Holiday season

17 Festive Experiences in Monterey County This Holiday Season

Think outside the box with experiential gifts

Monterey, Calif. — This holiday season, California’s scenic Central Coast destination, Monterey County, invites travelers to think outside the box when it comes to gift giving.

With an increased interest in experiential gifts, Monterey County invites travelers to participate in or gift unique experiences found throughout the destination. From festive events that are sure to evoke the holiday spirit, to experiences your loved ones won’t soon forget, the Monterey County Convention and Visitors Bureau (Monterey County CVB) has compiled a list of ways to live the magic of the holiday season.

Sponsor of Roseville Today Where to Buy Girl Scout Cookies
Sponsor of Roseville Today Where to Buy Girl Scout Cookies
Sponsor of Roseville Today Where to Buy Girl Scout Cookies
Sponsor of Roseville Today Where to Buy Girl Scout Cookies

See the holidays come to life

  • Ice skating by the bay – November 19, 2021-January 2, 2022
    Celebrate the holidays amid the scenic Monterey Coast at Ice skating by the bay, a seasonal skating rink located at Custom House Plaza behind the Portola Hotel & Spa. Daily admission starts at $11, and season passes are available for purchase. Skate rentals are also available.
  • Holiday Parade of Lights – December 2
    It lit up Parade in Pacific Grove will take place on December 2 and will feature marching bands, holiday floats, dance teams, equestrian groups and, of course, Santa Claus. After the parade, the buskers sing along, while photos are taken with Santa Claus. The city’s quaint Victorian shopping district, filled with bakeries and boutiques, will remain open for holiday shopping.
  • Holiday tree lighting – December 3
    The majestic tree at the major intersection of Carmel-by-the-Sea, Junipero Street and Ocean Avenue, comes to life at Carmel Holiday Tree Lighting December 3. The event features special guests and is followed by the Carmel Plaza Holiday Open House. In the middle of the celebration, the town’s mayor flips the switch to light up the large tree which becomes a welcoming beacon throughout the holiday season.
  • Nutcracker – December 3-5
    The Monterey Peninsula Ballet Theater will once again present the timeless Nutcracker ballet at Sunset Center in Carmel-by-the-Sea. During the three performances that will take place from December 3 to 5, more than 150 dancers will take the stage for a beautiful interpretation of the holiday classic. Tickets are available online.
  • Christmas on the quay – weekends from December 3 to 19
    Back at historic Old Fisherman’s Wharf, Christmas on the Wharf includes an array of festive activities and entertainment for the whole family. Visitors will enjoy musical holiday choirs and community carols, a dazzling array of holiday lights and decorations, a 23-foot Christmas tree, holiday-themed inflatables on display, a free meet and greet with Santa, 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 edition Christmas in the Adobes returns to Monterey on December 10 and 11 from 5-9 p.m. Visitors will be transported back to Alta California while enjoying music, entertainment and an evening walking tour of the Monterey Adobes decked out in holiday decor. Funds raised at the event go to the 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 breakfasts, Gosby House Inn in Pacific Grove and Coachman`s Inn in Carmel-by-the-Sea, offer a California Dreaming package during the holiday season. Guests can receive 20% off a stay when booking direct to enjoy a full breakfast for two, afternoon wine and cheese mini picnic, freshly baked cookies , free parking, Wi-Fi and free use of hostel bikes during the holiday season.
  • Big Sur River Inn
    Nestled among towering redwoods along the peaceful Big Sur River, the Big Sur River Inn & Restaurant is a great place to take a break from the daily hustle and bustle and enjoy a delicious slice of must-have apple pie. Treat yourself to a longer getaway this holiday season with the ‘Stay More, Save More’ multi-night discount that offers guests a 20% discount for two-night bookings and a 30% discount for three-night stays nights or more.
  • Sanctuary Beach Resort
    Give the gift of rejuvenation with a stay at Sanctuary Beach Resort at Marina. Take advantage of the property’s private beachfront cottages and wellness facilities, including yoga sessions on the beach. Or just leave the cooking to the on-site restaurant, Salt Wood Kitchen & Oysterette. Chef Chris Watts will serve traditional holiday dishes made with locally sourced ingredients for Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
  • Carmel-by-the-Sea Hostels
    Several hotels and inns in the Charles Dickens-inspired Wonderland of Carmel-by-the-Sea offer seasonal specials during the holidays. Horizon Inn’s Carmel Winter Escape Package offers a 20% discount when booking a room for three nights or more midweek. Wayside Inn, Candle Light Inn, Svendsgaard’s Inn and Carriage House Inn are also extending their WonderFALL sale through December 23 with 30% off one stay.

Good food and holiday treats

  • Revival ice cream
    During each holiday period, Revival ice cream in Monterey celebrates with limited-time seasonal flavors made with fresh, local, organic ingredients. Stop by the shop for a scoop or two of this year’s seasonal flavors, including sweet potato spice, or send a craft pint to a loved one with the shop’s national shipping. (One of Roseville Today’s top picks! Try the Bee’s Knees!)
  • Monterey Bay in a Box
    From local honey chocolates, fragrant hand soaps and hand-painted ornaments, Monterey Bay Food Tour gift sets bring a taste of California’s central coast and help support local businesses in the county of Monterey. Discover unique gift collections online.
  • Dutch door donuts
    Start holiday mornings on a sweet note with donuts from Carmel-by-the-Sea’s premier donut shop in over 50 years. Family owned and operated, Dutch Door Donuts serve as much as possible 100% organic and use local ingredients. Freshly baked donut flavors like maple bacon, cranberry orange, and vanilla bean glaze pair perfectly with the shop’s selection of coffee and espresso drinks. Electronic gift cards are also available.
  • Culinary Package L’Auberge Carmel
    Food and wine lovers can enjoy the ultimate dining and hospitality experience with a luxury hotel The Carmel’s Inn culinary package. The package includes a one-night hotel stay and dinner for two at the award-winning Aubergine Restaurant, where Executive Chef Justin Cogley, a Michelin-starred Chef and Relais & Châteaux Grand Chef, and Pastry Chef Yulanda Santso expertly prepare , an ingredient-driven cuisine that celebrates the richness of the region.

Delivering the Monterey County Experience

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


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