The City of Monterey is located on Monterey Bay along the Pacific coast in Central California. Monterey lies at an elevation of 26 feet above sea level. The city is situated on the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, a federally protected ocean area extending 276 miles along the coast. Few places on earth can live up to their own mythology, but Monterey is a notable exception. No matter what you’ve heard or seen in feature films, nothing can prepare you for the jaw dropping beauty along Monterey’s fabled coast and village-like pedestrian thoroughfares. John Steinbeck was a frequent visitor, and drew considerable inspiration from area landmarks including Cannery Row, which he helped to immortalize in his novel of the same name. Today, restaurants, boutiques and attractions like the Monterey Bay Aquarium have helped make Monterey a favorite destination for visitors from around the world.
The climate of Monterey is regulated by its proximity to the Pacific Ocean, culminating in a Mediterranean like climate. As a result, Monterey’s average high temperature ranges from around 60° Fahrenheit in winter to 72° during the summer months. Average annual precipitation is around 19.5 inches, with most rainfall occurring during California’s wet season between November and April.
There are several institutions of higher education in the area, including California State University, Monterey Bay at the site of the former Fort Ord; the Defense Language Institute, located on the Presidio of Monterey, California; the Naval Postgraduate School, on the site of a former resort hotel; the Monterey College of Law; the Monterey Institute of International Studies; and Monterey Peninsula College, part of the California Community Colleges system.
Monterey is steeped in history and famed for the abundance and diversity of its marine life, which includes sea lions, sea otters, harbor seals, bat rays, kelp, pelicans and dolphins. Sealife makes Monterey a popular destination for scuba divers of all abilities ranging from novice to expert. The Monterey Bay Aquarium, one of the largest in North America, hosts several important marine science laboratories. Monterey’s geographic location gives scientists access to the deep sea within hours, and only a few miles offshore is Monterey Canyon, the largest and deepest underwater canyon off the Pacific coast of North America. The Monterey Bay Aquarium has been acclaimed as one of the finest in the world, while also becoming a leader in ocean conservation. The popular aquarium sparked a tourism boom for the Monterey Peninsula when it opened in 1984, and has attracted approximately 2 million visitors every year since. There are five times as many hotel rooms on the peninsula now as there were in 1984, and tourist spending has tripled to about $2 billion a year.
The “My Museum” known as the Monterey county youth museum is especially popular with small children, and is located within walking distance of the present day Fisherman’s Wharf, and directly adjacent to The Museum of Maritime History. Monterey also has much to offer anyone who wants to dip into California’s history including several museums, and more than thirty carefully preserved historic buildings. What may be the only whalebone sidewalk still in existence in the United States lies in front of the Old Whaling Station.
Lake El Estero is a popular Monterey Park featuring recreation opportunities including paddle boats, the Dennis the Menace Park, and a skate park designed by local skaters. Birders are especially fond of this park due to its easy accessibility and the diversity of bird life it attracts.
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