The City of Monterey is one of California's most beautiful coastal cities, and it is perfectly located for a day-trip from San Francisco. The original state capital of California, Monterey Harbor has more historic buildings than any city on the West Coast, and it is closely associated with the world-famous author, John Steinbeck. Monterey Harbor is also near the very special Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary where visitors and scientists find a rich diversity of marine wildlife.
Monterey Harbor enjoys a Mediterranean climate with average temperatures ranging from 16° C (60° F) to 22° C (72° F). The wet seasons lasts from November to April, and there is little rain during the summer. Snowfall is very rare in Monterey Harbor, though snow does occur in the overlooking Santa Lucia and Gabilan Mountains. Temperatures range from an average high of 22° C (71° F) in September to an average low of 6° C (43° F) in January.
Near Monterey Harbor is the popular Carmel-by-the-Sea, known as Carmel. This charming town boasts beautiful natural surroundings and a rich artistic community. In 1910, over half of the homes housed citizens who were devoted to the arts. Early City Councils were made up of artists, and many mayors were writers and actors. Actor-director Clint Eastwood was the mayor of Carmel from 1986 to 1988.
Perhaps the most famous location in Monterey Harbor is Cannery Row. In the early 20th Century, the fish canning industry dominated this street. The first cannery was the Pacific Fish Company, built in 1908. After the Second World War when sardines became scarce in the Bay, the area fell into disrepair. Neglected and depressing, John Steinbeck's 1945 novel by the same name brought many visitors who wanted to see the setting. Today, a few fishing companies still operate on Monterey Harbor's Cannery Row, but it is better known for the surrounding marine sanctuary and its large population of sea lions. A few of the original fishermen's homes have been preserved to maintain the ambiance of Cannery Row in Monterey Harbor. Today, Cannery Row is home to the headquarters for the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, the Monterey Bay Aquarium, luxury hotels and spas, and many restaurants and shops that attract visitors throughout the year.
Since late 1996, Monterey Harbor's Fisherman's Wharf has been a popular tourist attraction. In addition to the old but active Wharf Theater, visitors to Fisherman's Wharf will find many art galleries, gift shops, and fine restaurants. The Wharf also offers bait and tackle shops, fishing, whale-watching harbor cruises, and party boat concessions.
The Monterey Bay Aquarium was created to inspire conservation of the oceans. Two thousand gallons of sea water are pumped through its 100 exhibit tanks each minute. While the water is filtered for clarity during the day, unfiltered raw seawater is pumped through the exhibits at night to bring plankton in to feed the aquarium's inhabitants, making it one of the greenest facilities in the Nation. This Monterey Harbor facility was featured in the 1986 Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home where it was presented as the home for two humpback whales (there was and is no such exhibit). The Aquarium's most popular exhibits include the Ocean's Edge Wing, a 10-meter high, 1.3 million liter tank that contains California coastal marine life. A wave machine at the top of the tank and an open top that allows sunlight in allow the growth of California Giant Kelp. Another popular exhibit is the Outer Bay Wing featuring the world's biggest single-paned window for visitors to view the inhabitants of the 4.5 million liter tank.
The Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary stretches from Marin to Cambria on California's central coasts. Covering 444 kilometers of shoreline and over 1.5 million hectares of ocean, this Monterey Harbor Sanctuary is home to the world's most diverse marine ecosystem that contains fish, mammals, seabirds, invertebrates, and ocean plants. The sea reaches a depth of more than three kilometers in the Sanctuary, and it is the site for research and monitoring programs designed to promote preservation of the ocean environment. Visitors to the Sanctuary can enjoy kayaking, boating, diving, and camping. Motorized personal watercraft are allowed in the sanctuary, and whale watching trips are one of the most popular activities there.