OK, this is pretty touristy, but I even met some locals there and it is a fun place to wander around. There are some wonderful restaurants here, and when we were visiting people were standing outside of their restaurant handing out free samples of their clam chowder to entice you into their establishment. You will also find a variety of shops, whale-watching tours, and at the end of the Warf you can watch the seal lions that frequent the area. When we were there we could hear them barking and roaring. Three laid on one float all afternoon. They hardly moved while we watch them, except for occasionally rubbing their faces against their companion or scratching with their hind tail fins. We also watched some swimming about in the water below us. You will also see birds in the area, so bring binoculars.
Fisherman's Wharf was built in 1870 for the fishing industry in Monterey. The wharf has seen a lot of history,from being a major part of the sardine industry, to a favorite stomping ground of Steinbeck. Today the pier is still acts as a dock, but mainly to whale watching cruises, not to fishing boats. Overlooking the marina, you can watch the sea lions and birds who fill the area.
This wharf area has a definate tourist feel. Sort of like a boardwalk back East. A good number of restaurants and a few shops line the pier. The problem here are the crowds. We went back and walked along it after everything had closed up and it was a nice spot to look over the city at night. While this is a good place to see, keep it brief, there are other areas of the city worth more of your time.
Fisherman's Wharf has a combination of great views, wildlife, and history, along with a lot of tourist traps; if you want to hear about the touristy shops, below average restaurants, and crowds of people, check out my tip listed under Tourist Traps.
This is a great place to watch the sea lions in the late evening after most of the tourists have moved on. There are also some fishing boats that unload and clean their catch here while the birds watch. You will also get some great views of the marinas, Commercial Wharf, and the Bay.
The history of Fisherman's Wharf is much more interesting than the tourist junk! After Spanish, Mexican, and finally US rule, Monterey's first wharf was constructed in 1870 by the Pacific Coast Steamship Company. The city purchased the wharf in 1916 and expanded it to include warehouses, seafood wholesalers & retailers, and its first tourist attraction--a restaurant! In 1923 a 123-foot section of the wharf broke during the loading of a ship, and the city rebuilt and expanded the wharf, adding the docking areas to the east where the whale watching boats dock today. Fisherman's Wharf really didn't become a tourist destination until after the sardine industry began to fail, but by the mid 1950s tourism was a booming business.
This wharf's official name is Municipal Wharf I, helping to explain why nearby commercial wharf is Municipal Wharf II, or sometimes just Wharf II.
The Monterey County Weekly "Best Of 2006 Readers' Picks" named Fisherman's Wharf as the best Place to People Watch in Monterey County!
Fisherman's Wharf is an historic wharf in Monterey, California. It was used as an wholesale fish market up until the 1960s.It is now a tourist attraction as commercial fishing tapered off.
Fisherman's Wharf is lined with seafood restaurants ranging from casual, open-air clam bars, to formal indoor dining with views of the bay. Along with Cannery Row, Fisherman's Wharf is one of the few areas in Monterey that sells souvenirs, so the restaurants are interspersed with gift shops, jewelry stores, art galleries, and candy shops. Whale watching tours and fishing trips leave from the wharf, and Sea Lions often sleep on the pilings, buoys, and moored boats in the bay. It is accesable by foot only.
Although this area was discovered in 1602 by the Viceroy of New Spain, Sebastian Viscaino a mariner merchant explorer. It wasn't till 1845 Thomas Larkin built the wharf for regular passenger and freight service. The sardine industry grew and due to the constant useage of other commerical franchises the City Council assume ownership of the pier in 1913 to keep it well taken care of. The pier over the decades had to be repaired many times and by the late 1950's the sardines were declining, so Fisherman's Wharf changed its venue to accomodate the tourist by adding restaurants, gift and candy shops, a theater, an aquarium, snack bars, boat rental businesses, fish markets, marine machine shops and a marine service station. Today, its one of its main tourist attractions.
This is located to the right of the Old Fisherman's Pier.
The plaque reads: We dedicate this monument, The Fisherman, by Artist Jesse Corsaut, to those who made a living from the riches of the sea, the families they supported and who, in turn, supported them. We appreciate their love of and respect for Monterey Bay, around which a unique culture developed and this community was created. Rosalie Ferrante and Chris Palma 11-13-05
Fisherman's Wharf is a must see in Monterey. The shops, the restaurants, the sounds, the views, and the smlls: this is what Monterey is all about. The wharf is a pier extending out into the bat for about 1000 feet (approximately), and there are many small shops filled with touristy souvenir like items--shells, postcards, tshirts, etc.
Fisherman's Wharf was built in 1846 for many trading vessels bringing goods from around Cape Horn. During that time, Monterey California was the major port on the Pacific Ocean. In the following years, the booming whale industry took over and dominated the pier. But it was the tiny sardines that made Monterey an industry leader. Although, sardines did not have a monopoly on the wharf. Daily catches of salmon, albacore, mackerel, rock cod, squid and shellfish were also abundant.
There are also a great number of restaurants on the wharf, and they are pretty much all seafood. There is a good website with a complete listing of wharf restaurants if you think you might want to dine out for seafood in Monterey (which I do recommend). Mike's Seafood and Rappa's are particularly well known.
You can also catch whale watching trips as well as fishing trips from here. Check the website for more info.
The wharf at Monterey has lost all of it original authenticity, so don't get your hopes up on a freshly caught fish dinner. The seafood at the restaurants are sometimes local, but they are part of the same global fish distribution system any fish monger would have along the coast. The souvenir shops are full of kitch--logo sweatshirts, sea shells, etc,--non of which are really produced locally, but are nevertheless Monterey Logo junk. A walk out to the end of the pier offers a view of the sea lions on the rocks beyond although it's also possible to walk around to see the animals up close. Whale watching tours leave every hour from the wharf, but see my "tourist traps" warning about this activity. Also, see my recommendation about restaurants here. There are quite a few to choose from and the menu outside can be deceptive. The restaurant business is competitive, so don't forget to ask for the window table before you step inside and commit yourself.
Continued from my previous Walking Tour of Monterey Tip where you were at Commercial Wharf.
9. Cross Del Monte Street and stop by El Estero Park, where the tourist information center sits in the old French Consulate. Also in this area is Dennis the Menace Park if you have kids.
10. Near the back corner of the park, along Fremont, is Cathedral of San Carlos Borromeo, the oldest cathedral in the US.
11. Heading back northeast into downtown, catch the Monterey Path of History Walking Tour making certain to stop at Colton Hall and the old jail.
12. Head into downtown along Alvarado Street. If you are hungry there is no better place in town to eat: Old Monterey Cafe for breakfast, the Britannia Arms for lunch (especially if there are sports on!), Turtle Bay Taqueria for lunch, and the Crown and Anchor or Mucky Duck for dinner.
13. Swing by Customs House Plaza and visit some of the small gardens just north as you stroll toward Pacific Street. Ensure you see California's First Theater and it hidden garden to the rear.
14. At Pacific turn right and head to the Lower Presidio Historic Park where you will see the Father Serra Monument and enjoy a spectacular view over the Bay.
15. Out the other side of the Presidio Park puts you on Lighthouse Ave, just a few streets above Cannery Row. This stretch has several good restaurants and bars as you head back to the parking garage.
I think the highlight of fisherman's wharf is the seal's lounging out on a dock, waiting for fisherman to through the scraps of their daily catch into the bay. Great fun to watch. Some just lounge on the dock while others swim in group and are very playful.
The pier also has a number of restaurants and souvenir stores. A fun activity for an afternoon or evening. Their is not enough to spend the entire day here.
There is parking available for a fee but we parked on a nearby street and walked for free.
It's always a pleasure to take some time while visiting Monterey to stroll through the Historic Fisherman's Wharf area. Touristy shops, candy stores, seafood restaurants and lots more can be found here.
There is also a marina where several fishing trips leave from. The Glass Bottom Boat ride is only $10/pp for about a 25 mintue ride around the harbor and is great fun for all ages. Isabella's, Domenico's and Cafe Fina are 3 of our favorite places to eat while visiting Fisherman's Wharf.
You can also purchase fresh seafood and sample clam chowder from the restaurant vendors. Pelicans, sea gulls and harbor seals are also fun to watch here.
A visit to Monterey is just not complete without a boat cruise. I happened to miss the whale migration. But on a good day, you'll see plenty of marine mammals, birds, fish, and other wildlife. At least you'll see the top of the kelp forest, growing in Monterey Bay. Have plenty of film on hand!
The tour that I took was called Bay Watch Cruises. As luck would have it, no one else showed up, as the big tourist season was over. So I had my own private one-on-one tour.