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Fisherman's Wharf by James B Toy. Click to enlarge or purchase.



Mr. Toy's

Unofficial Visitors Guide to the Monterey Peninsula

What you really need to know to make the most of your visit.

Mr. Toy Welcomes You To Monterey!


Please Note: This visitors guide was written well before the COVID-19 situation shut everything down. Mr. Toy anticipates that it will be a long and gradual climb back to normalcy, perhaps taking as long as 1-2 years. While we are hopeful that eventually things will return to normal, we expect that some actvities and services will be shut down longer than others. We're also not certain that every business or event mentioned herein will survive the economic effects of the pandemic. So for now, we invite you to wander through this guide for general information about what this beautiful area has to offer, but we ask you to hold off on setting your plans in stone until we're on the other side of this dark time and it is safe to go back out into the world. When that time comes, assuming things work out OK in the end, Mr. Toy will update this guide as needed.

The Monterey Peninsula is situated in an area of natural beauty which rivals many of our national parks. It is comprised of several small cities and villages including Monterey, Pacific Grove, Carmel, Pebble Beach, Seaside and more.

Despite their proximity, each town had unique origins. Monterey was founded by the Spanish in 1770 and was once the center of government for all of California. Carmel started with the establishment of the mission, and was later a colony for artists and free-thinkers who fled San Francisco after the 1906 earthquake. Pacific Grove began as a Methodist retreat. Pebble Beach was founded as a playground for the rich and famous.

These varied origins spawned a tremendously rich and diverse local culture that is little understood by outsiders. Each town honors unique traditions and local residents work hard to preserve them. Monterey, a small bustling city with a rich history, is the hub of activity. Tourism and commercial fishing have been the foundation of the city's economy since the 19th Century. Life in Carmel is intimately tied to the natural landscape and the town is the Peninsula's focal point for the arts. Pacific Grove maintains a wholesome Small-Town America feel and remains relatively unaffected by the tourism industry. Pebble Beach is still the place for the rich and famous, especially those who play golf.

Mr. Toy has never played golf.

Pescadero Point by James B Toy. Click to enlarge or purchase.

This visitor's guide is the place to learn what the tourist guidebooks don't tell you about visiting the Monterey Peninsula. It is given free to you as a gift from Mr. Toy, a native of Carmel. Mr. Toy knows how to get around. He knows all of the secret hideaways. He knows how to distinguish between the genuine Monterey Peninsula, and the tourist traps. Mr. Toy knows this place like it was his own home, because it is!

This doesn't mean you can throw your guidebooks away. They list some great attractions and provide useful background information. But once you've been there and done that, you'll be hungering for something more satisfying.

So grab your mouse, warm up the printer, bookmark this page on your favorite mobile device, and take this stuff on the road!

Cooper-Molera Garden by James B Toy. Click to enlarge or purchase.

Mr. Toy's Unofficial Visitors Guide
will give you too much information about:

  • WHAT THE PLACE LOOKS LIKE
    Get a local-eye perspective in Mr. Toy's Monterey Peninsula Photo Gallery which also functions as a Picture Shop. If you see something you like, high quality prints, greeting cards, plus a variety of home decor and gift items may be had there. We don't want to sound needy, but we would like to point out that every purchase helps fund this guide. Since the gallery is technically a separate website, the link will open in a new browser window.
  • GETTING HERE
    Instructions and useless commentary about the various routes and methods.
  • WHERE SHOULD WE STAY?
    Mr. Toy can't answer that for you, but he can help.
  • EATING OUT
    Not as complicated as the dining guides lead you to believe.
  • DRIVING YOU CRAZY
    The road systems of the Monterey Peninsula.
  • WALKING AND HIKING
    Exploring our favorite parks and other places on foot.
  • THE BEST BEACHES
    More parks, more places to walk, great places to play.
  • ART AND ENTERTAINMENT
    Music, theater, and art gallery information.
  • SPORTS AND RECREATION
    Be ye a spectator or a player, we have something for almost everyone.
  • STUFF FOR KIDS
    Yet another park, but this one is different.
  • TOURIST ATTRACTIONS vs REAL LIFE
    How to tell the difference.
  • ATMOSPHERIC CONDITIONS
    There's no such thing as bad weather here.
    (Well, almost no such thing.)
  • TIDBITS AND FAQS
    Vital information that just wouldn't fit anywhere else.

Note: To maintain Mr. Toy's independence, he does not accept any direct financial compensation from local businesses for this guide. This leaves the author free to present a realistic assessment of the community and its resources, rather than a sterilized, sanitized, gift-wrapped, lowest common denominator sort of web browsing experience that you'll find in most other guides. Any businesses mentioned herein are there because Mr. Toy likes the goods and services they provide, or because they have an important place in the community, not because they have done anything $pecial to get themselves listed in here. OK?

OK, if you prefer a more formal look at Monterey Peninsula attractions, try these sites:

  • SEE MONTEREY
    A sparkling, glitzy site from the Monterey County Convention & Visitors Bureau.
  • VISIT CARMEL
    An official visitors site officially endorsed by officialdom.
  • CITY OF PACIFIC GROVE
    The visitors section of the city government website.