Before California was a part of the United States, and while it was still a territory of New Spain, Monterey was the capital of Alta California, the Northern seat of the Spanish territory known as Las Californias. Like San Francisco and Santa Barbara, this city is one of the few that had both a Presidio and a Mission (in nearby Carmel).
Monterey is one of those seaside places that has a very rich cultural history. In terms of music, the Monterey Pop Festival and the Monterey Jazz Festival come to mind. On the literary front, authors like John Steinbeck and Robert Louis Stevenson both wrote novels while in Monterey. The poet Robinson Jeffers is from the nearby Carmel.
We were in Monterey for the 4th of July. There were a crazy number of people in the city, which was once known for its elaborate 4th of July fireworks show. However, fireworks are now illegal in most places in Monterey and Santa Cruz counties (if not most of California)… the only two fireworks shows we knew of were in Morgan Hill (free) and Scotts Valley (pay to view).
We heard people endlessly talk about the loss of American values/traditions/rights with the loss of fireworks and in some places alcohol.
Instead of Fireworks, Monterey arranged to have a family picnic and parade. In the past, a U.S. Navy Seal jump team parachuted onto Alvarado Street to kick off the parade… but we heard nothing of that this year. We spent our time around the historical district, where Monterey’s historical society reenacted life as it was in the 1800s. The reenactment lasted all night because the next morning the soldiers were still marching up and down the streets (coffee in hand).