Monterey is one of the most beautiful cities in California. With its rugged coastline, stunning views, historic charms and vibrant atmosphere, Monterey is absolutely one of America’s most up and coming areas.

But saving money in Monterey can be a big challenge, which is exactly why we put together this guide for where to stay in Monterey.

This article is designed with one purpose – to help YOU find the best neighbourhood to stay in based on YOUR travel interests.

So whether you’re looking to dine on delicious seafood, immerse yourself in history, or enjoy the natural side of the city, our list will help you find a place to stay that best fits your needs – and hopefully save you a little money while you’re at it.

Let’s jump right into where to stay in Monterey, California.

Quick Tips – Where to Stay in Monterey

In a hurry? Here’s my top neighborhood for first timers:

FIRST TIME IN MONTEREY

Downtown

Downtown is the neighbourhood at the heart of Monterey. It is the historic centre of the city where you’ll find charming architecture, quaint shops, delicious restaurants and plenty of stunning bay views.

Places to visit:
  • Create and play at the Monterey County Youth Museum.
  • Explore the gardens of Monterey State Historic Park.
  • See fantastic works of art at The Dali Expo.

Where to Stay in Monterey

Looking for a specific place to stay? These are our highest recommendations for places to stay in Monterey.

Best Hostel in Monterey: HI Monterey

If you want affordable accommodations in Monterey, then look no further. The HI Monterey is a five-minute walk from Cannery Row. It is close to great bars, delicious restaurants and plenty of historic landmarks. They offer a large kitchen, spacious common room and a tasty pancake breakfast.

Best Airbnb in Monterey: Beautiful beachhouse

When you’re in Monterey for the first time, you want to be close to the main attractions. Luckily, this Airbnb is located within walking distance to everything you need to see. The cottage is beautifully designed with nice beach vibes. It’s a spacious place, with a great kitchen and a massive outdoor patio where you can enjoy nice evenings – simply a great place to stay.

Best Hotel in Monterey: Otter Inn Monterey

The Otter Inn Monterey is in a fantastic location for walking to the best bars, clubs and restaurants in Cannery Row – which is why it’s our pick for the best hotel in Monterey. Rooms are clean and stylish, and each is outfitted with excellent modern amenities. They also provide a ticket service and luggage storage.

Monterey Neighborhood Guide

FIRST TIME IN MONTEREY
Downtown, Monterey
FIRST TIME IN MONTEREY

Downtown

Downtown is the neighbourhood at the heart of Monterey. It is the historic centre of the city where you’ll find charming architecture, quaint shops, delicious restaurants and plenty of stunning bay views.

FIRST TIME IN MONTEREY
Munras Avenue, Monterey
FIRST TIME IN MONTEREY

Downtown

Downtown is the neighbourhood at the heart of Monterey. It is the historic centre of the city where you’ll find charming architecture, quaint shops, delicious restaurants and plenty of stunning bay views.

NIGHTLIFE
Cannery Row, Monterey
NIGHTLIFE

Cannery Row

Cannery Row is located along Monterey’s beautiful waterfront. It’s one of the most popular places in the city and is awash with tourist attractions, delicious restaurants, buzzing bars, and trendy wine tasting rooms.

COOLEST PLACE TO STAY
Pacific Grove, Monterey
COOLEST PLACE TO STAY

Pacific Grove

Pacific Grove is a community located five minutes north of Monterey. A small and idyllic town, Pacific Grove has a rich and diverse history. It’s home to one of the oldest continually operating lighthouses in the USA and is where you’ll find beautiful Victorian architecture and plenty of historic charm.

FOR FAMILIES
Cannery Row, Monterey
FOR FAMILIES

Cannery Row

In addition to being a tourist hotspot and nightlife destination, Cannery Row is also our pick for where to stay in Monterey for families. This bustling and buzzing neighbourhood is packed with family restaurants, kid-friendly attractions, and plenty of activities that will enchant travellers of all ages.

Monterey is a small city bursting with charm.

Located on the central coast of California, Monterey is best known for its beautiful and rugged coastline, its world-class aquarium, and its association with author John Steinbeck, who set many of his novels here.

The original capital of California, Monterey has more historic buildings in its downtown core than any other city in the west. It’s where you’ll find a wide range of shops and restaurants, and where history oozes around every turn.

The city is comprised of 16 neighbourhoods that reach more than 20 square kilometres. Each offers diverse attractions and tells a different history, which is why we recommend you explore at least three or four throughout your visit.

In this guide, we’ll take a look at the best places to stay in Monterey.

At the heart of the city is downtown Monterey. It attracts travellers with its alluring historic centre, charming shops and stunning beaches.

Munras Avenue is set south of downtown. It is a convenient base for travellers looking to explore Monterey County and is where you’ll find a fantastic selection of budget and affordable accommodations options.

Head north from downtown and you’ll pass through Cannery Row. A lively and vibrant neighbourhood, Cannery Row bursts with energy and exuberance and is where you’ll find a fantastic selection of restaurants, bars, and plenty of tourist attractions for travellers of all ages.

And finally, located north of the city centre is Pacific Grove. A town in its own right, Pacific Grove is an idyllic small town surrounded by nature. It boasts Victorian architecture, lush parks, and plenty of shorelines to explore.

Still not sure where to stay in Monterey? Don’t worry; we’ve got you covered!

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Monterey’s 5 Best Neighborhoods to Stay in

In this next section, we’ll take a look at the best neighbourhoods to stay in Monterey. Each is a little different from the last, so be sure to reach each section carefully and pick the neighbourhood that’s the right fit for you.

#1 Downtown – Where to stay in Monterey first time

Downtown is the neighbourhood at the heart of Monterey. It is the historic centre of the city where you’ll find charming architecture, quaint shops, delicious restaurants and plenty of stunning bay views. Home to some of the city’s most popular attractions, downtown is our recommendation for where to stay in Monterey if you’re visiting for the first time.

A bustling and buzzing district, downtown Monterey is the perfect place to take a stroll and lap up the sunshine. While making you’re way through the city, prepare to be enchanted by the 19th-century architecture, enthralled by the delightful shop windows, and amazed by the produce on offer at the busy farmer’s market.

Downtown, Monterey

Things to See and Do in Downtown

– Create and play at the Monterey County Youth Museum.

– Dine on delicious dishes at Cibo Ristorante Italiano.

– Eat American fare at Montrio Bistro.

– Enjoy a delicious meal at LouLou’s.

– Explore the gardens of Monterey State Historic Park.

– Feast on fresh seafood at Old Fisherman’s Grotto.

– Sample a selection of beers at Alvarado Street Brewery & Grill.

– See fantastic works of art at The Dali Expo.

– Spend a relaxing day at Monterey Bay Beach.

– View an incredible collection of masterpieces at the Monterey Museum of Art.

Best Motel in Downtown: The Stevenson Monterey

This charming motel is located within walking distance of Monterey’s top tourist attraction. You’ll find the beach, as well as plenty of shops, restaurants and bars right at your doorstep. The modern rooms come complete with en suite bathrooms and free wifi. There’s also a pool and restaurant on-site.

Best Airbnb in Downtown: Beautiful beachhouse

When you’re in Monterey for the first time, you want to be close to the main attractions. Luckily, this Airbnb is located within walking distance to everything you need to see. The cottage is beautifully designed with nice beach vibes. It’s a spacious place, with a great kitchen and a massive outdoor patio where you can enjoy nice evenings – simply a great place to stay.

Best Hotel in Downtown: Colton Inn Monterey

The Colton Inn Monterey is a charming three-star hotel located in the downtown core. It provides easy access to popular nightlife destinations, plus the best shops and historic landmarks are just a short walk away. Rooms are well-equipped with modern amenities. There’s also a terrace and BBQ area for guests.

Best Hotel in Downtown: Pacific Hotel Monterey

This is a great place to stay if you’re looking to enjoy the best of Monterey. They provide luxurious four-star accommodations and each room is outfitted with modern amenities. You’ll enjoy free wifi, laundry facilities and an excellent gym. This is our pick for where to stay in downtown Monterey.

#2 Munras Avenue – Where to stay in Monterey on a budget

Munras Avenue is a neighbourhood located just outside of downtown Monterey. It is one of the city’s main thoroughfares that provides easy access to downtown Monterey and the rest of the county. From your base in Munras Avenue, you can enjoy historic walks around downtown as well as peaceful days exploring the nearby state parks and beaches.

In addition to being one of the best-connected neighbourhoods in the city, Munras Avenue also boasts a high concentration of good value and affordable accommodations. Here you’ll find an array of modern motels and low-cost hotels that offer plenty of awesome amenities and features.

Munras Avenue, Monterey

Things to See and Do in Munras Avenue

– Dine on fresh and delicious Vietnamese fare at Chopstix.

– Explore the scenic Iris Canyon Greenbelt.

– Go for a stroll through the forest at Don Dahvee Park.

– Enjoy the sunshine, sand and stunning views at the Municipal Beach.

– Indulge in incredible steak at seafood at Lalla Grill.

– Pack a picnic and enjoy a relaxing lunch in Whispering Pines Park.

– Rent bikes and go sand biking.

– Satisfy your sweet tooth with a delicious treat from Layers.

– Savour spicy, fresh and flavourful Thai food at KRUA Thai.

– Shop until you drop at the Del Monte Shopping Center.

Best Budget Hotel in Munras Avenue: America’s Best Value Presidents Inn

Located on historic Munras Avenue, this charming hotel is conveniently located in Monterey. It is less than two kilometres from downtown and is within walking distance of Cannery Row and the Aquarium. They offer clean and comfortable rooms with free wifi. This is our favourite budget option on Munras Avenue.

Best Airbnb in Munras Avenue: Private cottage

Staying in Monterey when travelling on a budget can be quite challenging. This Airbnb might be in a quiet area, but it’s definitely affordable and still close to everything. You will have the whole studio to yourself. It’s been newly renovated and accommodates 1 adult. The hosts live on the same property but in a different house, so you can be sure that your privacy is guaranteed.

Best Motel in Munras Avenue: Pelican Inn Monterey

This is our pick for where to stay on Munras Avenue thanks to its good location, spotless beds and spacious bathrooms. This motel features a golf course, outdoor tennis courts and a barbecue area for guests to enjoy. You’re also within close proximity to downtown Monterey and Cannery Row.

Best Motel in Munras Avenue: The Arbor Inn Monterey

In addition to its central location on Munras Avenue, this hotel offers modern and clean rooms with free wifi and contemporary amenities. You’ll enjoy access to a heated pool, a relaxing Jacuzzi, as well as an in-house day spa. This motel is ideally situated for exploring Monterey and Pacific Grove.

#3 Cannery Row – Best area to stay in Monterey for nightlife

Cannery Row is located along Monterey’s beautiful waterfront. It’s one of the most popular places in the city and is awash with tourist attractions, delicious restaurants, buzzing bars, and trendy wine tasting rooms.

Thanks to the beautiful architecture and historic buildings, Cannery Row is a fun neighbourhood to explore on foot. Simply take a stroll along any street and get lost in the history of this great city.

Cannery Row is also where you’ll find the best nightlife in Monterey. This neighbourhood has a good selection of bars and pubs where you can enjoy a few beers, a glass of wine and take in the stunning sea views.

Cannery Row, Monterey

Things to See and Do in Cannery Row

– Choose from a great selection of beers at Cannery Row Brewing Company.

– Dine on regional dishes at Schooner’s Coastal Kitchen and Bar.

– Eat delicious tacos at Hula’s Island Grill.

– Enjoy a night of beer and games at Carbone’s.

– Feast on steak, seafood and more at Chart House.

– Grab a pint and snacks at Duffy’s Tavern & Family Restaurant.

– Indulge in wine and fresh seafood at the Sardine Factory.

– Sample local wines at the Carmel Ridge Winery Tasting Room.

– Savour French fare at Bistro Moulin.

– Sip wine and watch the sunset at A Taste of Monterey.

Best Hostel in Cannery Row: HI Monterey

If you’re going to stay in this bustling neighbourhood, you’re going to want to say at the best hostel in town. The HI Monterey is a five-minute walk from Cannery Row. It is close to great bars, delicious restaurants and plenty of historic landmarks. They offer a large kitchen, spacious common rooms and a tasty pancake breakfast.

Best Airbnb in Cannery Row: Room with private entrance

This room in a guesthouse is perfect for travellers who want to enjoy the nightlife on the Monterey Row. Located in a quiet area, you’ll have a private room, which is accessible through your own entrance. The buzz of the city is in walking distance. The hosts are known for taking great care of their visitors so if you have any questions, they will be happy to help.

Best Hotel in Cannery Row: Otter Inn Monterey

The Otter Inn Monterey is in a fantastic location for walking to the best bars, clubs and restaurants in Monterey – which is why it’s our pick for where to stay in Cannery Row. Rooms are clean and stylish, and each is outfitted with modern amenities. They also provide a ticket service and luggage storage.

Best Bed & Breakfast in Cannery Row: The Jabberwock Bed & Breakfast

This excellent bed and breakfast is located just steps from Cannery Row and Monterey’s top bistros and pubs. Rooms come complete with comfortable beds, showers and bathrobes. They also offer a swimming pool, concierge service, and guest have access to a golf course.

#4 Pacific Grove – Coolest place to stay in Monterey

Pacific Grove is a community located five minutes north of Monterey. A small and idyllic town, Pacific Grove has a rich and diverse history. It’s home to one of the oldest continually operating lighthouses in the USA and is where you’ll find beautiful Victorian architecture and plenty of historic charm.

An alluring and picturesque area, Pacific Grove is our pick for the coolest neighbourhood in Monterey thanks to its access to nature. Here you’ll find a great selection of attractions, including the Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary and the Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History, as well as beautiful beaches, peaceful points, and plenty of coastal trails.

Pacific Grove, Monterey

Things to See and Do in Pacific Grove

– Admire the views from Lovers Point Park.

– Hike out to The Kissing Rock.

– Learn all about the animals, plants and minerals of Monterey at the Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History.

– Pop in and see beautiful works by local artists at Artisana Gallery.

– See the colourful and quirky Butterfly House.

– Snap a pic at the Lovers Point Mural.

– Stop by the Point Pinos Lighthouse, America’s oldest operating lighthouse.

– Surround yourself with butterflies at the Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary.

– Trek the Beach Trail and take in the scenic coastal views.

– Visit the Jameson Classic Motorcycle Museum to see a huge collection of motorcycles and scooter.

Best Good-Value Hotel in Pacific Grove: Clarion Collection Pacific Grove

Located at the heart of Pacific Grove, this hotel is in close proximity to top attractions, like the Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary. Every room comes with a range of amenities and guests have access to free wifi. You’ll also enjoy easy access to parks, golf courses, and a network of trails.

Best Airbnb in Pacific Grove: Charming bungalow near beach

This Airbnb is perfect to enjoy one of the coolest areas in Monterey. You will have the cottage completely to yourself. Incredibly clean and beautifully designed, you’ll feel comfortable straight away. The beach, Aquarium and central Pacific Grove are all in walking distance. If you want to be more active, there are also a couple of nice bike trails right outside your door.

Best Hotel in Pacific Grove: Monterey Peninsula Inn

This charming three-star hotel is located in Pacific Grove. It’s within a short drive of Monterey and the area’s top tourist attractions. This hotel is comprised of 30 comfortable rooms with modern amenities. There’s also a stunning pool, BBQ area, and free wifi throughout.

Best Bed and Breakfast in Pacific Grove: Gosby House Inn – A Four Sisters Inn

Gosby House Inn is our top choice for where to stay in Pacific Grove. This luxurious bed and breakfast is ideally located in the neighbourhood. It is close to great bars, restaurants and Monterey’s most popular attractions. They also offer a satisfying breakfast each morning.

#5 Cannery Row (FAMILY) – Best neighbourhood in Monterey for families

In addition to being a tourist hotspot and nightlife destination, Cannery Row is also our pick for where to stay in Monterey for families.

This bustling and buzzing neighbourhood is packed with family restaurants, kid-friendly attractions, and plenty of activities that will enchant travellers of all ages. From fun and games to museums and more, this area is rife with things to see, do, eat and explore.

A must for anyone visiting Cannery Row is a trip to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Here you’ll see hundreds of your favourite fish, sea creatures, reptiles, and aquatic animals, like penguins, otters, seals and giant octopi. You and your little ones will be absolutely amazed by these fun, fascinating and fantastic underwater animals.

Cannery Row, Monterey

Things to See and Do in Cannery Row

– Dine on delicious seafood at The Fish Hopper.

– Enjoy a refreshing cone of ice cream at Baskin-Robbins.

– Go kayaking and encounter seals, otters and other animals as you glide across the water.

– Grab a quick bite at Johnny Rockets.

– Lounge in the sun at San Carlos Beach Park.

– Rent bikes and explore Monterey on two-wheels.

– Satisfy your sweet tooth at Ghirardelli.

– Snap a fun and unforgettable family photo at Doc Wenzel’s Old Time Portraits.

– Take a peek into marine life at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Best Hostel in Cannery Row: HI Monterey

This friendly and social hostel is located within walking distance of Cannery Row and the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Located in a bustling neighbourhood, this hotel has everything you need from restaurants and cafes to shops and markets at its front door. The beds are comfortable and they offer a pancake breakfast every morning.

Best Airbnb in Cannery Row: Incredible family house

Super close to Cannery Row but still in a safe and quiet area, this Airbnb is a great choice for you and your family. Accommodating up to 6 people, you can even bring some friends along. The busy part of the city is still in walking distance while a lot of restaurants and cafes are right around the corner. The host also provides you with two passes to the Aquarium.

Best Hotel in Cannery Row: Best Western Plus Victorian Inn

Thanks to its great location, this is one of our favourite hotels in Monterey. It’s well positioned for sightseeing with Cannery Row and the beach just a short walk away. They offer a range of relaxing amenities, including a gym, massage services, a golf course and an on-site spa.

Best Hotel in Cannery Row: Holiday Inn Express Monterey – Cannery Row

This hotel is ideally situated in Monterey. It is close to Cannery Row and there are a variety of shopping, dining and sightseeing options nearby. This hotel boasts contemporary rooms with a variety of features. All of this combined make this our pick for where to stay in Cannery Row for families.

Final Thoughts on Where to Stay in Monterey

Monterey is quickly becoming one of the most popular destinations in California. With its rugged coastline, stunning scenery, rich history and incredible food scene, Monterey is a city with something to offer travellers of all styles and budgets.

In this guide, we’ve looked at the best places to stay in Monterey. If after reading this post, you’re still not 100% sure where to stay, here’s a quick recap of our favourite places.

Cannery Row is our number one choice for the best neighbourhood. It offers a great variety of restaurants, bars and family-friendly fun and our pick for the best hostel is the HI Monterey.

Our recommendation for the best hotel is Otter Inn Monterey thanks to its stylish décor and spotless rooms. It’s also in the perfect location with dining, shopping and nightlife options at its doorstep.

And don’t forget to take out Travel Insurance for your trip! I have been using World Nomads for some time now and made a few claims over the years. They’re easy to use, professional and relatively affordable. They may also let you buy or extend a policy once you’ve started your trip and are already abroad which is super handy.

Getting an estimate from World Nomads is simple – just click the button or image below, fill out the necessary info, and you’re on your way!

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