California’s cities are each famous for one unique thing: Los Angeles has Hollywood, San Diego has surfing, San Francisco has hippies and Monterey has – cheese? The city of Monterey, located along the Pacific Coast’s Monterey Bay in Central California, has long been known around the world as the home of Monterey Jack cheese. However, Monterey boasts a rich history, with its past residents including the likes of Henry Miller and John Steinbeck, whose novel “Cannery Row” was set in the city. In fact, Monterey offers the visitor many attractions – not just cheese!
Monterey has been dubbed by some as “the cradle of history” and is home to many “firsts” in California’s history: including the Golden State’s first theatre, brick house, publicly funded school, public library and its first printing press. Anyone hoping to get a glimpse of Monterey’s rich historical tradition need only visit the Monterey State Historic Park, in which visitors will find many examples of early colonial architecture. Major historic landmarks in Monterey include Larkin House, Royal Presidio Chapel and Colton Hall – a public school and government meeting place that played host to California’s first constitutional convention.
Moreover, Monterey is well-known for its spectacular marine habitats and its long fishing tradition. Monterey’s fishing industry was for many years one of the most famous in the United States, but underwent severe decline in the 1950s due to over-fishing. Cannery Row, Monterey’s once bustling sardine-canning street has now been converted into a major tourist attraction with many restaurants and shops lining the important historical site.
Cannery Row is also home to one of Monterey’s most popular attractions: the Monterey Bay Aquarium. One of the largest aquariums in North America, the aquarium sees more than 1.8 million people pass through its doors every year and is home to 35, 000 plants and animals from around 623 species, including jellyfish, sea otters and stingrays. And in September 2004, the aquarium’s Outer Bay exhibit momentously became home to the first Great White Shark to ever successfully be kept on exhibit.
If you’re hoping to sample some of Monterey’s non-cheesy delights, you’ll find that getting around the city is simple due to its fairly compact nature. Any of the hotels in Monterey will leave you only a hop, skip and a jump away from the city’s main attractions. And since Monterey is only a couple of hours away from San Francisco and San Jose, and only a little further away from San Diego, Sacramento and LA, it’s an easily accessible day or weekend trip for tourists visiting any of California’s major cities.