What to See in Summer 

Summer at the California coast is perfect for family escapes and couple get-away weekends. 

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

  • Tide pools

Check the Tide Charts for a low tide: Pacific GroveMontereySanta Cruz, Morro Bay

  • Summer bird highlights

Look for huge numbers of sooty shearwaters during the summer months. Want to see a condor? Drive Highway 1 along the Big Sur coast, from Bixby Bridge to Lucia. Condors are regularly sighted at the beaches below Grimes Point and the Big Sur Scenic Overlook (about 2.6 miles south of Nepenthe Restaurant), where condors join turkey vultures in feeding on dead marine mammals that wash ashore. You may also see condors soaring above ridges on the inland side of Highway 1, especially at mid-day on a sunny day.

  • Spring whale and porpoise highlights

Gray whales, Humpback whales, Orcas, and Dall's porpoise are commonly viewed in the Summer.

  • Summer geology highlight

This summer, you may want to get as close to the vast, submarine Monterey Bay Canyon System as you can without leaving land. Just offshore of Moss Landing is the main head of the Monterey Canyon. It extends 95 miles (153 km) into the Pacific Ocean, while reaching depths of 11,800 feet (3,600 m). A subsidiary canyon head that also comes close to shore is the Carmel Canyon, and it can be appreciated from the dry sands of Monastery Beach, or Point Lobos State Natural Reserve.  (WARNING: Monastery Beach is beautiful and deadly. Stay far away from the water.)

  • Redwoods

Cool off with a summer visit to a forest of coast redwoods (Sequoia sempervirens). Big Sur is the southern stronghold of California’s redwood forest. The largest in Big Sur grow in canyons and valleys, such as along the Little Sur and Big Sur rivers and in Palo Colorado canyon. The redwoods get larger as you travel north. In Santa Cruz County, enjoy the redwood forests of Nisene Marks State Park, Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park, or Big Basin Redwoods State Park.

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.

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

The Carmel Bach Festival (CBF) began in 1935 as a four-day series of concerts at the Sunset School Auditorium and the Carmel Mission Basilica. 

Enjoy food, bonsai and ikebana exhibits, martial arts demonstrations, tea ceremony, Japanese dancers, Taiko drumming and more during this day-long entertainment festival. Held mid-July at the Monterey-Peninsula Buddhist Temple.

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

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

Amazing showcase of central coast artists — both 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  at 831.649.7118.

John Steinbeck's novels come to life at this wonderful Museum created in his honor. Book and movie memorabilia are among the highlights visitors will find as they take a glimpse into the famous author's roots in the Salinas valley.