Although I’ve spent most of my life living in California, this year was the first time I’d ever visited Monterey. And boy do I wish I’d been sooner because it is beautiful. Monterey sits on the coast of the Pacific Ocean and boasts gorgeous views and quaint, seaside living. It’s a perfect place to come and relax while still getting in a bunch of activities that are great for adults and kids alike. These are my favorite things to do in Monterey with kids:
Walk around Cannery Row
Lucky for us, we were staying very close to Cannery Row, which ended up being a great home base. Cannery Row is above all, a very picturesque place to walk around, see the history, and enjoy a few touristy spots. Nearly every shop on the main street is a cute mom-and-pop shop so this would be the perfect place to grab a souvenir. The restaurants are also great — you’ll find delicious food and plenty of different options. I could walk around Cannery Row for hours so it’s a great place to spend an afternoon and then grab dinner there.
Explore the neighboring State Parks
Nearby, you’ll find Point Lobos State Natural Reserve, Garrapata State Park and Lovers Point Park among others. Lovers Point is right on the edge of Monterey so you can walk there from Cannery Row if you’re up for a long walk and some beautiful views. Point Lobos and Garrapata are a bit further, but great for hiking, exploring, and spectacular sunset views.
Tour the 17-Mile Drive
If you’re headed to any of the state parks, also be sure to check out the 17-Mile Drive in Pebble Beach. Pay $10.25 to enter through any of several starting points to the 17-Mile Drive. You can complete the circular drive at your own pace, which is always nice with kids. The drive will take you through beautiful residential areas, rugged cliff sides, and spectacular beaches. So, build in some time to stop frequently and take plenty of pictures. As always, sunset is my favorite time to be out in nature, so I recommend leaving before sunset. That way you can find a perfect spot to watch the sun go down over the ocean.
Take the family to Monterey Bay Aquarium
Ask anyone who’s been to Monterey with kids and nine times out of ten, they’re going to tell you to visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium. At $50/adult, it’s pricy, but worth every penny. There are about a dozen exhibits, including several hands-on activities. My favorite was the Open Sea exhibit which features jelly fish, stingrays, and turtles. You can plan to spend about three hours here and spend a bit of time in each area. Jimmy’s favorite was the Kelp Forest, which has a small maze area that he spent about 45 minutes climbing around in.
If you’re looking for a bit more history, shopping, or small-town vibes, head over to Carmel-by-the-Sea for the day or on the way to visit Big Sur. Here you’ll find a quant seaside village with a great downtown area for shopping and dining. They’ve also got another beautiful beach, several art galleries, hiking trails, and more.
Get out on the water
If you’re visiting Monterey with kids, it’s always a good idea to get out on the water. In Monterey, you can rent canoes, go whale watching, or even sailing. The timing wasn’t right for us, but I would loved to have gone whale watching. That’s always such a fun activity for everyone, no matter how old you are.
If you’ve been Monterey with kids (or without!), what’s your favorite thing to do? Let us know in the comments!