Discovering Northern California
Monterey County California

Monterey County California:
Beachtowns and Backcountry Farmlands

If someone said to you, "Monterey County California," I would venture to guess that you'd be thinking about Monterey Bay, perhaps the aquarium, whale watching, beaches - things to do with water and the Pacific Ocean, right?

That's because its coastal areas are what Monterey is famous for - but only a relatively small portion of the county resides along the coast. Much of the rest is inland, rural, and agricultural.

The Flip Side of Monterey County California

Monterey is very much an agricultural county, growing everything from artichokes to strawberries to salad bowl row crops.

Castroville, a tiny, dinky little census-designated spot maybe five miles inland, calls itself the Artichoke Center of the World.

That might seem pretentious for such a dot-on-the-map, but they produce approximately 75% of the U.S. supply of artichokes!

Castroville also produces the Castroville Artichoke Festival every year in May. Did you know that Marilyn Monroe was crowned the very first Artichoke Queen back in 1948? Fact!

Wolf and I never go to Monterey without a stop at the Giant Artichoke - a combination fruit and veggie stand, diner/restaurant, and strip mall - for an order of Deep Fried Artichoke Hearts! It's been a family tradition for over 40 years.

Monterey has always been known for its lettuce production - the Salinas Valley was long called the Lettuce Capitol of the World - but as recently as 2009, strawberries began to top lettuce as the Number One Crop.

If you've been eating strawberries lately, chances are they came from the Monterey Bay Area, and very likely from Monterey County!

But take a day trip to Salinas and the Salinas Valley to discover what Monterey County agriculture is really all about.

The name has changed from Lettuce Capital to Salad Bowl of the World, but that's just to let the world know there's more than lettuce grown here with which to fill your salad bowl - crops like broccoli and peppers, tomatoes and spinach, cauliflower and celery...

You'll also find a thriving flower industry in Monterey County, where plants are grown for cut flowers and foliage as well as for seed production.

I don't know about you, but we love to drive through ag land, seeing the crops growing that will soon be feeding our families, stopping at little roadside stands to grab something farm-fresh for dinner tonight - it brings us back to basics!

Monterey County California's Tourist Attractions

Okay, I'll admit it - farming isn't usually what brings people to Monterey County. It's more likely that you'll come to visit the city of Monterey to explore Monterey's Cannery Row, or to visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Perhaps you'd like to scamper around the cliffs and beaches of Big Sur to experience nature's beauty at its extremist!

Or visit Carmel-by-the-Sea for another kind of extreme - Extreme Monterey Accommodations for Extreme Shopping and Dining interludes whilst surrounded by the beauty of the beach.

Spend some time in Pacific Grove for a beach town experience with panache! Nestled between Monterey and Pebble Beach - and named Most Romantic City in the U.S.A. by Life Magazine - it's a coastal Paradise.

You'll also want to visit some of the excellent and acclaimed Monterey County wineries in Monterey's very own Wine Country for tours and wine tastings!

And of course we can't forget whale watching Monterey County -
with all the shoreline access and the nutrient-rich waters of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, Monterey County California offers some of the best year-round whale watching in all the world!

What avid golfer doesn't drool at the very idea of golfing famous Pebble Beach - or at the least, having the opportunity to attend the National Pro-Am or the U.S. Open! Personally, we enjoy having a drink on the patio at the Inn at Spanish Bay while listening to the Bagpiper as he approaches the Inn from across the links!

I'll leave you with one final enticement for visiting beautiful Monterey County California - the 17-Mile Drive, which runs along the Pacific Coast from Carmel-by-the-Sea, past Pebble Beach, and on up to Pacific Grove (or the other way 'round, depending on where you start). It's a wonderful way to spend a day exploring!

Be sure to take a look at what the city of Monterey has to offer, and then
 - We'll have more to share with you about Monterey County California in the coming weeks; things like:

  • Monterey County Attractions
    More in depth, from East to West!
  • Monterey County Beaches
    There's no shortage of beaches!

  • Monterey County Communities
    From the biggest to the smallest!
  • Monterey County Wine Country
    Wine tasting and winery tours!

Please continue your exploration of what Northern California has to offer by using the Nav Bars in the left and right columns or by using the links at the bottom of the page.

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