Things to See and Do in Historic Monterey California

Everything about Monterey, California has to do with scenery, historic sites and the relaxation of visiting a seaside town. Located about a 2 hour drive south of the San Francisco Bay Area, Monterey is just the place to visit for those wishing to escape the big city hustle and bustle.

Monterey as a Spanish and Mexican Port and Capital

monterey ca historic sites

Historic Custom House

Monterey was the most important settlement and was the seat of government when the Spaniards ruled what is now California. Monterey was also the capital when the Mexicans ousted the Spaniards during the early 1820’s.

The city is located about a two hour drive south of San Francisco and a one hour and fifteen minute drive south of San Jose. Monterey can be either a day trip for those visiting from the San Francisco Bay Area or a fun overnight or weekend visit.

The Historic Custom House Plaza is located between the Portola Plaza Hotel and Fisherman’s Wharf

The Custom House in Monterey California is known as the oldest government building in California. This structure was built by the Spaniards who chose the Monterey as their capital of what was named Alta California. The Custom House was in existence by 1827 but deteriorated and was replaced by a larger structure in 1841. Monterey was at one time the only port of entry in what was then called Alta California.  
The Monterey Custom House  also has great historical significance by the fact that the United States flag was raised over it by Commodore John Drake Sloat on July 7,1846 thus claiming the territory of Alta California for the U.S. as a result of the Mexican-American War.

Whale Watching Off Monterey California

california whale watching trips

Whale watching excursions

The area in and around Monterey, California offers spots along the shoreline where whales can be observed. The following explains why the Monterey region is so popular for whale watching…

The Pacific Ocean off Monterey California and Monterey Bay is a natural marine habitat. In fact, the water is so deep just off the coast at this location that the area is often referred to as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific Ocean. The depth reaches close to 5,800 feet. These submarine canyons, and there are several within this larger one, extend from shallow waters of the continental shelf to the deep sea and contain a very wide range of habitats and because of this an incredible diversity of organisms.Among these are the Pacific gray whale.

There are also opportunities to go out in the Pacific Ocean for whale watching expeditions off Monterey. There are several excellent whale watching cruise tours offered from Monterey harbor and they are worth taking.

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Cannery Row

cannery row monterey

Cannery Row

Cannery Row in Monterey takes you back to the days when Monterey’s main industry was seafood fishing and canning. The Chinese actually began fishing the waters of Monterey Bay during the 1850’s soon after California became a state.

At first the catches would include abalone and later several varieties of fish including cod, halibut, flounder, yellowtail, sardines, squid, shark, oysters and mussels. Later in the 1800’s Italian fisherman migrated to the area and competed with the Chinese.

Monterey, California is a Must Travel Stop

Above are just a few of the many things to see and do in Monterey. The Pacific Coast in the Monterey area is absolutely beautiful. No matter how many times you may have visited the area, the scenery never gets old.

things to do in monterey california

Monterey Harbor

In addition to the attractions explored in this article is a terrific line up of restaurants both in Monterey and nearby Carmel-By-The-Sea. Carmel is just a few miles from Monterey and most visitors take in Carmel and Monterey together.

The beaches and coastal terrain gives you some of the best scenery in California. The entire  area also has hotels that can accommodate most travel budgets.

The beautiful scenery along with a small town feel is what brings many people back to Monterey on a regular basis.

(Article and photos copyright Trips Into History)