Monterey is a popular family vacation destination on California’s rugged central coast. Attracting tourists from around the world with the beautiful Monterey Bay and beaches, Monterey is all about the ocean. Many travel to Monterey to visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium, where visitors can view an impressive array of sea life, including stingray, jellyfish, sea otter, seals, sea lion, dolphin, and blue fin and yellow fin tuna exhibits. Nearby Cannery Row, once a bustling hub of sardine-packing factories, is now a popular strip of gift shops, seafood restaurants and bars. Monterey has much to offer, you can see why it is a favorite tourist destination, especially for families.
Read on for our guide to Monterey, California.
THINGS NOT TO MISS
Monterey Bay Aquarium - It’s the perfect family outing for all ages. Since the aquarium is such a popular attraction and the reason many visit Monterey it can get extremely crowded. We've got a few tips to get the most out of your time.
- Visit during the off-season. Weekends, holidays and the summer are the busiest, if you can visit outside of these times your visit will be more enjoyable.
- Visit during weekdays. No surprise, weekends can be crowded, if you can visit mid-week Tuesday – Thursday you'll avoid some of the crowding.
- Arrive early, or late! Plan to arrive at opening to enjoy the exhibits before it gets crowded. If you can't make opening the aquarium notes that crowds decrease after 2pm.
Take a Walk - The Monterey Bay Coastal Recreation Trail is an 18-mile, waterfront trail that offers spectacular scenery. While 18 miles is definitely not family friendly, the 1 mile stretch between Fishermans Wharf and Cannery Row is perfect for a leisurely family stroll. If the littles get tired there are plenty of places to stop and rest. Keep your eyes peeled for sea lions, sea otters and even whales!
WHERE TO STAY
Monterey Marriott - 350 Calle Principal, Monterey, California 93940
A 7-minute walk from Fisherman's Wharf, this upscale hotel in downtown Monterey is 1.3 miles from Cannery Row. We stayed here on our first trip to Monterey. A great Marriott location that caters to families. The kids received goody bags and small ocean themed stuffed-animals upon check-in, as well as free kids meals in the hotel restaurants. If you don't mind being away from the main tourist strip the Monterey Marriott is a great choice.
Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa - 400 Cannery Row, Monterey, CA 93940
Nestled a block from historic Cannery Row, Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa offers the perfect location for your stay in Monterey. With a dramatic beachfront setting, perched over the magnificent Monterey Bay, Monterey Plaza Hotel provides oceanfront luxury for the whole family. You can't beat the location right in the heart of the tourist hot-spots. The kids will love watching the sea otter right from your room. We love the Plaza!
WHERE TO EAT
Loulou's Griddle in the Middle - Municipal Wharf No. 2, Monterey, CA 93940 -Family-friendly American restaurant known for breakfast fare & hearty seafood plates
The Fish Hopper - 700 Cannery Row, Monterey, CA 93940 - Delicious seafood with an amazing waterfront view.
Caffe Trieste - 409 Alvarado St, Monterey, CA 93940 - Cafe serving great coffee, breakfast, sandwiches, pizza and pasta.
GETTING TO MONTEREY
By Plane - Monterey Regional Airport is located just 10 minutes door-to-door from downtown Monterey. Other large airports near Monterey County San Jose International Airport (SJC), located 60 minutes from downtown Monterey. San Francisco International Airport (SFO) is about 2 hours from Monterey. Convenient door-to-door transportation service is available to and from SFO and SJC.
By Car - There are two routes to Monterey by car, both very scenic. Highway One, which runs from San Francisco to Los Angeles, offers breathtaking views of the Pacific coastline, Highway 101 runs down the valley corridor.
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