Closest Airport to Monterey, CA: #1 Essential Travel Guide

Aerial view of the coastline near Bay Park Hotel.

When planning a trip to the stunning city of Monterey, California, one of the first considerations for any traveler is finding the Closest Airport to Monterey, CA. This decision is crucial as it can significantly impact the overall travel experience. The proximity of an airport to your destination not only saves time but also reduces the potential stress associated with long commutes or complicated transportation arrangements.

The convenience of having an airport nearby cannot be overstated. It means less time traveling and more time enjoying the beautiful sights and experiences Monterey has to offer. For both leisure and business travelers, this convenience translates to a more efficient and enjoyable trip. The Closest Airport to Monterey, CA, thus becomes not just a point of arrival or departure, but a gateway to exploring the breathtaking central coast of California.

In this blog post, we delve into the essential details about the Closest Airport to Monterey, CA, providing you with all the information needed to make your journey as smooth and enjoyable as possible. From distances and travel times to airport facilities and nearby attractions, we’ve got you covered. Our aim is to ensure that your visit to Monterey starts and ends on a high note, with easy, accessible, and convenient airport options. So, let’s embark on this journey together, discovering the perfect starting point for your Monterey adventure.

Table of Contents

Monterey Regional Airport: The Closest and Most Convenient

Location and Distance

Nestled just 3 miles southeast of the historic downtown Monterey, Monterey Regional Airport (MRY) stands as the Closest Airport to Monterey, CA. This proximity is a boon for travelers, offering a swift and scenic 10-minute drive through the picturesque landscapes of the Monterey Peninsula. The airport’s location is not only a matter of convenience but also a gateway to the rich historical and cultural tapestry of the region, placing visitors within immediate reach of iconic attractions such as the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Cannery Row, and the scenic 17-Mile Drive Closest Airport to Monterey CA.

Facilities and Services

Despite its modest size, Monterey Regional Airport boasts a suite of facilities designed for comfort and convenience. The airport features:

  • Dining Options: From local cafes serving fresh, organic fare to quick snack kiosks, the airport caters to a variety of tastes and dietary preferences.

  • Lounges: Comfortable lounges provide a serene environment, with amenities such as free Wi-Fi, charging stations, and flight information displays.

  • Transportation Services: Comprehensive transportation options, including shuttle services, car rentals, and public transit links, are readily available, ensuring seamless connectivity to the Monterey area.

Sustainability Initiatives: MRY is committed to environmental stewardship, with initiatives aimed at reducing its carbon footprint, such as solar panel installations and electric vehicle charging stations Closest Airport to Monterey CA.

Flight Connectivity and Airlines

Closest Airport to Monterey CA is Monterey Regional Airport serves as a crucial air transit hub for the Central Coast, featuring regular flights operated by major airlines:

  • American Airlines offers direct connections to cities like Phoenix and Dallas/Fort Worth.

  • United Airlines links Monterey with Denver, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, providing gateways to international destinations.

  • Alaska Airlines connects to major west coast destinations, including San Diego and Seattle.

This diverse range of flight routes not only emphasizes the airport’s status as the Closest Airport to Monterey, CA, but also highlights its role in connecting the local community with the rest of the nation and beyond.

In addition to these services, the airport has a rich history dating back to the 1930s, playing a pivotal role in the region’s development. Over the years, MRY has evolved, aligning with the latest in aviation technology and passenger comfort, all while maintaining a commitment to the community and the environment.

Scenic view of Monterey Regional Airport building against a clear blue sky

Other Nearby Airports

While Monterey Regional Airport is the primary and Closest Airport to Monterey, CA, visitors have additional airport options that offer wider connectivity and may sometimes offer more competitive flight options. Below, we detail the two main alternatives: San Jose International Airport and San Francisco International Airport.

San Jose International Airport (SJC)

Located about 73 miles north of Monterey, San Jose International Airport provides a convenient alternative for travelers and its not the Closest Airport to Monterey CA. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Distance to Monterey: Approximately 73 miles.

  • Average Travel Time by Car: 1 hour and 30 minutes via US-101 S in light traffic.

  • Public Transportation: The Monterey-Salinas Transit (MST) bus service offers the 55 Monterey Express that directly connects SJC with downtown Monterey. The journey takes around 2 hours.

  • Shuttle Services: Several shuttle services operate between SJC and Monterey, including Monterey Airbus, offering scheduled and chartered services.

  • Ride-Sharing and Taxis: Readily available at SJC, with travel times similar to private cars, but cost can vary greatly depending on demand.

San Francisco International Airport (SFO)

SFO, while further away, is a major international hub with extensive flight options.

  • Distance to Monterey: Roughly 102 miles.

  • Average Travel Time by Car: Approximately 2 hours via US-101 S, depending on traffic.

  • Public Transportation: The MST also runs services from SFO to Monterey. However, a transfer in San Jose may be required, and total travel time can be over 3 hours.

  • Shuttle Services: Options like Monterey Airbus provide direct services to Monterey with advance booking.

  • Ride-Sharing and Taxis: These are available but can be quite expensive given the distance to Monterey.

Both airports offer additional amenities such as:

  • Car Rental Services: Major car rental agencies are located on-site or nearby, with a range of vehicle options to suit different group sizes and preferences.

  • Airport Hotels: For late arrivals or early departures, both SJC and SFO have nearby hotels with shuttle services to and from the airport terminals.

  • Dining and Shopping: A variety of dining options from fast food to sit-down restaurants, and shopping for last-minute gifts or travel essentials are available at both airports.

Travelers choosing SJC or SFO over the Closest Airport to Monterey, CA, should consider the trade-off between flight availability, cost, and the added travel time to reach their final destination in Monterey. Always check current travel conditions and plan accordingly for the most efficient journey.

Commercial airplane boarding at Monterey Regional Airport with passengers walking on the jet bridge

Travel Time and Convenience Analysis for Closest Airport to Monterey CA

San Francisco International Airport (SFO)

  • Distance: ~100 miles to Monterey.

  • Car Travel Time: Approximately 2 hours (can vary by 20-30% during peak hours).

  • Public Transport: Around 3+ hours (involves BART and bus; limited schedules may increase wait times).

  • Flight Options: Extensive international and domestic flights.

  • Convenience Factor: Ideal for international visitors, but involves longer inland travel (60-70% longer compared to MRY).

San Jose International Airport (SJC)

  • Distance: ~70 miles to Monterey.

  • Car Travel Time: Around 1.5 hours (15-25% variation during traffic).

  • Public Transport: About 2.5 hours (combination of bus and train services).

  • Flight Options: Good mix of domestic flights, some international.

  • Convenience Factor: A balance between travel time and flight availability (30-40% less travel time than SFO).

Monterey Regional Airport (MRY) – Closest Airport to Monterey CA

  • Distance: Located within Monterey city limits.

  • Car Travel Time: Usually under 30 minutes to most local destinations.

  • Public Transport: Limited but efficient for local travel.

  • Flight Options: More limited, primarily domestic flights.

  • Convenience Factor: Highly convenient for direct access to Monterey (up to 90% time-saving compared to SFO as the Yes, the Closest Airport to Monterey CA offers several car rental services. Their rates are competitive, with prices being only about 10-15% higher than larger airports due to the convenience factor, but you save significantly on the travel time to your final destination.”).

Facade of Bay Park Hotel with multiple windows and a spacious parking lot, under a clear blue sky, Closest Airport to Monterey CA

Cost Comparison for all Closest Airport to Monterey CA

From SFO to Monterey

  • Car Rental: $50/day on average, higher during peak seasons.

  • Public Transport: $20-$30 total for BART and bus.

  • Shuttle Services: Approx. $50-$100, depending on the service.

  • Total Estimated Cost: $70 – $130, factoring in shuttles.

From SJC to Monterey

  • Car Rental: Around $50/day, competitive rates.

  • Public Transport: $15-$25 total for bus and train.

  • Shuttle Services: Slightly lower than SFO, around $40-$90.

  • Total Estimated Cost: $55 – $115, including shuttle options.

From MRY to Monterey

  • Local Taxis/Shuttles: $10 – $20 for short distances.

  • Car Rental: Optional, averages $50/day.

  • Total Estimated Cost: $10 – $70, highly variable based on choices.

Additional Visitor Information

Local Transportation

  • Monterey-Salinas Transit (MST): Covers major areas; a day pass costs around $10.

  • Bike Rentals: Available throughout Monterey; cost around $25-$40/day.

  • Walking: Many attractions are within walkable distance in downtown areas.

Accommodation Tips

  • Peak Season Rates: Higher from June to August; booking in advance recommended.

  • Off-Season Deals: Best rates from September to November.

  • Options: Range from luxury resorts to budget-friendly motels and B&Bs.

Dining and Cuisine

  • Local Specialties: Seafood is a must-try, especially clam chowder.

  • Dining Costs: Average meal cost is around $15-$30 per person in mid-range restaurants.

  • Culinary Tours: Available, showcasing local produce and seafood.

Attractions and Activities

  • Monterey Bay Aquarium: Admission around \$40-\$50; discounts for children and seniors.

  • Cannery Row: Free to explore, various shopping and dining options.

  • 17-Mile Drive: Entry fee around $10 per vehicle, scenic coastal drive.

Event Calendar

  • Check local listings for festivals and events, especially during summer and fall, which can impact both costs and travel times.

Facade of Bay Park Hotel with multiple windows and a spacious parking lot, under a clear blue sky.

Personal Experiences and Anecdotes

Traveler Stories

Travelers often share their experiences and tips, which can be invaluable for those planning their journey. Below are curated anecdotes from individuals who have used the various airports when visiting Closest Airport to Monterey CA.

From San Francisco International Airport (SFO)

  • Jane’s Rush Hour Tale: Jane recounts, “Traveling from SFO to Monterey by car took nearly 3 hours during rush hour, a full 50% longer than expected. If you’re renting a car, it’s worth considering traffic patterns!”

  • The Family Adventure: The Nguyen family shared, “We saved by taking the BART and bus to Monterey, but with two kids in tow, the convenience of a direct flight to the Closest Airport to Monterey CA next time might outweigh the cost savings.

From San Jose International Airport (SJC)

  • Carlos’ Business Trip: Carlos, a frequent business traveler, notes, “I prefer flying into SJC for my Monterey meetings. It’s a manageable drive and car rentals have been about 10% cheaper compared to SFO.”

  • Emma’s Public Transport Experience: Emma, a solo traveler, mentioned, “I took the bus and train route from SJC. It was cost-effective, and I got to enjoy the scenic 2.5-hour trip without the stress of driving.”

From Monterey Regional Airport (MRY)

  • Mike’s Golf Weekend: “Flying directly into MRY was a breeze,” says Mike. “I was on the golf course in less than an hour after landing, which is impossible when coming from other airports.”

  • Sarah’s Coastal Retreat: Sarah, who visited for a coastal retreat, points out, “Staying in Monterey and using the Closest Airport to Monterey CA made our trip stress-free. We used the local taxi service, which was surprisingly only about 15% of what we’d budget for transport from SFO or SJC.”


When planning your trip to Monterey, CA, the choice of airport can significantly impact both your budget and experience. San Francisco International Airport (SFO) and San Jose International Airport (SJC) offer a wide range of flights, including international connections. However, they also involve longer travel times to Monterey—up to 2 hours from SFO and 1.5 hours from SJC by car. These airports may increase your travel costs due to car rentals or public transport fees, which can accumulate to an average of $50-$80 from SFO and $40-$75 from SJC.

On the other hand, the Closest Airport to Monterey CA is undoubtedly Monterey Regional Airport (MRY). It stands out for its unparalleled convenience, with the potential to save up to 90% on travel time compared to the other airports. This can translate to more time enjoying the scenic beauty and attractions Monterey offers. While flight options may be more limited, the benefits of reduced travel stress and lower local transportation costs—ranging from $10-$20—can greatly enhance your overall experience.

In conclusion, while SFO and SJC are viable options for those requiring broader flight availability, MRY’s proximity makes it an excellent choice for visitors looking to maximize their time in Monterey. It caters to those who value convenience, cost-effectiveness, and an easy transition from plane to picturesque coastline. As traveler anecdotes suggest, the Closest Airport to Monterey CA can turn a good trip into a great one, allowing you to indulge in the local charm without the hassle of extended transit. Consider MRY for your travel plans and embrace a smoother start to your Monterey adventure.

Frequently Asked Questions

The best transportation options vary based on which airport you’re arriving at. For those coming from the Closest Airport to Monterey CA, the Monterey Regional Airport (MRY), a taxi, rideshare, or hotel shuttle is most convenient. From San Francisco (SFO) or San Jose (SJC), renting a car or using a shuttle service is recommended.

Yes, our hotel is conveniently located near several attractions, including local shopping districts, dining, and beautiful beaches. Specific attractions and their distance from the hotel can be provided upon request Closest Airport to Monterey CA.

Our hotel features an on-site restaurant offering a variety of dining options, including local cuisine. Room service is available during restaurant hours, providing the convenience of dining in the comfort of your room Closest Airport to Monterey CA.

Yes, our concierge service can assist you in booking a range of tours and activities, including visits to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, whale watching excursions, and scenic drives along the famous 17-Mile Drive Closest Airport to Monterey CA.

We understand that plans can change. Our hotel allows free cancellations and modifications up to 48 hours before your scheduled arrival. For cancellations or changes made after this period, a fee may be applied Closest Airport to Monterey CA.

“Staying near the Closest Airport to Monterey CA, you can expect amenities such as complimentary airport shuttles, which 95% of nearby hotels offer, free Wi-Fi, and often, beautiful views of the Monterey landscape. These conveniences aim to enhance your stay, ensuring a blend of comfort and accessibility.

By flying into the Closest Airport to Monterey CA, you can save up to 2 hours of travel time, which is approximately a 90% reduction compared to traveling from airports like SFO or SJC. Moreover, you can save an average of 60% on transportation costs to your hotel or downtown Monterey.

Yes, the Closest Airport to Monterey CA offers several car rental services. Their rates are competitive, with prices being only about 10-15% higher than larger airports due to the convenience factor, but you save significantly on the travel time to your final destination.

The average wait time for a taxi or shuttle from the Closest Airport to Monterey CA is typically under 15 minutes, ensuring a swift transfer to your accommodation, which is highly efficient compared to the potential hour-long waits at larger airports.

A vibrant rainbow arcs over a streetlamp against a backdrop of clear blue skies.

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