Monterey Introduction Walking Tour, Monterey

Monterey Introduction Walking Tour (Self Guided), Monterey

Monterey is one of California's oldest cities, having been settled since 1770. The Spanish and Mexican governments both used the city as a capital for Alta California. Monterey offered many important firsts for California during this era, including a newspaper and printing press, public school, library, and theater.

This city was the location for the first constitutional convention in California after its acquisition by the United States. Painters and writers have enjoyed this area since the late 19th century, with the area's beauty providing inspiration. The fishing industry was significant until the 1950s, and the healthcare, educational publishing, and fresh produce industries are essential today.

If you want to immerse yourself in the whole experience as fully as possible, Old Fisherman's Wharf is the perfect place for shopping, dining, and local activities. The Stevenson House, where novelist Robert Louis Stevenson lived in the late 19th century, is one of the most iconic landmarks.

Savor more of the fascinating historic sites in Monterey State Historic Park. One of the most exciting kid-friendly outdoor areas is Dennis the Menace Park, and Del Monte Beach is a place you don't want to miss if you enjoy being near the water.

Theater buffs will want to visit California's First Theatre or the Golden State Theatre. The Monterey Museum of Art has a varied collection that also includes historical artifacts. To gain a greater appreciation of the city's religious heritage, see the Cathedral of San Carlos Borromeo.

Take this self-guided walking tour to learn more about Monterey and its attractions.
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Monterey Introduction Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Monterey Introduction Walking Tour
Guide Location: USA » Monterey (See other walking tours in Monterey)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 9
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.2 Km or 2 Miles
Author: nicole
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Old Fisherman's Wharf
  • Monterey State Historic Park
  • California's First Theatre
  • Golden State Theatre
  • Museum of Art
  • Stevenson House
  • San Carlos Cathedral
  • Dennis the Menace Park
  • Del Monte Beach
Old Fisherman's Wharf

1) Old Fisherman's Wharf (must see)

Old Fisherman's Wharf is one of Monterey's most popular tourist attractions, with good reason. This area of the city is the go-to location for whale-watching, bay cruises, and some of the best opportunities for shopping and dining. Watching marine life ranging from pelicans to seals to sea otters is one of the activities that visitors here enjoy the most.

When you check out the dining opportunities here, you'll be able to enjoy freshly-caught seafood from Big Fish Grill, Abalonetti Seafood, or Crab Louie's Bistro. Crabby Jim's, Domenico's on the Wharf, and Paluca Trattoria are favorites for Italian food. The restaurants offer a range of environments that range from casual to upscale, providing something for everyone.

You can take advantage of exciting shopping opportunities, including pearls and fine jewelry from Morning Star Pearls. Harbor House Gifts is your go-to location for Murano glass from Venice and paintings. Stop by Sock Harbor Monterey for their signature socks and other unique clothing.
Monterey State Historic Park

2) Monterey State Historic Park (must see)

Monterey State Historic Park is where you'll find most of the city's historic houses and other buildings. As one of California's oldest cities, you can enjoy learning about over 400 years of history. This park has multiple points of entry and markers that will help you find your way around.

One of the highlights of the park is the location where the first Spaniards landed in 1602. The two-mile path includes some whalebone sidewalks, a fascinating relic of the bygone whaling era. There are some beautiful gardens to see that go along with the old buildings very nicely.

Some of the top locations that you'll find along the path include the Pacific House and Custom House. Both of these locations offer fascinating insights into life in this city. You can also pick up brochures that provide information on each of the attractions within the park.
California's First Theatre

3) California's First Theatre

The First Theater, also known as California's earliest theater, is a notable structure made of adobe and wood located in Monterey, California. It was constructed between 1846 and 1847 by Jack Swan, an English sailor and early settler. Initially, it served as a lodging and tavern for sailors. This venue hosted California's first theater shows. On January 31, 1934, it was recognized as a California Historical Landmark.

Jack Swan bought land in Monterey around 1845-47, before the American takeover in July 1846. The First Theater was built on what is now the corner of Pacific and Scott Streets. Its construction happened in two phases: initially, a small wooden part was built around 1845 from shipwreck lumber, serving as a boarding house and tavern for sailors. This section had four two-room units, each with its own fireplace and doors on both sides. The rooms had adjustable partitions.

Swan then added a larger adobe section in late 1847, intended as a sailor's boarding house but later transformed into a theater. This happened when four soldiers from Santa Barbara and three local comedians organized a minstrel show. The theater was 75 feet long and 12 feet wide, accommodating 200 people, with a pit and stage. The space had a wooden curtain on hinges that could be moved up and down. Event programs were handwritten, and posters were made using a blacking pot and brush.
Golden State Theatre

4) Golden State Theatre

The Golden State Theatre dates back to 1926, and at its height was a venue that rivaled theaters in California's bigger cities. This Monterey landmark has undergone restoration to preserve its former glory. The mezzanine and lobby areas feature an Old World style, and the auditorium area of the theater boasts 1,000 seats.

Some of the entertainment options here include film festivals and concerts. Some of the top performers that have included The Smothers Brothers, Willie Nelson, and B.B. King. The range of performers this theater has hosted helps demonstrate its overall versatility as a venue and why it has remained so popular.

The architectural style is that of a Castillian castle, reminiscent of the "movie palace" days. A highlight inside the theater is a fresco that has glimpses of the sky around its edges. The effect that this fresco produces resembles that of an open courtyard, giving audiences a unique experience.
Museum of Art

5) Museum of Art (must see)

The Monterey Museum of Art holds a unique position as the sole nationally accredited art museum in the region spanning from Santa Barbara to San Jose. Established in 1959 under the umbrella of the American Federation of Arts, this institution has significantly enriched the cultural experience of both Monterey County residents and visitors for more than six decades.

The Museum operates from two distinct locations, namely 559 Pacific Street and 720 Via Mirada (La Mirada). The Pacific Street site boasts eight galleries, housing administrative and curatorial offices, as well as the Buck Education Center, complete with classrooms, a library, and the Youth Gallery. In 1983, the Monterey Museum of Art acquired the historic La Mirada estate, a site steeped in the heritage of the Monterey area.

The Museum's permanent collection boasts an impressive array of over 14,000 artifacts, spanning various categories including early California painting, photography, contemporary art, Asian art, and American art. Notable highlights within the collection encompass works by distinguished artists like Armin Hansen, William F. Ritschel, Joan Miro, Henri Matisse, and Pablo Picasso, along with renowned photographers such as Edward Weston and Ansel Adams. The Monterey Museum of Art curates approximately twenty exhibitions each year, featuring thematic displays drawn from the permanent collection, showcases of local artists, and major traveling exhibitions from other esteemed institutions.

In addition to its exhibition endeavors, the Museum actively engages in educational initiatives that impact numerous local youths on an annual basis. These programs encompass docent-led tours, classes, lectures, workshops, curatorial tours, and public events such as the popular Community Day, designed to cater to families and offered free of charge.
Stevenson House

6) Stevenson House

In 1879, Scottish novelist Robert Louis Stevenson stayed at the French Hotel, now called the Stevenson House after him and dedicated to his memory. Stevenson lived there while recovering his health as he was crossing the United States to court his future wife Fanny Osbourne. While there, he often dined "on the cuff," as he said, at a nearby restaurant run by Frenchman Jules Simoneau which stood at what is now Simoneau Plaza.

Several years later, Stevenson sent Simoneau an inscribed copy of his novel Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1886), writing that it would be a stranger case still if Robert Louis Stevenson ever forgot Jules Simoneau. Stevenson wrote some articles for the local Monterey newspaper, including one that beautifully evoked "the Old Pacific Capital."

The Stevenson House features a bas relief depicting the sickly author writing in bed. Today the building has been designated as a California Historical Landmark.
San Carlos Cathedral

7) San Carlos Cathedral (must see)

The Cathedral of San Carlos Borromeo, also known as the Royal Presidio Chapel, stands as a Roman Catholic cathedral situated in Monterey. This historic cathedral holds the distinction of being the oldest continuously functioning parish and the oldest stone structure in California. Its construction took place between 1791 and 1794, rendering it the oldest and smallest active cathedral in the United States, alongside Saint Louis Cathedral in New Orleans, Louisiana. It also holds the distinction of being the sole remaining presidio chapel in California and the sole surviving edifice from the original Monterey Presidio.

This church's roots trace back to its founding by the Franciscan Father Junípero Serra, initially established as the chapel of Mission San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo on June 3, 1770. By May 1771, the viceroy had granted Serra's request to relocate the mission from the Presidio to its current location near the mouth of the Carmel River, where the present-day town of Carmel-by-the-Sea stands. The newly established mission was then christened Mission San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo.

Following the mission's relocation, the preexisting wooden and adobe structure transformed into the San Jose Chapel for the Presidio of Monterey. Monterey ascended to the role of the capital of the Province of Californias in 1777, leading to the renaming of the chapel as the Royal Presidio Chapel. Tragically, the original church succumbed to fire in 1789, leading to its replacement by the current sandstone edifice, which saw completion in 1794 through the labor of Indigenous workers. This structure took the form of a Latin Cross and bears the distinction of being California's inaugural stone building. It exemplifies the refined Spanish Colonial architectural style of the late 18th century.
Dennis the Menace Park

8) Dennis the Menace Park (must see)

Dennis the Menace Park is one of Monterey's most iconic playgrounds, named after the cartoon character. The playground dates back to 1956 and has undergone renovations over the years to keep it up to date. This attraction is next to a youth center and baseball field, making it a favorite family destination.

This park has a lake where you can enjoy ducks and other waterfowl. There is an excellent view of the harbor where you can see local boats coming and going. You'll also enjoy the picnic area, which is the perfect place to enjoy a meal or snack.

You won't want to miss the treats that await in the playground area. Kids will enjoy going down the roller slide. There is also a rope bridge that helps add to the excitement. Don't miss seeing the Dennis the Menace statue, which is perfect for selfies and other photo opportunities while here.
Del Monte Beach

9) Del Monte Beach

Del Monte Beach is a beautiful Monterey beach that many see as a hidden treasure. The location is somewhat less crowded than some other beaches in the area, increasing its appeal for people seeking a quieter beach day. If you enjoy watching people surfing, this beach is one of the best locations.

One of the things that people enjoy the most about this beach is walking along the boardwalk that leads through the sand dunes. You can easily enjoy a picnic, courtesy of the picnic tables provided. If you decide you need a rest while journeying along the boardwalk, catch a break on one of the benches.

If you enjoy watching wildlife, this beach is an excellent place to do so. There are sea and migratory birds that feed along the shore regularly. When you're at the beach, you may have the privilege of seeing seals in the water or frolicking along the beach.

Walking Tours in Monterey, California

Create Your Own Walk in Monterey

Create Your Own Walk in Monterey

Creating your own self-guided walk in Monterey is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Monterey State Historic Park Walk

Monterey State Historic Park Walk

Monterey State Historic Park is a National Landmark and a part of the Monterey Old Town Historic District. Found on the grounds here are a group of significant old-time houses that once made up California's earliest capital and were the site of the state's first constitutional convention. Today these buildings retain their rich heritage, preserving an important part of Californian as...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.9 Km or 1.2 Miles
Cannery Row Walking Tour

Cannery Row Walking Tour

Cannery Row – the waterfront street in Monterey, California – was once home to a number of sardine canning factories, the last of which closed down in 1973. The former nickname for Ocean View Avenue became the street's official name in January 1958 to honor John Steinbeck and his famous eponymous novel. In the novel's opening sentence, Steinbeck described Cannery Row as "a poem,...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.8 Km or 1.1 Miles