If you are looking for a romantic holiday event this season that isn’t the typical Christmas tree lighting, then head to the Monterey Peninsula on California’s Central Coast for Christmas in the Adobes. This year, the signature holiday celebration is held the weekend of December 9 and 10 from 5 to 9 p.m. in Monterey, California.
“The Cradle Of History”
The city of Monterey has a rich and culturally diverse history, from the Rumsen Ohlone tribe that inhabited its shores over 3,000 years ago to the eventual Spanish, Mexican, British, French, Portuguese, Chinese, Italian, and Japanese settlers that were attracted by the great harbor, abundant sea life, and temperate climate.
Monterey was the site of California’s first constitutional convention, held in 1849, but its origins date to the 18th century, first founded by the Spanish and later taken over by Mexico and made the capital of Alta California.
Christmas In The Adobes
Many adobe buildings from the 18th century period have been preserved, but not all are open to the public. The one time with an exception to this rule is Christmas in the Adobes weekend, where 12–15 adobes are accessible.
During this once-a-year occasion, you can walk from adobe to adobe in downtown Monterey and enjoy the colonial architecture of the restored buildings. Each adobe is lit by candles and luminaires, such as hurricane lamps, and fully decorated for the season in regalia appropriate to the era. Docents dressed in period attire will welcome you with historic information about each adobe, including Colton Hall, the site of the first constitutional convention, as well as the Larkin House, California’s First Theatre, and many more.
The decorated adobes are bound to put you in the spirit of the season, and refreshments are provided at several of these, as well as live musical performances on the harp and Spanish guitar. You can enjoy bagpipes at the Robert Louis Stevenson residence.
Inclined to learn how to dance the traditional Spanish fandango? There are dance instructors at the Custom House ready to assist you with the steps.
For information about tickets, whether purchasing online or in person, visit the Monterey State Historic Park Association website.
Pro Tips: Make sure you dress warmly, as nights can be cool this time of year. Remember to bring a flashlight. In addition, bring a mask, as they are required inside each adobe you visit.
More Holiday Experiences In Monterey
While in Monterey that weekend, head for the popular Fisherman’s Wharf, where you can dine at excellent restaurants serving a variety fresh seafood and other fare, all the while enjoying an amazing view of the harbor and observing the antics of sea otters, California sea lions, and harbor seals. Check out the Abalonetti Bar and Grill, Café Fina, and Loulou’s Griddle in the Middle.
Stroll the Wharf, where you will find a 23-foot-tall Christmas tree surrounded by illuminated sea creatures. Shop for Christmas gifts at Harbor House Gifts, Pirates Cove Gifts, and many more merchants. Some will have hot cocoa, apple cider, and coffee to warm your hands and add to the holiday cheer.
In addition, there will be a performance by the Monterey Chamber Singers from noon to 1 p.m. on Saturday, December 10,, and a dance performance from 3:30–5 p.m., all within easy walking of the wharf. Check the wharf’s website for more information.
If you are in the mood for a more wintery experience, there is an ice skating rink in front of the Custom House Plaza where you can take a few twirls for around $15.
Pro Tip: If you want to visit Santa, he will be at his Santa House next to Abolonetti’s Bar and Grill.
For an adventure on the bay, there are boats to take you deep-sea fishing and whale watching. During the month of December, you can expect to see humpbacks, blue whales, orcas, and several species of dolphins. Check out the Monterey Bay Whale Watch observation post, as well as Blue Ocean Whale Watching in nearby Moss Landing.
Pro Tip: Check the weather, as the bay can be rough during this time of year.
If you plan to stay longer than a weekend, there is the outstanding, award-winning Monterey Bay Aquarium, located at the southern end of historic Cannery Row. Here you can view the amazing kelp beds where local fish and sharks swim between the long rope-like algae.
Cannery Row was the home of a once thriving sardine industry in the 1930s and ’40s and the site of local boy John Steinbeck’s novel, Cannery Row. It is now filled with shops, restaurants, art galleries, and historic monuments in tribute to the canneries and cannery workers.