What to See in Spring 

Life is in full bloom throughout the California Central Coast in the spring. Winds push top ocean water away in the Spring and cold, nutrient-rich water rises from the bottom to replace it. This ocean upwelling brings great food to many species.

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

  • Wildflowers

 Image from the 2015 Wildflower Show.

Image from the 2015 Wildflower Show.

Spring is wildflower season! One of the most photographed and painted wildflower locations in Monterey County is a meadow on Highway 68 near Toro Park Cafe. In April, the meadow is blanketed with purple lupine flowers. See all of the regions wildflowers at once at the Museum's Annual Wildflower Show. The show displays more than 600 wildflower species and varieties collected throughout the region.

  • Harbor seal pups

Whereas harbor seals are always present, Spring brings seal rookeries and darling pups.

  • Spring bird highlights

Spring is the time to view birds in their breeding plumage. Some of the most colorful include the yellow warbler and the lazuli bunting, which breed in thickets alongside inland streams. The western tanager breeds in the mountains. Although the yellow warbler used to breed widely in the area, it is now a Bird Species of Special Concern.  Look (and listen) for it along Pacheco Creek and the San Benito River in San Benito County, as well as the Pajaro River in Santa Cruz and Monterey Counties.

  • Spring whale, dolphin, and porpoise highlights

Although you can see whales year-round in Monterey Bay, spring is especially great for Gray Whale  viewing. Gray whales have given birth to new babies in Baja California and are migrating north through Monterey from February through May, and peaking around mid-March. Look for these whales traveling closer to the shore during this time to protect their babies. Witness this up close on a whale watching boat. The Pt. Lobos State Natural Reserve is a great place to view the whales from land. Humpback whales, and Dall's porpoise are also commonly viewed in the spring.

  • Fort Ord National Monument vernal pools

Only present in the spring, these rare vernal pools are a hotbed of activity. Here's a Ft. Ord Trail Map with the vernal pools indicated. Also enjoy this video highlighting the special features of the vernal pools narrated by Natalie Zayas, professor of environmental studies at CSUMB, and Bruce Delgado, mayor of Marina, CA and a botanist at BLM .

  • Spring geology highlight

 San Andreas Fault

San Andreas Fault

Spring is a great time to visit the amazing rock formations at Pinnacles National Park. The weather is cool for hiking the high peaks and wildflowers will be in bloom. Did we mention you might see a California condor flying overhead? The Pinnacles are actually two-thirds of a volcano that originally formed in Southern California. When the Pacific tectonic plate ground against the North American plate, the Pinnacles volcano sat astride the resulting San Andreas fault. And earthquake by earthquake, the Pinnacles moved along the San Andreas fault, to its current location 195 miles north of its birthplace. 

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

  • Tide pools

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


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

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 and present.

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.