Where to Stay in Monterey, CA → 4 Epic Areas + Hotels

Colorful buildings on a pier with mountains in the background, people kayaking on calm water in the foreground.

Ready to begin your Californian adventures? Then let’s start this guide on where to stay in Monterey, CA.

Read this post (while listening to California Dreamin’ playing in the background) and learn which are the top areas in this fun town and the best hotels! As always, I included a list for all budgets and sorted them by price. 

I carefully checked all the accommodation options and curated a list of only the most amazing options with the greatest reviews. 

In short, Downtown is the best area to stay in Monterey, CA, as that’s where you’ll find the top attractions and some stunning hotels. But as I mentioned there are more area options waiting for you, in case you’re not a city center fan. 

Monterey is a pretty popular destination so I recommend booking your hotels here in advance! 

Quick Picks for Your Stay

Check out this list of the best hotels in Downtown Monterey, made especially for those who can’t read the whole post:

luxury hotel
Modern living room with a gray sofa, decorative pillows, a wooden coffee table with a small plant, and a balcony overlooking the ocean.
mid-range hotel
A two-story beige house with a balcony, surrounded by lush greenery and shaded by a large tree.
budget hotel
A bed with teal and brown bedding in a room with a striking blue accent wall and classic decor

Stage Coach Lodge

Best affordable accommodation in the center

A colorful map highlighting the best areas to stay in Monterey with numbered locations and labels for easy navigations
  1. Downtown: for first-timers
  2. Cannery Row: for foodies
  3. Pacific Grove: the coolest area
  4. Carmel-by-the-Sea: for beach lovers

1. Downtown – where to stay in Monterey for the first time

Exterior view of the historic Monterey Canning Company building, a red wooden structure with bold white lettering, on a sunny day with pedestrians crossing the street in the foreground.

No better place to start your holiday than in this rich historic area that is filled with fun things to do!

Downtown Monterey is the commercial heart of the city, a place where everything is just a short walk away! From stores and museums to historic buildings and hotels, all are conveniently located within reach.

I’d start my trip here by exploring the streets in Downtown Monterey. That way you can admire the old architecture of the buildings and discover some hidden gems. 

As I mentioned, this area is home to many popular attractions, that’s why it’s one of the best neighborhoods for first-time visitors.

You’ll find a plethora of amazing museums like Monterey Museum of Art, Presidio of Monterey Museum, and Pacific House Museum (map) plus some other things like the cool Old Whaling Station (map).

Another favorite of tourists is the Old Fisherman’s Wharf (map) waterside complex, which has so many seafood restaurants, like the amazing Old Fisherman’s Grotto (map) that boasts great views. From here you can also jump on a whale watching tour which is usually led by a marine biologist! 

If you’re looking for more restaurants in the area, head over to Alvarado Street (map), which is absolutely packed with eateries and bars! 

Right near the Old Fisherman’s Wharf, there’s the Del Monte Beach (map), which is perfect for a sunbathing sesh on hot days or just a picnic if the weather isn’t good for swimming. 

What’s great about this area is that everything is just a 5 minute walk away from your hotel, so you won’t waste any time (or money) on public transport!

Luxury hotel
Collage of a Monterey-Marriott hotel: modern bathroom with freestanding tub, bedroom with city view, and exterior of the marriott building.

Wake up to a stunning view of the Monterey Marina while staying in this hotel that offers easy access to the attractions and some charming rooms with great views! The accommodation also has an outdoor swimming pool, a restaurant that serves Californian coastal cuisine and private parking spaces!

Other accommodation in Downtown Monterey

A two-story colonial house with white siding and a wrap-around balcony, nestled among large trees and surrounded by a well-manicured lawn.

This boutique hotel is so cozy and it comes with fireplaces in the rooms, a little garden and breakfast

A neatly made king-sized bed with white and mustard bedding in a modern hotel room, with ambient lighting and minimal decor

A great hotel that offers comfortable rooms, a free continental breakfast, a swimming room, and free parking

Cozy living room in a guesthouse featuring a brick fireplace, comfortable beige sofa, parquet floor, and a small work area with a desk and chair

This centrally located Airbnb has spacious rooms with modern amenities, free parking, and easy access to the main attractions

Things to do in Downtown Monterey

  • Enjoy the views at the historic Old Fisherman’s Wharf 
  • Visit the Monterey Museum of Art and Presidio of Monterey Museum
  • Learn about history at Monterey State Historic Park (map)
  • Check out Sand City Beach (map) and Fort Ord Dunes State Park (map)
  • Chill on the sand at Del Monte Beach 
  • Eat some seafood at Old Fisherman’s Grotto
  • See the humpback whales on a boat tour 
  • Explore Munras Avenue and its shops

2. Cannery Row – top place to stay in Monterey for foodies

Street view of Cannery Row in Monterey, California, showcasing various international flags, the iconic Cannery Row Company sign, and vintage architecture under clear blue skies.

Set on the Monterey waterfront just 1 mile (2 km) away from the Downtown area, Cannery Row is the ultimate haven for foodies!

At first, the area was called Ocean View Avenue but they changed its name when John Steinbeck released his Cannery Row novel which depicts life in this dockside.

Also known as “New Monterey” or the “Lighthouse District” this place was once the home of numerous fish-canning factories! 

And, actually, back in the 1930s, this area put Monterey on the map as the sardine capital of the world! 

Now, you’ll find lots of restaurants, wine-tasting rooms and pubs where you can enjoy some beers with your travel buddies!

If you’re looking for some fab restaurants to start your night or get a lunch break, I’d highly recommend Chart House (map) where you can eat some yummy seafood. Then you can continue with a wine tasting at A Taste of Monterey-Wine Market & Bistro (map). Oh to be on holiday! 

Still, it’s not just the food that attracts the flocks of tourists. There are also lots of cool shops, especially at Steinbeck Plaza (map) and fun attractions!

However, I’m sure that Treasure Hunt: The Ride amusement park and the Monterey Bay Aquarium will definitely become your favorite places in town! 

The Monterey Bay Aquarium is visited by 2 million people each year and there are 300,000 marine plants and animals that live in this world-class aquarium!

Since there are so many kid-friendly attractions and outdoorsy spots like the San Carlos Beach Park (map), Cannery Row would also be a great place to stay in town for families! 

Luxury hotel
Collage of a seaside Monterey Plaza Hotel: luxurious hotel room with balcony view, a dining area with panoramic ocean views, an over-water complex with balconies overlooking the sea, and a pristine beach with gentle waves

By far, one of the best luxurious hotels in Monterey! This oceanfront hotel has contemporary rooms, 2 on-site restaurants, out of which one offers waterfront views, fresh seafood among other delicious dishes! While here you can relax at the spa center and work out in the rooftop fitness center.

Other accommodation options in Cannery Row

Inviting hotel room with a king-sized bed, patterned throw, high wooden ceilings, and a cozy seating area, illuminated by warm lighting

A charming inn that offers rooms with balconies, a complimentary continental breakfast, and on-site parking

Modern living room with a turquoise sofa, orange armchair, and dark coffee table, accented with patterned cushions and natural light.

Explore Monterey while staying at this inn that comes with spacious rooms with coffee-makers

Twilight view of a charming two-story bed and breakfast with lit windows, surrounded by lush greenery and a warmly lit garden path

This Victorian-style house features a beautifully decorated room with a fireplace, a relaxing lounge area, and a garden

Spindrift Inn: Here’s one more amazing place to stay in Cannery Row that all guests love! Boasting a stylish decor, suites with ocean views and a fireplace, this one is surely a keeper!

Things to do in Cannery Row

  • Discover the underwater world at the Monterey Bay Aquarium
  • Go for wine tasting at A Taste of Monterey-Wine Market & Bistro
  • Explore Munras Avenue and its shops
  • Play all day in the Dennis The Menace Playground (map)
  • Take the kids to Treasure Hunt: The Ride 
  • Try skydiving with Skydive Monterey Bay
  • Indulge your taste with fresh seafood at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. (map)
  • Shop for souvenirs at Monterey Canning Company (map)

Subscribe here to get up to 35% off your accommodation for your next trip!

3. Pacific Grove – coolest place to stay in Monterey, CA

Victorian-style house with green trim, surrounded by other homes and cars parked along a tree-lined street under a clear blue sky.

The charming Pacific Grove area is located just 2 miles (3 km) away from Downtown and it’s the best neighborhood in Monterey County for those of you who love spending time in the great outdoors!

Offering easy access to hiking trails, scenic beaches, and historical museums this area is definitely a keeper. 

Start your mornings on Sunset Beach (map) with a long walk and a cup of coffee or drink in your hand. These shores are popular for kayaking and surfing, so if you’re into water sports, make sure to come by this beach.

This beach is also home to the Asilomar Coastal Trail (map), which leads to the next-door Asilomar State Beach (map).

Another unmissable spot in Pacific Grove is the Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary (map), a nature preserve where you can see lots of pine and eucalyptus trees and of course thousands of monarch butterflies but only from October through March! 

Since it’s a coastal area, Pacific Grove has lots of breathtaking viewing points! Some of the best ones are Kissing Rock View Point (map) and Perkins Park Vista Point (map).

Pacific Grove is also famous for its epic golf courses! Head over to The Links at Spanish Bay Golf Course (map) to play for a few hours and enjoy the incredible waterfront views! Or you may also like the Pacific Grove Golf Links (map) that also boasts sea views.

Luxury hotel
Collage featuring a Victorian-style yellow Seven Gables Inn perched on a rocky shoreline, a room with ocean views and a champagne set-up, and a bedroom with a classic fireplace and elegant decor.

You’ll never want to leave this hotel (or maybe just for a few hours while you’re playing on the golf courses)! The accommodation is set right by the ocean and it boasts breathtaking views, bright rooms overlooking the ocean and a garden. 

Other accommodation options in Pacific Grove

Spacious bedroom with a large bed, dark wood headboard, patterned runner, and a lit fireplace creating a cozy atmosphere

This boutique hotel near the beach offers spacious rooms, with a fireplace and a free continental breakfast

Comfortable living space with a brick fireplace, plush seating, wooden furniture, and warm lighting from a floor lamp

A charming inn set within walking distance of the beach that has 2 hot tubs and charming rooms with a fireplace 

Modern kitchenette and dining area with teal accents, stainless steel appliances, and a simple white sofa, exuding a homely vibe

Right on the beach, this Airbnb has spacious rooms with balconies overlooking the ocean, private parking, and a very nice garden

Things to do in Pacific Grove

  • Visit the Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History
  • Go for a stroll and check out stunning views at Lovers Point Park (map)
  • Stop by the Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary
  • Explore the Asilomar Coastal Trail
  • Go to the Jameson Classic Motorcycle Museum
  • Admire the architecture of the Point Pinos Lighthouse
  • Catch a sunset at Kissing Rock View Point
  • Play some golf at The Links at Spanish Bay Golf Course

4. Carmel-by-the-Sea – best for beach lovers

A scenic beach with visitors walking, sunbathing, and surfing, featuring clear blue skies and gentle waves.

This beach town is set in Monterey County just a 10 min drive away and 20 min on the bus, from the Downtown area and it’s the perfect holiday spot for those who want to spend their time on California’s sandy shores!

Carmel-by-the-sea has a village-like atmosphere. It kind of looks like one of those old towns taken out of a fairy-tale, with its vintage cottages, historical buildings and narrow streets, embellished with colorful flowers. 

While here, head over to Carmel Beach (map) where you can chill on the sandy shores and take a nap under one of the cypress trees! The beach is a popular surfing spot, so if you’re a fan definitely bring your board. 

There are also some cool attractions that you can visit like the Carmel Mission Basilica Museum (map), the Mission Trail Park (map) where you can enjoy some sunset walks and the Carmel Plaza (map), where you can do some shopping! 

Of course, take some time to explore the streets and admire all the cute cottages! That way you’ll also get to know the area better and see which restaurants or cafes look good to you. I’d recommend La Bicyclette Restaurant (map), a European spot that serves delicious food!

For those who know for sure they want to stay here, I’d recommend checking out our post with the best hotels to stay in Carmel-by-the-Sea, where you’ll find a wider range of accommodation options.

Luxury hotel
Collage of a luxury inn LAuberge-Carmel-Relais-Chateaux: exterior view with umbrellas and a garden, a cozy living room with chairs and flowers, and an elegant bedroom with a canopy bed.

Enjoy access to the town’s main attractions while staying at this incredible hotel that’s set in a building dating back to the 1930s! The accommodation offers suites with such great style and in-room massage options. You’ll also find a spa center and a gourmet restaurant. 

Other accommodation options in Carmel-by-the-Sea

Bright, cozy living room with a beige sofa, brown leather armchair, patterned rug, and a mirror above a fireplace.

Cozy rooms with unique furnishings in a lovely inn that is set a short walk away from the beach

A well-appointed hotel room with a large bed, matching curtains and linens, bedside lamps, and a landscape painting above the headboard.

A wine-themed inn that has rooms with a flat-screen Tv and an outdoor area with a fireplace 

A white car parked in front of a multi-story beige house with greenery and a large tree, under a clear blue sky.

Perfect for 2 guests, this condo features a kitchen, a cozy room and a great location 

Things to do in Carmel-by-the-Sea

  • Enjoy the sun at Carmel Beach
  • Visit the Carmel Mission Basilica Museum 
  • Explore the nearby Pebble Beach area 
  • Rent bikes and explore Carmel-by-the-Sea 
  • Catch a sunset at Mission Trail Park
  • Go hiking in the Point Lobos State Natural Reserve (map)
  • Shop all day long at Carmel Plaza
👑 Luxury price:$280
💵 Mid-range hotel:$200
🛏️ Budget:$100
📍Best area:Downtown Monterey
🛎️ Best luxury hotel:Monterey Marriott
🧳 Best mid-range hotel:Merritt House Hotel
👛 Best budget hotel:Stage Coach Lodge

BONUS: Best hotels in Monterey, CA for families 

Waterfront dining at a pier restaurant with American and French flags fluttering above, overlooking a marina full of boats on a cloudy da

Since Monterey is such a fun place to explore with kids, I decided to make this bonus section with 3 amazing hotels for you and your crew! I’ve carefully-curated this short list and included only the accommodations that boast family-friendly facilities!

So let’s check them out:

  • Luxury: InterContinental Clement Monterey – located right on the beach in the Cannery Row area, this hotel has spacious family rooms with a terrace overlooking the ocean. When you’re not out exploring the fun attractions in the area like the aquarium and amusement park you can play in the swimming pool, relax at the spa or enjoy yummy dinner at the restaurant that serves kids meals!
  • Mid-range: Best Western Plus Monterey Inn – a great place for you and the fam that’s located near the Downtown area! The hotel offers spacious family rooms with a TV (perfect for movie nights with the kids) as well as a swimming pool where you can splash and swim all day long. 
  • Budget: Butterfly Grove Inn – set right near the Butterfly Grove Sanctuary, a great attraction that you and the kids will love, this inn comes with an outdoor pool, a hot tub and a garden where the kids can play! Their rooms are well-equipped and offer plenty of space. 

FAQs about where to stay in Monterey, CA

Public monument of historic Cannery Row workers in Monterey, with onlookers and the Fish Hopper restaurant in the background, under a partly cloudy sky

🗺️ What is the best area to stay in Monterey, CA?

Downtown Monterey is the best neighborhood in town! That’s where you’ll find the main attractions, historic buildings and some of the top Monterey lodging like the Monterey Marriott hotel.

☀️ What is the best time of year to visit Monterey, CA?

The best time to visit Monterey is between April and June when the weather is warm and it’s not too crowded. 

🏖️ Best places to stay in Monterey on the beach?

Monterey Plaza Hotel in Cannery Row and Seven Gables Inn in Pacific Grove are located right on the beach and are some of the best places to stay in Monterey.

✨ What are some unique places to stay in Monterey?

Seven Gables Inn and Monterey Marriott are some of the most special places to stay in Monterey, California! Both are located in some of the best neighborhoods, just within walking distance of the attractions. 

📷 What should I not miss in Monterey, CA?

Here are some of the main landmarks that you should not miss in Monterey, CA:
● Monterey Bay Aquarium in Cannery Row
● The Old Fisherman’s Wharf
● Monterey Museum of Art
● Monterey State Historic Park

⚖️ Is it better to stay in Monterey or Carmel?

It depends on what you prefer! Carmel has a more village-like tranquil atmosphere, wine-tasting rooms and holiday resorts while Monterey is a bit more urban and has a wider range of attractions from museums to theme parks. 

 🔝 Is Monterey worth visiting?

Yes! Monterey is an amazing town with so many fun attractions, a beautiful rugged coastline, beaches and plenty of places where you can spot marine mammals like sea otters and elephant dolphins.

🤔 Is it better to stay in Monterey or Big Sur?

I’d highly recommend Big Sur for those who want to spend most of their time hiking and exploring the outdoors while Monterey has more of the “classical” attractions like museums, aquariums and golf courses.

📅 How many days do you need in Monterey?

I’d recommend spending 3 to 4 days in Monterey, California. That way you can visit the main attractions, chill at the beach and eat yummy food in the restaurants.

✅ Is Monterey, California safe to visit?

Yes, Monterey is a safe city and you can explore it at ease. But as always, be mindful of your belongings and avoid wandering around secluded areas at night.

Final thoughts on where to stay in Monterey, CA

Scenic view of the Bixby Creek Bridge along California's rugged coastline, with flowering shrubs in the foreground and the turquoise Pacific Ocean below

California, you never disappoint!

I hope that this guide on where to stay in Monterey, CA, gave you an idea on how to best plan your trip! You’ve got lots of amazing hotel options and a list of some of the best neighborhoods in town, so you can easily pick your favorite!

Still, if that’s hard and you’re not really sure which hotel to pick, check out my 2 favorite options, both set in Downtown Monterey:

  • Monterey Marriott – an amazing hotel with an outdoor pool that overlooks the marina 
  • Merritt House Hotel – this cozy hotel has a lush garden and individually-decorated rooms

Have fun exploring the rugged coastline and exploring the attractions! 

If you have any other suggestions or questions about Monterey, California please do not hesitate to leave a comment below! I’ll be happy to help you out. 

Enjoy your holiday, 


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