The Monterey Peninsula is a favorite weekend destination for Bay Area families. The beaches, sunshine and beauty attract the parents, while the kid-friendly attractions motivate the kids. Here are a few local destinations that are favorites with young families.
Dennis The Menace Park is Monterey’s famous playground within El Estero Park and offers lots of fun places for young children.
Monterey Skate Park is a skateboard park for the older kids, also found within the El Estero Park complex. Parents can picnic within view of the skateboard park and keep an eye on the munchkins.
El Estero Lake is filled with bathing birds and paddle boats on sunny days. Rent a paddle boat for a 1/2 hour and we guarantee your legs will get a great workout!
Monterey Bay Aquarium is the major destination for most visitors on the Monterey Peninsula, and rightly so! It’s beautiful, educational, fun, and lots to see. Membership to the aquarium will help you get inside quicker and earn you discounts in the gift shops, so consider getting a membership if you visit Monterey often.
The Recreation Trail runs along the water’s edge through Pacific Grove, Monterey, Seaside, and all the way up to Marina. Between Lover’s Point and Fisherman’s Wharf is where most people are found riding rented bicycles and surreys.
Del Monte Beach is across Del Monte Blvd. from El Estero Lake. To find easy parking, pull into the paid parking lot at the corner of Del Monte Blvd. and Figueroa, right at the foot of the Commercial Wharf #2. Del Monte Beach is dog-friendly, offers lots of sand for sandcastle builders, and is a safe beach where small kids can run and play in the waves. Picnic areas are available, as are kayaks and paddle boards. If you visit Del Monte Beach, please make sure you pack all your trash, shoes, plastic toys and such so you don’t pollute the water. People forget that high-tide will sweep all that refuse into the water and it harms our sea life.
Cannery Row, made famous by John Steinbeck, is a street filled with candy shops, restaurants, souvenirs, and holiday memories. The Monterey Bay Aquarium is at one end of Cannery Row, and San Carlos Beach park and the Coast Guard pier are at the other end. In between, at the corner of Prescott and Cannery Row, families will delight in yummy yogurt at MYO Yogurt. During summertime, you’ll see MYO’s brightly colored yogurt cups in everyone’s hands as they cruise around Cannery Row. Make sure you properly dispose of the yogurt cups and other refuse in the trash, however, so we don’t pollute our shores!
Old Fisherman’s Wharf is another top tourist destination after the Monterey Bay Aquarium. It’s from Fisherman’s Wharf where you can grab a bag of salt-water taffy or depart on a whale watching tour. Visit a gift shop or restaurant on Fisherman’s Wharf, or head for the sea on a chartered sail boat. There’s lots of stuff to do at Fisherman’s Wharf, but remember that you’ll need to budget for parking, and higher food prices because of the stellar location. At the foot of Fisherman’s Wharf, check out the Custom House and take a history walk in downtown Monterey via Alvarado Street’s Portola Plaza.
Insider’s Tip: In summer, from May to September, ride the free trolley through town. It makes a loop from Fisherman’s Wharf and downtown to the Monterey Bay Aquarium and back. Click here for the map.