One of our favorite places for a quick family getaway is the picturesque seaside town of Pacific Grove. Not as famous or flashy as Monterey, Carmel, and its other neighbors in the Monterey Bay Area, Pacific Grove makes up for this in charm, billing itself as "America's Last Hometown" and "Butterfly Town USA". With a close proximity to the Bay Area, plenty of things to see and do, and an amazing coastal location, Pacific Grove is an ideal place for a family getaway during spring break or over a long weekend. Spring is be an especially nice time to go, with fewer crowds and pleasant weather.
Things to do
Located on the tip of the Monterey Peninsula between Monterey and Pebble Beach, Pacific Grove (known by locals as "PG") boasts not only natural wonders like Asilomar State Beach, but also a cute bustling downtown with plenty of dining options and a wide variety of
Last summer we undertook a road trip to the Gold Country. About a three-hour drive from the San Francisco Bay Area, it's a fun long weekend or day trip that's steeped in California and American histroy. We had such a good time that when it came time to decide upon a road trip destination this year, we unanimously to head up there again. Like last time (which we wrote about here and here), our home base was the Gunn House Hotel in downtown Sonora, from where we explored the surrounding area, including Columbia State Historic Park. This time we made sure we went up in time to check out the annual Columbia Diggins 1852, a Gold Rush reenactment event held each year the weekend after Labor Day.
Marin Mommies presents a guest post by Bay Area mom blogger Naomi Tripi. You can read more of her tips for parents of babies and toddlers on her blog at www.tripibabytips.blogspot.com
Toddlers are wild and crazy, you might think that taking them out into the wild would be as natural as breathing, but it is really a lot of work. There are more ways for your snuggly little tsunami to hurt themselves out in the woods than there are in a public restroom! However, getting your favorite bunny-hopper out doors is good for them too. You might not be able to enjoy the peace and solace of nature like you used to, but with a few tips, navigating some of the common pitfalls will be much easier.
If you're looking for a vacation destination a little closer to home this summer, consider heading up to California's historic Gold Country in the Sierra Foothills. It's a relatively short 2-1/2 hour drive from the Bay Area, and there are plenty of things for families to do. You can visit historic mining towns, pan for gold, explore caves, go wine tasting (for mom and dad, of course), take a ride on a 19th-century steam train, hike, fish, and more.
We recently took some time off to take a road trip to the southern part of the Mother Lode, where we decided to make a home base of the town of Sonora in Tuolumne County. Sonora, first settled in 1848 by Mexican miners from the state of the same name, is located on the appropriately named Highway 49, which winds north to south through the foothills, Sonora is known as the "Queen of the Southern Mines," and with a population of over 4,000, is the "big city" by Gold Country standards. However, its old-fashioned downtown definitely retains the look and feel of the 19th century.
The last time we went to the Monterey Bay Aquarium (back in January—you can read about the trip here), we were a little disappointed to find that the Splash Zone, their interactive education and play area for kids, was closed for renovation. But it's back now at, and, at twice the size of the old Splash Zone, it's better than ever! We weren't able to make the media preview back in March, but we were back in Pacific Grove a couple weeks ago and had the opportunity to check it out.
One of our favorite relatively short road trips is to head down to the Monterey Peninsula. It's about a 2-1/2- to 3-hour drive from Marin, making it perfect for a day trip, overnight, or weekend. (What makes this easier for us is that we have good friends in Pacific Grove who are willing to put up with us every so often for a few days.) A favorite place to visit, especially with small children, is the Monterey Bay Aquarium
We paid a visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium and its Wild About Otters special exhibition last week. The aquarium is widely considered one of the best in the world, and I'm willing to bet that it is. The displays reflect the Monterey Bay Aquarium's mission to research the biodiversity of Monterey Bay and the California coast, and they're fascinating. Our favorites include the 28-foot-high Kelp Forest exhibit, with its leopard sharks, anchovies, and other fish; the sea otters; and the spectacular Outer Bay exhibit with its amazing 1.2 million-gallon tank, and featuring denizens of the deeper waters of outer Monterey Bay, including giant bluefin tuna, humongous ocean sunfish, sea turtles, hammerhead sharks, and the world's only great white shark in captivity!