What to See in Fall 

Our secret is out. Fall in the California Central Coast is full of beautiful sunny days, dropping acorns, and active wildlife! 

Staff favorites for Fall nature viewing in the California Central Coast.

  • Caves, Condors, and Trails

With condors, trails, and caves, Pinnacles National Park is one of our favorite places. October is a great time to explore the caves, but check the status of the caves before you go since sometimes portions are closed to protect bats. Some places in the caves require crawling and the caves are pitch black in spots so you must bring a flashlight -preferably a headlight to keep your hands free. Also, this is a great time to look for tarantulas crawling about on the trails looking for mates! Did we mention that you may see a California condor flying overhead?

Starting in November, the monarchs begin to cluster in the trees of central coast overwintering grounds. The California Central Coast is the only place in America where Monarchs migrate to overwinter. Witness this inspiring and beautiful phenomenon November through mid-February. Don't miss it. It is an endangered migration and they need your help.

  • Coastal Views

Fall tends to bring us Summer weather. Enjoy the California Coastal National Monument with a bike or stroll along the Recreation Trail in Pacific Grove. Start at the Monterey Bay Aquarium and end at Lover's Point (...or just keep on going to Asilomar State Beach.) Driving Pebble Beach's 17 mile drive is also gorgeous. The California Coastal National Monument is all of the rocks, islands, exposed reefs, and pinnacles along the 1,100 miles of California's coast bringing scenic beauty and important wildlife habitat.

  • Fall bird highlights

In the Fall multitudes of shorebirds stop along California’s Central Coast as they migrate from the Alaskan arctic to their southern wintering grounds. They stop over in wetland estuaries, where they feed for several days or weeks in order to build up energy reserves to resume their flight. Elkhorn Slough is one of these important stopover spots. Bring your binoculars there to see Black-bellied and Semipalmated Plovers; Willets; Marbled Godwits; Long-billed Curlews; Western and Least Sandpipers; Dunlin; Long-billed and Short-billed Dowitchers; and many others.

  • Fall whale, dolphin, and porpoise highlights

Blue whales, Risso's dolphin, Northern Right-whale dolphin, Pacific White-sided dolphin, and Dall's porpoise are commonly viewed in the Fall.

  • Fall geology highlight

Enjoy a fall walk among the largest coastal dune field in California, estimated at about 40 square miles in size. Good entry points to the dunes include Seaside State Beach and the Marina Dunes Preserve

  • Oak woodlands

Fall is acorn season, and it’s the time to see some of Monterey County’s most spectacular oak trees, the Valley Oaks. These are some of Monterey County’s most threatened oak species, largely due to development. You can walk under ancient Valley Oaks in the park-like woodlands of upper Carmel Valley.  Be watchful for poison oak which turns a brilliant red in the Fall.

Have you seen the world's largest octopus or the world's smallest squid? Don't miss the aquarium's new exhibition Tenticles: The Astounding Lives of Octopuses, Squids, and Cuttlefishes.

  • Tide pools

Check the Tide Charts for a low tide: Pacific GroveMontereySanta CruzMorrow Bay

Staff favorites for Fall cultural sites and events in the California Central Coast.

A three-day festival held on first weekend in September in Monterey’s Custom House Plaza. This festival celebrates the local fishermen of Monterey, past and present. Expect wonderful Italian food and drink, music, dancing, bocce ball, and more.

500 Artists on 8 Stages for 3 Nights and 2 Days. Hold on to your seat for the annual Monterey Jazz Festival.

Tour beautiful Pacific Grove while viewing historic homes, and the Pt. Pinos Lighthouse, with friendly, knowledgeable docents at each site.   Contact the Heritage Society of Pacific Grove for ticket information.

In 1879, Pacific Grove became part of a nation-wide science and literary circle with it's first meeting of the Chautauqua. The City of Pacific Grove is still celebrating Chautauqua Days the first weekend in October with heritage lectures and various activities.

  • Annual Butterfly Parade & Bazaar

The monarchs don't show until November, but for generations, children of Pacific Grove come out the first Saturday of October for the Butterfly Parade. 10:30 am to 1 pm. Parade starts at Robert H. Down Elementary, 485 Pine Avenue on Pine and ends at the same place for a school fair.

Oldest standing lighthouse on the west coast. ...and it is beautiful!

Walk through historic and beautiful architecture of Julia Morgan; noted California architect. Stroll the restored Dunes while gazing at the Bay. Asilomar State Park is a perfect blend of culture and nature.

Amazing showcase of Central Coast California artists —past, present, and future.

As the birthplace of California, the collection of historic sites in old Monterey is part of the heritage of all Californians. Call ahead to find what sites are open and tour times (831) 649-7118.

John Steinbeck novels come to life at this Museum created in his honor. Book and movie memorabilia highlight his work as Steinbeck's life story of being raised in the central valley comes to life.