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Guide to Monterey for Families

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Monterey is perfect for families! The Cannery Row area is compact, with lots to do and see, including plenty of kid-friendly food options — and of course the world-famous Monterey Bay Aquarium. A short drive from there, you can wow the kids with spectacular outdoor wonders including tide pools, whale watching, and sailing cruises!

Good for
  • Family
  • History Buff
  • Nature Lover
  • Foodie
  • Peace and Quiet Seeker
  • Beach Goer
  • Thrifty Traveller
  • Like a Local

12 Places

4 City Tips

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Map

12 Places

Cannery Row

Historic Sites, Historic Walking Areas, Points of Interest & Landmarks

Monterey Bay Aquarium

Aquariums

Ghirardelli Ice Cream & Chocolate Shop

Restaurants

Monterey Peninsula Recreational Trail

Biking Trails

Adventures by the Sea

Sightseeing Tours

Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.

Restaurants

Princess Monterey Whale Watching

Dolphin & Whale Watching

Old Fisherman's Wharf

Neighbourhoods, Piers & Boardwalks

Dennis the Menace Park

Parks

Point Pinos Lighthouse

Lighthouses

Mrs. DeLish's Cupcakes + Cafe

Restaurants

Monterey County Youth Museum

Speciality Museums

cara f's City Tips

  • Check the weather! Monterey can be cool and foggy or sunny and hot — sometimes all on the same day. It's wise to travel with layers and sunscreen.
  • Before you go, make a list of everyone's "must do" sights, so that you can prioritize your time or renegotiate along the way.
  • Parking can be difficult in downtown Monterey. If you get stuck, the Cannery Row garage is close to the aquarium and charges a flat fee to park all day.
  • If you have adventurous eaters, this is a perfect place to try some fresh seafood — and don't forget to pick up some saltwater taffy while you're out and about!
  • Save
    Cannery Row
    Historic Sites, Historic Walking Areas, Points of Interest & Landmarks
    See more photos
    cara f Says:

    Cannery Row is the heart of Monterey past and present. Beloved writer John Steinbeck beautifully captures this area's lively past in his 1945 novel by the same name, which was largely based on Steinbeck's experiences growing up nearby, and his adventures with 'Doc' Ricketts, a local marine biologist. Walking along Cannery Row, you will see many murals and plaques that commemorate both Steinbeck's work and the area's history as a hub of the fishing industry.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • History Buff
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • If you can, read Cannery Row as a family before you visit. It's a beautiful story and it will build some excitement about the history of this area.
    • Monterey is very casual and you will do a lot of walking, so wear comfortable shoes!
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #19 of 117 things to do in Monterey
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • A great spot 23/09/2018
    • Great place for shopping and dining. 19/09/2018
    • Cannery Row
    Address:
    Cannery Row & Wave Streets
    Monterey, CA 93940
    Phone:
    +1 831-649-6690
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    12:00 AM - 11:59 PM
    Other:
  • Save
    Monterey Bay Aquarium
    Aquariums
    See more photos
    cara f Says:

    It is no surprise that the Monterey Bay Aquarium is one of the most popualr things to do and see in Monterey. The combination of world-class facilities, exotic animals, and state-of-the-art displays will just take your breath away. From petting pools and penguins to sharks and furry sea lions, there is something fascinating for everyone here.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • Like a Local
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • Kids (and big kids) love watching the animals at feeding time (the penguins are especially adorable!). Feedings usually happen twice a day, so check the schedules.
    • The aquarium can get very busy — go first thing on a weekday for the calmest experience.
    • Don't miss the "Splash Zone," a special interactive aquarium experience.
    • The cafeteria inside the aquarium has a great selection, reasonable prices, and quick service.
    Plan to stay:
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #1 of 117 things to do in Monterey
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • When In Monterey... 24/09/2018
    • Under the Sea 24/09/2018
    • Monterey Bay Aquarium
    Address:
    886 Cannery Row
    Monterey, CA 93940-1085
    Phone:
    +1 831-648-4800
    Hours:
    Wed
    10:00 AM - 6:00 PM
    Thu - Tue
    10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
    Other:
  • Save
    Ghirardelli Ice Cream & Chocolate Shop
    Restaurants (American)
    See more photos
    cara f Says:

    During the Gold Rush days, Italian-born Domingo Ghirardelli, noticing that gold miners needed some luxuries on which to spend their gold dust, opened a confectionary shop in San Francisco. Ghirardelli chocolate has been a California tradition ever since, and the Cannery Row shop makes for an ideal family treat. A delicious ice cream sundae with amazing ocean views? Talk about a cherry on top!

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Luxury Traveller
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    Tips
    • The chocolate squares are Ghirardelli's signature item. Stock up on them to enjoy later!
    Plan to stay:
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #10 of 248 restaurants in Monterey
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Pricey But Good 22/09/2018
    • Ice Cream Time 21/09/2018
    • Ghirardelli Ice Cream & Chocolate Shop
    Address:
    660 Cannery Row
    Monterey, CA 93940-1055
    Phone:
    +1 831-373-0997
    Hours:
    Sun - Thu
    10:00 AM - 9:00 PM
    Fri - Sat
    10:00 AM - 10:00 PM
    Other:
  • Save
    Monterey Peninsula Recreational Trail
    Biking Trails
    See more photos
    cara f Says:

    The Monterey Recreational Trail is a multi-use paved trail that goes from Seaside through Monterey and onto Pacific Grove. Rent a bikes or a surrey and cruise along.

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Like a Local
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Family
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • The most scenic part of the recreational trail is from Cannery Row to Lover's Point, about 3 miles round trip.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #3 of 117 things to do in Monterey
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Pretty nice views 17/09/2018
    • Amazing Views! 14/09/2018
    • Monterey Peninsula Recreational Trail
    Phone:
    +1 831-646-3866
    Other:
  • Save
    Adventures by the Sea
    Sightseeing Tours
    See more photos
    cara f Says:

    Monterey is chock-full of outdoor adventures, and there are a variety of companies where you can rent everything from bikes to kayaks to stand-up paddleboards. Choose your activity and have a fun family outing!

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Beach Goer
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Thrill Seeker
    • Family
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • Monterey municipal beach is a great place to kayak with the kids. It's got calm surf and a wide sandy beach.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #14 of 41 Tours in Monterey
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Wonderful Experience! 17/09/2018
    • Excellent time kayaking on the Monterey Bay 09/09/2018
    • Adventures by the Sea
    Address:
    299 Cannery Row
    Monterey, CA 93940-1442
    Phone:
    +1 831-372-1807
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    9:00 AM - 5:30 PM
    Other:
  • Save
    Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.
    Restaurants (American, Seafood, Contemporary)
    See more photos
    cara f Says:

    Themed after the acclaimed film Forrest Gump, Bubba Gump is a fun-filled restaurant that caters to families. The movie-themed decor is entertaining, and the menu, featuring everything from popcorn shrimp and fish tacos to chicken strips and pizza, has options for adult palates and fussy eaters alike. Delicious view of the bay add to the fun.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    Tips
    • Bubba Gump has a gluten-free menu for those with dietary restrictions.
    • Kids will love the table signs, which say "Run Forrest Run" when you don't need anything, or "Stop Forrest Stop" if you need your server's attention.
    • Try to sit out on the patio for the best bay views. (You're more likely to get tables here if you come for lunch or an early supper.)
    Plan to stay:
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #53 of 248 restaurants in Monterey
    • Great meal after a day of traveling 21/09/2018
    • Very filling and tasty 16/09/2018
    • Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.
    Address:
    720 Cannery Row
    Monterey, CA 93940-1025
    Phone:
    +1 831-373-1884
    Price range:
    US$ 25 - US$ 25
    Hours:
    Sun
    10:30 AM - 10:00 PM
    Mon - Thu
    11:00 AM - 10:00 PM
    Fri
    11:00 AM - 11:00 PM
    Sat
    10:30 AM - 11:00 PM
    Other:
  • Save
    Princess Monterey Whale Watching
    Dolphin & Whale Watching
    See more photos
    cara f Says:

    Monterey Bay is one of the best spots for whale watching in California. Nearly every month of the year, some species is migrating through the bay, so (depending on luck and the time of year) you might see see humpbacks, grays, blues, fins, orcas, and more. And that's to say nothing of the abundance of other resident marine animals, such as otters, sea lions, and ocean birds.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • Luxury Traveller
    • Like a Local
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Thrill Seeker
    • Senior
    • Family
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • Although whale watching is a great family adventure, kids generally have to be older than 5 to go out on a tour, and pregnant women are not allowed.
    • Book your tickets, and then spend some time at the Fisherman's Wharf while you wait for your cruise.
    • Book ahead in the off season, as fewer cruises per day are available.
    Plan to stay:
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #6 of 23 Boat Tours & Water Sports in Monterey
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • We saw many wales! 24/09/2018
    • Humpback whales 🐳🐳🐳😀😎👍 22/09/2018
    • Princess Monterey Whale Watching
    Address:
    96 Fishermans Wharf # 1
    Monterey, CA 93940-2429
    Phone:
    +1 831-372-2203
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    8:00 AM - 8:00 PM
    Other:
  • Save
    Old Fisherman's Wharf
    Neighbourhoods, Piers & Boardwalks
    See more photos
    cara f Says:

    The Old Fisherman's Wharf is a crazy, noisy, colorful collection of shops, restaurants, and amusements. In short, it's the perfect place for some boisterous family fun! Shop for souvenirs and gifts, grab a snack, or have a full sit-down meal — it's all here.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Must See
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Like a Local
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • Sea lions love to hang out among the boats that are docked. Count how many you can see!
    • Stop into Carousel Candy for some saltwater taffy!
    Plan to stay:
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #17 of 117 things to do in Monterey
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • It’s touristy but interesting 24/09/2018
    • Busy place with lots going on 23/09/2018
    • Old Fisherman's Wharf
    Phone:
    +1 831-649-6544
    Other:
  • Save
    Dennis the Menace Park
    Parks
    See more photos
    cara f Says:

    Situated in El Estero Park, Dennis the Menace Playground is an ideal place to picnic and then play off some energy. Definitely one of the coolest parks in existence, it was designed by the creator of Dennis the Menace and boasts lots of fantastic slides, tunnels, and attractions. It's long been a local favorite and chances are you will see as many locals as tourists.

    Good for
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Like a Local
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • El Estero Park offers a number of other entertainments as well. Older kids will enjoy the skate park, and there is also an outdoor exercise course and a ballpark were you can toss around a softball.
    • You can fish in the lake (a fishing license is required), or rent paddle boats.
    • The park is a birdwatcher's paradise.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #4 of 117 things to do in Monterey
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Nice way to let some energy out 18/09/2018
    • Big Park with Nice Atmosphere 08/09/2018
    • Dennis the Menace Park
    Address:
    Pearl Street and Camino El Estero
    Monterey, CA
    Phone:
    +1 831-646-3866
    Other:
  • Save
    Point Pinos Lighthouse
    Lighthouses
    See more photos
    cara f Says:

    Built in 1855 and one of six lighthouses on the coast, Point Pinos is a charming, petite model perched on the edge of Pacific Grove, near Lover's Point. Tours are limited, but even it the lighthouse is not open, it's worth walking around to take in the beautiful architecture. The tide pools below the lighthouse are excellent and there is a lot to see even at high tide.

    Good for
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Hidden Gems
    • Like a Local
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • History Buff
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • If the tide is low, go out and play in the tide pools. There are so many living beings to see (but please ask the kiddies to refrain from touching the creatures!).
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #5 of 48 things to do in Pacific Grove
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Great History 21/09/2018
    • A look back to early California history 17/09/2018
    • Point Pinos Lighthouse
    Address:
    80 Asilomar Blvd
    Pacific Grove, CA 93950-2015
    Phone:
    +1 831-648-5716
    Price range:
    US$ 2 - US$ 2
    Hours:
    Fri - Mon
    1:00 PM - 4:00 PM
    Other:
  • Save
    Mrs. DeLish's Cupcakes + Cafe
    Restaurants
    See more photos
    cara f Says:

    A little off the beaten path but still close enough to be convenient, Mrs. DeLish's has arguably the best cupcakes in Monterey. Lunch items are also available in the expanded restaurant.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Hidden Gems
    • Like a Local
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    Tips
    • You will love Mrs. DeLish's savory pot pies, and the Oreo cupcake is to die for!
    Plan to stay:
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #0 of 0 restaurants in
    • Good cupcakes, great name! 06/02/2016
    • Lunch at the new location 24/03/2015
    • Mrs. DeLish's Cupcakes + Cafe
    Address:
    1098 Del Monte Ave
    Monterey, CA 93940-2464
    Phone:
    +1 831-612-1884
    Hours:
    Mon - Sat
    9:00 AM - 6:00 PM
    Other:
  • Save
    Monterey County Youth Museum
    Speciality Museums
    See more photos
    cara f Says:

    The Youth Museum is more of a party place than stuffy museum, with nearly a dozen hands-on, interactive exhibits. It's mostly geared towards kids aged two to nine, but there is enough fun to keep the whole family interested.

    Good for
    • Family
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Hidden Gems
    • Like a Local
    Tips
    • Look for special "Make-n-Take" mornings, when the kids can create a special project and take it home.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #42 of 117 things to do in Monterey
    • Great birthday party venue for children 28/05/2018
    • Great for kids and educational as well 02/02/2017
    • Monterey County Youth Museum
    Address:
    425 Washington St
    Monterey, CA 93940-3023
    Phone:
    +1 831-649-6444
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