Few places on earth can live up to their own mythology, but Monterey is a notable exception. No matter what you’ve heard or seen in feature films, nothing can prepare you for the jaw-dropping beauty along Monterey's fabled coast and village-like pedestrian thoroughfares. John Steinbeck was a frequent visitor, and drew considerable inspiration from area landmarks including Cannery Row, which he helped to immortalize in his novel of the same name. Today, restaurants, boutiques and attractions like the Monterey Bay Aquarium have helped make Monterey a favorite destination for visitors from around the world.
The first settlers of Monterey were Native Americans known as Rumsiens, and their artifacts are still often uncovered throughout the area. European settlers established a Royal Presidio and Mission in 1770. The San Carlos Cathedral, built in 1794, is the oldest building in the city.
Monterey also lays claim to the oldest government building in California, the Custom House, started in 1814 and expanded shortly after California became a Mexican territory in 1822. Commodore John Drake Sloat and his men claimed California for the United States in 1846 by raising the flag in Monterey Harbor. California became part of the United States in 1848, and in 1849 its constitution was written in historic Colton Hall, where city offices still exist today.
Things to Do in Monterey
Whether it's the landmark Monterey Bay Aquarium, the Monterey Museum of Art or one of our other fascinating museums, a Monterey whale watching excursion or a self-guided kayaking exploration of the bay, Monterey's activities can keep you busy from the moment you get up in the morning until you rest your head at night.
History buffs can walk the Path of History to see the old buildings that remain from Monterey's period as California's capital, while wine fans can stroll among the city's tasting rooms. Avid shoppers can find antiques in New Monterey and unique boutiques on Cannery Row and among the historic buildings in Old Monterey. They'll also find upscale fashion and technology at the Del Monte Center, and beachcombers can find all kinds of treasures on Monterey's beautiful beaches.
View a sample itinerary for ideas on how to spend two days in Monterey. See the list of Monterey's top area attractions; if you want to know more, read in-depth information about Monterey's tourist activities.
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