One of the best things about going to Monterey County is all the great getaway choices waiting for you when you arrive. There are vineyards for wine lovers, tasty and healthy food options, miles of coastline for beach lovers and probably the world’s best known aquarium. If you’re a parent there’s even more reason to smile – because all of the above are family friendly.
Monterey Bay Aquarium
If you’ve been to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, I don’t have to tell you how incredible it is. If you’ve never been, make plans now and go. The mission of the nonprofit Monterey Bay Aquarium is to inspire conservation of the oceans, but they’ll wow you a thousand times over in the process. For a truly unique experience, try one of their Seashore Sleepovers. Falling asleep and waking up in front of the jellyfish exhibit ranks fairly high in the memorable experience category.
Lovers Point Park and Beach
It just wouldn’t be right not to spend a little time at the beach. Just next door to the Aquarium is Hopkins State Marine Reserve, a frequent haul-out spot for resident harbor seals. A chain link fence keeps you off the beach, but still allows for great animal watching. If the kids need space to run, or want to check out some surfing action, keep heading down the walking path to Lovers Point Park and Beach.
Parents drink wine, kids don’t. But everyone can have some fun at Paraiso Vineyards. There’s plenty of room for little ones to run on the back porch and in the backyard of the tasting room, complete with vines and views of veggie-producing farm fields below. Tweens and teens can leave their mark on the visitors map near the door and happily munch away on the assortment of chocolate samples while parents sip wine. If the kids like dogs, ask if the Paraiso’s Winery Dogs are roaming around that day. Six-year-old Irie has a wine named after him.
Kids Garden at Earthbound Farm Organic
Earthbound Farm Organic
Vegetables look so pretty at Earthbound Farm Organic, everyone in the family will want to have seconds. Grab a picnic and then wander the farm. Don’t miss the Walking Labyrinth or the teepee in the kids alphabet inspired garden.
Dennis the Menace Playground
Be ready to stay awhile at this fabulous playground. The Dennis the Menace Playground is the type of place that will make you wish you were a kid again. Along with slides, climbing walls and tunnels, kids have full run of a real locomotive parked at the playground entrance. The park was created in 1956 with the help of Hank Ketcham, creator of the Dennis the Menace comic strip.
Dana can be found on Twitter @drebmann
Dana’s trip was organized by the Monterey County Convention & Visitors Bureau, but as always her thoughts and opinions are her own.