Shoreline of Monterey
Photo by: Urban, Creative Commons

Once the capital of California under the Spanish and then the Mexicans, the city of Monterey is now known as “California’s ‘First’ City”.

Located on the shore of Monterey Bay in Central California, Monterey was first established by the Spanish to lay claim to the land now known as California. They built a fort, called the Presidio of Monterey, to defend against invasion from foreign powers. The city and the fort changed hands from the Spanish to the Mexicans and then ultimately to the United States at the conclusion of the Mexican-American War.

Besides being one of the first cities to be founded in California, Monterey was also the site of many ‘firsts’ in California history. California’s first theater, brick house, and printing press were built here, as well as the first public library and school. The Californian, the state’s first news paper, was first printed here. Until the fishing industry collapsed due to overfishing in the 1950s, Monterey had been well known for the abundant fisheries in nearby Monterey Bay. Vestiges of this once powerful industry remain in the city’s Cannery Row – the city’s waterfront – and in downtown Monterey’s Fisherman’s Wharf.

Today, the once booming fishing industry in Monterey Bay has been replaced by the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, a protected area stretching 444 kilometers along the coastline. Endangered species such as the California sea otter and a number of birds make this area their home. The city and the surrounding area enjoy a mild climate throughout the year, making the beaches along Monterey Bay some of the best in the state.

One attraction that should not be missed by visitors to the city is the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Considered as the top aquarium in the United States, visitors will experience above and below surface views of the many animal and plant species that can be found in Monterey Bay.

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