One of the biggest shockers for me after having a child was the lack of free time to do…well pretty much anything. Oh you want to workout? Sorry, I want to be held all day. Sit at Starbucks and enjoy a latte? Ha, I’ll scream the whole time. Ooo go on a fun little getaway? In your dreams! But now that I have a walking, talking toddler, taking a little staycation isn’t so out of the question. Even though this Midwest-raised girl has has privilege to live in California , taking in all the sites of Monterey was not exactly do-able, until now. See Monterey – Our California Staycation.
I love being able to explore areas where we live (since we live in a new place every few years). It’s not only good for kids to get out and experience cultural gems, take in adventures, and learn new things, it’s good for moms and dads to take time out of their busy schedules to reconnect and reflect about what’s important in life. I love so many of Monterey’s family friendly activities – you can be on the go all.day.long. I mean, that’s a workout in itself! As is chasing a toddler around during your staycation…
If you’re ever in Northern California, the Monterey Peninsula is definitely a must-see, especially for kids. Here are a few things we saw, ate, and experienced during our weekend adventure.
Monterey Bay Aquarium
You can’t NOT see the Monterey Bay Aquarium if you are visiting Monterey. In 2014 the place was rated the #1 aquarium in the WORLD for Pete’s sake! With over 200 exhibits, a sweet (and tranquil) jellyfish exhibit, and some super cool interactive touch pools, the aquarium provides hours of entertainment for adults and little ones! Head up to the “splash zone” play area for the kids to learn (and burn off some energy).
Try: Plan your visit during feeding times. The kids (and you) will love watching the penguins, sea otters, or sharks get some tasty snacks.
Want to see the Monterey Bay Aquarium for yourself? See Monterey is giving away 5 pairs of FREE tickets! A $79.50 value. Simply post a comment to this post below for your chance to win this amazing experience for yourself. Tickets expire 7/31/16
When you’ve realized all the phone pics of your trip are selfies and blurry ‘on the go’ shots of the kids, you need to stop by Lovers Point to get some amazing scenic photos. Like I’m talking ‘blow these up and frame them’ kind of pictures. The view of the cliff rocks overlooking the ocean reminds me of something you would see in a movie. Truly, it’s spectacular. This is a great spot to stop when you need to decompress, grab a snack, and find a spot on the rock to pose for your yearly Christmas photo.
Try: Climb down the rocks for a sea creature scavenger hunt or hit the sandy beach nearby.
Dennis the Menace Park
Founded by Hank Ketchum (the creator of Dennis the Menace), this super park has pretty much every kind of slide known to man, a climbing wall, climbing nets, swings, etc. etc. I MAY have been guilty of busting out a few of theses playground workout exercises while my son was running around like a madman. This place was like a complete mecca of child entertainment Aaaand there are restrooms – CLUTCH for pregnant ladies!
Try: Wander through the hedge maze located next to all the playground equipment. It’s easy enough for kids yet still fun for all!
We can’t go anywhere without my husband fitting in a round or two. For realz, he’s golf obsessed. So if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em! Bayonet Blackhorse golf course is a hidden gem in the Monterey Peninsula, hosting the PGA National Championship in 2012. Even though I didn’t play a full round with him (ummm someone has to entertain the toddler), I hit a few balls of my own on the range. Just a little low-impact activity to get the body movin’.
Try: Enjoy brunch at the clubhouse. SO many options, great food, and affordable!
Restaurants? Check. Whale watching? Check. Souvenir shops? Check. Sea Loins? Check. I love walking around the Wharf to shop, eat, sightsee, and take photos! With a variety places to dine and opportunities to check out wildlife up close and personal, this is great spot to stop during your time in Monterey.
Try: Check out the Wharf later in the afternoon so you can try all the free clam chowder samples outside each restaurant, decide which one is your favorite, and go there!
Admittedly, I have been DYING to try lunch or dinner at Poke Lab. The only thing that would have made the experience better was if I could FULLY enjoy all the glorious sushi bowl goodness (but of course, I can’t since I’m prego). But hey, that didn’t stop me from ordering the most mind-blowing bowl I’ve eve had the privilege of fawning over. Love sushi? Love burrito bowls? Love inexpensive and flavor-packed, healthy meals? Meet Poke Lab – aka nirvana. Vacations are for indulging, but it’s hardly a guilty pleasure to eat here when all the components are so fresh and healthy! Go. Just go. And if you can’t have raw fish (or your kids are squeamish with the idea), fill your bowl with shrimp and crab meat or try the vegetarian option.
Try: Grab an early dinner then walking Alvarado Street on Tuesday evenings, where there is a farmers market, free entertainment, and the most amazing samples of the region’s freshest product. Or grab frozen self-serve yogurt for dessert at Myo, just a few doors down!
Point Lobos State Reserve
Hiking lovers listen up – Monterey and surrounding areas is where it’s AT. And when you need a leisurely hike with gorgeous views that the kids can take part in and explore, Point Lobos State Reserve is perfect. With over a dozen trails, I love the variety of stroller-accessible options, and more challenging “work that booty” options. Let’s talk the views – THE VIEWS. Simply breathtaking! If you’re lucky, you may spot a few baby seals or snag a prime viewing area whale watching! Want to add some extra oomph to your hike? Try this hiking workout as you go!
Try: Find a volunteer (usually located at the scenic lookout points on the trails) – they will give you a ton of information about all the wildlife to watch for.
Ready to visit Monterey yourself? Don’t forget to comment below for your chance to win FREE tickets to the Monterey Bay Aquarium!
A special shoutout to See Monterey for sponsoring this post. Although I have to admit, it wasn’t hard to share my love for Monterey with you all! Be sure to post and hashtag your Monterey experiences at #monterey and #grabyourmoment.