Old Monterey

While seeking a convenient stopover for Spanish galleons returning from Manila to Acapulco, Spanish explorer Sebastian Vizcaino "discovered" the bay and peninsula he named Monterey, after the viceroy of New Spain, in 1602. It was more than 160 years before Gaspar de Portola reached Monterey to assess Vizcaino's recommendation, and by then Father Junipero Serra's overland party had already begun the establishment of the California mission chains. Indian populatins were diverse and plentiful through the early 1800s.

The Chinese settled in the area during the Gold Rush and they originated the local commercial fishing industry. In the 1870s, the Italian and Portuguese broke the Chinese fishing monopoly by developing the fresh fish industry. John Steinbeck immortalized Monterey in his novel Cannery Row.

New Monterey

Until the Gold Rush turned San Francisco into a boomtown, Monterey was the center of activity in Northern California. Today, most of the action is around the Fisherman's Wharf area and Cannery Row. Both places are collections of touristy shops and attractions, similar to San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf. Monterey State Historic Park, near the downtown area, features a Path of History, a walking tour of 37 historic adobe buildings. Robert Louis Stevenson was very active in this area.

Other famous sights include the Monterey Bay Aquarium and the nearby towns of Pacific Grove, Pebble Beach, and Carmel. For an unusual way to see the area, consider renting a Model A Roadster. The largest upscale shopping center in the area is the Del Monte Center, at the intersection of Highway One and Munras Street.

Click here for a photo tour of unusual sights in Monterey today, narrated by Helmut Schonwalder.