Enjoy easy access to Fort Ord Dunes State Park from this aptly named coastal town.
Formerly known as East Monterey, the city of Seaside encompasses the area just northeast of Monterey to the point where the two separately governed cities really feel like one larger town. The city sits adjacent to Fort Ord Dunes State Park, a former military outpost that features a 4-mile-long beach, a sea-facing viewing platform, and a handful of interpretive displays. Seaside makes a fine base for exploring the Monterey Bay area, and you’ll find plenty of private camping options and Hipcamps a short drive inland.
Just south of Seaside, the Monterey Peninsula offers tons to see and do, from taking a scenic seafront drive to visiting Point Pinos Lighthouse, which dates back to 1855. Don't miss Carmel at the southern end of the peninsula, where you can tour an 18th-century mission or simply stroll around town checking out its famously quirky storybook houses.
North of Seaside, the San Francisco Peninsula features a mix of sandy and rocky beaches and a whole lot of redwood trees. This area makes for a great hiking day trip from Seaside, though you may want to stick around to set up camp in one of the many inland state parks.
Stretching south from Monterey Bay until the southern end of Ventura County, California's Central Coast is known for gorgeous beaches—many of which have year-round campgrounds—along with some of the state's most lauded wine-growing areas. The Big Sur coast, a short drive south, offers some of the finest views in the region along with dense forests full of hiking trails and camping spots.
Like Monterey, Seaside has a mild climate and gets a lot of visitors throughout the year. Summer weekends are particularly busy, as is the third full weekend of September, when the annual Monterey Jazz Festival brings tens of thousands of visitors to the area. Come in winter to see migratory whales make their annual journey past Seaside's shores.