Monterey Car Week: Auto Heaven for Your Family of Gearheads

Moms, dads, grandparents, and godparents: Are you looking for a special occasion to dedicate to some one-on-one bonding time with your kid? Check out our series of hip happenings that will give the two of you secrets to share and a ritual to return to year after year.

Maseratis and Ferraris and Lamborghinis, oh my! Does your mini car collector sit around dreaming of getting his hands on foreign sports cars and limited edition rides? Maybe it’s mom who drools after Jay Leno’s fancy fleet of ostentatious autos, or little sis. Match up your riders and drivers for Monterey Car Week (August 14-20, 2017) an illustrious affair for lovers of anything with wheels.

Although the main event, the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, sells tickets at $350 a pop, there are plenty of other parades, street shows, and parking lot prime-time vehicles to cast your eyes upon for far fewer dollars, but just as many awes.

Pack the Roadster

To prepare for the annual August event, book a hotel room in the Monterey Bay area. Events take place from Seaside to Carmel, so as long as you stay within the peninsula area, you are well within the bounds of the show. And remember – this is a car-centric week, so events are spread out within easy driving distance rather than walking distance.

If you plan to get a ticket for the illustrious Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, buy it as soon as you book the hotel. Only 3,000 spectators are allowed to view this auspicious motoring event which celebrates the best in rare and collectable cars by parading them through 17 miles of closed roads and onto the Pebble Beach links’ 18th hole. Many of the other shows are also ticketed, so check with the organizers to see if advance purchase is required.

Quiz your kid on makes and models you might see at the show so that you’re prepared to gawk with the best of them! The schedule of events will tell you which cars you can expect to see, and where. This is also a great way to plan activities for the week ahead. Don’t forget to leave time for parking!

Hit the Road

Living on the high end of the hog during Monterey Car Week can add up to a lot of cash quickly. But it doesn’t have to! Even if you’re driving a classic wagon or a hand-me-down Honda, there are still plenty of events to enjoy on a budget.

Now it’s time to get the show on the road! Peek and pine over any number of extraordinary vehicles zooming down the road, parked in the street, or even pulled up next to you. Keep your eyes peeled and a camera handy because there will be plenty to see from the back of your car’s very own windows.

Check out the opening show, Concours on the Avenue (Ocean Avenue, that is) in Carmel, a free show featuring vintage muscle cars, sports cars, and luxury vehicles. Amble your way down the avenue to peek under the hood and behind the wheel of more than 175 classic vehicles. Knowledgeable commentary is also on hand.

Keen to see the stunning autos on tour at the Pebble Beach Concours without shelling out the big bucks? Lucky for you, all the show’s autos are invited to participate in the Pebble Beach Tour d’Elegance, a precursor event to the Concours, meant to showcase the driving prowess of these machines.

Pack a picnic, stake out a scenic overview along the route from Pebble Beach to Carmel, and watch the show glide by. Autos leave Pebble Beach at 8am and arrive in Carmel by noon, so you can count on quite a sizable parade. Usually about 80% of the vehicles registered for the Concours participate in the Tour.

Around the Benz

Once you get the hang of things, cruise on over to Automobilia Monterey, a grand expo hall for all things collectible: pins, posters, model cars, books, rally plates, autographs, and more. For the $20 entry fee, your eyes can’t consume more memorabilia than this. It’s truly the place to spend the day with your auto culture aficionado.

Want to splurge on a show of specialty cars? Maybe you’re driving a fun-and-functional Audi that you’d like to show off in the Legends of the Autobahn event, where you can join other German auto club enthusiasts. Register ahead of time to parade your vehicle in the event, or attend for free.

The Classic Americana Showcase, featuring cars from 1945 until today, is free for spectators but also a great show in which to register your pristine American auto. But hurry – the show is limited to 100 slots!

If you’ve got the cash to see a few collections of autos, check out the lineup of Italian sports cars in the Italian Stampede or Concorso Italiano. If rare models are more your thing, you’ll find them in the Exotics on Cannery Row show. And don’t worry: auctions are happening throughout the week, so you’ll have plenty of opportunities to buy your next million-dollar hot rod.

Want to practice some gratitude for that beast you rode in on? Attend the Concours d' LeMons, or the Pebble Beach Lemon Show, to get some perspective. The Do-Dah Parade of Car Week, this show features the best of the worst of rust buckets, lemons, and other auto-fails to counteract all of the pristine beauty you’ve just seen.

Drive Off into the Sunset

Now that you and your little teenage speed demon have seen it all, ooh-ed and ahh-ed over cars from around the world and decided that you want to commit your life to a classic car, it’s time to head home. The conversation on the road? “What are you getting me for my sweet sixteen?”

Will you take your kids to Monterey Car Week this year? What are some fun events your city has to offer? Share with us!

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Afshin Behnia
One more tip: hotels/motels/airbnbs all sell out fast and are super expensive during car week. A fun, low-cost option is to take a camper/motorhome and camp out for free at the Laguna Seca track. Check their site before you plan your trip. I think it's just first come, first serve.
Greg Szimonisz
Great idea. If Monterey is all booked up, you can stay in Carmel or Carmel Valley as well. One of the most beautiful parts of the country.
Afshin Behnia
Been going there several years in a row now. Another nice free event during the week is the Werks Reunion -- a gathering of vintage Porsches.