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travel guide: a weekend in monterey and carmel-by-the-sea

Getting away to Monterey and Carmel-by-the-Sea for a weekend is a great way to spend time with the kids. There is so much to see and do, all in a relaxing atmosphere.

Although we only had just over two days, we crossed several sights off our list. Here are some kid-friendly activities that will be sure to keep the whole family entertained while creating great memories!

SATURDAY


CARMEL BEACH AND SCENIC ROAD

We arrived on a Saturday afternoon, and after checking into our room in Monterey, we headed to Carmel Beach. This stretch of shore is beautiful with white sand and turquoise water.

After spending some time taking in the sights, we headed back to the car and took the slow drive around adjacent Scenic Road, since the beach was getting windy. Scenic Road is full of quaint, European-style homes with individual charm and personality.

After that, we went to nearby Carmel River State Beach where the kids ran after seagulls and pelicans, while we relaxed in the sun.

Make sure to pack a few extra layers and hats for those unexpected wind gusts!

SUNDAY


MONTEREY BAY AQUARIUM

On Sunday morning, we checked out of our room after having breakfast. We planned to visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium and to spend most of the day there. The kids were super pumped to see all the marine life, and frankly, so were we! The Aquarium is the largest in the US, so we had big expectations. We were not disappointed.

Jellyfish, shimmery schools of fish, clownfish, sea otters, hammerhead sharks, and giant sea turtles left us speechless and with an even further admiration and respect for our oceans.

At the back of the building, there is a deck which offers breathtaking views of Monterey Bay.

After lunch in the cafe, we continued our tour of the museum, which included more kid-friendly touch pools and hands-on interactive games illustrating the behaviors of different sea birds such as pelicans and seagulls.

CANNERY ROW

After checking into our second hotel on Cannery Row, we took some time to rest. We didn’t take long though, as our room overlooked Cannery Row and beckoned us for a tour of it.

Cannery Row is the name for a number of now-closed sardine factories, the last of which closed in 1973. It is a quaint waterfront avenue, now lined with small shops, dining spots, ocean views, and hotels.

There are tons of flowers here, growing from pots and climbing, vine-like, over shop fronts. The name Cannery Row is derived from John Steinbeck’s novel of the same name, which takes place here.

We also rode the free trolley which departs every 10-15 minutes to take a fun and nostalgic ride around the waterfront.

After having dinner at one of the restaurants, we walked a bit more through the area, but left once the wind picked up again.

MONDAY


17-MILE DRIVE

After breakfast at the hotel, we took one last quick walk through Cannery Row before picking up our car and checking out.

Leaving Monterey, we drove towards scenic 17-Mile Drive to explore the vast stretches of beach and iconic views. Although it was very windy, it wasn’t too cold, and dressing in layers is a must.

We were given a map when we entered, which lists off the scenic points of the drive. There is a place to stop and park your car while you get out to take photos or just breathe in the scenery.

We stopped at most of the points, and we were treated to sights of giant flocks of birds, vast white sand, and even a sea otter!

After about 2 hours, we finished the drive and continued on toward Carmel-by-the-Sea.

CARMEL-BY-THE-SEA

We arrived in Carmel Plaza, located in downtown Carmel-by-the-Sea, otherwise known as just Carmel. There are three levels of shopping and dining here, complete with overflowing floral arrangements and comfy chairs grouped around a number of fire pits.

Quaint is a word I definitely overused while in Carmel, but quaint is the definition of this European-style village. Lucky for us, being a Monday afternoon, there wasn’t too much foot traffic, so we took our time exploring.

After checking in for a late lunch, we explored Ocean Avenue and literally stopped every few feet to take photos!

Hidden passages were nestled in between rustic inns. Italian-style bistros with cobbled courtyards beckoned from the street. Turkish lamps sat side-by-side with scones made from scratch, surrounded by flowers of every kind exploding with color.

We walked straight down Ocean Avenue, as we didn’t want to detour too far from where we had parked at Carmel Plaza.

Unfortunately, we had to cut our walk short as it was getting late and we had to start thinking about driving the two hours back home. We had already spent three hours here, but there was still so much to see.

Until next time, Carmel…

Monterey and Carmel-by-the-Sea are very family-friendly places, as long as you’re willing to walk and you are prepared for alternating sun and wind!

 


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