Visiting Monterey, California
This gorgeous location on the California coast is a tourist destination, an ecologically significant part of the state, and an historic boon to the United States economy.
Immortalized in John Steinbeck’s famous novel, Cannery Row, Monterey is more than just a book setting or the home of a popular type of cheese. Read more to learn all about this beautiful destination!
This historic area of California provided economic growth in fragile times.
Cans of sardines - like this one - were a huge part of Monterey’s history
Monterey is located on a thriving ecological powerhouse known as Monterey Bay. “Due to the upwelling of cold, nutrient-rich water from the bottom of the Pacific Ocean, funneled to the surface via the vast underwater Monterey Canyon...” sardines thrived off the coast of Monterey.
Chinese immigrants took their junks across the ocean and landed on the coast of Monterey, California in 1851. There they settled in Point Ohlones or “China Point”. They went on to start a fishing industry that would jettison the modern era of the canneries.
Railroads and tourism began to take off and flourish in the Monterey area, and by 1902, two canneries had opened. Due to World War I, the demand for canned goods increased dramatically and kept the canneries in Monterey operating at full volume. More canneries opened, and people were being put to work. This proved vital to the economy when the Great Depression hit in the 1930s. Sardines were used for fertilizer and fish meal, and the canneries were operating at full capacity.
World War II proved that Monterey was indeed the “Sardine Capital of the World”, and Americans dined on canned fish during the frugal years at war. However all good things must come to an end, and by the end of the war, the industry was destroyed due to the sardine population being severely depopulated by over-fishing.
Famous novelist John Steinbeck immortalized Cannery Row in his novel of the same name, and in January 1958, the City of Monterey re-named Ocean View Avenue “Cannery Row” in honor of the author.
By the time the 1960s rolled around, the area was being rebuilt due to restaurant owners bringing life back to the region, as well as the founding of the Cannery Row Company in the 1970s. It is now a thriving tourist destination.
This visually stunning bay is home to numerous types of wildlife, as well as the famous Monterey Bay Aquarium.
Whale in Monterey Bay
The Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary was established in 1992 as a vast federally protected marine area off of the coast of California. Its total expanse is mind boggling, with a “shoreline length of 276 miles and 6,094 square statute miles (4,601 nmi2) of ocean, extending an average distance of 30 miles from shore.” At its deepest point, MBNMS reaches 12,713 feet (more than two miles). It is one of our nation’s largest marine sanctuaries, larger then Yellowstone National Park, according to the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary website.
The sanctuary contains 34 mammal species, over 180 seabird species, and more than 525 species of fish. It also contains the Monterey Canyon, an underwater canyon that is twice as deep as the Grand Canyon, as well as one of the nation’s largest kelp forests.
Some of the animals found on the bay include blue whales, Southern sea otters, Northern elephant seals, California sea lions, brown pelicans, gray whales, Pacific white-sided dolphins, humpback whales, orcas, and great white sharks.
The bay is a fascinating area to study, because it is located in between the frigid state of Alaska and the warm waters off of Mexico. The water temperatures in the bay fluctuate between 49 and 55 degrees year-round, and animals from cold and warm ocean locations both end up in the bay.
Monterey Bay Aquarium is located on the bay and is a great hub for science and research, as well as an awesome tourist destination.
Tourism Hub and California Culture at its Finest
Picturesque and quaint at times, but still wild at heart, Monterey has something for everyone.
Fisherman’s Wharf, Monterey
There is something for everyone in Monterey. The area known as Fisherman’s Wharf is “the best place to walk and people-watch” in Monterey, and has dining, shopping, whale-watching, boat rides, and many other activities to partake in.
Bixby Bridge is a famous location along Big Sur
Nature lovers will appreciate the grandness of Big Sur - a rugged region encompassing Monterey. Big Sur is a great road to travel for any road trip enthusiast, because it hugs the California coastline for 90 miles and gives ample opportunities to experience California nature at its finest. This region has inspired nature photographers such as Ansel Adams and writers such as Jack Kerouc with its breathtaking beauty. Following Highway 1 through Big Sur offers Instagram-worthy photo opportunities with jaw-dropping views of redwood trees, rocky cliffs, and ocean vistas. One such location is the famous 260-foot high Bixby Bridge - one of the highest concrete span bridges in the world! You are guaranteed beautiful pictures of nature from this area, no matter the time of year.
No trip to Monterey would be complete without a visit to the Lone Cypress that stands aloft a rocky crag overlooking the ocean. The 200-year old cypress has become a symbol for the region. According to the website Monterey Bay Adventures: “S.F.B. Morse, founder of the Pebble Beach Co., chose the tree as a symbol, according to Neal Hotelling, who handles licensing and tracks history for the company. ‘In this tree,’ Hotelling once wrote, ‘Morse saw the solidity of the rock, vaguely reminiscent of Gibraltar, yet with the life of a rugged tree, native only to this area, clinging with tenacity above the power of the ocean. Land, tree and ocean were the basis of this development, and therefore The Lone Cypress became the perfect symbol.’”
Shopping in Monterey
Carmel-by-the-Sea is a small city in Monterey that was dubbed one of the “World’s Best Cities for Romance” by Travel + Leisure. Discovered by the Spanish and used as the location for the second California mission by famous missionary Fr. Junipero Serra, the area became an official city in 1916 after years of being a hub for intellectual development and culture. Carmel-by-the-Sea was already equipped with an outdoor theater group and a 3,000-book library by the time it became a city. The charming city is a magnet for celebrities and tourists alike, and Clint Eastwood was a mayor there from 1986-1988.
Looking for a winter escape this month? Why not try Monterey? There is truly something for everyone!