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Bay Explorers

My vision is to inspire families of all backgrounds to explore, be present, and have fun with their children in the Bay Area.

Guide to Monterey with Kids

We love Monterey! City by the sea & the surrounding areas are my happy place. We go there enough for me to be able to share some tips & fun places to go. So here you go Bay Explorers Guide to Monterey...

  • 1) Asilomar State Beach: this is my favorite beach in CA! It stretches down the coast of the Monterey peninsula & is just the most gorgeous beach! Parking is free along the highway. It gets crowded on weekends but there’s always someone going in & out or you may have to park a little down from the main beach, which is great if you do bcuz there is a whole hiking trail all the way down the coast. The main beach area isn’t that big but the sand is superior in softness & the waves are as blue as it gets. To the right of the main beach are smaller other rockier areas of beach where you can tide pool at the right times & find the most amazing shell collections. My daughter was so amazed by shell collecting & kept gasping how magical it was & thanking Mama Yemaya in the process. We went earlyish in the morning around 9:30. The tide was out & it was the perfect time to go tide pooling! We saw so many hermit crabs, crabs, & even a star fish. A bunch of other families with younger kids were there doing the same thing. So all the kids kinda got friendly w each other & would call to the other kids to show them their finds. Like this star fish someone gave to my daughter to hold b4 they put it back. The bluffs along the shoreline have a dirt path road that stretches pretty far down the coast. Many people walk their dogs or go for a jog on it. This is a dog friendly beach. If you cross the street to the Asilomar conference center there is also a planked path that takes you up on the dunes w views of the beach. If you are ADA this is a good option for you as it’s smoother. Anyways set Asilomar Beach on your summer bucket list & thank me later

  • 2) Dennis the Menace park: is one of my favorite playgrounds! It was closed for a very long time (like even after park restrictions were lifted) & Im very happy it’s open again! It’s so big & there’s so much to do for kids. There’s at least 4 play structures, lots of slides, tunnels, swings, a roller slide, spinner thing, boat, & wobbly bridge. It’s a lot of fun! There’s also a skate park & baseball field that are heavily used on either side of the playground. If you’re hungry there’s a snack shack outside the playground- perfect for a little sweet treat pick me up. The Park is right on Lake El Estero where you can rent paddle boats (more info in the next post about that). We went twice once on a Thursday evening b4 sunset & it was perfect- not many ppl! Then went Friday day & it was crowded! Tip: go to shit when it’s closing to avoid crowds lol.

  • 3) Lake El Estero: runs right along the outside of Dennis the Menace Park in Monterey.. You can rent paddle boats including swans & ducks here. The hours of operation on the website just say weekends & holidays but we went on a Friday & it was open on Thursday as well. So I’d guess they are open daily for the summer but call to make sure first. Also hours are unclear but we were there around 11 & there was already a bunch of ppl on the lake. Last boat goes out at 5:30. Paddle boat rentals are $23 for 1/2 hour, $30 for full hour, swans & ducks $40 for 1/2 hour. Paddle boats fit 4 ppl, swans.

  • 5. Honestly the lake portion isn’t that big & 1/2 hour is enough. The day we went was a little windy & if you’re on one of the ducks or swans the wind takes you a little bit, you need to steer into the wind as they say. We were one of the only families that didn’t have to be rescued they said- yay for us!But if you do need to be rescued they come out w a little motor boat & pull you back- so no worries! Lots of geese & various birds on the lake to see & you can see everyone playing at the park from the lake. If you have younger kids like us all you need is 1/2 hour b4 they start wanting to be all done. Great addition to do if you are visiting the park too!

  • 4) El Cantaro: Where do I eat every time I visit Monterey? At the same damn place, even ate there twice this trip- bcuz it’s that damn good! El Cantaro vegan Mexican food is fire! It is located about 2 blocks from the aquarium at 791 Foam St. Right across the street from 2 lots you might park in to go to the aquarium. Me & all my girls are obsessed with their potato tacos- they are soooo good! I also love anything with their steak in it- burrito or enchiladas. The kids burritos come with French fries - cuz what kid doesn’t want a burrito & fries lol. For dessert they have fried plantains with ice cream- sooo good! Pay attention to these hours if you’re trying to go... they are open Sunday through Thursday 11-9pm, Friday 11-3:30, and Closed Saturday. They are 7th Day Adventist’s so please be aware if you’re coming for the food they are closed early Friday & completely on Saturday. Highly recommend this spot for anyone visiting the area- vegan or not!

  • 5) Lovers Point: perfect place for a sunset stroll or sea otter watching on their path that stretches miles along the ocean. You can also climb out on the big rocks here, go to the beach, or rent a bike & ride it along the paved path that leads from downtown here.

  • 6) Carmel Beach: is my 2nd favorite beach in Cali! The sand here is so powdery soft & the water so teal & clear it’s just breathtaking. The beach stretches really far seems like about a mile so there’s plenty of room to spread out & have a less crowded area. Bcuz this beach does get crowded! & parking is also a bit{%, free but sometimes it can take a really long time to find a space but I promise it’s worth it! The Water is so icy but once I really got in it it didn’t feel so bad. Bring your boogie boards! This is a dog friendly beach & we did bring our pit with us. She enjoyed the waves as much as we did. No one freaked out about a loose pit- it was nice! Fortunately Monterey area is very dog friendly! Both Carmel beach & Asilomar (see previous post) allow for off leash dogs.

  • 7) Where to Stay with dogs: We stayed at Seabreeze Inn which allowed dogs. I was able to get a nice studio room that looked freshly remodeled w fireplace for $140 for one night- I felt like that was a great deal & they were very dog friendly. Another dog friendly place to stay is Andril cottages- I really like them but they want the high lol. & it’s at least a two night minimum.

  • 8) Monterey Bay Aquarium: This is our second time visiting since they reopened & compared to the first time we went it was very crowded! The first time we went they were only open for members & that was really nice & calm, could get real close to everything. This time was A LOT of ppl! & we went on a Friday, so if you can I’d suggest driving down mid week. I think the bat rays were overwhelmed by the amount of ppl & hiding in a corner compared to the last time when they were swimming freely for us to pet them. We did pet some other type of rays who were seemingly friendly until a worker stopped us & said it was a no touch exhibit lmao it was a mom oversight. We had fun until they stopped us lol. please don’t judge the crowds had me overwhelmed! You can reserve tickets online. The online system is working well now compared to when they first opened back up so it’s easy to reserve. Tickets are $49.95 per adult, $39.95 youth & elders, $34.95 kids, under 5 is FREE! I’m sorry I don’t have any ways you can get in for cheaper right now. Bcuz they lost a year of revenue they aren’t doing their normal programs. But if you have a non profit org. Or group for underprivileged youth you can email & apply for the Free to Learn Program. They are still requiring you wear masks unfortunately. But you can step outside on the back deck for some fresh air. They weren’t really trippin off the kids though, just adults. Open daily 10-5pm, the first hour is for members. Really happy to be back at the aquarium!

  • 9) Adventures by the Sea: We rented a surrey from Adventures by the Sea & rode it from downtown to Lovers Point. As far as I can tell from their website they are still open. Reservations can be made through their website for kayaks & bike rentals. Surrey rentals are $60 for 2 hours- kinda pricey but we had fun! My oldest likes to drive them (even though it gives me anxiety lol) I let her do it & have fun bcuz she has so little to look forward to at this point, anything I can do to keep her smiling is a win! Do dress warm & in layers! It’s cold by the water! Most of us had puff coats on & the littles were still cold. But those of us who were peddling worked up a big sweat!

  • 10) Downtown: downtown Monterey is back open! The shops, restaurants, everything. Walk down the streets, get some food, walk out on the deck overlooks, grab hot chocolate & watch the waves at the beach, patronize their cute little souvenir shops- it’s a good time.


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