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.

You may also enjoy our related articles found on the links below…..

Enjoy Historic Mission San Juan Bautista

The Historic Santa Cruz Boardwalk

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)


Three San Francisco Sightseeing Stops Not to Miss

For those with the opportunity to visit San Francisco, of the unique cities in the U.S… they will not find a shortage of historic, fun and one of a kind sites to visit. In this article we wanted to highlight three of these sites...Nob Hill…the Cable Car Museum and the World War Two submarine, U.S.S. Pampanito.

nob hill hotels

Fairmont Hotel,, San Francisco, CA

Nob Hill

The Nob Hill area came into being in the late 1800’s when the city of San Francisco was growing rapidly. New neighborhoods were being created every year and would eventually reach westward all the way to the Pacific Ocean.Nob Hill was originally the location where wealthy San Franciscan’s once desired to build their mansions.

The views from Non Hill were second to none. From Nob Hill you could have great views of both the city and bay.

The Fairmont Hotel

One of the most well known hotels on Nob Hill is the Fairmont. This outside of this hotel has been seen featured in movies and television over many years. The Fairmont Hotel was still in it’s final construction stage when the great earthquake and fire of 1906 destroyed San Francisco.

After the earthquake, the building itself remained intact. The interior however was severely damaged by fire and as a result the hotel’s opening was pushed back one year until 1907. During this time the building was also reinforced with concrete that could help it survive another earthquake. For those wondering how the hotel received it’s name, it was named after U.S. Senator James Graham Fair. It so happened the hotel was constructed by his daughters, Virginia Fair Vanderbilt and Theresa Fair Oelrichs.

The Mark Hopkins Hotel

Another well known hotel you’ve most likely heard of is the Mark Hopkins. The Mark Hopkins Hotel had a very different history than it’s neighbor the Fairmont. The land where the Mark Hopkins sits was at one time the home of Mark Hopkins, one of the Big Four investors and founders of the famous Central Pacific Railroad.It was the Central Pacific which met the Union Pacific in Utah to form the nation’s first transcontinental railroad.

Cable Car Museum

If you have an opportunity to visit San Francisco, one very fun and educational stop to make is the Cable Car Museum. There is no charge to visit the museum.The Cable Car Museum not only showcases vintage San Francisco cable cars, cable car mechanisms and their fascinating history but also lets you see for yourself just how the system operates today.

cable car museum photos

Power House at Cable Car Museum

The museum is also a cable car power house which operates the underground cable system today. The museum is obviously unique where you can get a feel for the old cable car days as well as the ones you ride today.

The power house itself is off limits to visitors, there are two galleries which allow you to see the cables and machinery in action. There is also an area underground where visitors can see the cables operating under Washington and Mason Streets pulling along the cable cars up above.

The Cable Car Museum is truly one of the most unique you’ll come across during your travels.



You may also enjoy the Trips Into History articles on the links below…

One of a Kind Stops Along Old Route 66

See the USS Midway / San Diego’s Premiere Attraction

Submarine Museum / U.S.S. Pampanito

If touring an old World War Two diesel submarine interests you than be sure to see the U.S.S. Pampanito. Located at Fisherman’s Wharf, this submarine is open for tours inside the submarine from front to back. The USS Pampanito is a treasure and has quite a patrol record in the Pacific during the war. This self guided tour will give you a great feel for what it was like serving on her and living in cramped quarters for extended periods.

world war two submarines

World War Two submarine U.S.S. Pampanito

The history of the U.S.S. Pampanito is as follows… The vessel was built in 1943 at the Navy Yards in Portsmouth New Hampshire. The cost of her construction was six million dollars which was quite a lot of money in the early 40’s but probably sounds like a rock bottom bargain price for a submarine today. The Pampanito is 311 ft 9 inch in length and her beam is 27 ft 3 in. Her typical crew compliment was 70 enlisted men and 10 officers.

The submarine’s operating depth was about 400 feet and her speed was 21 knots on the surface and about 9 knots while submerged.

After the Pampanito’s shakedown cruise in the Atlantic, the new submarine headed directly for Pearl Harbor via the Panama Canal and arrived there in February 1944. Her deployment therefore was during the latter part of the Pacific War. Between 1944-45 the Pampanito completed six war patrols in the Pacific Theater. There are maps that show the areas of each one of her patrols.

(Article and photos copyright 2016 Trips Into History)

Your La Jolla, California Getaway / Scenic and Much More

The Land of Today’s La Jolla Dates Way back

What today is a beautiful tourist destination was at one time home to Native Americans. Artifacts found in and around La Jolla, California tell us that Native Americans settled along the Pacific shoreline nearly 10,000 years ago. Archaeologists have found stone utensils and other Indian artifacts for many years.

la jolla photosWhat happened to the native Americans who called this area home is an unanswered question. Did they migrate nearby? Did they move further south perhaps into Mexico? Answers to these questions still remain a mystery.

La Jolla Becomes Part of San Diego

The area around La Jolla was made part of San Diego in 1850. This would have been about 80 years after Father Junipero Serra built his mission in San Diego which was the first Spanish mission built in California, then called Alta California.  At the time San Diego took over La Jolla there were no permanent settlers in this section of land. It wasn’t until 19 years later  when two brothers, Daniel and Samuel Sizer, each bought a plot here. The plots sold were 80 acres in size and cost $1.25 per acre. This was quite a long time ago but regardless who would have imagined that an acre today in La Jolla would be priced in the millions?

la jolla coastline

Sea birds gather along the La Jolla coastline

Railroads Mean Growth

The railroad made it’s way to La Jolla, California in the 1880’s. This represented a milestone for La Jolla. Whenever the railroad laid tracks to a town the result was growth and typically large growth. The railroad was the catalyst for aggressive development including that of sea side resorts that would lure travelers from San Diego and inland communities. As an example, La Jolla Park Hotel opened its doors in 1893 and cottage-style homes were built along Prospect Street and Girard Avenue.

In 1900 La Jolla, California counted about 350 permanent residents. For the next twenty years La Jolla solidified it’s tourism appeal and tourism became it’s number one economic driver and remains so today.

La Jolla became known as an artist colony during this early 20th century period. The community was also fortunate to have newspaper heiress Ellen Browning Scripps settle there. Scripps used her wealth to help further La Jolla’s cultural base. In La Jolla, San Diego proper and in parts of southern California in general, her name is on numerous landmarks and institutions. One such well known institution is the Scripps Institute of Oceanography and Ellen Browning Scripps Park.

Today’s La Jolla Attractions

Many refer to La Jolla as the jewel of San Diego. This is probably a pretty accurate description. La Jolla rests atop the bluffs that overlook the Pacific Ocean. This world famous tourist destination and jewel of San Diego has attracted millions over the years, and continues to do so to this very day.

What to expect with La Jolla is a small town feel, some of the finest ocean and coastal mountain views anywhere in southern California and an easy to access coastline. Put these all together and you have one magnificent attraction.

Beaches, Restaurants and Shopping / Something For Everyone

The three main areas of interest for La Jolla visitors is the beautiful beach, the variety of unique restaurants, and the top notch shopping. Home to some of the best coastline in southern California, La Jolla offers beach goers the opportunity to play, relax, and just enjoy the sun on some of the finest beaches that even rival those found in Hawaii for their seclusion and serenity.

la jolla california coastlineFrom the long white sand of La Jolla Shores to the quiet and relaxing beach off Marine Street, you’ll have plenty of space to find your very own piece of southern California paradise.

La Jolla restaurants are world class and boast of having some of the finest chefs and up coming chefs in the U.S. Because La Jolla enjoys a year round growing season, these chefs have easy access to some of the finest food products found anywhere and that translates to some of the best meals you’ll ever enjoy.

You may enjoy these additional San Diego articles from our Western Trips website…

Coronado Island and the Historic Hotel del Coronado

The Oldest Building in San Diego Located in Old Town

For those who want to check out the shopping, many say that La Jolla offers some of the most unique shopping found anywhere. It’s been said that La Jolla shopping is the choice of celebrities and bargain-hunters alike. From the world’s most luxurious brands to everyday values.

la jolla attractions

La Jolla street leading to the coastline

La Jolla is a community to visit for a vacation, a great weekend getaway or if need be, just for a fun and relaxing day.  If you have to pick a season in an area that has four excellent seasons, summer is probably the best time to visit, as the beaches there are truly beautiful. Looking for a trip destination out of the ordinary and one with great photo opportunities, you may want to consider La Jolla, California. For more details of dining choices and shopping see website…

(Article and photos copyright 2015 Trips Into History)

A Visit to the Gatekeeper’s Museum / Tahoe City CA

The Gatekeeper’s Museum

Consider visiting the Gatekeepers Museum which offers a fascinating look into the history of the Lake Tahoe Basin. The Gatekeepers Museum is located where the outlet for the Truckee River begins from Lake Tahoe in Tahoe City, California. This would be on the western shore of Lake Tahoe. The Gatekeeper’s Museum is located in William B. Layton Park behind Fanny Bridge at 120 West Lake Boulevard. As of this writing, the Gatekeeper’s Museum is open  May through September from 10am to 5pm daily, except Tuesdays, and the rest of the year on weekends only between 11am and 3pm.

lake tahoe museums

Gatekeeper’s Museum, Tahoe City, CA

The existing Gatekeeper’s cabin is a reconstruction of the original cabin built in 1910 in the same location. The original cabin which was built by Robert Montgomery Watson burned down in the early 1980’s.The fire was believed to be arson.

The Gatekeeper’s cabin was originally built to be the home of the “watermaster” who controlled the water flow out of Lake Tahoe. This job would also be described as the “dam attendant“.

The cabin/museum displays Tahoe history, from the Washoe people through the logging and mining eras and the beginning of the tourism industry at Lake Tahoe. Museum exhibits include Native American baskets, resort memorabilia, historical photographs, clothing, oral histories, maps, archival documents, newspapers, and artifacts.

lake tahoe hiking trails

Cottonwood Trail Head at Layton Park, Tahoe City CA

Layton Park

The Gatekeeper’s Museum is located inside Layton Park. Long before this spot was named Layton Park it was a summer home to the Washoe Indians. This was so for thousands of years while the Washoe traveled from the lower elevations of Nevada to the high elevation of what is now Tahoe City. Today, those visiting the Gatekeeper’s Museum and Tahoe City may enjoy a short hike around Layton Park’s “Cottonwood Trail” . This is a loop path that gives you the chance to view a large number of trees, bushes and flowers that are native to the area.

You should be able to pick up a brochure at the trail head which will explain the numerical markers seen along the trail. Near the trail head you’ll also see an exhibit of the old Tahoe Firehouse.

truckee river dam

Truckee River Dam at the Lake Tahoe shoreline

The Truckee River

The Truckee River Basin covers an area of approximately 3,060 square miles in the states of California and Nevada. The river’s basin stretches in a generally north by northeast direction from Lake Tahoe, located in the Sierra Nevada Mountains on the border between California and Nevada. The Truckee river water flows to Pyramid Lake, located about 50 air miles away from Lake Tahoe in the desert of northwestern Nevada. The Truckee River is 105 miles in length.

The Truckee River is the only outlet from Lake Tahoe. The Truckee River is a great place to fish, ride a raft down the rapids, or do some casual sightseeing, all depending on which length of the river you happen to be on at the time. Tourists are gleefully informed of the famed “fanny bridge” or “rump row” which is viewed by sightseers leaning over to look at the river below.

Exploring Lake Tahoe

The earliest known inhabitants of the Tahoe Basin were the nomadic predecessors to the Washoe, Maidu and Paiute Indian Tribes. These tribes existed during the Middle Archaic Period and reportedly returned to the area seasonally to collect medicinal plants, hunt, fish and create stone tools.

lake tahoe dam

Map of the Gatekeeper’s Museum and Truckee River Dam location in Tahoe City, CA

The first European to set eyes on lake Tahoe was John C. Fremont. Fremont came across Lake Tahoe in February of 1844. Along with his exploration party was Kit Carson. Fremont first observed Lake Tahoe from what is today, Carson Pass.

At this time the Lake Tahoe shoreline was inhabited mostly by the Washoe tribe. Interestingly enough the lake had various names until it was officially named Lake Tahoe in 1945. The state line between California and Nevada passes roughly through the middle of Lake Tahoe.

In the 1850’s the California Gold Rush and people resettling resulted in heavy wagon train traffic through what is today Highway 50. Then, wagon traffic was so heavy the route was called the Roaring Road. Today Highway 50, passing over Echo Summit, is the main  route for motorists driving from Sacramento or the Bay Area to South Lake Tahoe. Interstate 80 is the more direct route taken to Donner Pass, Truckee, and the ski areas west and north of the lake.

See these additional Trips Into History articles on the links below…

 A Visit to Old Town Sacramento

Nevada City California and the Lady Gambler

tahoe city california

Tahoe City, California

Tahoe City California

Tahoe City is located on the western shore of Lake Tahoe about 14 miles southeast of Donner Pass. The area was surveyed in 1863 with the Tahoe House built one year later. The town was a stop over point for people traveling to and from the Nevada Comstock Lode. First named simply Tahoe, the name was changed to Tahoe City in 1949.

Today, Tahoe City California is a major tourist destination on Lake Tahoe. During the summer months Tahoe City is a place for rafting, hiking, biking, boating and all types of watersports plus golf and horesback riding. During the winter months Tahoe City is all about snow and all snow sports. Plenty of attractions in Tahoe City and Lake Tahoe to make a vacation or long weekend a great time.

( Article and photos copyright 2014 Trips Into History)

Unique San Francisco Bay Area Attractions

Unique San Francisco Bay Area Attractions

fort point california

Fort Point

Fort Point

If you’re making a list of things to do in San Francisco California area you’ll make a good choice by adding a stop at Fort Point to your itinerary. Fort Point is one of the most unique historical sites the the United States. The Fort has been called “the pride of the Pacific,” “the Gibraltar of the West Coast,” and “one of the most perfect models of masonry in America.”

Where this fort is located could not be more unique. The site of Fort Point is directly under the south end of the Golden Gate Bridge and in the Golden Gate National Parks area. While visiting Fort Point just look up and you’ll see the bottom of the bridge’s south end. Probably one of the most unique views you’ll ever have.

To drive to Fort Point from the city or from points south, take Highway 101 north and exit right at the Golden Gate Bridge toll plaza before getting on bridge. Turn right at end of exit ramp and then left onto Lincoln Boulevard. Take the first left onto Long Avenue and follow onto Marine Drive. Fort Point is at its end.

ford plant richmond ca

Ford plant display section, Richmond CA

Historic Richmond California Ford Plant

San Francisco things to do also include a visit to the old Ford Motor Company Richmond California plant. This is quite a significant historical venue. Richmond is located northeast and across the bay from San Francisco.

The area where the factory building still stands is at Point Richmond right on San Francisco Bay. This assembly plant, designed by Detroit architect Albert Kahn, produced some 49,000 jeeps and 91,000 additional military vehicles to aid America’s war effort during World War Two. The factory measured 500,000 square feet.

When the plant was built in 1930, the plan was to produce about 400 vehicles in an eight hour work shift. Total employment at the assembly plant was planned for 2,600. During the war years the plant’s activity was constant, twenty four hours a day and seven days a week. Since war time work shifts were scheduled one after the other the Ford plant and the Kaiser Shipyard meant that area roads had heavy traffic no matter what time of day.

When the war ended Richmond’s economy took a big hit. First the Kaiser Shipyard closed and then eventually the Ford Motor plant. Ford kept operating the Richmond facility after the war to help satisfy the pent up demand for civilian vehicles. Even so, the last Ford car built at this plant was in 1953 and the Ford plant closed for good in 1956. This of course was another hit to the Richmond economy.

rosie the riveter historic park

Rosie the Riveter

When you visit the old Ford plant today you’ll see that it is located at the Rosie the Riveter WW II Home Front National Historical Park. see the exhibits at the old Ford plant and tour the museum located adjacent to the old Ford plant. The museum has an excellent presentation with numerous exhibits that show and explain how the war effort was handled on the home front by the people who built the vehicles and ships.

Directions to the Rosie the Riveter Visitor Education Center from the San Francisco or Oakland area is as follows. Take I-80 East, then take the I-580 West split after the Gilman St. off ramp. EXIT Harbour Way South, then turn Right onto Cutting Blvd, now make a right at the next stop light onto Harbour Way South and continue for 0.8 miles. Make a left into the gated parking lot passing the guard shack. Follow signs from there ending at Suite #3000. The entrance is on the south side of the building by the water.

mission dolores san francisco

Mission Dolores in San Francisco

Mission Dolores

The settling of California by the Spanish had everything to do with their mission system. From San Diego in the south to Sonoma in the north, the Spanish missions were essential in settling what was then called Alta California.

The building of Mission Dolores in San Francisco came shortly after the Juan Bautista de Anza Expedition of 1776 came to the Bay Area from Mexico with the direct intention of bringing settlers to the area.

De Anza’s expedition essentially first settled what is now the city of San Francisco. When de Anza arrived, his first two tasks were to find a suitable place for both a mission and for a presidio.

There are many interesting facts to know about Mission Dolores San Francisco. The site that de Anza had chosen for the mission was on the banks of a very small rivulet that he named Arroyo de los Dolores. This small stream emptied into a small lake.

Father Francisco Palou who was with the expedition held the first mass in a thatched hut. Later, Father Palou moved the mission to a better site a few blocks away to where it stands today.

The Dolores Mission, where it resides today, was formally dedicated in 1791 and hasn’t changed much since. The quadrangle of the mission was finally completed in 1798, twenty years after the missions founding. The small lake where the stream led was eventually  covered up. Interestingly enough, the lake that was filled in and covered was eventually used for settlement with homes being built upon the land fill. This small section received considerable damage during the 1906 Earthquake.

See the Trips Into History articles on the links below…

Tour the WW II Submarine USS Pampanito

The Last Days of the California Stagecoach

Visit the Cable Car Museum

san francisco maritime park

A Tall ship at the San Francisco Maritime Historical Park

San Francisco National Maritime Historical Park

Today, we’re fortunate to have a great place to visit at San Francisco’s Fishermans Wharf. It’s a place to see both steamboats and old sailing vessels from an earlier era.

The San Francisco National Maritime Historical Park is a very unique site and would be a good addition to your San Francisco vacation or weekend trip.

This maritime park is located in what is perhaps one of the most picturesque part of the United States. The park consists of a fleet of historic vessels, a visitor center, a very interesting maritime museum as well as a library/research facility. The park is located nearby where Hyde Street ends at Fishermans Wharf. The cable car and electric streetcars make it very convenient to get to.

One such early vessel permanently docked at the park is the sidewheeler “Eureka“.  Like many old steamboats the Eureka has a rich history. The Eureka was built in Tiburon in Marin County in 1890. The vessel was first named the “Ukiah” to showcase the San Francisco and North Pacific Railway’s recent extension into the City of Ukiah on California’s north Pacific coast.

The first route for the Eureka was between San Francisco and Tiburon. An interesting construction fact regarding the Eureka was that it was built with a double-end design. This means that cars and people could embark or disembark from either end of the vessel.

Take a glance at the Eureka and you’ll notice that the front and back of the steamboat are identical. This includes pilot house. This new design may have been one of the most revolutionary of the time and certainly made the vessel more versatile.

This vessel which was then name the Ukiah carried troops and rail cars filled with munitions in aiding the World War One effort. Her war service however came with a big price. Transporting the extremely heavy rail cars stressed her hull and she had to be extensively repaired at government expense. During this era the Ukiah was the largest double ended designed vessel in the world. She could carry 2,300 passengers and about 120 cars.

Plenty of very unique and interesting things to do in the San Francisco Bay Area and we wanted to highlight a few of these in this article. We hope you enjoyed the article and had a chance to see the linked articles above which highlight even more good trip stops.

(Article and photos copyright 2014 Trips Into History)