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Monterey (Spanish: Monterrey; Ohlone: Aacistak) is a city located in Monterey County on the southern edge of Monterey Bay on the U.S. state of California's Central Coast. Founded on June 3, 1770, it functioned as the capital of Alta California under both Spain (1804 to 1821) and Mexico (1822 to 1836). During this period, Monterey hosted California's first theater, public building, public library, publicly-funded school, printing-press, and newspaper. It was originally the only port of entry for all taxable goods in California. In 1846, during the Mexican–American War of 1846–1848, the United States Flag was raised over the Customs House. After Mexico ceded California to the U.S. at the end of the war, Monterey hosted California's first constitutional convention in 1849. The city occupies a land area of 8.466 sq mi (21.93 km2) and the city hall is at 26 feet (8 m) above sea level. The 2010 census recorded a population of 27,810. Monterey and the surrounding area have attracted artists since the late 19th-century, and many celebrated painters and writers have lived in the area. Until the 1950s there was an abundant fishery. Monterey's present-day attractions include the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Cannery Row, Fisherman's Wharf, California Roots Music and Arts Festival, and the annual Monterey Jazz Festival.
The Salinas Valley is one of the major valleys and most productive agricultural regions in California. It is located west of the San Joaquin Valley and south of San Francisco Bay and the Santa Clara Valley. The Salinas River, which geologically formed the fluvial valley and generated its human history, flows to the northwest or 'up' along the principal axis and the length of the valley. The valley was named during the late 18th-century Spanish colonial Alta California period, and in Spanish Salina is the term for a salt marsh, salt lake, or salt pan. The seasonal Salinas River had brackish tule ponds in broad depressed areas, and more salinity during summer and drought lowered flows. The valley runs in a southeast to northwest alignment. It begins south of San Ardo, framed by the central inner California Coast Ranges, continues northwestward continuously defined on the west by the Santa Lucia Range, on the east by the Gabilan Range, to its end and the river's mouth at the Monterey Bay. It is also known for being the setting of the novels East of Eden and Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck.
Big Sur ['bɪg ˈsɝ] is a rugged and mountainous section of the Central Coast of California between Carmel and San Simeon, where the Santa Lucia Mountains rise abruptly from the Pacific Ocean. It is frequently praised for its dramatic scenery. Big Sur has been called the "longest and most scenic stretch of undeveloped coastline in the contiguous United States", a sublime "national treasure that demands extraordinary procedures to protect it from development", and "one of the most beautiful coastlines anywhere in the world, an isolated stretch of road, mythic in reputation". The views, redwood forests, hiking, beaches, and other recreational opportunities have made Big Sur a popular destination for about 7 million people who live within a day's drive and visitors from across the world. It is among the top 35 tourist destinations world-wide. The region receives about the same number of visitors as Yosemite National Park, but offers only limited bus service, few restrooms, and a narrow two-lane highway that for most of its length clings to the steep coastal cliffs. North-bound traffic during the peak summer season and holiday weekends is often backed up for about 20 miles (32 km) from Big Sur Village to Carmel Highlands. Due to the large number of visitors, congestion and slow traffic between Carmel and Posts is becoming the norm.The region is often confused with an unincorporated village, a collection of small roadside businesses and homes, also known as Big Sur.: 2 The larger region known as Big Sur does not have specific boundaries, but is generally considered to include the 71-mile (114 km) segment of California State Route 1 between Malpaso Creek near Carmel Highlands in the north and San Carpóforo Creek near San Simeon in the south, as well as the entire Santa Lucia range between these creeks. The interior region is mostly uninhabited, while the coast remains relatively isolated and sparsely populated, with between 1,800 and 2,000 year-round residents and relatively few visitor accommodations scattered among four small settlements. The region remained one of the most inaccessible areas of California and the entire United States until, after 18 years of construction, the Carmel–San Simeon Highway (now signed as part of State Route 1) was completed in 1937. Along with the ocean views, this winding, narrow road, often cut into the face of towering seaside cliffs, dominates the visitor's experience of Big Sur. The highway has been closed more than 55 times by landslides, and in May 2017, a 2,000,000-cubic-foot (57,000 m3) slide blocked the highway at Mud Creek, north of Salmon Creek near the San Luis Obispo County line, to just south of Gorda. The road was reopened on July 18, 2018. The region is protected by the Big Sur Local Coastal Plan, which preserves it as "open space, a small residential community, and agricultural ranching." Approved in 1986, the plan is one of the most restrictive local-use programs in the state, and is widely regarded as one of the most restrictive documents of its kind anywhere. The program protects viewsheds from the highway and many vantage points, and severely restricts the density of development. About 60% of the coastal region is owned by governmental or private agencies which do not allow any development. The majority of the interior region is part of the Los Padres National Forest, Ventana Wilderness, Silver Peak Wilderness or Fort Hunter Liggett.
Santa Cruz (Spanish for 'Holy Cross') is the county seat and largest city of Santa Cruz County, California. As of 2019, the U.S. Census Bureau estimated Santa Cruz's population at 64,608. Situated on the northern edge of Monterey Bay, about 32 mi (51 km) south of San Jose and 75 mi (120 km) south of San Francisco, the city is part of the 12-county San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland Combined Statistical Area. Santa Cruz is known for its moderate climate, natural environment, coastline, redwood forests, alternative community lifestyles, and socially liberal leanings. It is also home to the University of California, Santa Cruz, a premier research institution and educational hub, as well as the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, an oceanfront amusement park operating continuously since 1907. The present-day site of Santa Cruz was the location of Spanish settlement beginning in 1791, including Mission Santa Cruz and the pueblo of Branciforte. The City of Santa Cruz was incorporated in 1866 and chartered in April 1876. Important early industries included lumber, gunpowder, lime and agriculture. Late in the 19th century, Santa Cruz established itself as a beach resort community.