey, ca

    Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa

    You can’t get a better location than at the Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa! It’s an oceanfront hotel in the heart of Monterey. You will only be steps from Cannery Row and a private beach.

    Also, the hotel has a luxurious rooftop spa that features panoramic views from its sun deck, two restaurants, including the award-winning Schooners. The restaurant is perched dramatically over the crashing surf of Monterey Bay.

    Book your stay at Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa

    Portola Hotel & Spa

    Portola Hotel & Spa is another hotel in a great location; you will be within walking distance from Fisherman’s Wharf, Cannery Row, and other popular hot spots in Monterey. It’s a little more budget-friendly than Monterey Plaza, however, Portola offers the same incredible amenities.

    Such as an award-winning spa, onsite dining, and rooms with private balconies. The Portola Hotel & Spa is also dog-friendly! We stayed here in the past and were very impressed by their dog-friendly rooms. Everything was white and clean, and we really enjoyed our stay here.

    Book your stay at Portola Hotel & Spa

    What To Wear For A Date Night In Monterey

    California, especially along the coast, is typically pretty casual. For date night, you could get away with wearing jeans, a stylish shirt, and booties or flats. The best option is to choose an outfit that will make you feel comfortable and confident for your night out.

    However, it is a good idea to wear layers. At night, after the sun goes down, the temperatures significantly drop, and you get the ocean breeze. You will be happy to have a cardigan or jacket to slip on at dinner. Even during the summer, plan for chilly nights, there is no humidity here and most nights dip into the ’50s.

    Does Monterey Have A Nightlife?

    Besides being a beach town known for its epic views of the California coast and the diversity of its marine life, you can also find an active nightlife in the heart of downtown Monterey.

    Cannery Row and Alvaredo Street are buzzing with the options of over 20 bars that feature live music, DJs, comedy shows, trivia night, and karaoke. The venues are all within walking distance from each other, so need to worry about driving or ordering an Uber or Lyft to do some bar hopping.

    Some of the popular go-to spots include The Britianna Arms, a pub on Alvarado Street, that turns into a trivia hall and karaoke bar during the week, and a dance floor with a live DJ on the weekends. Or the Crown and Anchor, a British-style pub, and a great spot to enjoy a pint inside or out on their heated outdoor patio.

    Other Romantic Cities Near Monterey, CA

    Future date ideas? I’ve got you covered! Half Moon Bay, CA, is another romantic destination situated on the California coast. Great location to enjoy delicious seafood, beautiful views, dog friendly beaches, and many hikes along the coast.

    the scenic location of vineyards at Daou in Paso Robles

    Share a whole weekend of wine tasting in Paso Robles, located on the Central Coast of California. Napa Valley may be the epicenter of wine and home to outstanding farm-to-table restaurants.

    However, Paso Robles is a more romantic and secluded destination. Paso Robles is not as touristy as Napa and Sonoma. Also, you will find cheaper wine tastings and accommodations.

    Conclusion: Romantic Things To Do In Monterey

    That’s a wrap on romantic things to do in Monterey!! I hope this list of 21 romantic things to do in Monterey will help you plan a memorable trip full of romance, excitement, and love.