A beautiful weekend in Monterey

We drove into Monterey on Friday evening, after a stunning drive along the Pacific Coast Highway from San Francisco.

Beautiful Bay on the Pacific Coast Highway enroute to Monterey from San Francisco

If time had permitted we would have stopped a while to enjoy the many picturesque, sandy bays. Some of the bays were carved deeply into high cliffs, with difficult access making them even more appealing to explore. The quiet, remoteness of some of the bays reminded us very much of New Zealand.

We stopped at one bay, which curved along the edge of the highway, to watch some incredible kite surfers catching the prevailing wind.

Kite surfer catching some air!

I often carry a small kite or two in my holiday suitcase (along with a ball, pens, paper and a couple of electronic gadgets!) and this was a perfect place for a quick fly.

Miss 4 didn’t need to run with her kite to catch the wind at this spot; on the contrary she had to cling on tight or lose her kite! I’m just glad the kite wasn’t any larger – as I’m sure she would have flown with it!

Miss 4 holding on tight to her kite

After a quick breather (literally!) we climbed back in the car, along with a burned log that Miss 4 insisted on carting along with us. She was hoping to make a driftwood house, like some we’d spotted earlier on our drive, but nature hadn’t delivered any to this particular beach.

When we arrived at Monterey we were all pretty tired and ready to relax. The beautiful Intercontinental Hotel, which hubbie had booked us into for two nights, was a perfect place to chill – and we had a room with a view.

We didn’t have much on our agenda for our brief visit to Monterey. We had all day Saturday, before driving back to Santa Barbara on the Sunday; though there was one place which was an absolute ‘must do’ and that was the incredible Monterey Aquarium.

It’s not like any other aquarium we’ve visited. The sheer magnitude of the tanks has to be seen to believed. There is a whole kelp forest, which can be viewed on a number of levels, along with an ‘Open Sea’ tank, where you feel like you’re right there, in the midst of all the action.

It’s really like having a glimpse into another world.

As well as these spectacular large scale exhibits there’s also plenty of hands on activities for younger children to learn about the ocean environment, alongside touch pools and smaller viewing windows on particular species and different environments.

And there’s the most incredible and fun jellyfish exhibit.

A very incredible place indeed!

What’s more, the waters surrounding the aquarium are absolutely teeming with life. Hubbie went to find a bottle store, to pick up a celebratory bottle of bubbles for our 15th Wedding Anniversary, and came across a beach of seals!

He did eventually return with a bottle of bubbly (after a slight Forrest Gump style detour!), along with some food from Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. opposite the hotel.

A wonderful weekend with great memories.

Now, go visit the wonderful Coombe Mill in Cornwall, England, for some beautiful outdoor fun… 🙂

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

San Francisco’s Pier 39

With three children a visit to San Francisco’s Pier 39 wasn’t something we could skip on. We’d been to San Francisco before and the attractions on the pier were quite the highlight of their last visit. The moment we told them we were accompanying Daddy, on another business trip to San Francisco, they were amped about visiting the pier. The older children love the thrill of the 7D Experience and were particularly excited to hear that a LaZer Challenge had opened there (which they ended up topping the leader board on).

Young Miss 4 loves the Carousel – as do the older girls; especially as there’s a self-spinning tea-cup – which they love to spin as wildly as possible, with the chief aim of making Mummy and Daddy feel icky (delightful daughters we have!).

As well as the beautiful Carousel, the pier itself has a wonderful ambiance. There are always street performers and buskers. The choice of places to dine, or simply grab a snack and people watch, is abundant. The physical setting of the pier is also what makes it so special – overlooking the beautiful bays of San Francisco, out toward the Golden Gate bridge, with Alcatraz making an unmissable feature on the sweeping vista.

And a visit to Pier 39 would be incomplete without saying a quick ‘Hello’ to the resident population of Sea Lions that call the waters around the pier their home.

There is also a lovely ‘Aquarium of the Bay’, which we enjoyed a great visit to. It’s not spectacular, like the incredible Monterey Aquarium, a few hours drive south of San Francisco, but it’s very well laid out, with excellent exhibits. Definitely a perfect place to spend an hour or two.

Miss 4 absolutely delighted in all the exhibits, particularly loving the touch pools. We timed our visit perfectly for Miss 10 too – as a Californian King Snake was out of its exhibit for visitors to stroke! It was beautiful. Miss 10 wishes she could have one as a pet – but, for obvious reasons, snakes aren’t allowed in New Zealand (there’s enough invasive introduced predators as it is!).

The sea otters at the end of the aquarium were very delightful too, which populate the coastline of the Californian coastline – and are easy to see in the waters around Monterey.

Finally, Pier 39 was the spot where hubbie and I celebrated fifteen years of marriage – along with our three energetic daughters. We dined in a sports bar, by the carousel, where the children could play the arcade, whilst we enjoyed a quick drink in peace. Happy children, happy parents. Win, win!

It wasn’t the most decadent of places to celebrate – but we knew we had a weekend lined up in beautiful Monterey, staying at the superb Intercontinental, to look forward to. Feeling very blessed indeed!