Monterey & Pacific Grove

Parent Reviews

Monterey area. There's an Embassy Suites in Seaside with an indoor pool, a wonderful little kids' museum (MY Museum), and lots of beaches for strolling and playing in the sand. (Obviously not swimming, this is chilly CA!) You could skip the aquarium and still have a great 2-3 day mini-break in the region.

I second Monterey.  We just went there with a 18 month old and loved it.  (Despite having been many times before, with a toddler it was different and we appreciated it more).  We went for three days and didn't even have time for Dennis the Menace Park - next time!

Monterey/Pacific Grove (although could be rainy), San Diego (brutal drive) for Legoland, beach, science museums?

We go to Santa Barbara frequently since we have family there. We always have a good time, but there's not a lot for toddlers there particularly. There's no "signature" playground in San Diego a la Dennis the Menace Park in Monterey.

I cannot imagine spending a week in Pismo... it is a small town! I think you'd get bored, and it's easily a half hour to SLO for their kids' science center & restaurants.

Ashland OR is 5 hours, has cute little downtown, nice playgrounds, and kids science museum. Again, for an entire week though, I think you're best off going to someplace that's big with a good sized tourist infrastructure like LA or San Diego. If you edit down your trip to 4 days, you could have a great time in monterey, SB, or Ashland.

My personal pick would be renting a 2-bd in Pacific Grove for 3-4 nights. One day at MY Museum in Monterey, one day exploring the coastline in PG/Monterey (rent a 4-person surrey bike), *maybe* one day at the aquarium (not my favorite place on earth, always too crowded), and definitely a long visit to Dennis the Menace. Then back home to normal schedules!  :)

Archived Q&A and Reviews



Family friendly hotel near Monterey Aquarium

June 2009

We're meeting up with family in San Jose for a family reunion over July 4. We all have toddlers ranging from 2 to 5 yo. Thinking about visiting Monterey Aquarium one of those days. Are there resonable, family friendly hotels nearby either in Monterey or Pacific Grove you've stayed and liked? Places that come with breakfast is preferred so we don't have to lug the whole kiddie train with us in the morning! What other kid's favorite places to go in the Monterey area? Thanks much! Linh

You're in luck: there's a great, affordable, well-located, family-friendly motel in Monterey that has a pool and hot tub! It's Monterey Bay Lodge, (800) 558-1900. It's across the street from a park that has a pond (where you can watch ducks and geese) and beyond the pond is a huge playground called the Dennis the Menace playground. It's also less than two blocks from a nice beach where the kids can play in the sand. (Northern California beaches aren't good for swimming--the water is freezing year-round.)

Monterey Bay Lodge has a free continental breakfast. If that's not sufficient, you can go next door to a diner that has a pretty decent brunch menu; you get a small discount there if you're staying at the lodge. Also, when you stay at the lodge you can get two-day Aquarium tickets for the price of a one-day ticket, and you won't have to wait in line to get in! Can you tell I'm a fan of this place?

We recently went with Grandma, and the family of 4 (mom, dad, 7 year old and 4 year old). The Embassy Suites was great! We got a really good AAA discount. The suite is nice, put the kids to sleep in one room and adults can stay up and talk in other room. There's a breakfast buffet with a lot of choices and a warm indoor pool. My kids loved the glass elevator. I have to recommend taking a boat trip on Elkhorn Slough, north of Monterey. We had great guides and saw tons of otters, sea lions and birds. The slough is very smooth so no worry of sea sickness or rough water for little kids. Point Lobos, south of Monterey, is an absolutely beautiful place for a walk along the cliffs, you can spot otters in the water below. A 2-day pass for the aquarium may be nice with younger kids. There is alot to see. We had a great time. anon

We recently went to Monterey and stayed in Carmel, which is the least family friendly place I have ever been to in my life. At one point my 2 year old had a tantrum and people were literally staring in the street, mouth agape, and running out of stores to stare. Ridiculous. Anyway, just wanted to let you know where NOT to stay. Also, check out the Dennis the mennis park in Monterey. It is amazing. Anonymous

We stayed at the Monterey Bay Lodge for my FIL's birthday. There were four families, three with toddlers or babies. It was a lovely spot for us. They had recently renovated so the rooms were lovely and they had some ''suite'' style rooms with a separate area for bunk beds. The pool was just perfect for the younger kids and older ones had a blast as well. There is a restaurant on site. It's a nice walk from the hotel to the Aquarium (maybe too long for all the kids). The rates were reasonable. And they put ''Happy Birthday Dado'' on the marquis outside the hotel for us, which made Grandpa very happy! Their website is www DOT montereybaylodge DOT com Elaine

Asilomar in Pacific Grove is a great destination for families. Great buildings, pool, easy beach access, big breakfasts, and reasonable rates. Definitely check it out. Jennifer

The Monterey Bay Lodge is nice but watch out for that pretty duck pond across the street if you like to walk in the early morning. It is filled with homeless folks sleeping in the bushes. Some of them can get a little aggressive John

Just last weekend we did our second (maybe third?) stay at Howard Johnsons Pacific Grove, about 2 blocks from Asilomar conference center. It's a ~10 minute drive to the aquarium, but the advantages are suites (in the suite we got the ''bedroom'' has a queen bed, small fridge, microwave, and bathroom and the outer room has another queen bed) which is great with kids, free breakfast (just bagels, cereal, waffles, fruit), and you can walk to Asilomar conference center and across to Asilomar beach which is very nice. Rooms aren't huge, but big enough to be workable. Also Pacific Grove is a very quiet, peaceful area (unless your hotel neighbors happen to be noisy late at night, which we've encountered, but that can happen anywhere).

Two other recommendations... Point Lobos State Reserve is just a few miles south on route 1 and is terrific. Our 5 year old loves climbing on the rocks and looking at shells, and even our 1 1/2 year old loved it. The scenery is gorgeous. Also the Dennis the Menace playground in Monterey downtown area is great (but gets crowded). Matt

Kid-Friendly Restaurants in Monterey/Pacific Grove

Nov 2007

My family will be spending a few days at Asilomar later this month, and it would be very helpful to have a few restaurant recommendations. We've really appreciated past reviews for the area, but we don't eat fish and don't really need a fancy restaurant. Someplace casual, ok for vegetarians, a toddler and grandparents would be great. Thanks! Mary

Hi there, I haven't eaten here in years, but I'm vegetarian and used to eat at Tillie Gort's in Pacific Grove. (haven't eaten there in years, only b/c I haven't been back to the area in a long time) Maybe you'll like it!

My Husband and I both really enjoyed the Fishwife (very near Asilomar) and Passionfish (nice owners; great wine list). Carrie

We were just in Monterey this past weekend, and ate at China Garden restaurant with our 3 kids, 7, 5, & 2. It was very good, tasty, typical Chinese food. The staff were extremely kind and attentive; even my 7 year old remarked so. The decor is fine; there is plenty of space. Nothing fancy, but good food, and great for a family with kids. There is only one review on Google, which is somewhat negative. I disagree completely. It's at 100 Central Ave. in Pacific Grove, just a couple blocks from the aquarium. The Chinese restaurant Great Wall (724 Abrego in Monterey)--it's very good too. We had decent chicken nuggets, fries, and fish tacos at Crabby Jim's on the (new) Fisherman's Wharf. We were seated right next to the window, on the water, where we could watch the seals on the rocks. Very kid-friendly and excellent service. Not so good was a little food joint on the old wharf, next to the beach--I think it was called Lulu's. Grubby, and they were out of a lot of fo! od and drinks. Service was spotty, as there was only one waitress. Skip that one. There's a Trader Joe's in Pacific Grove too--you can always get some good stuff there and microwave it in your room! Heidileeross [at]

When I am going to a place I don't know well and want to know the good non-chain and often not so pricey places to eat, I always go to It used to be called Chowhound, but I think it changed its name. You can check the ''California'' postings and search for Monterey, Pacific Grove, Asilomar, or MOnterey COunty. I just saw a bunch of recent listings there, and somehow pulled myself away and got back here. Definitely, check it out. If you don't find the info you need in the archeves, then post a questions yourself (but read the brieg etiquette posting first, please). The one place I do kow down that way is Fandango. We had a very nice meal for a large group there a few years back. Not just fish. Have a Yummy Time

We love Peppers, a Mexican restaurant. Casual, fun, can be loud though but yummy. love PG

I missed the original post, but if you miss the Mucky Duck in Monterey, you'll be missing out! It is a pub, BUT we go there everytime we go to Monterey, with our two young kids. Go early, to hit the happy hour specials - their 50% off appetizers are better than the norm. Their menu is not just burgers and fish n chips. The service has always been great, and the food I could never get enough of! And since it's a pub, it's fine when the kids get a little noisy. They are on Alvarado. Heather

If you go to the MONTEREY AQUARIUM, the clam chowder bowl in the cafe is very tasty. MAX's GRILL, in Pacific Grove, has a twilight dinner special, which is good value. Quiet, intimate and excellent service. Menu is smaller than Passionfish, though I much prefer Max's. (Passionfish is $$$$, and overrated). Max's wasabi tuna is wonderful. FIFI's (French) Bistro, in Pacific Grove, just down from Trader Joes, and offers good French food. See their early bird specials. Wonderful onion soup and almost everything we've had there is excellent. Good wine list. For pizza, GIANNI's, on LIghthouse, in Pacific Grove, is family friendly and has yummy pizza. We like the shrimp pizza. For very casual meals, HULA HUT, tucked away in the shopping center in Carmel, has to-die-for burgers and sweet potato fries. We've only been to the burger place, but they also have a restaurant in Pacific Grove. Lastly, there is an excellent, tiny Vietnamese restaurant (Pho King?) in Seaside, on Fremont, in a little strip mall. Outstanding grilled pork dishes; as good as what I've had in Paris. Enjoy your visit and eat well! -Monterey Foodie

I believe that the restaurant that we love is named Fandango in Pacific Grove. Popular place and good food. Enjoy! Angela

Monterey - Spa & Restaurant for 50th Anniversary

March 2007

I am organizing my parents 50th Wedding Aniversary in August. We found a place to stay for several days near Monterey and will be doing various activities during the week. One of the days I am looking for a spa so the girls can have a day of beauty. (More of a zen place as opposed to upscale hotel spa) That same day we may need childcare for 6 & 8 year olds, know anyone that you like and trust down there to watch our babes? Plus for their actual 50th Party, a fabulous restaurant...California cuisine would probaly be the best. I'm going down over Spring break to ''scout'' but would love/appreciate any leads (ESPECIALLY childcare) Thanks so much!!!

i highly, highly highly recommend ''fresh cream'' in monterey. it's a phenomenal restaurant on the water and perfect for special occasions. when my husband and i drive down to monterey, we always take some time to splurge at fresh cream. any fish dish will be beyond scrumptious! best wishes! stacey

Some friends and I have a conference in Monterey once a year and our new favorite restaurant there is Tarpy's Roadhouse The website is cheesy but the place is tasteful and has integrity and has excellent food and service.

Hip fun kid places in Monterey and Carmel

April 2006

OK we're making one of those obligatory KID trips to the Monterey Aquarium. What I need help with is a couple of quirky fun places to go with them more in the line of Mystery Spot or giant roadside dinosaurs to keep us all interested(not that the Aquarium won't be great). We're looking for ideas beyond Dennis the Menace park. Casual kid-focused restaurants? Kid-friendly hotels? Hidden treasures that don't cost an arm and a leg? We've got plenty of beach ideas and plan to stop all along the way so any wacky ideas of merit would be greatly appreciated. We travel with a five and two year year old. Thanks
Mama in need of inspiration

A few ideas for kids in Monterey/Carmel:
Dennis the Menace Park - in Monterey near the Aquarium
Point Lobos (south on 101 from Carmel)
Carmel River Beach - often has a lagoon kids can swim in
Renting surrey bikes on the Monterey boardwalk, biking up to the little Pacific Grove beach, which is calm
Tidepooling at the far end of the big Carmel beach
Kayaking in the lagoon if your kids are up to it (not cheap)

Our kids like to eat at Sea Harvest on Foam street in Monterey, there is also one in Carmel. Good luck. anon

rent one of the bike contraptions (some seat 4 people) near the museum and ride along the path that goes from Monterey north. THere's also an arcade in Monterey with a carousel and various old-time arcade-type games. REally, unless you're planning to spend a week, you'll have plenty to do with the aquarium, dennis the menace park (It's got a GREAT playground, which can occupy a couple of kids for at least half a day, plus you can rent boats), bikes, arcade, beach

the MYMuseum (monterey youth museum) is always a fun place - it is a children's discovery type museum like Habitot, but not, I think, part of the networ of children's museums. Then the Wharf (super touristy but loads of fun to see fun things like an organ grinder and monkey), and Cannery Row. The Beach. and The Monterey Farmer's Market (tues and fridays, I think - one on Alvarado, the other on Fremont) is AMAZING. It's like a fair. In Moss Landing there is a bird sanctuary and some canoeing / kayaking. 30 minutes north on HWY 1, in santa cruz is the boardwalk. Those are a handful of things we do when we go. most of our time is spent at the beach though. Have fun! Shahana

Monterey Lodging

Feb 2006

I've checked the website and couldn't find any current information on Monterey. Does anyone know of an affordable, toddler-friendly, great place to stay in the Monterey area (not too far from the Aquarium)? I want to hear the sounds of the ocean as I drift off to sleep, if possible. mammasemail

My husband and I are planning a trip to the aquarium in April with our then 13 month old. All the recommendations are from 2003 and before, so I am looking for recent experiences with hotels, especially regarding suites or separate room for baby (snoring husband), portacribs, etc. Also, walking distance to the aquarium is a big plus. Any recs for kid-friendly restaurants that aren't too touristy would be great, too. Thanks! ekkoster

We've stayed twice at the Andril Cottages in Pacific Grove. Lovely quiet setting near sandy Asilomar State Beach, short drive to the Aquarium. I think we could hear high surf from our room. We brought our dog and infant, and stayed in units with a kitchen with a door that closed -- that might protect your baby from snoring, but they may have two-bedroom units as well. I'd bring your own Pack N Play, as their loaner crib was ancient and they didn't provide a fitted crib sheet (true of most hotels, actually). N.

We love the Asilomar area in Pacific Grove, only minutes away from Monterey and very close to incredible beaches. Try Sea Breeze Inn, Howard Johnsons, Pacic Grove Inn, all close to the beaches and away from the city. Carmel is not far away either. anon

Jan 2006

We're looking for an inexpensive ($75-$100), but clean and friendly hotel in Monterey, possibly for April. We're mom, dad, and kids-6, 4 & 1. Our main destination is the aquarium, so walking distance would be great, but not necessary--we'll have our minivan. Any recommendations on Days Inn, Travelodge, Super 8, Best Western or other? Any other attractions, restaurants, etc. that we shouldn't miss? We haven't been there since before kids, so can't remember everything, and of course, our priorities have changed from romantic & funky, to kid-friendly & childproof! Thanks. heidi

We haven't tried this place (haven't been able to get to Monterey yet with our 7-1/2 month old), but our friends always like to stay at the Butterfly Grove Inn with their daughter, who is now 2 years old. Jacki

We've been to Monterey five times with our kids. The absolute best hotel value in Monterey is the Best Western Monterey Inn. Huge rooms include two queen beds *and* a big enough ''living'' space to do cartwheels, etc. Table and chairs for a quick breakfast. Mini-fridge so you can buy groceries and save money. Continental breakfast included (not too substantial). Little pool for warm days. Immaculately clean accomodations. Parking underneath the hotel. Aquarium tickets available at the front desk.

It is not within walking distance of the aquarium but that's not a problem. There's plenty of inexpensive parking within two blocks of the aquarium.

We've recommended this hotel to a number of families and have only heard really positive comments when they got back.

Good Luck! Been There, Done That

Have you considered staying in neighboring Pacific Grove? We find it to be less expensive overall and a quick drive to the acquarium. We swear by the Lighthouse Lodge and Suites ( which has two ''sides''. The lodge side is very family friendly and the price includes both breakfast and a poolside bbq dinner. Unfortunately the bbq is not vegetarian friendly, but my son loves it and I just look the other way for a night or two! The suites are beautiful, but pricier, and include a cooked to order breakfast and a great afternoon wine/cheese/etc. buffet that is enough for dinner. Good luck! Tara

We really like the Clarion Hotel on Munras. It's fairly reasonable and has a great indoor pool! We always eat at the Fishwife's Turtle Bay Taqueria at 431 Tyler Street at Bonifacio in Monterey and there is the wonderful Paris Bakery Cafe one block from Turtle Bay at 271 Bonifacio Place. Have a great trip! Shirley

See if you can get a room at the Asilomar conference center in Pacific Grove. They mainly book groups but will rent out individual rooms if they are available. The rates are very reasonable (and I believe include full breakfast in the cafeteria), the location is stunning and buildings lovely, and there's lot of running around space and paths to the beach. It's the region's great hidden deal! budget traveller

August 2003

I was wondering if anyone has stayed at this hotel in Monterey. I am looking for a nice hotel that is on the water and within walking distance of the aquarium. This inn fit the bill, but at ~200 bucks a night, I wanted to know if people thought it was worth it. Also, if anyone has a recommendation for another seaside hotel near the aquarium, I would be interested to know. (I have seen the previous recommendations on this website) thanks! denise

Hi- I wanted to tell you about the hotel you are asking about. If it is the same one that is affiliated with the Lafayette Park Hotel and its right on the water- this is an awesome hotel!!! The rooms are lovely and the service is great. They also have a new spa on the top floor that has an ocean view and a great hot tub. It is definitely worth the money to stay there... my husband used to work for the Lafayette Park Hotel and we got the chance to go down to Monterey and check out their hotel there and we loved it. We dined at the resteraunt ther and the food was delicious! I hope this helps. Good luck and enjoy your trip! Shaana

We stayed with 2 kids just last week at the Best Western in Seaside on Dune Street. (There are 2 Best Westerns; make sure you're reserving the ''beach resort'' closest to the aquarium.) It's a 10-minute drive to the aquarium but I think I saw a sign saying they had a shuttle. (Please check before booking.) My kids and I loved the soft sand beach, which was well-lit at night for strolling, heated pool and hot tub, and I loved the view across the Bay. Rooms are simple but clean. $169/night for 2 queen beds but this was a week night -- weekends might be more. Ann

April 2003

I checked past recommendations and they were quite old, so I was hoping I could get some recommendations for child friendly places to stay in Monterrey. Preferably near the water, not outrageously expensive and something pretty! thanks Betty

Try Asilomar in Pacific Grove. -Gen

We have stayed at the lighthouse lodge and suites twice now and highly recommend it. It is near the lighthouse in Pacific Grove and so close to the water. The Suites offer a king bed, couch, great bathroom, and the best part for families is the room divider (make sure to request that!). You will receive a complimentary breakfast, complimentary wine and snacks. It's close to the aquarium and downtown pacific grove. It's perfect! Check out their web site : Roxanne

We stayed at the Embassy Suites and Hotel last time we went down. If you figure in the cost of breakfast, it ends up being a pretty decent deal. It has a nice, small pool, which is important with little kids. Price Line actually can get you some great deals down there too, so it might be worth checking it out.

We had a fabulous time at the Aquarium.. There is a newish little, little kids area that my two year old really enjoyed, and actually had some good content. My ten year old loved *everything* but especially the scary critters, which my six year old didn't. We all loved the tide pools where we could touch things. There is (or was!) an online coupon for a discounted admission.

The Dennis the Menace playground is great, a walk on the pier a lot of fun. We actually went out to eat at Fresh Choice, but there do seem to be a lot of fun non-chain restaurants around. Have fun!

Monterey/ Asilomar activities, restaurants

January 2006

The website has a few older recommendations. My extended family will be going to Asilomar for a long weekend to help my parents celebrate their 50th anniversary. We'll have a few adults, a 3 yr old and a 15 yr old. We'll go out to eat one night and one or two lunches (my parents want to have the Asilomar meals for the rest of the time). Any favorite restaurants? I know about Dennis the Menace park, and I've heard about the bike path. How about other toddler friendly or teen friendly activities? Do we still need to purchase tickets in advance for the aquarium? Is it still over-busy? Anything I should know specifically about Asilomar? janet

When staying near Asilomar, my husband and I followed local recommendations and ate at Fishwife and at Passionfish. Both were excellent.

Asilomar is great but lacks some of the high-tech amenities of a hotel (TVs, internet access). There is a boardwalk through the adjacent dunes, excellent bird-watching, and a short walk to a beautiful beach (a bit windy/cold). I'ved biked and roller-bladed along the coast road from Asilomar to Monterey and the bike path. Carrie

We go down to Monterey every couple of months. One of our favorite restaurants is Passionfish in Pacific Grove -- it has excellent food that is not overly expensive, and a good wine list w/ modest mark-up. As for the aquarium, you don't have to get your tickets on-line, but if you're going on one of the 3 day weekends, you might want to -- it will be crazy busy. If you're spending the day there, the food at the aquarium cafe is actually not bad, and you can't beat the view.

If it's a warm day, you might want to check out the butterfly grove. Probably won't wow your 15 year old, but your 3 year old might like it. There are about 15,000 butterflies nesting there this year, until about March. but, if the weather is cold, they stay clustered in the trees, and there's not so much to see. Alison

Restaurant in Monterey/Carmel

Sept 2003

My parents are visiting from overseas, and I'm taking them to Monterey/Carmel area. My mom is a professional French chef, so I'd like to take her to a nice restaurant there although it does not have to be French. Does anyone have good recommendation? anon

Casanova's in Carmel is a very nice intimate high end restaurant. Its food is Italian/French provencal. They have great wines and great service. Also Fandango's in Pacific Grove is wonderful. Fantastic for dinner but also very very nice for Sunday brunch. have fun

My parents live in Monterey and we visit often. Try Passionfish (nouvelle/pan-pacific, with an emphasis on sustainably harvested fish and shellfish) or Fandango (Basque/Spanish, with a California cuisine leaning. Great soups, rack of lamb, and pasta dishes.) Good luck! Chris

In nearby Pacific Grove (a few minutes drive from Monterey/Carmel) there's a great little restaurant called Fifi's Cafe. The delightful couple who own it are French. The food, wine and pastries are wonderful. I worked there many, many years ago, and everyone I know who has been there has loved it, and returned. It's not really fancy though. Mission Ranch in Carmel is very nice, beautiful setting, good food. It also is more on the casual side. I'd also be more likely to take kids there than to Fifi's, just because Fifi's is more cozy/intimate. anon

Try the Bernardus in Carmel Valley. Lovely location and great food. Roy's at the Inn at Spanish Bay is always terrific. Another Valley winner is Cafe Rustica. Call them, see if they'll fax you a menu. rachberko

We REALLY enjoy Stokes Adobe and Montrio. Happy Dining! Molly

Thanksgiving in Monterey/Carmel

Sept 2003

Hi. My family(me, hubby, 15mo old, and my mother) will be going down to Monterey/Carmel area for Thanksgiving and want to have dinner somewhere at a restaurant there. Does anyone know of any restaurants which will be serving Thanksgiving dinner in that area? We are looking for a traditional type (gourmet twists are fine) fare, and somewhere friendly to children. We'd like a nice restaurant (But not too pretentious or quiet, with a 15mo old!) Thanks in advance for any recs. Julie

You could try Bittersweet in Aptos. Not sure they are open Thanksgiving but I think it would fit your bill if they were. Juliette

Things to do with a toddler

January 2003

I have looked over the recommendations on the website but was hoping that other parents would have some additional recommendations about where to go/what to see and do in Carmel and Monterey with a toddler (23 month old). We will be there for a few days in July and already have rented a home so don't need help with a place to stay but do not help with what to do. Any ideas appreciated! Ioana

We have been taking our daughters to Monterey since they were babies. They are now pre-teens and teen and still love some of the same rituals we established back then.A huge favorite was to rent those surrey-bicycles on the pedestrian trail that goes from Fisherman's Wharf in Monterey to Pacific Grove. Toddlers fit very nicely in front of the cyclists. The rental outfits have toddler-size helmets or you can bring your own.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium is wonderful at all ages;toddlers often enjoy petting the starfish and other sea creatures there. There is an old-fashioned carousel close to the aquarium. Another Monterey favorite is the Dennis the Menace Park right downtown. Be prepared to follow your kid everywhere as some of the slides in the park pre-date the more stringent safety codes of the last decade. The biggest hit at the park is the full size train car where a child could spend hours of climbing and exploring. Carmel may be more challenging with a toddler but the beach alone ought to provide hours of play and entertainment. Laura W

1. Earthbound Organic farms has a cute garden area with a teepee and a honeysuckle-vine tunnel next to their marketstand shop, on Carmel Valley Rd. perhaps a mile from Hwy 1. Another mile or past that is a local playground and pool.

2. Hike at Pt. Lobos (named for the sea wolves, aka sea lions, not wolves.) Spectacular, some stroller friendly paths, and all the paths are very easy walking and amazing ocean views. There is a rusty red lichen on trees in one area that doesn't grow anywhere else in the world. I'm pretty sure there is also beach access there. HWY. 1, several miles south of Carmel.

3. Try to find out if the aquarium has any less busy, off hours. It will be crazy lines in the summer, but I would still go. Chris

1. The Monterey aquarium is fun, there is a children's area on the 2nd floor that will occupy at least a hour or so for a toddler.

2. While the fisherman's wharf area is very ''touristy'' it is a fun place to walk and watch the boats, birds and occasional sea lion.

3. The Coast Guard pier always has sea lions lounging on the rocks and they rest up against the fence for some awesome pictures.

4. Dennis the Mennis park is big and has a train engine to play on as well as an assortment of play structures.

5. Treat yourself to a great meal at Roy's at Spanish Bay. They are very kid friendly (the children's menu is good) and the food is delicious.


Older Recommendations

Feb 2000

Does anyone know of decent, cheap accommodations in Pacific Grove or Monterey? Melanie

Last weekend we stayed at the Travelodge in Marina, a 10-15 minute drive from Monterey. (You pass through it on your way to Monterey.) It was a nothing-special motel next to the freeway (not noisy, though) but you can walk to beautiful Marina State Beach, a huge beach flanked by sand dunes. We arrived just before sunset and watched the surfers. There's also a hang gliding school there. The rate for a holiday weekend was $89/night for 2 adults and 2 kids and would have been $69 for the third night. It has no pool and a small, tepid jacuzzi. But it was a great place to stay with kids, and I think you save money by being in Marina. Rates probably cheaper on non-holiday weekends. A great restaurant is Fishwife in Pacific Grove near the Asilomar conference center--Caribbean-inspired seafood and a nice change from Fisherman's Wharf places in both cuisine and atmosphere. The Weekly, the Monterey alternative tabloid, has an ad for Fishwife that gives you $5 off your meal if you're seated between 4 and 6 p.m. Peppers is a good Mexican restaurant, again with some Caribbean influences, in Pacific Grove. The little beach in Pacific Grove at Lover's Point Park is perfect for little kids, very sheltered. Asilomar is also a great place to stay, aesthetically much nicer than a Travelodge and not too expensive, but it's sometimes hard to get rooms.

Rosedale Inn, Executive Luxury Suites. They must be kidding! We paid $125 for the cheapest rooms they guaranteed we'd like that was smaller than our bathroom and 15 ft from a bus-stop! They banged around and made noise in the dining room placed next to us and which served executive packaged sugary danishes you could buy at Safeways with frozen and just thawed bagels. The beautiful view however looked out into the parking lot, and the luxurious jacuzzi tub was too scummy for anyone to even want to soak their feet in. I would have chosen the Asilomar across the street if I'd known!

From: Merey (4/99)

There's a Fresh Choice at the Del Monte mall on Munras. Papa Chano's on Alvarado in Downtown Monterey is a nice mexican restaurant that's noisy but good (high chairs available.) For lunch we have purchased sandwiches at the Fish Wife in Seaside on Fremont Blvd. and then eaten them in the park down the street - play structure available and big grassy field (not fenced in, but not too much traffic.) By the way, the place is great for dinner too, but a little small to fit in kids or even parties bigger than 4. My favorite Thai place would probably be OK too for kids if they like Thai food! It's Bay of Siam or Siamese Bay (I never get the name right!) on Webster in downtown Monterey.

From: Linda (1/99)

Tip: buy tickets to the aquarium ahead of time at your hotel. Even the economy motels offer these. Not only do you get a discount, but you avoid waiting in the entrance line. You can go right in. With kids, who usually don't tolerate lines well, this makes a big difference, as this line can be very long!

From: Steve (10/98)


  >During the Christmas vacation we are planning to take a few days and visit >Monterey. Does anyone know of a nice vacation rental near the wharf and >aquarium? A condo would be fine. We've stayed at the Monterey Plaza Hotel >before and the location was great but this time we would prefer to stay >somewhere a little more cozy. 

I don't have a good answer to your question, but I do have a few related thoughts. We went down to Monterey last year around this time and are probably going to go down again, but our accomodations weren't particularly noteworthy. If you hear about anything good, I'd like to know about it, too.

I mostly wanted to mention a couple of fun activities. My kids are 2 1/2 and 8 months, but I think both of these activities are good for somewhat older kids, too.

Dennis the Menace park is really fun. It's a few blocks from the wharf area. They have a an old steam locomotive and coal car that you can climb on, a wide (15 feet?) metal slide on the side of a hill, a rope bridge, a small hedge maze (with a climbing tower/slide in the middle), and a number of other climbing structures in the shape of boats, planes, etc. It's near a lake on which you can rent paddle boats, too.

The surreys are also a lot of fun. These are four-wheel carts with two sets of bicycle pedals; they seat two or four big people plus two or three little people. You can rent them behind the building with the carousel (towards the water). You'll probably see people riding them around.

From: Martha

Very close to Monterey is the town of Pacific Grove. Recently we stayed at the Bide-a-Wee hotel. It'a a quaint little motel on Asilomar Road, just down the street from the conference Center. Cross street takes you right down to the ocean and wonderful tidal pools. Not quite walking distance (but easy biking distance) from the aquarium et al. We got a two bedroom place with a kitchen and two! bathrooms (one shower) for $60 a night. Don't have the number handy, but you can get it from information.

From: Michael

i have two suggestions. first, the town right next to monterey on highway 1, and also right on the bay, is called seaside. seaside is at the entrance to the old military base, and has a lot of low-price motels. for reasons i've never understood, it's considerably cheaper to stay in seaside, ten minutes from the aquarium, than in monterey, five minutes from the aquarium. i recommend calling some motels in seaside to check rates. we stayed at the days inn there a year or so ago, and liked it very much. you can get pretty low rates if all you want is a place to sleep; some of the motels are very inexpensive.

one other thing you might try is the asilomar resort. i've been to several conferences and workshops there; the rates are astonishingly reasonable. they have hotel rooms, cottages, and houses, and a cafeteria in case you want to buy a dining plan. i'm not sure that they rent to individuals, but i've noticed that they often have some spare capacity when i'm there for a workshop. if you call them, and you get a good answer, please post a response to the list.

i was at asilomar about three months ago for a workshop. on my way back to my room one evening, i saw six deer and one fox. the resort is right on the bay, with lots of nice hikes in the dunes on paths.

best of luck.

From: Judy

Just want to verify that, yes, individuals can get rooms at Asilomar, if they have extras. We did it last October (96), calling a couple of weeks in advance. It was really lovely. However, I've heard that some of the accomodations aren't as nice as others; ours was in a woodsy area and was quite spacious, whereas others are smaller and feel more like a motel. Unfortunately, you can't request any specific building/ area.

Date: Wed, 1 May 1996 13:03:24 -0700
From: Sharon
Subject: playground recommendation in Monterey

Hi folks,
My husband and I took our almost-2-year-old on a long weekend to Monterey last week and I want to recommend a wonderful place to go -- the Dennis the Menace Playground. It's in Monterey, sort of across the main road from their Fisherman's Wharf. It's FREE, really clean (no beer cans, cigarette butts, etc. in the sand), and great for kids of all ages. They have an authentic old steam train that has been rendered immobile and turned into a giant climbing toy for kids, swings (both infant and regular), about half a dozen slides of various sizes and types, and a small lake around the park where you can rent paddle boats. (My son just *loves* boats so we had to ride on the paddle boats -- they do have infant life jackets there.) I thought my son would be interested in the Aquarium, but he wanted to spend all day every day at this playground or at the beach -- both of which are FREE! (how long will this last?! Pretty soon he'll probably want to go to the Santa Cruz boardwalk and spend money on rides...!)

Anyway, I've seen people comment that various activities for children are too expensive so I wanted to recommend something that was free except for the drive down (gas was $1.57/gallon this morning -- gasp!)

From: Ginger
Date: Sunday 14 July 1996

Hi all, I just came back from a weekend in Monterey with my two sons 10 & 13. I wanted to share a couple of things with everyone!

1. Amtrak is great

You can't exactly get to Monterey on Amtrak, you have to get off in Salinas, a 20-minute drive away. We had someone picking us up at the train station but there is a bus from the station into Monterey. Oakland to Salinas was a pleasant 2-1/2 hour trip. There were lots of other families on the train, so my kids hooked up with some other kids and I hardly saw them - I got to read. The train is so comfortable and roomy - beats out plane and car travel. Tickets Oakland to Salinas one way were $10 for each kid and $20 for me. On other California lines (for example the one to Sacramento) kids ride free. And have you seen the new train station at Jack London Square? It's great. We enjoyed the train ride so much I am thinking about other short trips we could take this summer on the train.

2. Monterey activities

Of course we went to the Aquarium - there are lots of new exhibits since the last time we went and we all especially liked the jellies. Tip: don't go on the weekend unless you like big crowds! We also saw the Dennis the Menace Park that Sharon Taylor clued us all in on. Though my kids are a little too old to enjoy this park, I noticed there were paddleboats nearby and also an McDonalds.

The funnest thing we did was renting bicycles ($6 hr per person at Fisherman's Wharf near the Doubletree Hotel). There is a bike trail that runs along the Bay, thru Fisherman's Wharf, the Cannery, to Pacific Grove and it takes about an hour to go all the way down it and then come back. Everyone enjoyed this including me who hasn't ridden a bike in at least 15 years. We also hit the outlet stores near the aquarium - there is a big Nike store that the boys spent over an hour in while I just looked around the other stores. They also enjoyed wandering around Fisherman's Wharf, visiting the candy stores and junky souvenir stores. We ate lunch there both days - they liked the clam chowder and fish and those little cups of crabmeat.

This was a nice, pretty relaxing weekend holiday!

Date: Wed, 19 Feb 1997 11:02:25 -0800

We went to Monterey for a long weekend a couple of weeks ago and had a great time there with our 2 year old. We really appreciated the tips from the ucbparents website. The Dennis the Menace park (especially the steam train engine) was really fun. Of course the Aquarium was lots of fun. We found a good family restaurant to add to the site: Del Monte Express restaurant at 2329 North Fremont St, in Monterey, 655-1941. Working model trains, an extensive collection of railroad memorabilia, and excellent hamburgers make this a great treat for train fans. We only went there for dinner, but I would heartily recommend it for any meal. We went early, it got pretty crowded soon after we arrived.


Date: Thu, 17 Apr 97 11:15:49 PST

as for Monterey, we just got back. There is a Travelodge on North Fremont that goes for $37-$39/night, Sun thru Thurs.; you can get their coupons in the lobby of Denny's (without having to EAT there!) You have to present the coupon. But it was nice, quiet and had a heated outdoor pool, very nicely maintained and landscaped. It's at the Casa Verde Way exit off 1 north outside of Monterey. As for cheap on weekends, well...