Best Things to Do on the Monterey Peninsula This June

Best Things to Do on the Monterey Peninsula This June

If so inspired, a visitor to the Monterey Peninsula could plan a textured trip all around history. Monterey, after all, is home to the state’s first theater, newspaper and capital.

(To be fair, the same could be said about planning a getaway based on golf or hiking or eating or biking or ocean activities.)

Custom House, as the oldest government building in California and the place the American flag was first raised, sits at the heart of that history. And in June, the plaza that surrounds it also serves as the backdrop for Monterey Bay Jade Festival and Monterey Rock & Rod Festival, while Monterey Wine Festival happens next door, each bringing passionate throngs of people.

In other words, the history around here is living.

Here appear those and another half dozen events to earmark for the month ahead.

We’ve done the deep research for you on the best things to do on the Monterey Peninsula including museums, cultural events, food tours, golfing, hikes and more. Speaking of food, we also have an extensive list of our best restaurants on the Monterey Peninsula, and if you’re planning a weekend, the the best places to stay.

Here’s a peek at some of our top picks for events worth building a weekend, or a week, around.

Featured Photo: Courtesy of Monterey Bay Jade Festival

Carmel-by-the-Sea Culinary Week

June 1–8

Thankfully “week” is an epicurean euphemism here, as Culinary Week started in May, but rolls all the way to the second week of June. New events include a Culinary Showdown at the Carmel Farmers Market, to go with blockbusters like the music-food-wine kick-off at Carmel Plaza, and waves of special pairings, exclusive set menus and atypical bargains across dozens participating restaurants in a tiny town stuffed with world-class spots.

More info:

monterey peninsula_june_1200_Spartan Race CREDIT Marc Rafanell Lopez
Photo: Courtesy of Marc Rafanell Lopez

Spartan Race at Toro Park

June 2

True, there aren’t any easy Spartan Races. But thanks to Toro’s severely steep climbs and dusty heat — on top of the standard gauntlet of obstacles, this is one of the most difficult. Bring on the cargo nets, the barbed wire, the mud pits, the towering walls and, Goddess willing, a beer after finishing intact. Reminder: To participate you will need to sign a waiver. 

More info:

night market 831_monterey peninsula things to do_800x450

Night Market 831

June 7

Appropriately named Sand City Art Park vibes with extra verve on first Fridays, and even more so on the heels of Night Market’s big sibling event (the recent California Roots Music and Arts Festival). The June lineup for the all-ages affair includes Monterey Bay Football Club, Wholehearted Tattoo, Animal Friends Rescue Project, 1932 Cali-Mex BBQ, Oli’s Cheesesteaks, Post No Bills Craft Brew House, Fat Boy Killer Tacos, J&R Hotdogs, the 60 East Band on stage, plus a bunch more. 

More info:

monterey peninsula_june_1200_Artichoke Fest CREDIT Christopher Martyn
Photo: Courtesy of Christopher Martyn

Artichoke Food & Wine Festival

June 8–9

Welcome to where the fun blossoms. Because it wasn’t fun enough to do artichoke steamed, boiled, grilled, roasted, stuffed, sautéed, pickled, braised, fried, in a dip or in ice cream. Nor was it enough to add in cooking demos, live music, a golf tournament and high-grade wine tasting. So now there’s even more fun, in the form of the Thistle Be Funny comedy triple bill. Heh.

More info:

Wharf Walks at Monterey's Old Fisherman's Wharf

Date tbd

This WW installment, “Sardine Stories: History of the Sardine Industry on the Monterey Bay,” marks the return of the standout — yet under-the-radar — monthly series. It’s free, it’s dripping with history, it’s set in a scenic spot, and it’s anchored by noted Monterey Bay Fisheries historian and author Tim Thomas, who knows the facts as well as he knows how to add theater. Please RSVP.

More info: 

Jade Boulder-Monterey Peninsula-Things to Do-June-credit Monterey Bay Jade Festival-800x450
Photo courtesy of Monterey Bay Jade Festival.

Monterey Bay Jade Festival

June 7–9

There will be more than enough cuffs, a catalog of carving tools, a plethora of pendants, plus necklaces, bangles, wind slicks, earrings and sculptures as well. There will be roughs and blocks — and exhibitions on how they’re handled. There will be ocean cobbles and river cobbles. There will be Guatemalan jadeite and Burmese jadeite — and Wyoming nephrite, Russian nephrite, Yukon nephrite and Californian nephrite, too. Oh, and there will be 50 vendors all told, a stunning setting and a great cause, Big Sur youth programming, finding community support.

More info:

monterey peninsula_june_1200_Irene Tu CREDIT Kim+Newmoney
Photo: Courtesy of Kim Newmoney

XYZ Comedy Series at Sunset Center

June 9

Irene Tu’s first comedy album We’re Done Now debuted in March at #1 on the iTunes comedy charts. She’s earned a spot at the mic at the Netflix Is A Joke comedy festival at the celebrated Introducing showcase. And one of her stand-up riffs is the most watched reel on Comedy Central’s Stand-Up’s Instagram. Here comes a comet who’s just getting warmed up.

More info:

Rock n Rod-Monterey Peninsula-Things to Do-June-credit Nathan Dumlao-800x450
Photo: Courtesy of Nathan Dumlao

Monterey Rock & Rod Festival

June 15

The classic and custom hot rods, street beasts, muscle cars and trucks, all 1975 or older, are enough to inspire hundreds to steer this direction. The lineup of hot food purveyors, merch vendors and live entertainment — starring tribute bands and this year’s headliner, California Music Hall of Famer Dennis Tufano — shine up the invitation further. It comes set against the Custom House Plaza, and proceeds go to Gateway Center of Monterey County to empower adults with intellectual disabilities. Public admission is free. Vroom.

More info:

Monterey Wine Festival

June 15–16

Organizers figured out long ago — 45 years back — that wining makes everything better. What helps differentiate MWF and its decades-long vino tradition: Organizers also figured out a Clam Chowder Challenge and Kings of Calamari showdown help, too. The flavor unfurls at the landmark Monterey Conference Center in the heart of downtown — and steps from Fisherman’s Wharf — 1–4pm Saturday and Sunday, with VIP entry at noon. 

More info:

monterey peninsula_june_1200_Firestone Grand Prix CREDIT Brad Barmore
Photo: Courtesy of Brad Barmore

Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey

June 21–23

The storied Laguna Seca track, in all of its hairpin-turning and corkscrewing glory, welcomes what promoters are predicting as an “intensity level…at an all-time high.” The NTT IndyCar Series — famed for its 230 mph speeds and hyper-competitive field — returns to start the summer after last year’s race delivered a new track record.

More info:

Event Venues

Looking to see what’s happening right now on the Monterey Peninsula? Our comprehensive list of venues across the city below will help you find what you need to know what’s going on.

Looking for more things to do in the area?

Visit our What to Do in Northern California page!

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