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By far and away one of our favorite, favorite, favorite spots to go for a little staycation is the Monterey Bay Aquarium. It is about an hour and a half drive from the Bay Area but always gets the “2 thumbs up” from our little man. Our general itinerary looks like this (yes, we go that frequently):

Intercontinental Monterey

9:00 Depart San Francisco

10:30 Arrive at the Intercontinental, check in and buy tickets for the Aquarium (they are 2 days for the price of 1).

11:00 Walk over to the Aquarium which is a block away

12:30 Meander over to El Torito for some great sea otter and dolphin sightings while dining

2:45 Head Back to the Aquarium to see various animal feedings at 3

4:00 Let the smell of Nestle Toll House guide us across the street for some warm cookies and milk

Monterey AquariumAbout the Monterey Bay Aquarium

It was founded in 1984 by four marine biologists and gift funding from David & Lucile Packard, and based in the former Hovden Sardine Cannery, The Aquarium’s goals are to educate people on the marine-world that makes up Monterey Bay and beyond through the use of state-of-the-art aquariums, displays, interactive exhibits, and presentations. There is a huge emphasis on everything being done tastefully, humanely and educating in a manner that everyone can understand. Some of the exhibits thatwe love are the sea otters, penguins, sea horses, jellyfish and the feeding of the kelp forest.


Depending on the nature of our trip, we generally stop at the Aquarium for a couple more hours the next morning before heading back home. While, we generally center our trip around going to the Aquarium several times per trip; it is nice to make a pit stop with the whole family in Carmel or Pebble Beach.

Family Travel Tips:

1.  Buy Aquarium tickets at the Intercontinental: 2 days for the price of 1 or purchase them ahead of time at AAA or at the Intercontinental Hotel

2.  Check out the Gilroy Premium Outlets on your to or from the Bay Area…one of favorite outlet stops is Lululemon 🙂

3.  Snag a window seat at El Torito and one is sure to see sea otter cracking clams on their chests, whales and pelicans galore

4.  Check Travelzoo for great hotel deals on the Intercontinental or Portola Hotel and Spa

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In the last few months, I have had several friends with their families that have come out to the San Francisco Bay Area for various reasons. With the Bay Area being as big as it is, it can be overwhelming to figure where the kiddo “hot spots” are. So, if anyone is heading up this way, here are some of our favorite hot spots:

California Academy of Sciences: It is huge place and one could spend days here. It houses a natural history museum, planetarium, aquarium, rainforest dome (a must see) and a living roof.


Bay Area Discovery Museum : It is an indoor and outdoor children’s museum at the foot of the Golden Gate Bridge. All of the activities, which include an art studio, discovery hall, lookout cove, tot spot and wave and wind area, are all  hands-on, child-led exploration and discovery. While this place is hours and hours of fun for the little ones, the view of the Golden Gate Bridge is spectacular for parents.

Oakland Zoo : A fantastic outdoor space to talk your kiddos on a long walk while enjoying hundreds of animals. We are very excited for the “Native Californian” animal exhibit to open!

 Monterey Bay Aquarium   The Aquarium is little bit of a drive from San Francisco but situated right on the coastline. It holds thousands of plants and animals, representing 623 separate named species on display as well as pumping in a high circulation of fresh ocean water right  from the Bay. Our favorite areas include the sea otters, jelly fish, sun fish and shark tank and as always the penguins. My little guy is usually starving by the time we leave so we immediately head out to El Torito where we catch a seat by the window and can catch sea otters and dolphins playing in the ocean. This aquarium cant be beat!

For anyone traveling this way and looking for more kid-friendly activities, restaurants, hotels, etc…comment and I will try to do my best to point you in the right direction! Happy Travels!

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