Monterey, CA has always been our family's favorite spot for a quick day trip. As a child my Uncle and his family lived on the Fort Ord base.
Fond memories remain as I recall the anticipation of a day trip to see my cousins. We'd often visit Fisherman's Wharf, hang out at a nearby vacant school yard, or just make up silly kid games to stay busy. To this day I can never get enough of the crisp breeze and smell of the Pacific Ocean.
If you're looking for a fun way to enjoy Fall, add this location to your places to visit.
Things to do for a day of play in Monterey:
(As featured in Guide to Monterey for Families)
The Monterey Bay Aquarium is a place everyone in the family can enjoy. The combination of world-class facilities, exotic animals, and state-of-the-art displays will take your breath away. For the little ones the petting pools, penguin exhibit, and jellyfish provide hours of fascinating sites.
Kids (and big kids) love watching the animals at feeding time (the penguins are especially adorable!). Feedings usually happen twice a day, so check the schedules.
The aquarium can get very busy — go first thing on a weekday for the calmest experience. If going on the weekend, arriving early is best.
Don't miss the "Splash Zone," a special interactive aquarium experience.
The cafeteria inside the aquarium has a great selection, reasonable prices, and quick service. We are fans of the yummy cookies.
- Breastfeeding Mom's will be comfy, many benches and seating areas are available throughout the facility
Plan to stay: Up to 3 hrs (we usually last about 2)
The Old Fisherman's Wharf is a lively, noisy, colorful collection of shops, restaurants, and amusements. With an active 4 year old we always have a great time! Shop for souvenirs and gifts, grab a snack, or have a full sit-down meal — it's all here. (the sweet shop caramel corn is our favorite)
Sea lions love to hang out among the boats that are docked. Count how many you can see!
Stop into Carousel Candy for some saltwater taffy!
- Budget friendly meal suggestion is the sourdough bowl clam chowder. So good! Look out for free samples as you walk along Fisherman's Wharf .
Plan to stay: Up to 2 hours
Situated in El Estero Park, Dennis the Menace Playground is an ideal place to picnic and let the kiddos burn off energy. It was designed by the creator of Dennis the Menace and offers lots of fantastic slides, tunnels, and even has a train. In previous year's the kids could climb on the train and play inside. To date it's fenced though still a great feature of the park.
El Estero Park offers a number of other entertainment as well. Older kids will enjoy the skate park, and there is also an outdoor exercise course and a ballpark were you can toss around a softball.
You can fish in the lake (a fishing license is required), or rent paddle boats.
The park is a birdwatcher's paradise.
- Keep an eye on the little ones, they can get lost easily as this park is BUSY.
- Parking can be tricky, be patient people come in and out often.
Plan to stay: 1-2 hours
Things to eat
These are a few of our favorite spots to enjoy great food. You won't be disappointed!
Are you a Monterey Bay fan? Share in the comments the favorite places or foods you enjoy in the area.
Wishing you a great Fall season!