Holiday ideas monterey

Thinking outside the box with experiential gifts

Monterey, Calif. – This holiday season, California’s scenic central coast destination, Monterey County, invites travelers to think outside of the box when it comes to gift giving.

With an increased interest in experiential gifts, Monterey County invites travelers to partake in or gift one-of-a-kind experiences found throughout the destination. From festive events sure to evoke the holiday spirit to experiences loved ones won’t soon forget, Monterey County Convention and Visitors Bureau (Monterey County CVB) has curated a list of ways to experience the magic of the holiday season.

See the Holidays Come to Life

  • Ice Skating By the Bay – November 19, 2021-January 2, 2022
    Celebrate the holidays amidst Monterey’s scenic coastline at Ice Skating by the Bay, a seasonal ice skating rink located in Custom House Plaza behind the Portola Hotel & Spa. Daily admission start at $11 and season passes are available for purchase. Skate rentals are also available.
  • Holiday Parade of Lights – December 2
    This lighted parade in Pacific Grove will take place on December 2 and feature marching bands, holiday floats, dance teams, equestrian groups and, of course, Santa Claus. After the parade, strolling carolers sing, while photos are taken with Santa Claus. The town’s quaint Victorian shopping area, filled with bakeries and boutiques, will remain open for holiday shopping.
  • Holiday Tree Lighting – December 3
    The majestic tree at Carmel-by-the-Sea’s major crossroads of Junipero Street and Ocean Avenue comes to life at the Carmel Holiday Tree Lighting on December 3. The event features special singing guests and is followed by the Carmel Plaza Holiday Open House. Amidst the celebration, the town Mayor flips the switch to light the grand tree that becomes a welcoming beacon throughout the holiday season.
  • The Nutcracker – December 3-5
    The Monterey Peninsula Ballet Theatre will once again present the timeless ballet The Nutcracker at Sunset Center in Carmel-by-the-Sea. During the three performances taking place December 3-5, more than 150 dancers will take the stage for a beautiful interpretation of the holiday classic. Tickets are available online.
  • Christmas on the Wharf – weekends from December 3-19
    Returning to historic Old Fisherman’s Wharf, Christmas on the Wharf includes an array of festive activities and family-friendly fun. Visitors will enjoy holiday musical choirs and community caroling, a dazzling array of holiday lights and decorations, a 23-foot Christmas tree, holiday-themed inflatables on display, a free Santa “meet and greet,” photos with Santa and more.
  • Christmas in the Adobes – December 10 and 11
    Monterey is adorned with more than a dozen historic adobes, many of which only open their doors to visitors during this special event. The 37th annual Christmas in the Adobes returns to Monterey on December 10 and 11 from 5 to 9 p.m. Visitors will be transported back to Alta California while enjoying music, entertainment and an evening walking tour of Monterey’s adobes decked out in holiday décor. Funds raised during the event go to Monterey State Historic Park Association and California State Parks.

Home Away From Home for the Holidays

  • Gosby House Inn and Coachman’s Inn
    Two charming bed and breakfast inns, Gosby House Inn in Pacific Grove and Coachmanʻs Inn in Carmel-by-the-Sea, are offering a California Dreaming package over the holiday season. Guests can receive 20% off a stay when booking direct to enjoy a full breakfast for two, an afternoon wine and cheese mini picnic, freshly baked cookies, free parking, Wi-Fi and complimentary use of the Inn’s bicycles during the holiday season.
  • Big Sur River Inn
    Nestled among towering redwoods along the tranquil Big Sur River, Big Sur River Inn & Restaurant is an ideal place to hit pause on the everyday hustle and bustle and savor a delectable slice of not-to-miss apple pie. Indulge in a longer getaway this holiday season with the “Stay more, Save more” multi-night discount that offers guests a 20% discount for bookings of two nights and 30% discount for stays of three nights or more.
  • Sanctuary Beach Resort
    Give the gift of rejuvenation with a stay at Sanctuary Beach Resort in Marina. Enjoy the property’s private beachfront cottages and wellness amenities including beach yoga sessions. Or simply leave the cooking to the on-site restaurant, Salt Wood Kitchen & Oysterette. Chef Chris Watts will be serving up traditional holiday dishes made with locally sourced ingredients for Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas day.
  • Carmel-by-the-Sea Inns
    Several hotels and inns in the Charles Dickens-inspired wonderland of Carmel-by-the-Sea are offering seasonal specials during the holidays. Horizon Inn’s Carmel Winter Escape Package provides a 20% discount when booking a room for three or more midweek nights. Wayside Inn, Candle Light Inn, Svendsgaard’s Inn and Carriage House Inn are also extending their WonderFALL sale through December 23 with 30% off a stay.

Good Eats and Holiday Treats

  • Revival Ice Cream
    Every holiday season, Revival Ice Cream in Monterey celebrates with limited-time seasonal flavors made using fresh local and organic ingredients. Stop by the shop for a scoop or two of this year’s seasonal flavors including sweet potato spice or send a handcrafted pint to a loved one through the shop’s nationwide shipping. (A Roseville Today top pick! Try the Bee’s Knees!)
  • Monterey Bay in a Box
    From local chocolates to honey, scented hand soaps and hand-painted ornaments, Monterey Bay Food Tour’s gift boxes bring a taste of California’s central coast home and help support local businesses in Monterey County. View the one-of-a-kind gift collections online.
  • Dutch Door Donuts
    Start holiday mornings off on a sweet note with donuts from Carmel-by-the-Sea’s first donut shop in over 50 years. Family owned and operated, Dutch Door Donuts serves as close to 100% organic as possible and uses local ingredients. Freshly baked donut flavors such as maple bacon, cranberry orange and vanilla bean glaze pair perfectly with the shop’s selection of coffee and espresso drinks. E-gift cards are also available.
  • L’Auberge Carmel Culinary Package
    Food and wine enthusiasts can enjoy the ultimate dining and hotel experience with luxury hotel L’Auberge Carmel’s culinary package. The package includes a one night stay at the hotel and dinner for two at the award-winning restaurant, Aubergine, where Executive Chef Justin Cogley, a Michelin Starred Chef and a Relais & Chateaux Grand Chef, and Executive Pastry Chef Yulanda Santso prepare skillful, ingredient-driven cuisine that celebrates the bounty of the region.

Gifting the Experience of Monterey County

  • Winery Tours
    Gift a tour through some of the finest wineries in Salinas Valley with Behind the Scenes Wine Tours. The River Road Wine Trail tour makes stops at the Odonata Winery, Puma Winery and Pessagno Winery tasting rooms. Charming and intimate, all the tasting rooms along River Road specialize in limited-release vintages. For a tour of the wineries in Carmel Valley, gift a half-day wine tasting tour with Ag Venture Tours. Stops include Morgan Winery, Boekenoogen Vineyards, Joullian Vineyards and more.
  • Elkhorn Slough Tour
    The Elkhorn Slough is one of California’s largest wetlands and part of a National Estuarine Reserve. A perfect gift for nature lovers, the Elkhorn Slough Safari boat tour offers an up-close look at sea otters, harbor seals, sea lions and hundreds of species of birds. The bookstore and gift shop features stuffed animals, books, attire and unique Monterey Bay souvenirs.
  • Monterey Bay Aquarium
    Gift the experience of learning about the mysterious underwater world of the Monterey Bay. With over 35,000 creatures representing over 550 sea life and marine species, the Monterey Bay Aquarium is one of the best places to view Monterey’s favorite mascot, the sea otter. Guests can watch these playful critters in a two-story exhibit while they interact with each other and their respective audience. Tickets are available for purchase online.