Monterey is an adorable beach town on the central California coast. If you follow us on Instagram, you’ve seen Harrison and how obsessed he is with geography and wanting to “go on adventures” to new places. We only had a few days to devote to a vacation and Monterey was a close enough drive (about 3 hours from Sacramento) but with so much to do.
Where To Stay
We stayed at The Monterey Tides. As most things, I chose our hotel blindly. It had mixed reviews but I like to take risks. It was in our price range and right on the beach, which were our only two requirements. We were so, so happy with our choice. The room was a good size, and newly remodeled. We had an inland room view of the pool and it was perfect.
The boys would have happily spent every day we were there trekking from the beach to the pool to the hot tub and back again. Definitely keeping that in mind for our next vacation — water is all they need! Ha!
What To Do
The Monterey Bay Aquarium
I had been to the Aquarium once before, in high school but I don’t remember it being this awesome! There was so much to see, do, and touch, we all had a ton of fun.
The Aquarium is basically the main draw for families vacationing in the area, for sure. It is really cool to see how they blend the history of the area in to their mission of conservation of the ocean.
A highlight of the visit was happening upon The Deep Sea feeding presentation. All of the times for these events are listed on the brochure but we like to take more of a “let the kids lead” approach so we literally were just in the right place at the right time, and front row seats! It was really cool.
Cannery Row is a famous street in Monterey lined with hotels, restaurants, and shopping. It’s roots in the canning business during WWI are still evident in some of the signage the preserved buildings. We had fun walking around and seeing the sites after we left the Aquarium.
Dennis The Menace Playground
I don’t think we were mentally prepared for the awesomeness that was this park. The park itself is part of a larger 45 acre recreation area and I’m not exaggerating when I say, my kids could have spent hours here.
As I said before, I think my kids would have been super happy only spending time at the beach. They were so joyful running through the waves and finding treasures for hours at a time. It was truly the best thing ever.
Where To Eat
Vizcaino Waterfront Food + Drink
The first night we ate at our hotel restaurant. The views were incredible and the clam chowder was delish. It made it easy that first night to just go up one floor to eat after an exhausting day of traveling.
Alvarado Street Brewing
This was an adorable brewery not far from Cannery Row. On one half of the block is the Alvarado Beer Garden, with lounge-style seating, fire pits, separate bar, and a rotating menu of specials. We ate on the other side of the block, in the brewery/grill on the patio. The weather was gorgeous and the food was so delicious. We shared the Pork Belly Poutine appetizer that was phenomenal.
For our main courses, Tyler got the pulled pork sandwich and I had the street tacos. It’s making me hungry just writing about it. The kids meals or pizza and mac and cheese were delicious, too (because you know I had to try everything!) This is definitely a place we will revisit in the future!
We randomly found out that we were in Monterey at the same time as some friends from home so we decided to meet up with them at Gianni’s Pizza! The pizza and breadsticks were delicious. You could definitely tell this was the popular local place, it was packed for a Monday!
I hope this is helpful for you if you’re ever visiting Monterey! We had such a great time, we can’t wait to go back!