Monterey Bay Aquarium

Monterey Bay Aquarium

Top 5 Activities for Kids and Parents

After a few family vacations full of amusement parks or children's museums, parents long for an adult activity where their children are welcome. Monterey County has perfected creative ways to please every member of the clan. Be the family hero and book these Monterey experiences for your next vacation.

1. Hike it up

The most well-traveled parents catch their breath when they hike Big Sur cliffs, explore the Point Lobos tide pools or roam the talus caves of Pinnacles National Park. Kids can teach us a thing or two about the joy of exploring in these natural wonders.

In addition to self-guided nature activities, Monterey County's parks have plenty of ranger-led excursions that cater to the whole family. Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park's Campfire program runs from Memorial Day through Labor Day, with multiple ranger-led hikes and walks daily. Tweens can get a taste of independence with hour-long "Junior Ranger" activities, giving Mom and Dad a chance to kick back at the campsite.

Edu-vacation bonus: The Monterey Peninsula Regional Park District offers weekend hikes and nature exploration activities designed for kids from tots to teenagers as well as their parents. Introduce your toddler to butterflies in the morning, your tween to the adventure sport of geocacheing on an afternoon exploration, or your teen to owls on a special evening hike. Tweens and teens can even learn basic first aid skills at all-weekend classes.

2. Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca

Who doesn't like fast cars? Kids will rev up to the auto races, while mom and dad can get up close and personal with the cars of their dreams.

For parents, one of the best elements of a race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca is the relaxed atmosphere. Mom and Dad can bring in food and drink for the kids, set up camp chairs on the grass, and have a family picnic while watching the action. Children can also burn off steam with a trip to the playground near turns 5 and 6. For a totally immersive experience, reserve a campsite at the raceway and set up your home away from home.

At many of the races, children will have the opportunity to meet racecar drivers. Younger children can participate in family activities in the racetrack infield, while older kids may want to browse the merchant booths and watch the live bands.

3. Down on the Farm

Get dirty. Harvest honey. Pick organic vegetables. The best way to create a memorable experience with children is to get down and dirty alongside them, and several of Monterey County's farms offer endless options for "quality time."

The Farm, located in Salinas, is a working farm designed to tell the story of Monterey County's agricultural heritage. Giant sculptures of farm hands are scattered throughout the fields, illustrating the acts of growing and harvesting food. Families can tour The Farm, meet real farmers, and learn how vegetables are grown. Kids can even visit farm animals such as goats, chickens and rabbits at The Farm's miniature zoo. Events throughout the year celebrate the seasons with activities and educational events.

Families can also explore gardens from pioneering organic food producers Earthbound Farm. Earthbound Farm's Carmel Valley Farm Stand is surrounded by the Cut-Your-Own Herb Garden and a Kids' Garden. Throughout the year, the Farm Stand has activities designed to educate children and their parents about organic farming and gardening. Reward your family after class with delicious local produce, organic ice cream and organic frozen yogurt from the Farm Stand.

4. Monterey Bay Aquarium

We know why this gem is great for children - but the Monterey Bay Aquarium is also a big draw for adults. Parents also giggle with abandon at the sea otters and gasp in awe at the Kelp Forest exhibit while learning a thing or two about our global commitment to ocean life. The family can take turns, first participating in child-focused hands-on activities, then enjoying some of the more tranquil and exotic exhibits.

Meals in the dining room are several cuts above average zoo and aquarium fare; the Monterey Bay Aquarium Restaurant features grownup, sustainable cuisine devised by celebrity chef Cindy Pawlcyn as well as some of Monterey County's best views of Monterey Bay.

5. Tide Pooling

Explore some of the smaller wonder of the sea at one of the many tide pools along Monterey County's coastline. The easy access invites kids and adults alike to closely explore the local wildlife including crabs, abalone, mussels, sea anemones, star fish and if you are fortunate enough you might even spot an elusive octopus. Popular tide pooling spots include Asilomar State Beach, Point Lobos State Reserve and McAbee Beach

Lay of the Land

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Lay of the Land

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Click on the links for high-resolution maps of Monterey County communities, suitable for printing: Monterey, Carmel and Carmel Valley, Pacific Grove, Pebble Beach, Salinas, Seaside, Marina, Sand City and Moss Landing.

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Monterey Spotlight
 
 

Featured Events

Apr
26
2015

Big Sur International Marathon

Apr. 26
The Big Sur Marathon is 26.2 miles of the most beautiful coastline in the world -…more
May
1
2015

TUDOR United SportsCar Championship

May. 1-May. 3
This new series created by the merger between the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series…more
May
1
2015

Wildflower Triathlon

May. 1-May. 3
One of the premier triathlons nationally and internationally, this course will test…more
May
2
2015

The Language Capital of the World Cultural Festival

May. 2-May. 3
Held in the heart of Old Monterey, this inaugural "Language Capital of the…more
May
2
2015

Winemakers' Celebration

May. 2
Over 30 Monterey County wineries from 9 American Viticultural Areas (AVAs) will…more
May
10
2015

Mother's Day Brunches in Monterey County

May. 10
Score some points with Mom this Mother's Day and treat her to a fabulous brunch in…more
May
14
2015

Carmel Art Festival

May. 14-May. 17
Carmel-by-the-Sea highlights its artist colony origins with the Carmel Art Festival.…more
May
14
2015

Salinas Valley Fair

May. 14-May. 17
Enjoy the atmosphere of an old-fashioned county fair, complete with carnival,…more
May
15
2015

Monterey Rock n' Rod Festival

May. 15-May. 16
Featuring hundreds of 1975 and older classic and custom hot rods, street rods,…more
May
22
2015

California Roots Music & Arts Festival

May. 22-May. 24
The 6th annual California Roots Music and Arts Festival is a three-day event packed…more
May
23
2015

MayFest Monterey Bay

May. 23-May. 25
This FREE admission 3 DAY FESTIVAL created for the community at large will occur…more
May
30
2015

Artichoke Festival

May. 30-May. 31
In 2015 the Castroville Artichoke Festival will celebrate it's 56th year at the…more
Jun
6
2015

Monterey Wine Festival

Jun. 6-Jun. 7
With hundreds of wines offered for tasting, wine lovers will lfind an embarrassment…more
Jun
6
2015

Spartan Race

Jun. 6
Spartan RaceTM, the global leader in Obstacle Racing since 2005, was designed by…more
Jun
13
2015

Monterey Beer Festival

Jun. 13
The Monterey Beer Festival is celebrating its 14th year. Breweries from across…more
Jun
20
2015

Carmel Valley Art & Wine Celebration

Jun. 20
The Art & Wine Celebration will showcase over 50 artists, local wines and…more
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