Monterey, California is one of the most beautiful places on earth. With its mild temperatures, crystal clear water of Monterey Bay, clean beaches, quaint town, fisherman’s wharf, and other attractions, Monterey is a great place for honeymoons, romantic getaways, and family vacations. In fact, Monterey is not just for adults; it is also has many fun things to do with small children.
We were privileged to live in Monterey for two years when our children were small. We moved to Monterey with the Navy when our son was four, and the next year, we were expecting our second child. We soon found that Monterey is perfect for children primarily because the weather is so mild. Monterey has sunshine nearly every day of the year. While mornings often begin with fog, by mid-day, the blue sky has taken over and the sunshine is abundant. The only time it rained in Monterey for the two years that we were there was during the month of February. The rest of each year was sunny. This gave us opportunities for bike riding, hiking on local trails, and long walks on the beach. Our son loved to play with his toys in the sand on the beach, so we did that quite often, even though the chilly Pacific was normally too cold for swimming.
One of the highlights of Monterey for small children is the Dennis the Menace Park and Playground. Dennis the Menace Park, created by cartoonist, Hank Ketcham, has brightly colored, fun playground equipment for children. The slides are fast, the rides bumpy, and there are signs encouraging parental supervision and even participation. There is a statue of Dennis himself, a sunshine staircase, a train to climb upon, and many other attractions. Visitors to Monterey will love the fact that just across the street from Dennis the Menace Playground is the main beach in Monterey, with its palm trees and incredible views of the mountains on the other side of the bay. Just next to the playground is a large pond (with a beautiful island, of course) on which children and their families can rent a row boat or peddling boat and take a jaunt around the pond; again, complete with the palm trees and Monterey Bay just across the street, right in sight.
On those rare rainy days, or on days when the children have had a little too much sun, the Monterey Bay Aquarium is a treat for children of all ages. Touted as one of the best aquariums on the planet, Monterey Bay Aquarium has amazing displays of marine wildlife including a plethora of fish, sharks, octopi, starfish, sea plants, and of course, the lovable and playful sea otters. The sea otters became endangered and almost extinct when they were easily hunted due to their seemingly fearless and playful view of humans. After spending many years on the endangered species list, sea otters today can be found all along the shores of Monterey Bay, playing among the rocks, lounging in the kelp, and cracking open crabs and shells with small rocks. The aquarium has a special sea otter habitat, as well as areas where children can watch videos about sea life and a special open pond where children can touch kelp, fish, starfish, rays, and other marine animals. In the main entrance to the aquarium, visitors will marvel over the giant two-story aquarium complete with a variety of fish and sometimes deep sea divers!
Fisherman’s wharf is another favorite of small children because of the many shops carrying souvenirs and trinkets, but especially because of the crowds of sea lions and pelicans along the edges of the wharf. Sea lions can be heard barking incessantly, and their antics are always a treat for children and parents alike. Children will also enjoy the many restaurants on the wharf, all of which have a view of the bay, and parents will love the delectable sea food.
Lastly, take the children for a drive along 17-mile drive. This is one of the prettiest, most scenic drives you and your children will ever encounter. There are many places to stop and walk on the beach or climb on the rocks, and if you drive there at sunset, you are almost sure to see many of the deer that habit the Monterey Peninsula. Plus, the sunset is always something to behold. You and your children will have a visit you will never forget.