The Marine Mammal Center – Since 1975, more than 16,000 marine animals have been rescued and treated at this facility. Marin Headlands, 2000 Bunker Rd., Fort Cronkhite. 415-289-7325. tmmc.org.
Pier 39 – Hundreds of sea lions camp out in this protected environment throughout the year. Beach Street and The Embarcadero, K-Dock, West Marina. 415-705-5500. pier39.com.
Año Nuevo State Reserve – This 4,000-acre reserve is a major gathering area for northern elephant seals year-round. Highway 1 between Santa Cruz and Half Moon Bay (about 1.5 hours south of San Francisco). 650-879-0227. parks.ca.gov.
South / Coast
Chardonnay II Whale Watching Tours – Guides on this 70-foot sailboat discuss marine biology and the whales, dolphin, otters, sea lions and jellies you may see. Santa Cruz Harbor, 790 Mariner Park Way, FF Dock. chardonnay.com.
Santa Cruz Whale Watching – Enjoy narrated trips in a yacht to see gray whales, dolphins and more. Santa Cruz Harbor, F Dock. 831-427-0230. santacruzwhalewatching.com.
Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary – Thousands of monarch butterflies cluster together on the pines and eucalyptus of the sanctuary and stay from October to February until they join the spring Monarch migration. Ridge Road, Pacific Grove. FREE. 831-648-5716. pgmuseum.org.
Monterey Bay Whale Watch – Year-round whale watching trips to view the dolphins and whales that inhabit the bay. 84 Fisherman’s Wharf, Monterey. 831-375-4658. montereybaywhalewatch.com.
Monterey Whale Watching – Two- to three-hour whale watching tours year-round narrated by marine biologists or naturalists. 96 Old Fisherman’s Wharf No. 1, Monterey. 831-372-2203. montereywhalewatching.com.