Camping near Monterey

See the famed Monterey Bay, check out historic canneries, or visit a world-class aquarium in this coastal California city.

95% (6100 reviews)
95% (6100 reviews)

Popular camping styles for Monterey

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Camping near Monterey guide

Overview

On the edge of Monterey Bay, about an hour’s drive south of Santa Cruz and north of Big Sur, Monterey offers pretty sea views, lots of things to see, and oceanside camping. The city’s former sardine-packing district, Cannery Row is the main hub of tourism, featuring shops, restaurants, and the celebrated Monterey Bay Aquarium. There’s also plenty to experience in the surrounding area—tee off at one of the many golf courses around the Monterey Peninsula; explore the hiking trails of the Carmel Valley or Asilomar State Beach; make a wintertime visit to Pacific Grove's Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary; or motor along 17-Mile Drive through Pebble Beach to see the legendary Lone Cypress. While most camping options right in town are RV parks, you'll find plenty of Hipcamps and campgrounds offering tent camping just a bit inland, like in Salinas at its Laguna Seca Recreation Area, which welcomes tents and RVs even during race events.

Where to go

Monterey Peninsula

Jutting out into the sea west of Monterey, the Monterey Peninsula is home to pretty beaches, scenic viewpoints, and tons of golf courses. At its southern end, Carmel-by-the-Sea features whimsical architecture and a historic old mission.

San Francisco Peninsula

On the northern side of Monterey Bay, the San Francisco Peninsula features forests, sandy beaches, and a mix of public and private campgrounds, many surrounded by redwood trees. Popular spots include Half Moon Bay, a celebrated surfing destination, and Año Nuevo State Park, where you can see elephant seals throughout the year.

Big Sur

From Monterey, it's only a quick jaunt down Highway 1 before you reach the Big Sur coast, known for its beach views, ample camping and hiking opportunities, and artsy vibes. Popular public park destinations include Andrew Molera State Park, Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, and Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, all three of which have campgrounds.

When to go

Monterey is a year-round destination, with mild, wet winters and dry summers that don't get too hot but do see crowds. Whale-watching opportunities are best between January and March, when migratory whales pass along Monterey’s coast. The fall and spring shoulder seasons are good times to visit for warm weather and fewer crowds, though the Monterey Jazz Festival—held the third full weekend of September—draws tons of visitors.

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