We all like a five-finger discount when we can get it, and this brainstorm of free activities to do in the Monterey Bay Area will save money and provide a priceless immersion into our local Central Coast flavor.
One of the best free experiences available in Santa Cruz and Salinas are their First Friday Art Tours. Galleries, bookstores, shops, photographers, artisans, glass blowers, potters, weavers, poets and more open their doors to the public to peruse, schmooze, and drink in their masterpieces. Both
cities host these popular events the first Friday of every month (like this upcoming Friday, Sept. 2) at no charge. Salinas’ tour meanders through Old Town, a district that’s a treat for any history buff. Check out Santa Cruz’s site and Salinas’ (a bit outdated but call for more current info) for maps, times, and participating venues.
The greater Monterey area has a host of museums and places of interest that cost nothing to experience. The Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History, Henry Miller Library in Big Sur, Monterey’s Pacific House Museum and Custom House, and the Monterey Museum of Art (on the third Thursday of every month only) all have free admission.
To get your dose of Mother Nature for no charge, swing by Point Lobos State Reserve, which is free to enter as long as you don’t drive into the park. Arrange for a free Park Ranger guided tour of the breathtaking Asilomar State Beach and Conference Grounds or simply explore on your own. Or check out the plethora of fee-free state parks in the Monterey Bay Area, including Garland Ranch Regional Park, a great place to capture Carmel Valley views.