The small coastal town of Monterey carefully conserves the image that has made it known around the world, thanks to the novel „Cannery Row“ by John Steinbeck. The famous author himself lived in the city in whose main street Ocean View Avenue there used to be a lot of fish cannery and processing plants. Today, none of these are left but the road has been renamed Cannery Row and the vacated buildings have been remodeled without losing their original looks. In them, today there are restaurants, shops, hotels and a few Bed & Breakfasts, all of which have steady visitor traffic. It has indeed been possible to preserve the atmosphere Steinbeck once described in most cases. At the end of the street, a large sea lion colony has made its home and has become a tourist attraction itself. The same is true for the adjacent, pedestrian-only Fisherman’s Wharf. While this is no longer the place from where fishermen depart and where they return to to process their catch, but although there area mainly restaurants here nowadays, visitors may catch a glimpse of the old times in the face of the historic buildings. At Fisherman’s Wharf, there is also the heritage-rich Wharf Theater.
Those looking to trace Monterey’s history can do so by following the Path of History, a route through town beginning in front of the Customs House. This former customs building has been meticulously restored back to how it looked around 1840 and today hosts a museum. Nearby, in the Maritime Museum of History another exhibition looks back on the significance of the fishing industry for the region. Among other stops along the Path of History is the Stevenson House on Houston Street, where famous author Robert Louis Stevenson spent some time and the Colton Hall. In this building, the Consitution of California was composed in 1849. Colton Hall today is the location of a museum on the history of California and also has some interesting artefacts from the time between 1770 and 1822, when Monterey was the capital of the then-Spanish California.
John Steinbeck and Robert Louis Stevenson by far weren’t the only Monterey residents with famous name, the city has been drawing many artists for many generations. The Monterey Museum of Art which has two exhibitions (on La Mirada and on Pacific Street) has a lot of works made by artists who have spent at least part of their lives here. The collection encompasses paintings, photos and sculptures.
One of the city’s main attractions is the internationally recognized Monterey Bay Aquarium on Cannery Row. The aquarium, in which some 35,000 animals live, is connected to the Pacific Ocean by a system of tubes, thus enabling natural tide changes in the aquarium itself. The second-largest tank of the institution, holding 1.3 million litres of water, has a built-in wave machine and features direct sunlight from above. The largest tank hold even 4.5 million litres and has been constructed with the world’s largest continuous glass pane. Apart from fish from the Pacific habitat, the aquarium also is home to otters and penguins, in addition there are several laboratories for marine biology located here. The aquarium is open daily from 10 am and until 5 pm in winter and 6 pm in the summer.
Those interested in the creatures of the sea may also want to consider meeting them in their natural habitat. There are many options for Pacific boat excursions off the coast of Monterey available, where guests can watch dolphins, whales and other animals.