Monterey offers something fun for the whole family. In fact, you just might be surprised by the numerous child-friendly attractions you’ll find here.
Under Water Up-Close-And-Personal
Nestled on the ocean’s edge on Cannery Row, the Monterey Bay Aquarium features amazing sea life exhibits. A must-see is the awesome Outer Bay exhibit. You can look through the 54-by-15-foot window into one million gallons of sea water and marvel at soupfin and hammerhead sharks, enormous tuna, a giant sea turtle, and the peculiar sun fish. Another favorite is the Sea Otter exhibit where you can watch the playful furry mammals frolic about with one another and ham it up for the crowd. In other exhibits, you can see penguins, jelly fish, a giant octopus, and a living kelp forest with leopard sharks, wolf eels and more. For more information, visit http://www.mbayaq.org/.
Out and About
Get outside and explore the natural beauty of the Monterey Peninsula via foot, wheels, or water. For a sightseeing stroll, try Cannery Row, downtown Monterey, the Monterey Wharfs, and downtown Pacific Grove. Rent some bikes (or a family-sized surrey) and hit the Monterey Regional Recreation Trail, a five-mile pathway that extends from the city of Seaside through Monterey’s Cannery Row to Pacific Grove. Along the ocean-front path, you’re likely to see sea otters, seals, sea lions, pelicans and more. Or, if a jaunt on the water’s your thing, you can rent kayaks and get out there on the deep blue.
More Nature at its Finest
Another great spot to look at sea life is Lover’s Point in Pacific Grove. This grassy park overlooks the bay, and is a great vantage point for spotting sea otters. To view whales from shore, Point Lobos State Reserve (off Highway 1, three miles south of Carmel) is an ideal location. It’s also great for hiking and just taking in the scenery (http://pt-lobos.parks.state.ca.us/). For a closer look at cetaceans, you can catch whale watching boat trips from the Monterey’s Old Fisherman’s Wharf. (http://www.montereywharf.com/recreation.htm).
Another natural wonder is the Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary in Pacific Grove, where from October through early March, you can view clusters of Monarch butterflies in trees. (888-PGMONARCH)
Fun and Games
Sports enthusiasts will love Monterey’s newest attraction. Located in the American Tin Cannery (which houses several outlet stores) in Pacific Grove, Oceans 18 Miniature Golf is a unique indoor course with an underwater theme illuminated by black light for a glow-in-the-dark effect. Visit http://www.oceans18minigolf.net/
Visit El Estero Park (at Camino El Estero and Fremont Blvd.) and the adjacent Dennis the Menace Playground (on Pearl Street) near downtown Monterey. The park features a lake, where visitors can just relax and watch the ducks, or rent paddle boats. The playground includes an antique steam engine, sculptures, a 9-foot climbing wall, a space-ship, lion drinking fountain, suspension bridge, maze, roller slide, moon bridge, coil spring, and adventure ship. Nearby is El Estero Lake, a great place for just hanging out and watching ducks and geese, as well as for paddle boating.
More Fun Stuff
Monterey’s assortment of family-fun activities is endless. Here are a few more ideas. Tour the Point Pinos Lighthouse in Pacific Grove, the oldest working lighthouse on the West Coast – since 1855 (http://www.pgmuseum.org/). Visit various museums such as the Monterey Museum of Art, the Martime Museum, or My Museum: Monterey County Youth Museum (http://www.mymuseum.org/ ). Also visit www.montereyinfo.org/page/museums/ .
For a shopping adventure, Cannery Row and the American Tin Cannery (outlet stores and more) offer all kinds of treasures (lots of toys and candies among them).
Some family-friendly eateries include the following on/near Cannery Row: Louie Linguini’s;( http://www.louielinguinis.com/); Fish Hopper (http://www.fishhopper.com/); Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. & Market (http://www.bubbagump.com/); Archie’s American Diner, in the American Tin Cannery; and to satisfy that sweet tooth, Ghirardelli Ice Cream & Chocolate Shop (http://www.ghirardelli.com/).
Where to Stay
To find affordable, family lodging, consider looking off the beaten track. One great deal is Lighthouse Lodge & Suites in Pacific Grove (800-858-1249; http://www.lhls.com/). Located near Asilomar Beach, the rustic lodge offers ocean views, and includes breakfast and a daily afternoon barbecue .
Monterey is approximately 360 miles north of Los Angeles (a 6-hour drive give-or-take; about 4 or 5 hours from Ventura. If time permits, Highway 1 is a scenic drive. For getting there faster, depending on where you’re coming from, take the 101 (or the 5 to the 46 to the 101).
More articles on Monterey:
Monterey Bay: Overview
Monterey: Cannery Row and Monterey Bay Aquarium
Monterey Outdoor Adentures
Monterey: Water Wonderland
Dining in Monterey
More Favorite Places to Eat in Monterey