WHARF WITH HISTORY: Not every urban oceanfront area sports a wharf, that water-close walkway that makes it easy for boats to deliver their payload to terra firma (or collect cargo or people or both). So the wharves of the world are true standouts, at least for the locals who work there and eat there and set sail from there and count the place as a point of pride. But there are some wharves that have become mythic, and known far beyond their home turf, even among those people who don't see the well-known wharf all that often. Monterey's Old Fisherman's Wharf is one such superstar, thanks to its layered history, its robust tourist scene, its old-school eateries, and the fog-famous aura it projects on any given morning. While you can visit the Monterey Bay-snug site for a bowl of chowder pretty much whenever, and you can take a tale-filled tour on special occasions, there's only one day when you can be at the colorful stretch of clapboard-y, neon-signed structures to honor its 170th birthday: Sunday, Oct. 4.
HAPPY 170TH, FISHERMAN'S WHARF: Businessman Thomas Larkin constructed the wharf in1845, though there had been earlier trading and commerce on that rocky shore (see the nearby Custom House, which predates the wharf by almost two decades). The Oct. 4 celebration will pay homage to the wharf's first seventeen decades, and the many restaurants that now call it home, including Old Fisherman's Grotto, Abalonetti Bar and Grill, and Liberty Fish. In fact, several of the eateries "will feature a variety of 'fish-themed' cakes for purchase," so prepare to enjoy treats that are centered around crab cakes and sardines and salmon. Many Sicilian fishermen worked the wharf decades ago, and several eats will reflect their heritage, including cannolis (which shall be sold as part of a fundraiser for the Monterey High School Boosters). Monterey's History Fest will be happening all weekend long, so you'll be able to bone up on matters beyond those of Old Fisherman's Wharf. Want to know your Cannery Row? Or your Custom House? Want to wave at an otter or head out on a cruise or simply savor the stories of our coast's early outposts and seafaring stalwarts? Make for "The Cradle of History," by vessel or vehicle, Monterey mavens.