Last Updated on: 25th July 2023, 01:37 pm

Whether you’re planning to visit the Monterey Bay area or call it home, you’ll find plenty to do in this gorgeous coastal region. The City of Monterey is one of many coastal cities near Monterey Bay, a large bay on the Central Coast south of the San Francisco Bay Area. The area is known for its white sand beaches, the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Big Sur, and its coastal resorts.

The Monterey Bay area refers to Santa Cruz County and Monterey County cities and towns. These Central Coast communities include the cities on the Monterey Peninsula: Monterey, Pacific Grove, and Carmel-by-the-Sea (or simply Carmel) plus Pebble Beach, a famous resort community.

Here’s an overview of the cities near Monterey CA along with the many small towns near Monterey, all with something unique to offer visitors and residents alike.

Cities Near Monterey CA (Within 30 Miles)

There are 12 towns and cities close to Monterey CA with a population of at least 3,000. Here are all the places near Monterey within 30 miles!

Pacific Grove – 2.3 miles away

  • Population: 15,090
  • Municipality: City
  • County: Monterey

Pacific Grove is the closest city to Monterey CA and one of three cities on the California Monterey Peninsula. Famously home to author John Steinbeck, and visited often by author Robert Louis Stevenson, Pacific Grove is known for its bed-and-breakfast inns, Victorian homes, and pristine coastline with no development allowed on the waterfront side of its main street. The historic Point Pinos Lighthouse, the oldest continually operating lighthouse on the Pacific Ocean, and the surrounding Point Pinos area is a major tourist destination.

Learn more about living in Pacific Grove with our complete guide!

Carmel-by-the-Sea – 4.2 miles away

  • Population: 3,220
  • Municipality: City
  • County: Monterey

Usually known simply as Carmel, this small coastal city next to Monterey CA is known for its century-long artistic history and gorgeous scenery. Carmel is just one square mile but it’s one of the most unique Central Coast towns with no chain restaurants, no street addresses (only a central post office), and its iconic Carmel Beach framed by cypress trees.

There are several unincorporated residential communities surrounding Carmel, including Carmel Woods, Hatton Fields, and Hacienda Carmel, a large 55+ community.

Seaside – 4.8 miles away

  • Population: 32,366
  • Municipality: City
  • County: Monterey

Just outside Monterey and off the Monterey Peninsula is Seaside, formerly known as East Monterey. Seaside is one of the largest cities near Monterey and is known for California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB) and the Monterey College of Law and its outdoor attractions like the Bayonet and Blackhorse golf courses and the white sand Seaside Beach.

Find out if living in Seaside is right for you!

Del Monte Forest – 5.3 miles

  • Population: 4,204
  • Municipality: Unincorporated (CDP)
  • County: Monterey

Del Monte Forest is home to an important forest of Monterey pine, an endangered species, and other rare or endangered species of trees. It’s best known for the Pebble Beach community, a small, residential resort community. Nonresidents must pay a toll to drive into the community which boasts popular destinations like The Lodge at Pebble Beach, The Inn at Spanish Bay, and the scenic Pescadero Point. There are four Pebble Beach golf courses, including Pebble Beach Golf Links and the Monterey Peninsula Country Club.

Marina – 9.0 miles away

  • Population: 22,359
  • Municipality: City
  • County: Monterey

Marina is one of the largest cities close to Monterey CA and also the newest Monterey Bay city since its 1975 incorporation. Named one of the 100 Best Communities for Young People, Marina boasts plenty of shopping and recreation options from Marina State Beach to Skydive Monterey Bay.

Learn more about living in Marina to find out if it’s the right Monterey Bay community for you!

Corral de Tierra – 11.9 miles away

  • Population: ~5,000
  • Municipality: Unincorporated community
  • County: Monterey

Corral de Tierra is the largest of three communities along the DeAnza Trail stretch of SR 68 which once connected mission settlements in California. Located midway between Monterey and Salinas, the Corral de Tierra, Toro Park, and San Benancio districts are home to about 13,500 people.

Corral de Tierra is home to the Corral de Tierra Country Club with a proposed $20 million shopping center called Corral de Tierra Shopping Village planned with a grocery store, office space, and retail buildings.

Carmel Valley Village – 16.0 miles away

  • Population: 6,189
  • Municipality: Unincorporated (CDP)
  • County: Monterey

Carmel Valley Village is a CDP made up of two communities: the larger Carmel Valley community northeast of the Carmel River and Robles del Rio on the southwest side. This small community has been home to Doris Day and author Beverly Clearly and is known for its many wineries. Carmel Valley is a popular tourist destination with upscale winery-affiliated hotels, tasting rooms, and the Monterey Wine Trolley.

Find out what living in Carmel Valley Village is like and the best things to do as a visitor.

Castroville – 18.1 miles away

  • Population: 7,515
  • Municipality: Unincorporated town (CDP)
  • County: Monterey

The Artichoke Center of the World, the town of Castroville is best known for its annual Castroville Artichoke Festival. It was one of the first places where artichokes were grown in California and Marilyn Monroe spent a week in the area as the honorary California Artichoke Queen. Castroville is one of the best places to live in the Monterey Bay area for young families and millennials with a median age of just 29, a close-knit community, and great outdoor recreation.

Check out our guide to living in Castroville to learn more about this fun Central California town!

Salinas – 18.5 miles away

  • Population: 163,542
  • Municipality: City
  • County: Monterey

Salinas is one of the only large cities near Monterey. The county seat of Monterey County, it’s the largest city in Monterey County and the only city within 60 miles of Monterey with more than 100,000 people. Salinas has the highest share of Hispanic residents among all cities in California and is known as the Salad Bowl of the World thanks to its large agricultural industry.

Thinking of moving to Salinas? Check out our in-depth guide to the city!

Prunedale – 21.3 miles away

  • Population: 18,885
  • Municipality: Unincorporated (CDP)
  • County: Monterey

Prunedale is a hidden gem tucked away a few miles from the Monterey Bay and about halfway between Monterey and Santa Cruz. The close-knit town offers a rural, equestrian lifestyle with beaches and big-city amenities easily within reach.

Find out more about what living in Prunedale is like with our complete guide!

Watsonville – 26.6 miles away

  • Population: 52,590
  • Municipality: City
  • County: Santa Cruz

Watsonville is one of America’s most important farming cities and the headquarters for many agricultural, manufacturing, and construction companies. One of the largest cities close to Monterey CA, Watsonville offers something for everyone with hiking, wine tasting, and beaches all within minutes. While living in the Pajaro Valley area, you’ll enjoy visits to the Pajaro Dunes Resort, Manresa State Beach, and tours along the Corralitos Wine Trail.

Interlaken – 29.9 miles away

  • Population: 7,368
  • Municipality: Unincorporated (CDP)
  • County: Santa Cruz

Named for Interlaken, Switzerland, which means “among the lakes,” the town of Interlaken is next to Watsonville and other communities in the Pajaro Valley like La Selva Beach. Living in Interlaken is paradise for outdoor lovers with hiking in the Los Padres National Forest nearby, fishing and kayaking at Lake Tynan and Pinto Lake County Park, and Sunset State Beach just minutes away.

Other Towns & Cities Near Monterey (30-50 Miles)

If you expand a bit farther, there are eight cities and towns near Monterey between 30 and 50 miles from Monterey with a population of at least 3,000. Here are other great cities near Monterey CA you’ll want to visit!

Gonzales – 32.0 miles away

  • Population: 8,647
  • Municipality: City
  • County: Monterey

Nicknamed the Wine Capital of Monterey County, Gonzales is a small city near Monterey Bay in Salinas Valley. It’s home to numerous wineries like Constellation Brands along the River Road Wine Trail which has been described as “three perfect days” in Monterey County. Find out more with our guide to living in Gonzales!

Aptos – 34.6 miles away

  • Population: 24,402
  • Municipality: Unincorporated town (group of villages)
  • County: Santa Cruz

Aptos is a unique Monterey town comprised of several villages: Seacliff (pop. 3,267), Rio del Mar (pop. 9,128), Aptos Hills-Larkin Valley (pop. 2,383), Aptos Village, Cabrillo, and Seascape. It’s one of the best places to live for families in the Monterey Bay area with Cabrillo College, several private schools, the annual Aptos Blues Festival, and Seacliff State Beach.

Freedom – 29.2 miles away

  • Population: 3,959
  • Municipality: Unincorporated (CDP)
  • County: Santa Cruz

This small town is part of the Pajaro Valley along with the communities of Watsonville, Pajaro, Corralitos, and La Selva Beach. It’s perfect for living the simple life with local businesses and vineyards, lakes for fishing and swimming, equestrian and hiking trails, and nearby beaches.

Hollister – 40.3 miles away

  • Population: 41,678
  • Municipality: City
  • County: San Benito

Hollister is one of the largest Monterey Bay cities and sits at the foothills of the Diablo Range. The city was once known for a motorcycle rally that drew crowds of about 10,000. Residents appreciate Hollister’s great location just 40-45 miles from San Jose, Santa Cruz, and Monterey. Check out our guide to living in Hollister to learn more about the city!

Gilroy – 40.4 miles away

  • Population: 59,520
  • Municipality: City
  • County: Santa Clara

Gilroy offers small-town living with a great location straddling the San Francisco Bay and Monterey Bay areas. It’s the southernmost city of the San Francisco Bay Area with San Jose, Santa Cruz and Monterey within 40 miles and San Francisco just 60 miles away. Gilroy boasts a bustling downtown, regular community events, wineries, hiking, and cultural attractions.

Soledad – 41.6 miles away

  • Population: 24,925
  • Municipality: City
  • County: Monterey

Soledad is an historic city in the Salinas Valley just 26 miles southeast of Salinas and close to Pinnacles National Park. Soledad began with Mission Soledad in 1791 with the development of the town starting in the 1860s. Its location, vineyards, and restored mission make Soledad a popular tourist destination. Read out complete guide to Soledad living to learn more!

Santa Cruz – 43.2 miles away

  • Population: 62,956
  • Municipality: City
  • County: Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz is one of the largest Central California coastal cities and famous for the Santa Cruz Wharf stretching into the bay and the Santa Cruz Boardwalk with vintage rides and games. Santa Cruz boasts great surfing, sandy beaches like the iconic Natural Bridges State Beach, and the University of California Santa Cruz.

Greenfield – 50.6 miles away

  • Population: 18,937
  • Municipality: City
  • County: Monterey

Located in the heart of the Salinas Valley, Greenfield is one of the region’s many major agricultural centers and is famous for its annual Harvest Festival. It’s also the second largest city in the Salinas Valley and the fifth largest in Monterey County by population.

Map of Cities Near Monterey CA

Small Cities & Towns Near Monterey

There are dozens of small towns near Monterey, including small rural communities, upscale resort destinations, and residential communities near larger cities and towns. The Pajaro Valley area anchored by Watsonville is home to many smaller towns like Freedom, Corralitos, and La Selva Beach. Several of these small towns are located around Carmel-by-the-Sea and thought of more as neighborhoods, including Carmel Woods, Hatton Fields, Carmel Highlands, and Hacienda Carmel.

Less than 30 miles away is the charming Monterey town of Big Sur Village, a collection of homes, shops, and visitor services in the Big Sur Valley south of Carmel. Big Sur is a 90-mile stretch of rugged coastline with winding curves, mist-shrouded ocean views, seaside cliffs, and redwood trees. It’s one of the top attractions in Monterey County.

Here are the main towns near Monterey CA with a population of about 3,000 or less within 30 miles.

Small Cities & Towns Near Monterey <3,000 Population

Community Population Municipality Miles from Monterey
Carmel Woods Unincorporated community 2.9 miles
Sand City 325 City 3.5 miles
Del Rey Oaks 1,592 City 4.0 miles
Hatton Fields Unincorporated community 4.4 miles
Carmel Highlands ~2,000 Unincorporated community 8.1 miles
Ambler Park ~1,000 Unincorporated community 11.5 miles
San Benancio ~3,000 Unincorporated community 12.2 miles
Neponset ~500 Unincorporated community 12.4 miles
Toro Park Unincorporated community 14.0 miles
Old Hilltown Unincorporated community 16.3 miles
Springtown Unincorporated community 16.8 miles
Spreckels 692 CDP 17.6 miles
Oak Hills Unincorporated community 17.8 miles
Moss Landing 237 CDP 18.6 miles
Boronda 1,760 CDP 18.8 miles
Elkhorn 1,588 CDP 21.5 miles
Spence Unincorporated community 23.8 miles
Las Lomas 3,046 CDP 26.0 miles
Pajaro 2,882 CDP 26.7 miles
Chualar 1,185 CDP 26.7 miles
Big Sur Village ~1,500 Unincorporated community 28.7 miles
Aromas 2,708 CDP 30.6 miles
Amesti 2,637 CDP 30.6 miles

Major Cities Near Monterey

Here are major California cities near Monterey CA to help you get a sense of Monterey Bay’s location and road trip possibilities.

Major Cities Near Monterey CA

City Population Miles From Monterey
San Jose 1.01 million 71 miles
San Francisco 873,965 119 miles
San Luis Obispo 47,063 141 miles
Stockton 320,804 147 miles
Fresno 542,107 153 miles
Santa Rosa 178,127 169 miles
Sacramento 524,943 186 miles
Bakersfield 403,455 220 miles
Santa Clarita 228,673 289 miles
Los Angeles 3.9 million 320 miles

After visiting Monterey Bay, it’s hard to leave! If you’re ready to make Monterey or one of these beautiful cities near Monterey your home, Southbay Moving Systems is ready to help with a stress-free move. Call our Central California movers today for a free moving quote!