Monterey is a treasury of superlative history and geography. Located by Monterey Bay in one of America’s most picturesque natural amphitheaters, its seaport has played a major role in the development of the West Coast for more than two centuries. The idyllic site became the first permanent settlement in California. In 1770 Gaspar de Portola established the first of Spain’s four presidios and Father Junipero Serra dedicated the second mission in Alta California. Monterey was a regional capital for Spain until 1822, and for Mexico until 1846 when the United States annexed California. For the next hundred years, the town served as a maritime center.
Today, Cannery Row and Fisherman’s Wharf are ingenious, fun-loving transformations from an earlier hard-working era including the superstar of Cannery Row—the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Downtown, a collection of historic landmarks blends with urbane shops and galleries. Gourmet and view restaurants and accommodations are plentiful; nightlife is diverse and exuberant; and recreation on-shore and off-shore is limitless.