Visitors Center & Old French Consulate
Favorite thing: My first stop ever in Monterey, after filling my tank at the now demolished Valero Station, was to swing by the visitors center at El Estero Park for information on hotels, restaurants, and things to do. The lady there was kind of crabby, but we avoided her and looked around on our own. This is a nice facility with lots of great info... just be careful with some of the bums and geese that congregate in the area.
I later found out the visitors center is in the old French Consulate building. A French Consulate in California? What gives? This consulate was established in 1843 after Mexico took over California from Spain, and Monterey was the capital of the area called Alta California. The consulate served the needs of the numerous French nationals who lived and worked in the area.
Just down the street is a new Asian antiques store called Orientations. It is in the old Marsh Building that was constructed in the 1920s. There was talk of tearing down this unique building before Orientations stepped up to restore and reopen it.
Favorite thing: The Osio Cinemas is one of those small, local theaters that every town should have, but most just can't stay in business. The Osio creates its niche by showing a variety of independent films, foreign films, and a few Hollywood blockbusters. They are also the friendliest theater around, giving numerous student, military, and senior citizen discounts, and they have no ticket sellers behind bulletproof glass with a funny speaker. With their discounts, most tickets are about $6.50 some two or three dollars cheaper than the big Wal-Mart movie complexes. The Osio has just six screens, but all are modern with comfy seats and good sound and lighting.
We saw "Mongol," the Russian-made epic about Ghengis Khan at this theater in July 2008. This is a great movie entirely in Mongolian with English subtitles that is not showing anywhere else around Monterey.
The theater is named after the nearby Osio-Rodriguez Adobe, and it was completed in 1999. It was part of the Custom House Urban Renewal Project that started in 1994.
Coast Guard in Monterey
Favorite thing: Monterey's Coast Guard station was established in 1946. Station Monterey is under the operational control of Coast Guard Group San Francisco. Monterey's CG station covers a 120-mile stretch of coastline from Point Ano Nuevo in the north to the Monterey-San Luis Obispo County line in the south. This area is secured and protected by the 50 men of Monterey's station, along with their four small boats.
The station's flagship is the Coast Guard Cutter Hawksbill, which enforces laws and treaties and performs search and rescue along the California Coast. The fourteen men and women assigned to the 87-foot patrol boat also help promote safety in the commercial fishing fleet.
U.S. Coast Guard Station
100 Lighthouse Avenue
Monterey, CA 93940
Monterey Peninsula Artists
Favorite thing: Ever heard of Monterey Peninsula Artists? Probably not, but your favorite singer certainly has. They are an agency for a bunch of singers of all genres, headquartered on 509 Hartnell Street in Monterey, next to the post office. They represent Toby Keith, Black Eyed Peas, Aerosmith, KD Lang, Lyle Lovett, The Black Crowes and about 100 other singers and bands. Kind of cool.
Though they were recently purchased by Paradigm, they continue to have a headquarters in Monterey, along with locations in Nashville, Las Angeles, and New York. Paradigm is a little more diverse than Monterey Peninsula Artists, covering television, literature, and other arts, most famous for representing the TV shows 24, Desperate Housewives, and Rescue Me.
Check out their website... http://www.montereypeninsulaartists.com/ or call them at (831)375-4889 if you want to book the Doobie Brothers for your barmitzvah.
Monterey Peninsula Artists is located in the old Gabriel de la Torre adobe. Built around 1832 by Don Jose de la Torre, the Mexican government's chief administrator of Monterey. One of the oldest buildings in town, it was used as a Federal Court under Mexican rule and continued as a court after American possession in 1846.
Favorite thing: Many buildings constructed in the early 1800s still stand in Monterey. They are great examples of Spanish Architecture with their adobe walls, pitched terra cotta roofs, and wooden decks. Downtown Monterey has a "Path of History" with its route marked by round yellow tiles embedded into the sidewalk. The path will take you past many old buildings that were constructed during the time of Mexican rule of California. These historic buildings have a sign posted in front that usually states the name of the building, a brief history, and the year it was built.Related to:
- Arts and Culture
- Historical Travel
Flowers of Monterey
Favorite thing: The streets and parks of Monterey have a wide variety of plants and flowers. The running trails, parks, and city streets are full of a variety of flowers including the lovely bird of paradise, blue hibiscus, lily of the Nile, Santa Barbara daisy, lilac vine, and many others.
Golden State Theater
Favorite thing: The Golden State Theater, when it opened in 1926, was the largest theater between San Francisco and Los Angeles. After major changes and remodeling over the years, the theater was in decline in the 70s and 80s. In the 1990s, restoration began with the installation of a new pipe organ and repainting of the interior, followed by all new flooring and seating. Today the Golden State Theater shows a variety of older movies along with concerts--in 2007 they've hosted Kenny Rogers, KD Lang, and even Lily Tomlin.
The Golden State Theater is located downtown on Alvarado St.
Famous Names in Monterey
Favorite thing: As I drive & walk around Monterey I often see street names that make me wonder who these people were...important enough to get a street named after them, they must be important enough for me to learn about, right?
Fremont Blvd in Monterey and Seaside. Named for John C. Fremont who first arrived in Monterey in 1846, was named the first military governor of California, was one of California's first senators, and failed in a bid for President of the United States.
Sloat Ave near NPS in Monterey. US Navy Commodore John D. Sloat arrived in Monterey in 1846 and claimed California for the United States.
Alvarado St is Monterey's Main St. It is named after Juan Bautista Alvarado who was born in Monterey and served as a controversial governor of Mexican California.
Don Dahvee Lane & Don Dahvee Park are located near the Del Monte Shopping Center between Highway 1 and Munras Ave. I was surprised to find these areas are named for local land baron and businessman David Jacks...the local Mexicans used this name for him. David St, Jack's Peak, & Jack's Park are also named after Jacks.
Ord St & Fort Ord. General Edward Otho Cresap Ord was a lieutenant in 1847 when he arrived in Monterey (with William Tecumseh Sherman & Henry Halleck) and built the fort that became the Presidio of Monterey.
Major Sherman Lane...I think is named after General William Tecumseh Sherman who spent a few years in Monterey as an army Lt and Captain. As far as I can tell, he was never a major while here!
Larkin St. Thomas O. Larkin was the US consulate to Mexican California before California became part of the US.
Abrego St. Don Jose Abrego, a Mexican merchant who came to Monterey in 1834.
Cannery Row. Though the general area was always known as Cannery Row, the street name was changed from Ocean View Blvd to Cannery Row due to the fame of John Steinbeck's novel. I think Pearl St was also named after a novel Steinbeck wrote while living in Monterey.
El Camino Real
Favorite thing: El Camino Real--the King's Highway--is a series of roads from San Diego to San Francisco which connected Spain's 21 missions, 3 pueblos (or towns located in LA, San Jose, Santa Cruz & a 4th built by Mexico in Sonoma), & 4 presidios (at San Diego, Santa Barbara, Monterey, and San Francisco) along the California coast. The first outpost on this trail--San Diego--was established in 1769 & the final mission at Sonoma was built in 1823.
The missions were religious centers, run by a priest, for the purpose of converting the native heathens to Christianity. The presidios' main function was a strategic military fortification & barracks, primarily to prevent competing claims from Britain or Russia along the California Coast. The pueblos were designed as towns to provide food & other support to the military presidios. The last piece of the intricate Spanish colonial structure was the ranchos which consisted of 800 private plots of land land used for farming.
The Presidio of Monterey, home to the US Army base with the same name and the Defense Language Institute, was part of this series of fortifications and was created in 1770 on the strategic hillside overlooking Monterey Bay. The mission in the Monterey area was San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo; established in 1771 it was the second mission of the 21 and is the basis for modern Carmel by the Sea. Father Junipero Serra, the leader of the California missions chose Monterey as his headquarters, helping the area to flourish over the next several decades.
Today's El Camino Real is marked every 1-2 miles by a bell hung from a bent guidepost with a small sign reading "Historic El Camino Real." There are about 600 bells along the route today as it traverses parts of 14 different California roads, but most of the El Camino is US-101, I-280, and I-5.
Spanish Influence in Monterey
Favorite thing: Besides the Presidio of Monterey, there are other sites that recognize the local Spanish heritage in the Monterey area. I recently visited the Spanish Cross on the beach in Seaside. There, a 20-foot tall cross stands in commemoration of a similar cross erected by Spanish missionaries in 1769. A plaque at the site reads:
"In the winter of 1769, the Spanish expedition in search of Monterey Bay, under the command of Don Caspar de Portola and Father Juan Crespi erected a cross on or near this site and left this message: The land expedition is returning to San Diego for lack of provisions today, December 9, 1769."
The Vizcaino-Serra Landing Site marks the location where Sebastian Vizcanino landed in 1602, claiming this land for Spain. On June 3, 1770, Fray Junipero Serra landed on this spot and helped establish the city of Monterey.
Additionally, the area has the Presidio, the Cathedral of San Carlos Borromeo, Carmel Mission, the El Camino Real, and more.
Budweiser - King of all Beers?
Favorite thing: Let’s make no secret of it. We both like a nice cold glass of beer. Being abroad is always a challenge to find a beer we like, which reflects our taste of having a beer. In America it wasn’t really that hard to find the brand we liked, it was clearly Budweiser, popularly referred to as Bud.
Budweiser is a lager made with a proportion of rice as a substitute adjunct for barley malt. This immedaitely shows the problem for selling it in Europe as traditional brewers serve beer with only the four main ingredients (water, hops, wheat and barley). So Budweiser is not produced accoring to the German "Reinheitsgebot". But we found out that it didn’t taste distinctively different.
The Budweiser bottle is a rather familiar icon to most Americans. The bottle has remained relatively unchanged since its introduction in 1876. We liked it, but the fraze “King of all Beers” is a bid of an overstatement!Related to:
- Beer Tasting
Great Lessor Known Places in Monterey Bay Area
Favorite thing: Some others have included the Pebble Beach 17 mile drive as a "thing to do" under Monterrey, which is for locals certainly incorrrect. Pebble Beach is its own destination worth a drive through. Similarly, Carmel regarded by some as a quaint suburb is actually as old as Monterrey itself and quite charming on its own terms. The restaurants in Carmel are generally higher-end and better overall than in the more blatantly touristy Monterrey. Santa Cruz about 30 minutes to the north on Hwy 1, is often dismissed as a haven for surfers and nothing more. Santa Cruz has it's own charm, the original boardwalk, and beaches. Capitola is also worth a stroll and has some good restaurants on the esplande. I also recommend a drive into the coastal redwoods above Santa Cruz, particularly if this is your only time spent with these extraordinary world's tallest trees. Favorite haunts of mine here are Mount Hermon and Ben Lomond. Between Santa Cruz and Monterey, there are great beaches near Aptos and the way toward Monterrey, the fruit and vegetable stands of the Salinas Valley and the great seafood selection at Moss Landing.
Fondest memory: I gone to the Monterey Bay Area nearly every year for the past 50 years, so I've got lots of fond memories. But, during the sixties, the change over from the tuna factories and dying fishing fleet at Monterrey's Cannery Row was still recent enough when I was young that the musical entertainment was particularly lively and original. There is a great variety of things to do and see in the Monterey Bay area, so if you have any questions, feel free to contact me, but please browse my highlighted tips first.
For those on a whirlwind tour of the area, and driving south in a rental car from San Francisco, I recommend taking Hwy 9 through the coastal mountains, passing through Ben Lomond and Mount Hermon to Santa Cruz and spending a day on the north shore of the Monterrey Bay. Then, take Hwy 1 past Moss Landing, stop for lunch, and continue through the great agricultural Salinas Valley before spending another day, maybe two in Monterrey. Set aside at least a couple hours in the morning for the great aquarium and then visit the wharf in the afternoon. Another day or two can be spent browsing through Pebble Beach and Carmel. The fastest return trip to San Francisco would be by way of Hwy 101, which passes the mission at San Juan Bautista and through the world's richest industrial zone--the Silicon Valley.Related to:
- Family Travel
- Road Trip
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
Favorite thing: I think this tree at the gate of the PG school is the Golden Mimosa Tree, or Cootamundra Wattle. If that is so, the Mimosa or Acadia is an invasive species in some areas. It has a mass of bloom, but is a weak tree.
Fondest memory: Coming from the East, I found the California flora quite exotic. Particularly the cedar trees, and the ice plant which was used exensively in the medians of highways.
The wild flowers on the hills in the spring after the rains were amazing.Related to:
- Road Trip
- Budget Travel
For More Information
Favorite thing: Visit the Monterey Peninsula Visitors and Convention Bureau to pick up information on what to do and see when you are in the area. They are located at 380 Alvarado St., Monterey, CA 93940. Their phone number is (831) 649-1770. Or visit one of these two sites for more information:
the official city site is www.monterey.org
The Official Big Sur The Chamber of Commerce web is www.bigsurcalifornia.org
My husband took the photo of me standing outside of the Visitors Bureau because of the beautiful purple flowering bush behind me.
Fondest memory: My favorite things in Monterrey are the aquarium and the Monterey Bay Whale Watch. Of course you are not always going to see whales, but they will give you another trip for free if you don’t see anything, so give it a try!Related to:
- Family Travel
Town of Salinas, California
Fondest memory: Visit the town of Salinas, which is just east of Monterey via California Highway 68. This town is the birthplace of famous Nobel Prize winning author John Steinbeck. Here you can visit the National Steinbeck Center, which offers a look at the life and works of John Steinbeck. If you are into his books, this place should not be missed if you are coming to the Monterey area.Related to:
- Historical Travel
- Study Abroad
- Museum Visits
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