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March Trip with Little Kids

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Houston, Texas
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March Trip with Little Kids

We'll be visiting the Monterey Bay area in March with our 5 year old and 3 year old and staying for 5 nights (arriving on Sunday and leaving on Friday). Here's an outline of what I have planned so far (weather permitting, of course). Would appreciate any feedback.

Sunday, March 10th - Fly into San Jose on Sunday morning, stop at the Santa Clara boardwalk & Phil's Fish Market on the way to Embassy Suites in Seaside

Monday, March 11th - Rent a surrey and bike from Cannery Row to Pacific Grove and back; Visit Monterey Bay Aquarium

Tuesday, March 12th - Whale watching cruise with Sanctuary Cruises; Farmer's Market at Old Monterey Marketplace; Dinner at Rosine's (?)

Wednesday, March 13th - Hike and picnic at Point Lobos; Walking tour of Point Sur lighthouse

Thursday, March 14th - My Museum; Paddleboating in El Estero Park & Dennis the Mennis Playground

Friday, March 15th - Drive back to San Jose for afternoon flight. Any place we should stop along the way?

Still need to figure out restaurants. We'll probably eat breakfast at the hotel. Would also like to do 17 Mile Drive whenever it's convenient.

Monterey Peninsula...
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1. Re: March Trip with Little Kids

Overall, this looks doable, but you've left out beach time! I suggest you spend some time on Carmel's spectacular white sand beach. The texture of the sand there is ideal for kids to dig in or build sand castles. Here's my list of favorite beaches. www.montereypeninsula.info/guide/beaches.htm

For that matter, you might want to spend an hour or two exploring Carmel. The Carmel Mission is also worth a look.

For Sunday, I think you mean the Santa Cruz boardwalk, which is on the coast, not Santa Clara, which is an inland city adjacent to San Jose. Be advised Highway 17 between San Jose and Santa Cruz is a twisting, hectic, mountain road that can be subject to delays caused by any number of things. For some drivers, particularly those not used to mountain driving or heavy traffic, it's a bit of a white-knuckle experience. People who drive it every day and know the road say it's no big deal, but I generally advise tourists to avoid that route. However, it is the only way to get to Santa Cruz. Just be cautious.

Tuesday you ask about Rosines for dinner. It's a great family restaurant, but since it's right smack in the middle of the Tuesday farmer's market it may be packed that day.

Regarding Thursday, the paddleboats are a seasonal activity. I'm not sure what their hours are in March, but I think they're only open weekends in the Spring.

As for restaurants, don't strain too many brain cells trying to select restaurants in advance. There are some 300 restaurants in the area, the vast majority are locally owned and very good. There are a few touristy, mediocre places on Fisherman's Wharf and Cannery Row, but they tend to be the only exceptions to an otherwise wonderful selection. My standard advice, when you get hungry, is to look around the immediate neighborhood and see what looks good. You'll find some real treasures that way.

-Mr. Toy


Edited: 7:14 pm, January 30, 2013
Houston, Texas
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2. Re: March Trip with Little Kids

Thanks, Mr. Toy. I actually used your site when I started planning. As far as restaurants go, we look forward to eating good local food as much as anything so I'm not sure I'll be up for just winging it. I might have to narrow it down to a couple of places near where we're going to be and then go from there.

We'll definitely have to visit Carmel - appreciate the suggestions of the beach and the Mission.

Looking at Google Maps there appears to be a sandy beach in Pacific Grove at Lovers Point behind something called The Old Bath House. Is it open to the public? If so, a good place to take small kids?

San Francisco...
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3. Re: March Trip with Little Kids

On one of the days you may want to drive 30 miles or so to Big Sur village. It is the most gorgeous drive and it takes over an hour plus longer with stops The kids that young may get bored but that can be fixed with stops enroute but the road hugs the cliffs so it is not a place for kids to get out of the car and run around.

For restaurants check out yelp.com and opentable.com for reviews. I would book or chose a nice place for dinner but as Mr Toy said, find something close to where you are for lunch

Edited: 10:29 pm, January 31, 2013
Santa Cruz...
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4. Re: March Trip with Little Kids

Yes, the Boardwalk is in Santa Cruz, not Santa Clara. But between Memorial Day and Labor Day it is on a limited schedule. See the website.

As for Hwy 17. Mr Toy says.

>>Be advised Highway 17 between San Jose and Santa Cruz is a twisting, hectic, mountain road that can be subject to delays caused by any number of things. For some drivers, particularly those not used to mountain driving or heavy traffic, it's a bit of a white-knuckle experience.<<

I defer to Mr. Toy on anything to do with the Monterey Peninsula, but he and others who rail about the "dangers" of Hwy 17 have obviously not driven it for some time.

It is 20 miles from Los Gatos to Santa Cruz. 8 miles of this are on winding roads crossing the Coast Range. The summit is at 1800 feet. The winding part of this trip have curves marked for 40-45 miles per hour, but the road is well engineered and is four lane divided with almost all of it now divided by concrete barriers between the north and south lanes. After you come off the hilly part, the highway becomes freeway all the way into Santa Cruz. It is is no way a "white knuckle experience". It is not even "mountain driving". You just need to understand that for 8 miles you need to keep your speed down. The drive is through forest. There are no cliffs or drop-offs.

However, if you drive it when people are going to, or from the beach, from the Silicon Valley you can have wall to wall traffic. Not dangerous, unless you get impatient and forget to put on your brakes and rear end somebody, or somebody does that to you. It is just a frustrating long drive.

This is most likely to happen on Saturday or Sunday mornings into early afternoon, or on Sunday afternoons in the opposite direction.

I really get impatient with people who do not know the present stage of this road and drove it 15 or 20 years ago constantly carping on its "danger".

Grover Beach...
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5. Re: March Trip with Little Kids

".....Looking at Google Maps there appears to be a sandy beach in Pacific Grove at Lovers Point behind something called The Old Bath House. Is it open to the public? If so, a good place to take small kids?".....

Yes, there is access to the beach at Lover's Point and it's a great place for small children.

BTW- The Old Bath House, a restaurant that has been closed for several years, is currently being remodeled and a new restaurant will be opening once construction is complete, so there may be some construction noise while visiting the beach there, but don't let that keep you away. It's a lovely spot along the Monterey Bay and the views are gorgeous.

Pacific Grove...
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6. Re: March Trip with Little Kids

Having little kids myself,

Wednesday looks a bit busy for those two events. I guess just keep it short at point Lobos, which is hard to do.

I would opt to eat at the farmers market. Rosines was so-so for us food wise. We like good food

For your Dennis the Menace day, the Paris Bakery/Cafe is wonderful, not far away.

Lovers point beach is theeee kids beach, most calm, tide pools to explore, protected from wind. Close by snack bar.

Hwy 17; is fine. Just do not be tempted to go into the fast lane to pass someone. I do not think traffic from San Jose to Santa Cruz will be that busy

A drive to Big Sur, reminds me of our road to Hana experience in Hawaii, that ended in a family 'dissagreement'. The kids were small and car bound

The rest of your schedule looks great. We do love Carmel, so if you can fit it in without melt downs, go for it.

Victoria, Canada
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7. Re: March Trip with Little Kids

I love Monterey! There was a review I read about taking kids there: chatterblock.com/blog/…

Edited: 7:46 pm, February 14, 2013
8. Re: March Trip with Little Kids

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