Some of the best birding in the state can be had at Elkhorn Slough (1700 Elkhorn Rd., Watsonville, 831/728-2822, www.elkhornslough.org , Wed.–Sun. 9 a.m.–5 p.m., free), a few miles north of Monterey  proper in Moss Landing. This large waterway/wetland area is incongruously marked by the mammoth smokestacks of the Moss Landing power plant.
While you can access the wetlands and bird habitats from Highway 1 in Moss Landing, to get to the visitors center you must drive several miles into the agricultural backcountry. But once you’re there, knowledgeable and dedicated rangers can provide you with all the information you need to spot your favorite birds, plus find a few you’ve never seen before.