Path of History Walk
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Monterey has some of the best preserved 19th century adobes in California and you can go on a short, free 45-minute tour of these starting at the Pacific House Museum (20 Custom House Plaza). You can also take this walk on your own, though a few of the houses are only open during the tour. It's especially nice to go at Christmas time, when many of the buildings are decorated.
The Custom House is where traders brought exotic goods (check out some of these goods inside the museum) to Alta California (California during Mexican rule before 1846) to trade for California cowhides. In 1822 when Mexico ended the Spanish trade monopoly, traders could unload their goods here and pay duty. It was also here that the American flag was raised over the Custom House in 1846 annexing California to America.
Check out the Museum of Monterey at 5 Custom House Plaza. From Custom House Plaza, walk to Casa Soberanes, at 336 Paciific St. Check out the abalone shells, bottle glass, and whalebones in the walkway, and also explore the rear garden where you can sit on benches and enjoy the rose arbor. This is all possible even if the house itself is closed.
Walk to 464 Calle Principal and check out Larkin House. It was built in 1835. You can see both Mexican and New England elements in its design. A second-floor veranda encircles the entire building. Walk past pretty House of the Four Winds, named after its weatherpane, at 540 Calle Principal.
Next walk to the 500 block of Pacific St where you will see the impressive stone building, Colton Hall, with its lush grounds. Go inside and see it as it was furnished in 1849 when California's first constitution was drafted here. Kids enjoy climbing on the California bear statue outside Colton Hall. Also fun for kids to see is the Moon Tree, which traveled to the moon on Apollo 14 when it was a seed and was planted outside Colton Hall in 1976. Old Monterey Jail, which was featured in Steinbeck's "Tortilla Flat," is here too.
Check out the wonderful art at 559 Pacific St, at the Monterey Art Museum. There are some great works by photographers Ansel Adams and Edward Weston, as well as some colorful folk art from around the world. Your ticket allows entrance into the villa (see below).
From here, go to 525 Polk St, a highlight of the tour, the Cooper-Molera Adobe, which is usually open. It was built in 1827 by Cooper, a prosperous New England sea captain (Monterey was a major international port after Mexico took control in 1821). His family lived in Victorian-era luxury here. There's a large garden on the 2-acre property, as well as a fantastic little shop with old-fashioned toys.
Head to 530 Houston St, where you can see French Hotel, where Robert Louis Stevenson stayed in 1879 while courting his future wife. Here he is said to have written Treasure Island, while still penniless and undiscovered. Check out all the Stevenson memorabilia, plus the children's nursery filled with Victorian toys and games.
At 500 Church St, you'll find the lovely Royal Presidio Chapel (shown above- photo courtesy of William Crowe). It was built in 1794 (this is like ancient history in California!) as part of the mission that was later moved to Carmel. It is now called San Carlos Cathedral, just to confuse you all!
At 720 Via Mirada, there is a villa that is part of Monterey Art Museum. There is a gorgeous rose and rhododendron garden here, plus a gallery filled with East Asian and other art.
Great Place to Stay:
A nice place to stay if you are getting in the spirit of all this history is Old Monterey Inn, built in 1929 by Carmel Martin Sr., first mayor of the city of Monterey, who fought to preserve many of the historic sites in Monterey. He saw Monterey as "the one place [in California] where people can live without being disturbed by manufacturing and big factories." At Old Monterey Inn, the peaceful gardens surrounded by tall Monterey pines, oaks, and redwoods, and the manor with hand-plastered Gothic archways and bull nose corners are a delight. The afternoon cookies (like none you've tasted!) and the breakfast in bed (aaah, fruit salad in a goblet with a sprig of mint) are also memorable...
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Pacific House Museum, 20 Custom House Plaza. Walking tours of Old Montery are Fri-Sun 10:30, 12:30, or 2, for $5 which includes admission to the museum. Museum is open Fri-Sun 10-4, $3 admission. Includes entry to the Custom House.
Museum of Monterey, 5 Custom House Plaza. Open Tues-Sat 10-7, Sun 12-5. Admission is $8 for adults, $5 for students and seniors, free for children 12 and under.
Casa Soberanes, 336 Pacific St. Gardens open daily 9-5.
Larkin House, 464 Calle Principal. Gardens open daily 9-5.
House of the Four Winds, 540 Calle Principal. Not open.
Colton Hall, 500 Pacific St. Museum is open Tues and Sun 10-3, and other days 10-4.
Monterey Art Museum, 559 Pacific St, and 720 Via Mirada. Open Thurs-Mon 11-5. La Mirada stays open till 8pm on Thurs. Closed Jan 1, July 4, Thanksgiving (fourth Thurs in Nov), and Dec 25. Admission is $10 for adults, free for military and children aged 18 and under.
Cooper-Molera Adobe, 525 Polk St. Gardens open daily 9-4. Store open daily 10-4.
French Hotel (Stevenson), 530 Houston St. Gardens open daily 9-5.
Royal Presidio Chapel, 500 Church St. Museum hours vary- see hours here.
Great Place to Stay (for couples, not families with kids): Old Monterey Inn, 500 Martin St, (831) 375-8284.
This is an interactive map, you can zoom and move it.
Overall Visitor Rating:
|My wife and I honeymooned in MOnterey 29 years ago today. We stayed at a friend's house, so we don't know about the hotels and motels. But Monterey and the environs was quiet and quaint, and we had a great time.|
|yeah, you really get a sense of history going through and looking at all those markers on the map!|
|I was fascinated by Colton Hall where they had a whole large scrapbook sized book with the stories of all the delegates to the first California Constitution. This brought into perspective many of the place names not only in Monterey but throughout California. For example the delegate from Santa barbara was De La Guerra (one of the downtown streets). You can get the constitutional convention debates at www.loc.gov under American memory by entering california constitutional debates and clicking # 2 Report on Debates.|