Road Trip! 10 Not-To-Miss Events Happening In Monterey County

Now that the state is fully reopening for business, you may be thinking that a road trip is in order, and we wouldn’t blame you!

May we suggest Monterey County?

With unique events like Monterey Car Week, Jass Festival, and Artichoke Week, and new direct flights to Monterey Regional Airport from Seattle, Portland, Orange County and Burbank, there has never been a better time to set out for a one-of-a-kind adventure to explore California’s central coast!

Here is a list of 10 not-to-miss events taking place this summer and fall to plan your trip around. Many of these will be hot ticket events, so be sure to plan ahead and reserve early.

Pacific Grove Treffen 22 VW Cruise Show & Shine – July 21, 2021

Cruise on over to Pacific Grove to see a variety of vintage Volkswagens on display. With over 130 vintage vehicles, car enthusiasts can peruse the vehicles lined on Lighthouse Avenue as they make a pit stop on their trek from the Canadian border to the Mexican border. While in town, stop at the Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary to learn why Pacific Grove is known as “Butterfly Town USA” before catching Instagram-worthy views of the coast at Lovers Point Beach.

Artichoke Festival – July 24-25, 2021

In the heart of “the Artichoke Capital of the World,” the 61st Annual Artichoke Festival will return to the Monterey County Fairgrounds for a weekend filled with all things artichoke. Back on the menu for 2021 are gourmet artichoke dishes with ingredients supplied by the region’s top growers. Visitors can try artichokes prepared in a variety of ways including fried, steamed and grilled, or opt to try them mixed in with sausage, cupcakes, ice cream and more.

The festival will also feature daily cooking demonstrations by local chefs who will showcase the artichoke’s versatility and demonstrate unique cooking techniques. Tickets will be available online or at the door. Special early-bird ticket packages will be on sale until July 10.

Monterey Car Week – August 2021 (various dates)

As one of the most anticipated automobile events in the world, car enthusiasts and collectors alike will gather in August to enjoy auto shows, auctions, auto memorabilia and more.

The 2021 Monterey Car Week events kick off on August 6 with a classic car show in downtown Monterey and concludes with the 70th Annual Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in Pebble Beach on August 15. A tradition going back over half a century, the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance is where the world’s collector cars meet and compete.

Only the 200 best collector cars in the world roll onto the legendary 18th fairway of Pebble Beach Golf Links, and only a handful of those will receive official recognition for style, technical merit and historical accuracy. A full list of events, information and travel advisories is available here.

Sand City’s 20th Annual West End Celebration – August 28-29, 2021

Watch as Sand City, California comes alive with over 100 artists and artisans embracing all forms of the arts. Visitors can enjoy the new we.Art installations that make up one of the most accessible outdoor public art galleries on the Monterey Peninsula. The celebration will feature open studios and musical entertainment on multiple stages.

Monterey County Fair – September 3-6, 2021

Fairs have been held in Monterey County since 1935 and the destination will once again embark on this longstanding tradition in early September with the return of the Monterey County Fair to the fairgrounds. Come ready to partake in all the traditional fair fun with carnival rides and games, delicious food, art exhibits, livestock competitions and more.

California Rodeo Salinas – September 23-26, 2021

Travelers should pack their most coveted belt buckle this September for the California Rodeo Salinas. As the largest rodeo in California, the event takes place at the Salinas Sports Complex and features action-packed performances by more than 600 cowboys and cowgirls from across the U.S. Rodeo events include bull riding, team roping, steer wrestling, saddle bronc riding and more. Visitors can also enjoy shopping, food and the always entertaining track acts.

Monterey Jazz Festival – September 24-26, 2021

After last year’s virtual programming, the Monterey Jazz Festival will return with a three-day in-person festival at the Monterey County Fairgrounds to celebrate the legacy of jazz for its 64th year in Monterey. Featuring performances at the Jimmy Lyons Arena, the multiple GRAMMY-award winning lineup features Herbie Hancock, George Benson, Terri Lyne Carrington and Social Science, Pat Metheny Side Eye, Christian Sands, Kandace Springs, Las Cafeteras, Miho Hazama and m-unit, and the Next Generation Jazz Orchestra Directed by Gerald Clayton. Tickets go on sale in early July and the arena will be limited to 50% capacity.

Sea Otter Classic – October 7-10, 2021

Both amateurs and professional cyclists can take part in the world’s largest cycling festival taking place at Monterey’s WeatherTech Raceway at Laguna Seca Recreation Area. Deemed a “Celebration of Cycling,” the festival’s Sea Otter Expo, the hub of the event, will feature free bike demos, stunt shows, live entertainment and special activities for kids. Other Expo hotspots include the international food court, a beer and BBQ garden and the Sea Otter exposition area.

Monterey Beer Festival – October 16, 2021

With over 80 beers from dozens of breweries, the Monterey Beer Festival welcomes attendees 21 years or older to taste an array of incredible beers from breweries around the world. Held at the Monterey County Fairgrounds, the festival will also feature live music and local food vendors. Special VIP ticket holder benefits include early entry, access to a VIP area with separate restrooms, special beer tastings, complimentary snacks and entry to the main festival.

Carmel Bach Festival – October 23-November 5, 2021

As California’s oldest music festival, the Carmel Bach Festival will once again celebrate the works of Johann Sebastian Bach. The two-week festival will feature a wide array of concerts at the Sunset Cultural Center in Carmel-by-the-Sea with highlights including Bach’s Mass in B-Minor, Brandenburg Concerti, Mozart’s Symphony No. 40, Handel’s Ode to St. Cecilia and the Chorale concert. While in town, be sure to check out the latest additions to Carmel-by-the-Sea’s local dining scene including The Pocket, Toro, Le Souffle and Talbott Vineyards tasting room.

For more information about Monterey County, planning ideas and responsible travel tips visit here and be sure to check out the county’s events page for additional events happening in the months ahead.

See you there….and stay healthy, San Diego!

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March 14, 2023
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January 17, 2023
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