On the gentle slopes above the windswept shores of the Central Coast is the historic seaside town of Monterey. The Spaniard Gaspar de Portola was sent north from Mexico, and in 1770 spotted Monterey Bay. Monterey remained the base for Spanish forces in California. Mexico then claimed California as part of its territory, and war broke out with the United States until Commodore Sloat claimed Monterey for the Union in 1846.

You can see attractions like the Monterey Bay Aquarium on a mile long walking tour of Monterey. This is a take you through a short walk downtown to historic sites like the Custom House, which is the oldest governmental structure in the State of California, and onto other areas like the Wharf and the Marina.

Monterey Shopping Traces of history are visible all over Monterey. The Old Fishermans Wharf area was the center of the bustling fishing industry that thrived on the fresh daily catches of sardine from Monterey Bay. This was also a transportation hub, with freight and passenger ships arriving four times a week. Nowadays, the Wharf is home to some of the finest California restaurants serving fresh seafood, a Wharf Theatre that stages plays, and a number of souvenir and fishing shops.

With so much to see, you can plan a Monterey vacation and spend a relaxing weekend taking in the beauty of this historic seaside town. Enjoy the personalized service at a local bed and breakfast, or stay at one of the Monterey hotels that are within walking distance to the main attractions.

A five-minute stroll to Monterey State Beach and the Pacific Ocean, the Monterey Bay Lodge is a comfortable hotel set in a lush green garden setting. El Estero Lake and Park is a lovely place to visit and one of the most centrally located Monterey hotels. All you have to do is cross the street to get to another park. Schedule a spa treatment, and then relax at the heated outdoor pool. The 45 guestrooms are perfect for couples or families to stay on their Monterey vacation.

Fitting with the old world flavor of historic Monterey, there is an old mansion that is one of the most splendidly restored Victorian mansion, making this one of the most charming and historic Monterey hotels. Hand carved furniture, gleaming hardwood floors, and elegant fireplaces grace the rooms and suites of this lavish hotel. There is no lack of amenities or service; amenities include data ports in the dual-line phones, daily maid service, and the most comfortable beds.

A few days on the Central Coast is a wholly different experience for visiting Southern California. Nearby attractions like the scenic drives on coastal byways like Highway 1 take you around the beach and over to Carmel. This is where the beaches are even more lovely, and as a result, the 17 Mile Drive around Pebble Beach and past the world famous Lone Cypress are sights you don't warm to miss. Further south, where San Simeon marks the end of the Central Coast and Big Sur, Hearst Castle is an oasis of luxury that has stood for over 60 years.

The beaches on the Central Coast are delightfully empty, the people warm and friendly, and the scenery so stunning that you will never forget the sunsets over Monterey Bay and Big Sur.

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