Historic Monterey

5 Art & History Must Do’s in Monterey

Cultural Spotlight: Monterey, CA Art & History

Monterey, California is a cultural hub here on the Central Coast, boasting a rich history and serves as “home” to numerous galleries, museums and historical monuments. In fact, just steps from the Portola Hotel & Spa, visitors and locals alike can immerse themselves in days gone by, as well as rediscover fine art from around the globe, as well as collections from local artisans.

Take a look at our top five local must sees with a focus on the history of Monterey. We invite our readers to add your own recommendations and experiences from your past visits in the comments section!

  1. Pacific House Adobe

Now managed by California State Parks, this restored adobe, originally built in 1847 has a colorful history. From being used as a court house, hotel and tavern, among other uses, today the Pacific House is open to the public boasting displays of Native American pottery, baskets and artifacts, as well as a gift shop and interactive exhibits. The Pacific House is also home to the Memory Garden – an enchanted, historic garden. For tours call (831) 649-2907 or visit their website at https://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=961


  1. Colton Hall

California’s first Constitution was drafted in 1849 at Colton Hall.  A picture-perfect structure, today this landmark is home to the City of Monterey’s City Hall. A lush green lawn adorns the front of the building, where many picnic, take family portraits, enjoy outdoor concerts and just relax in the Monterey sunshine. The Colton Hall Museum is open seasonally, and prior to visiting guests should confirm hours by calling (831) 646-5640, or visit their website at https://www.monterey.org/museums/city-museums/colton-hall-museum.

Monterey's City Hall

  1. Monterey Museum of Art

Located across the street of Colton Hall and in walking distance from the Portola Hotel, the Monterey Museum of Art is home to a variety of permanent collections and visiting exhibitions illustrating the history and landscape of California – past, present and future.  Learn more at www.montereyart.org.


  1. Pacific Biological Laboratories (Ed Ricketts’ Lab), Cannery Row

Take a stroll along the Coastal Recreation Trail and you’ll discover one of Cannery Row’s most iconic structures. The inspiration for “Doc” in his best friend, John Steinbeck’s famous novel, Cannery Row, marine biologist, Ed Ricketts was the owner of the Pacific Biological Laboratories located at 800 Cannery Row. Surrounded by historic canneries and landmarks, Doc’s lab is open for public tours on select dates by the City of Monterey – call (831) 646-5640. Steinbeck buffs from around the globe, have visited the lab – soaking up history and inspiration.


  1. California’s First Theater

Located just a block away from the Portola Hotel, this historic theater was built in the mid-1800s. Originally serving as a place of shelter for sailors, this adobe was later converted to a theater to entertain military officers and townspeople. Currently closed, this California landmark is still standing and is worth taking a walk around and visiting its gardens. Guests can access the tavern portion of the building during California State Parks’ annual Christmas in the Adobes event.


For a downloadable map of other historic landmarks and adobes around the Portola Hotel & Spa, fondly called the Path of History, visit the Monterey State Historic State Park Association’s website at Monterey State Historic Park Association at https://www.mshpa.org/.


Subscribe To Portola Hotel & Spa Blog