Walking Tour of Monterey, California
The city of Monterey and its companion, Carmel-by-the-Sea, are located at the base of the Monterey Peninsula, one of California’s most beautiful pieces of real estate. Fishing and Whaling were a large part of the area’s past, however, tourism is now "king."
My walking tour begins at the Custom House, located just west of Fisherman’s Wharf. This building is recognized as the oldest government building in California, dating to 1827. Wander through its Cactus Garden, as well. From here, stroll around the Custom House Plaza to find the Pacific House Museum, an adobe structure that once belonged to the US Army. Check out the Memory Garden behind the house.
Exit the plaza by walking to the right of the Conference Center and down Alvarado Street, delightfully pedestrian-only for a short distance. Browse the many shops and cafes, and also notice the State Theater, on your left, as you proceed.
Turn left on Pearl Street and then right on Houston Street. The Stevenson House-French Hotel is on your right. The noted author, Robert Louis Stevenson, spent part of the year here, in 1879. Now turn left on Webster Street and then right on Abrego Street and left again on Church Street to visit the Royal Presidio Chapel, on the right. It is California’s oldest cathedral,founded in 1770 by Junipero Serra.
Now, retrace your steps to Webster Street and turn left, and then right onto Munras Avenue. At the intersection with Pearl, Polk, and Alvarado Streets, look left to see the Cooper-Molera Adobe and Garden. The owner of this Victorian home was a sea captain, adventurer, and rancher.
Next, turn left on Polk Street. Casa Amesti (1850) is on your right. Continue to the intersection to find the Stokes Adobe, straight ahead. Then proceed through the intersection, across Pacific Street and onto Madison Street, and then turn right on Dutra Street. Colton Hall, an important community meeting place, and the adjoining Old Jail (1854) are on the right. Now turn right on Jefferson Street. Stop and relax in the delightful Friendly Plaza, on your right, and then look for the Larkin House and Garden, at the intersection with Pacific Street. Can you tell that the owner of this house was from New England?
Now turn left (north) on Pacific Street, passing Casa Serrano, on the left, and then the Merritt House, also on the left, just past Franklin Street. At the next corner, Del Monte Avenue, look for Casa Soberanes and Garden. Up ahead, at the junction of Scott Street, you will find California’s First Theater. After your visit to the Theater, turn right on Scott Street and then left on Oliver Street. Ahead, to the left, in the Heritage Harbor area, are the First Brick House, California’s initial departure from adobe, and the Old Whaling Station. The walkway in front of the building was made from whale vertebrae.
From here, take the pedestrian bridge to the waterfront and turn sample the many shops and restaurants in this wharf area. Then reverse your steps and walk along the waterfront, through Fisherman’s Shoreline Park to the Coast Guard Pier. Keep in mind that the distance here is significant (1.2 miles), so you may want to abbreviate the walk, return to your car and then drive to the next destination. If you decide to walk, you will find the beginning of Cannery Row, the street made famous by John Steinbeck in several novels. The old sardine canneries have been replaced by galleries, shops, and restaurants. At the end of Cannery Row is the Monterey Bay Aquarium, one of the most acclamed venues of its type in the United States.
When you are finished at the aquarium, return, along the waterfront, to Custom House Plaza, where the walking tour originated.