Every year more than eight million travelers visit Monterey. Big-name attractions like the Monterey Aquarium and Cannery Row lure in visitors, but there’s more to this Californian city than these sites. Avoid the crowds and see a different side of the city with these Monterey hidden gems.
1. Discover the Quirky Steinbeck’s Spirit of Monterey Wax Museum
For most people, Cannery Row is about great hotels near the Monterey waterfront and first-class seafood restaurants. Many of them overlook the tiny Steinbeck’s Spirit of Monterey Wax Museum, but this offbeat attraction rewards visitors with a taste for the weird. More than a hundred wax figurines of prominent local figures offer a unique perspective on the state’s heritage. The statues are creepy and some of the stories too risqué for young ears, but this oddball attraction has a charm all its own.
Do not forget: stop by Monterey wax museum, one of the not so secret spots in Monterey CA you should not skip.
2. Admire Golden Gate Villa
If you haven’t had enough history, head to Golden Gate Villa on the Monterey Bay. The general population is largely unaware of this stunning Queen Anne mansion, built in 1891, but it has National Landmark status. Its beautiful rotundas and sprawling verandas will impress architecture buffs and anyone with an interest in the past.
As a private residence, it isn’t open to the public, but it’s so enormous there’s a lot to admire from the street.
3. Go Ghost Hunting
As one of the oldest European towns in California, it’s unsurprising that Monterey’s rumored to have a few ghosts. A Monterey ghost tour takes tourists to the well-known haunted site. But if you know where to look, you can increase your chances of an otherworldly encounter and go solo.
Book a meal at Stokes Adobe, which locals say deceased Stokes members haunt, and see Point Pinos Lighthouse, where the original lighthouse keeper Charles Layton still roams. Visiting motorists should watch out for the Lady in Lace as they pass the Ghost Tree on Seventeen Mile Drive.
4. Go Nature Spotting at Antonelli Pond
When most people think of the wildlife of Monterey, they typically think of marine animals like sea otters and sea lions. However, nature lovers can spot other local creatures at Antonelli Pond. This man-made body of water serves as a home for various wildlife, including deer, coyotes, and waterbirds like egrets and herons.
If this nature reserve is on your itinerary, consider staying at one of the affordable hotels near Antonelli Pond. According to Lifehacker, Hipmunk.com will help you find great places to stay around this area and others around the world.
5. See the Arizona Cactus Garden
Most public gardens feature colorful flowers and soft foliage, but not the Arizona Cactus Garden. In 1881, landscaper Rudolph Ulrich created this quirky garden, across from the Del Monte Hotel. German-born Ulrich wanted to showcase the desert plants that fascinated him. Much of the original garden was lost to neglect, but it was restored to its former glory in 1995. Relax on garden benches while you admire the unusual plants.
Don’t be afraid to step off the well-worn tourist path. There are plenty of fabulous local secrets in Monterey.
Author Bio: Lauren Katulka has relaxed on the beaches of Fiji, been dazzled by the bright lights of New York City, and sipped shiraz in the Barossa Valley. A keen travel writer and foodie, she looks forward to where her sense of adventure, inspiration, and stomach will take her next.