Monterey is a city in central California not to be confused with the Mexican city of Monterrey. The population of Monterey now stands at more than 25,000 residents, many of them unaware that when Alta California was both a Spanish and Mexican possession, Monterey was the capital.
John Steinbeck popularized the city in his novel Cannery Row, which deals with the fisheries that once dominated the coast along Monterey Bay. Some of these canning factories still stand today, having been turned into tourist attractions of various kinds.
The Monterey Bay Aquarium
One of the canning factories has been converted into the world-famous Monterey Bay Aquarium. Considered one of the premier facilities for the study and exhibition of sea life in California, it attracts almost 2 million visitors per year, with many of them staying in conveniently located holiday rentals in Monterey. The aquarium features more than 600 different species of sea life, both plant and animal, and was the first aquarium anywhere to use wave machine technology to enable California Giant Kelp to grow in a controlled environment.
The 'Open Sea' gallery is another standout, holding more than a million gallons of seawater. This tank has a balcony viewing area that allows visitors to stay for long periods admiring the sharks, giant turtles, and other species that inhabit the tank. Of particular interest to most visitors are the large schools of fish that continuously swim back and forth before the large viewing windows. Many tourists report that they find the sight hypnotic as they relax on the comfortable couches provided for them.