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Museums And Attractions

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Monterey's historic buildings are an integral part of this centuries-old town. There's no better way to sample their varied building styles and understand the historic events that took place in them than a guided walking tour with a docent from the Monterey State Historic Park.

Tours of the oldest part of town begin at noon on Wednesdays and 10:30am on Fridays at the Pacific House Museum in Custom House Plaza; they last about 45 minutes. There are also tours of Casa Soberanes, Larkin House, and Cooper-Molera Adobe, and guided tours of our Historic Gardens can be arranged by appointment (by calling 831-649-7109).

For more information about Monterey State Historic Park, visit the website or call 831-649-7118.

Family and Children: Museums and Attractions

Museums aren't just stuffy old places with boring pictures and hushed voices. In Monterey, museums come alive, especially for kids. Interactive, immersing displays draw children and adults alike into new worlds. Become a leafy sea dragon at the Monterey Bay Aquarium's "Splash Zone" exhibit, search for hidden clues at the National Steinbeck Center's treasure hunt, and run your own restaurant at MY Museum. Museums of all types, ones that educate, stimulate further exploration and let kids be, well, kids, can be found throughout the county.

Agricultural and Rural Life Museum
Maritime Museum
Monterey Bay Aquarium
MY Museum (Monterey County Youth Museum)
National Steinbeck Center
Pacific House

Agricultural and Rural Life Museum
San Lorenzo Park, King City

Life was different at the turn of the last century, and the Agricultural and Rural Life Museum in King City's San Lorenzo Park is a walk back in time. See first-hand how students learned in a one-room schoolhouse, complete with students' desks and slates for writing, and teacher's tools for discipline. The blacksmith is still at work, and the farmhouse gives visitors a view into how people lived one hundred years ago. Antique mining and farming equipment are on display, as well as a tack shop, country store and antique printing press. The barn and outdoor displays are open daily from 10am-4pm all year. The other buildings are open weekends, April-October. Free guided tours help make this an enjoyable and educational experience.

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Maritime Museum
Custom House Plaza, near Fisherman's Wharf, Monterey

Ahoy, mateys! Come on down to the Maritime Museum. Just steps away from Fisherman's Wharf, the Maritime Museum celebrates Monterey's rich seafaring heritage. Learn more about Monterey's role as a major port for the Spanish galleons and tall ships that once sailed up and down the California coast. Hundreds of interesting artifacts and a history of Spanish explorers, mission settlers, trade activities, the fishing industry, and the US Navy are all on display. A free film detailing the history of Monterey is shown every 20 minutes, and there's a free treasure hunt for kids daily. The Ship’s Store, a museum gift shop, offers books, prints, ship models and souvenirs. There is a 4000-volume research library, and rotating special exhibitions. Open Tue-Sun 11am-5pm. Adults $8, Seniors, Military and Youth $5.00, Children under 12 FREE. Memberships available. A lot of fun for your little sailor!

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The Carmel Mission is home to some of the most significant religious artifacts in California. Founded by Father Junipero Serra, the mission was built in 1770 and is still home to a thriving Catholic community. Today, visitors can get a taste of mission life as it was back then. An on-site museum houses California's first library, as well as a collection of tools and equipment used by the Spaniards and Native Americans in their day-to-day life at the mission. The Spartan cell where Serra lived is also recreated in detail. The Carmel Mission is on Rio Road in Carmel. For hours, fees and a schedule of mass, call 831-624-3600.

The Soledad Mission is the 13th of the 21 California missions, built in 1791, seven years after Father Junipero Serra's death. Free and open to the public, visitors can see the original adobe ruins, which are under restoration. Museum, gift shop and gardens are open daily, except Tuesdays. The Soledad Mission is on Fort Romie Road, Soledad. Call 831-678-2586 for more information.

Mission San Antonio is the third California mission, founded by Father Junipero Serra in 1771. It, too, is still active as a parish church. This is a wonderful place to picnic, with tables under the shade trees to relax and enjoy the peace and quiet. There is a one dollar donation to visit the grounds and museum. Mission San Antonio is located in Jolon/Fort Hunter Liggett. Call 831-385-4478 for more information.

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Monterey Bay Aquarium
886 Cannery Row, Monterey

Pop up next to penguins, crawl past giant clams and see eye to eye with tropical sharks in Splash Zone at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Here, kids can explore life in colorful coral reefs and along rough rocky shores. See blackfooted penguins, moray eels and other live animals in this child's introduction to the wonders of the ocean. Hands-on learning activities let you play games, try on marine animal costumes, and create your own tidepools. Splash Zone is a rich educational experience that's also oceans of fun!

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Monterey County Youth Museum
601 Wave St, Monterey

Curiosity and creativity flourish at the Monterey County Youth Museum while both children and adults discover the thrill of learning. MY Museum features exhibits that encourage children to discover how they learn best. Exhibit areas include the Creation Station, Build A House, BodyWorks and PetVet, and a kids-only kitchen. Special fun for toddlers, too.

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National Steinbeck CenterNational Steinbeck Center
One Main Street, Salinas
831-796-3833 Fax 831-796-3828

John Steinbeck's works come to life in this hands-on, interactive museum. Here, kids can climb on The Red Pony and take a peek at marine specimens from Doc Rickett's lab in Cannery Row. Treasure hunts that encourage children to find specific items in the exhibit galleries and an "Eye Spy" game are two ongoing ways to encourage understanding and learning at the National Steinbeck Center.

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Pacific House
Custom House Plaza, near Fisherman's Wharf, Monterey

Monterey's Spanish, Mexican, and early Californian heritage is vividly displayed in this historic building converted to a museum. Walk the Path of History outdoors in Monterey, then step inside Pacific House to explore the Monterey Museum of the American Indian. Across Custom House Plaza from the Maritime Museum, and close by the original Custom House itself, the Pacific House is an 1847 adobe originally occupied by the US Quartermaster for offices and military supplies.

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