The Monterey Peninsula Toy Box

Monterey Peninsula Glossary

If you are new to the area or just visiting, you may encounter terms unfamiliar to you. This glossary will help you understand the local jargon.

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Adobe: (1) A type of brick made from clay and straw used to build many of the early buildings in Monterey. (2) A building made with adobe, especially in Monterey; plural: Adobes.

Cooper Molera Adobe

AMBAG: A joint powers authority representing regional governments of Monterey, Santa Cruz, and San Benito counties. Its purpose is to provide coordination between various agencies regarding matters of regional interest.

Asilomar: A conference center near Asilomar State Beach in Pacific Grove. Many of it's buildings were designed by architect Julia Morgan, who also designed Hearst Castle near San Simeon. It is currently owned by the state parks department.

Big Sur: (1) The coast between Carmel Highlands and San Simeon, often referred to as the Big Sur Coast. (2) A sparsely populated community with no particular boundaries in the vicinity of Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park.

Big Sur Cow

Bay School: A historic little 19th century schoolhouse just south of Carmel between Carmel Meadows and Monastery Beach. The current pre-school operation was founded in the 1950s by the late Rosa Doner, and is currently operated by the Carmel Unified School District. Originally it was a one-room schoolhouse, but was expanded to a two-room schoolhouse in the early 1960s. It is affectionately known as The Little Red School House.

Bixby Bridge: A famous single span concrete arch bridge on Highway 1, 16 miles south of Carmel. It rises 260 feet and spans over 700 feet across Bixby Canyon in Big Sur. Built in 1932, it is one of the largest such bridges in the world. In its early days some people called it Rainbow Bridge or Mill Creek Bridge. It has been featured in many automobile commercials and a few Hollywood films. It should not be confused with the similar, but much smaller, Rocky Creek Bridge a few miles north. 

Bixby Bridge

Cabrillo Highway: (pronounced: cuh-BREE-oh) Official name designated for the segment of state Highway 1 from San Francisco to the Las Cruces junction with Highway 101 near Buellton. This includes all of Highway 1 in Monterey County. It was named after Spanish explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, who in 1542 was the first European explorer to sail along the California coast.

Cannery Row: (1) The area along the shoreline and roughly two blocks inland between the Coast Guard Pier in Monterey and the American Tin Cannery in Pacific Grove. (2) A street name in the same area. (3) A novel by John Steinbeck about life on Cannery Row in the 1940s.

Aeneas Overpass on Cannery Row

Carmel Bay: The bay between Pescadero Point in Pebble Beach and Point Lobos.

Carmel-By-The-Sea: The full legal name of Carmel.

Carmel Hill: The hill between Monterey and Carmel, especially the highway.

Carmel Hill Interchange: The freeway interchange at the junction of Highway 1 and Highway 68 at the top of Carmel Hill.

Carmel Point: The small peninsula at the edge of Carmel Bay between the city of Carmel and Carmel River State Beach.

Carmel Woods: The residential area on the north side of Carmel.

Catellus properties: The land on each side of the entrance to the Municipal Wharf in Monterey. Formerly owned by the Southern Pacific Railroad, it is now city property. The old Monterey train station is located on the western half of the property.

CAVE People: Citizens Against Virtually Everything. A derogatory term referring to people who are opposed to and actively fight against what they feel is inappropriate development. The term arose because nearly every development receives significant opposition.

CDR: Canyon Del Rey Boulevard in Seaside and Del Rey Oaks. This abbreviation is primarily used by public agencies, such as police, fire, and public works. Most normal people use the full name.

China Point: see Point Cabrillo.

CHOMP: Community Hospital Of the Monterey Peninsula. It is located just off of highway 1 near the Carmel Hill interchange.

Court of the Golden Bough: A courtyard of small retail shops in Carmel on Ocean Avenue at Monte Verde. It was the site of the original Golden Bough Theater which burned down in 1935. (See also Golden Bough Playhouse)

Crosby, The: An archaic term for the AT&T Pro-Am Golf Tournament. It is based on the tournament's original name: the Bing Crosby Pro-Am Golf Tournament.

Crosby Weather: Stormy weather that often occurs during the AT&T Pro-Am Golf Tournament.

CSUMB: California State University Monterey Bay, located at the former Fort Ord. Informally known as UFO (University at Fort Ord)

Custom House Plaza: The plaza at the north end of downtown Monterey between the Portola Plaza Hotel and the old Custom House.

Custom House Tunnel: The tunnel connecting downtown Monterey with New Monterey and Cannery Row. It runs beneath the Custom House Plaza. Also known simply as The Tunnel.

Del Mesa: A retirement community in Carmel Valley.

Del Monte Forest: The forested residential areas of Pebble Beach. Also known simply as "The Forest."

DLI: The Defense Language Institute, located at the Presidio of Monterey.

Fisherman's Flats: A residential neighborhood near the southeast corner of Monterey. It was so named because fishermen used to lay their nets out there for drying because the area gets less fog.

Fisherman's Wharf: A public pier on the north side of downtown Monterey. It is a major tourist attraction, and features numerous restaurants, gift shops, and is the local base for whale watching and fishing tours. It is one of two wharves in Monterey Harbor. The other is called the Municipal Wharf (see).


Foot of Ocean: The parking area and beach at the western end of Ocean Avenue in Carmel. Interestingly the parking lot is shaped like a foot at the end of a long leg.

Forest, The: see Del Monte Forest.

Forest Theater: An outdoor theater in Carmel on Mountain View Avenue at Santa Rita Street. It was founded in 1910.

Golden Bough Playhouse: A live theater in Carmel on Monte Verde Street between 8th and 9th. It was relocated to this location after a fire destroyed the original theater on Ocean Avenue, site of the current Court of the Golden Bough (see).

Golden Rectangle: A term used by real estate agents to refer to the area roughly bounded by Mission, 8th, San Antonio and 13th streets in Carmel. Most people don't think it's any better than any other Carmel neighborhood. 

Golden State Theatre: A 1926 movie palace in downtown Monterey. It is the largest theater ever built on the peninsula.

Hatton Fields: A Carmel residential area between Highway 1 and Rio Road, overlooking the mouth of Carmel Valley. Also known as The Mesa.

Hartnell Gulch: A deep creekbed next to the Monterey Public Library.

High Meadow: A residential area east of Highway 1 at Carpenter Street.

Holman Highway: The segment of Highway 68 between Carmel Hill and Pacific Grove. It was named after Wilford R. Holman, one of the family owners of Holman's Department Store in Pacific Grove, who advocated construction of a direct road between Carmel and Pacific Grove.

Hopkins Marine Station: A marine biological research facility, a branch of Stanford University, located on Point Cabrillo (a.k.a. China Point) in Pacific Grove just northwest of the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Hurricane Hill: The highest hill on the highway to Big Sur, located between Bixby Bridge and the Little Sur River.

Jacks Peak: (1) The ridgeline between Monterey and Carmel Valley east of Highway 1. (2) A county park on part of that ridgeline.

Lagoon, The: The lagoon and wetlands at the mouth of the Carmel River at Carmel River State Beach.

Carmel River Lagoon

Little Red School House: see Bay School

Lone Cypress: A famous tree on the rocky Midway Point on 17 Mile Drive in Pebble Beach. It is often referred to as the most photographed tree in the world, and is considered a symbol of Pebble Beach.

Lovers Point: A prominent rocky outcropping and park on the northern shoreline of Pacific Grove at the intersection of Ocean View Boulevard and 17th Street. There is some controversy over the name. Some claim that it was originally called "Lovers of Jesus Point" due to the fact that Pacific Grove got its start in 1875 as a Methodist summer retreat. However, there is no documented evidence from that time indicating that it was ever so named. The shorter "Lover's Point" was documented as early as 1885, just ten years after Pacific Grove was established. References to Lovers Point as a popular place for young couples appeared soon after, strongly suggesting that the current name was also the original. Furthermore, publications suggesting that "Lovers of Jesus Point" was the original name didn't appear until the early 1970s. Some early references used an apostrophe in the name Lover's Point, and the punctuation issue also remains controversial.

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McAbee Beach: A beach on Cannery Row near the bottom of Prescott Avenue.

Mesa, The: see Hatton Fields

Mid Valley: The shopping and residential area immediately west of Robinson Canyon Road in Carmel Valley.

Midway Point: The famous rocky outcropping in Pebble Beach which supports the Lone Cypress.

Midway Point

MIIS: Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, a civilian language school located just west of downtown Monterey on Van Buren Street. Prior to 2015 it was called Monterey Institute of International Studies.

Mission Fields: The residential neighborhood on the floodplain along Rio Road between Highway 1 and the Carmel Mission.

Monastery Beach:  Informal name for San Jose Creek State Beach. It is located across Highway 1 from the Carmelite Monastery just north of Point Lobos. It is also grimly referred to as Mortuary Beach due to the rough unpredictable surf that has claimed the lives of  many unwary beachgoers.

Monterey-Salinas Highway: Highway 68 between Monterey and Salinas.

Monterey-Salinas Transit: The public bus system serving the Monterey Peninsula, Carmel Valley, Big Sur, and Salinas.

Mouth of the Valley: The area in the vicinity of Highway 1 in Carmel Valley, especially the shopping areas.

Mortuary Beach: see Monastery Beach

MPC: Monterey Peninsula College, a community college located southeast of downtown Monterey.

MST: see Monterey-Salinas Transit

Municipal Wharf: A public mixed-use pier defining the east side of Monterey Harbor. It is primarily an industrial facility, with a fish processing building at the north end. It alse features a couple of restaurants and is home to the Monterey Peninsula Yacht Club. It is also a popular pier for rod and reel fishing. You can drive out onto most of it, and public parking can be found along most of its length. It is informally known as Wharf 2 to distinguish it from the more famous Fisherman's Wharf (see).

Monterey Municipal Wharf

New Monterey: The portion of Monterey between the Presidio of Monterey and Pacific Grove. It includes Cannery Row and the Lighthouse Avenue commercial corridor, but is dominated by a large residential area on the hill above. The term New Monterey was coined by real estate advertisements in 1889 when the area was first subdivided.

NPS: The Naval Postgraduate School, an educational facility of the United States Navy in Monterey. It occupies the grounds of the former Hotel Del Monte, a large luxury resort hotel which opened there in 1880. The Navy leased the hotel for a flight school during WWII, and purchased the property in 1947. The hotel building is now known as Hermann Hall. 

Oak Grove: A residential neighborhood in Monterey between the Naval Postgraduate School and Lake El Estero. It began as housing for employees at the old Hotel Del Monte. There are almost no oak trees in the neighborhood. They were cut down decades ago.

Odello Fields: The fields straddling Highway 1 at the mouth of Carmel Valley, immediately south of the Carmel River. They had been owned by the Odello family who grew artichokes on the land for many decades. They stopped farming after the 1998 flood. The western portion is now owned by the state parks department and has been restored to its natural state as wetlands. The eastern portion was purchased by Clint Eastwood and donated to the Big Sur Land Trust. The eastern field is currently farmed by Earthbound Farms, but they no longer plant artichokes.

Offshore flow: A reversal of normal wind conditions when air currents flow from east to west, bringing warm dry air from inland to the coast. The phenomenon usually occurs in the spring or fall and lasts for a few days. It is sometimes referred to in the feminine as "Offshore Flo."

Old Fisherman's Wharf: See Fisherman's Wharf.

Pearly Gates: An underused term for the gates into Pebble Beach.

Pescadero Canyon: A narrow canyon between Carmel and Pebble Beach. It runs from Highway 1 to Carmel beach.

Pescadero Point: The southwestern extremity of Pebble Beach, on the north side of Carmel Bay.

Pescadero Point

P.G.: Pacific Grove

Pagrovian: A resident of Pacific Grove

Pillbox Row: Informal name for Cass Street in Monterey, which is almost entirely lined with medical offices.

Pine Cone: (1) The Carmel Pine Cone, a weekly newspaper. (2) A cone shaped pod of seeds from pine trees.

Plaza, The: (1) The Monterey Plaza Hotel on Cannery Row. (2) The Carmel Plaza shopping center on Ocean Avenue between Junipero and Mission.

Point Cabrillo: A fairly large point in Pacific Grove, just northwest of the Monterey Bay Aquarium, where the Hopkins Marine Station (see) is located. Also known as China Point for the Chinese fishing village that occupied the area circa 1900.

Recreation Trail: see Shoreline Recreation Trail.

RLS: Robert Louis Stevenson school in Pebble Beach.

Ryan Ranch: An industrial park in Monterey east of the Monterey Airport along Highway 68.

Shoe, The: A football trophy, an actual bronzed football shoe, representing a rivalry between Carmel and Pacific Grove high schools. Possession of the shoe is awarded to the winner of an annual "shoe game." The tradition began in 1948.

Shoreline Recreation Trail: A walking and bicycle trail which roughly follows the shoreline. It begins at Lover's Point in Pacific Grove, runs through Monterey and northward through Seaside, Sand City, and the former Fort Ord to Marina.

Spanish Bay:  The bay which straddles the border between Pacific Grove and Pebble Beach. The Inn at Spanish Bay is located there.

Stewart's Cove: A small portion of Carmel River State Beach at the south side of Carmel Point.


Stillwater Cove:  A cove located on the northern portion of Carmel Bay by the Pebble Beach golf course. It is so named for its calm waters and is a haven for small boats.

Stilwell Hall: A large red-roofed building that once stood west of Highway 1 at Fort Ord. It was built as a soldier's club by General Joseph Stilwell of Carmel, and named in his honor. It has been demolished.

Sunset Center: A performing arts theater and community center on San Carlos Street in Carmel. The building was originally a public school called Sunset School.

TAMC: (pronounced: TAM-see) Transportation Agency for Monterey County, a joint powers agency governed by the five county supervisors and a representative from each city in the county. They set priorities and policies for transportation.

Tarpy's Flats: The field along the south side of Highway 68 east of the Monterey airport entrance. It was named after a 19th century Watsonville man named Tarpy who, after a long feud with his neighbor over a property line, accidentally (?) shot his neighbor's wife. Tarpy was taken to the Monterey jail, but an angry mob overpowered the jailers and lynched him on that field.


Village, The: (1) Short for Carmel Valley Village. (2) The prison where Number 6 was held.

Wharf #2: Informal name for the Municipal Wharf in Monterey just east of Fisherman's Wharf.

Window On The Bay: A park development project in Monterey between Del Monte Avenue and the beach in the vicinity of Lake El Estero. Since the mid-1980s the city and state have been buying up commercial properties as they become available and demolishing the buildings to open up views of the bay (hence the origin of the term).