Top Places to Visit in Monterey

Whether you’re visiting for the weekend or locals playing tourists, check out these top attractions, which will undoubtedly create everlasting childhood memories.

1 Dennis the Menance Playground at El Estero Park

Dennis the Menace Playground is Monterey’s most popular and famous playground. Some of the site’s significant features include slides for small and big kids, a maze, tunnels, a fun 30-foot rope bridge, and a rock-climbing wall. When you enter, you can also view the park’s famous steam engine, which has been located there since 1956. The park hopes to one day allow children to roam around the engine again as past generations remember the thrill of climbing and exploring every nook and cranny. The park has a snack bar if you forgot to bring beverages or a quick bite to eat. 

Dennis the Menace Playground is part of the El Estero Park Complex which is a 45-acre city-wide multi-use recreation area. There are several picnic locations throughout the park and places to park. El Estero’s skate park is off Pearl Street. 777 Pearl Street, Monterey. Open daily from 10 a.m. to dusk. Closed on non-holiday Tuesdays, Sept. – May.

El Estero Boating, a family-owned and operated business, offers paddle boat (and Swan Boat!) rentals.

The rental office is located at 798 Del Monte Avenue. Hours of operation are seasonal, but generally Monday through Friday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday, Sunday, and holidays 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (weather permitting). Call 831-375-1484

2 Walking Tour of Old Monterey 

If you stroll through downtown Monterey, you will notice yellow circled tiles embedded into the streets that connect Monterey’s history path. Following the path, and taking a step back in time, is a fun family activity for kids of all ages. The ideal place to start Monterey State Historic Park’s path is at Custom House Plaza at Fisherman’s Wharf.

On any day, visitors can take a cell phone tour of historic buildings by dialing 831-998-9458, followed by a Stop Number when prompted. Stop Numbers correspond to various Monterey State Historic Park adobes in the downtown area. Listeners receive a two-minute narration for each building. There is no charge for cell phone tours, but callers will use cell minutes, according to their individual plans. Callers may also use land-based phones and will be charged based on normal land-based rates.

You can download a map by clicking here. For more information go to the park’s website 


3 Cannery Row, located in New Monterey and on the border of Pacific Grove, was the site of retired sardine factories and John Steinbeck’s novel Cannery Row. Today, the award-winning Monterey Bay Aquarium is the main attraction, with its impressive exhibitions of marine life, ocean conservation efforts, and educational programs. A trip down Cannery Row itself is a day well spent with many restaurants, shops, hotels, bike rentals, historical attractions, and the scenic beauty of Monterey Bay.  

4   The Old Fisherman’s Wharf located off of Custom House Plaza is lined with seafood restaurants, gift shops, candy stores, and art galleries. Towards the end of the pier whale watching tours and fishing trips leave daily. Head upstairs to the lookout deck and you can view sea lions sunbathing. 

Monterey State Beach is a popular beach for locals & visitors. This beach stretches along Del Monte Avenue from Monterey to Seaside. There’s plenty of room to set up a picnic for the day & enjoy flying a kite. There’s parking at Monterey’s Municipal Wharf or along Del Monte Avenue.


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