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Old 08-07-2012, 09:25 AM   #1
NLD
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One day in Monterey Bay area--what to see?

Hi and thanks in advance to anyone who responds!

We are planning a California trip next summer, June 2013. Most of our time we'll be at Yosemite, but we'll have at least a half day, maybe a full day, in Monterey.

So, the questions:

(1) Is the Monterey area worth a full day?

(2) If yes, what should we see?

I know we want to hit the aquarium. Dh has expressed interest in the 17-mile drive. I would love to see McWay Falls. I also loved Carmel by the Sea years ago on a different visit.

Anyway... assuming the aquarium is a must-see.... what else can we do to fill a whole day? Is it possible to do the aquarium, 17-mile drive, check out Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, and window shop in Carmel--all in one day--and make it back to Monterey to sleep that night? Are there other things you think we should see, besides the ones I've mentioned?

I am into photography and would love to get some pictures of those central California cliffs falling into the ocean. And any other great photo opps available.

How would you fill a day in the Monterey Bay area?

We are me and dh (in our mid-thirties) and dd (age nine at time of trip).

Thanks!

Nicole
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Old 08-07-2012, 11:26 AM   #2
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You've already mentioned my favorities -- the aquarium and the 17-mile drive. After those two priorities, just decide how much time/energy you have left and go from there.
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Old 08-09-2012, 11:48 AM   #3
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Having just returned from the area, I would devote very little time to Monterey itself, and instead focus on 17 mile drive and Point Lobos State Park. I was blown away by PL...might be most beautiful place I've ever been.

Monterey is cool but a little touristy...sort of a let down after the precious two places...
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Old 08-09-2012, 02:42 PM   #4
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If you love spending time at the Aquarium, be prepared to spend all day in there. We originally thought we would do the aquarium half day but ended up spending the entire day.

17 mile drive is lovely, but u dont really need a day there. id say 2-3 hours is plenty.
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Old 08-09-2012, 05:04 PM   #5
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We were just in Monterey in May. We only had one day and chose to drive down PCH1 to Julia Pfeiffer State Park. It took at least 5 hours to drive down and back with a lengthy stop at Point Lobos (which I agree with PP is beautiful).

You can definitely do the Aquarium and 17 mile drive in a day, but you wouldn't be able to add Big Sur.
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Old 08-10-2012, 10:19 AM   #6
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Thanks all for the help.

So maybe we'll just play it by ear once we're there.... pretty sure the aquarium will be a must, and then maybe we'll just be spontaneous and decide on another activity or two with whatever time is left.

Has anyone done a whale watching tour?
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Old 08-21-2012, 10:04 AM   #7
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We've just returned from our California trip and it included a stop in Monterey. We were driving from SF to LA. We arrived in Monterey at about 3pm and went straight to the aquarium. It was only open until 6 so it was an abbreviated tour, but we hit all the highlights and I think you would be fine to do it in 2-3 hours knowing that you need to keep moving along but spend time enjoying the exhibits you are most interested in. The following morning we went sea kayaking for 2 hours and it was amazing. I'd highly recommend this - you get up close to sea otters, seals, sea lions, etc. We left Monterey about about 2pm that day and headed for LA. We stopped at Julia Pfiffer State Park for about an hour along the way and the rest of the time we just enjoyed the beautiful scenery on our drive. We didn't include the 17 mile drive or PL but I can at least say that I'd highly recommend the aquarium and the sea kayaking. If you use Adventures By The Sea, they provide splash suits to wear over your clothes and the only thing that go wet was our feet getting in and out of the kayak.
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Old 08-21-2012, 03:11 PM   #8
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was born and rasied in that area. I wouldn't count on the WHOLE day for the aquarium, I would say half a day. The aquarium is surrounded by cannery row, it has some museums and restaurants and great sights.
Very close to there is a park commonly referred to as Dennis the Mennace park
as a child after we saw the aquarium we would get McDonalds and go to the park to play, they also have a lake there and paddle boats to go around the lake, it's raelly nice. Big SUr is a little bit of a drive from there but it's really nice, always went camping there as a child. About 1/2 hour north of Monetery is my hometown Santa Cruz, beautiful beahces and of course the Santa Cruz beach boardwalk!!
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Old 08-21-2012, 07:24 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Minuet888 View Post
was born and rasied in that area. I wouldn't count on the WHOLE day for the aquarium, I would say half a day. The aquarium is surrounded by cannery row, it has some museums and restaurants and great sights.
Very close to there is a park commonly referred to as Dennis the Mennace park
as a child after we saw the aquarium we would get McDonalds and go to the park to play, they also have a lake there and paddle boats to go around the lake, it's raelly nice. Big SUr is a little bit of a drive from there but it's really nice, always went camping there as a child. About 1/2 hour north of Monetery is my hometown Santa Cruz, beautiful beahces and of course the Santa Cruz beach boardwalk!!
I was born and raised there too! I'd say the aquarium is a 1/2 - 3/4 day visit, depending on how interested you are in sea life. I agree Dennis the Mennace is a great place to take little ones. On our last visit the train in the park was under refurb, but there's still plenty to do!

Cannery Row and the walking/biking path between downtown Monterey and Cannery Row has a lot of great scenery to offer. If you are there on a Tuesday, there's a great little farmer's market down on Alvarado Street. Lots of local fruits, veggies, flowers, and crafts. The Wharf has some quirky shops if you are into tourist gifts.

Have a great time!
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Old 08-21-2012, 08:17 PM   #10
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To follow up on what I had mentioned I did a full review of our experience at Point Lobos and thought you might find it helpful...
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Old 08-28-2012, 10:03 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deej696 View Post
To follow up on what I had mentioned I did a full review of our experience at Point Lobos and thought you might find it helpful...
Thanks for that link! Sounds like you really enjoyed yourself at Point Lobos.

I am pretty sure we'll skip 17-mile drive at this point. Since posting this thread, I did some more research and everything suggests that for our family, Point Lobos is a better use of time.

It also looks like we'll do two nights in the Monterey or Carmel area. Right now thinking Carmel. That should give us time for two or three activities, in half-day chunks. Right now thinking Point Lobos, Aquarium, and maybe whale watching.... but we'll just leave it all unscheduled and decide once there.

Thank you again!
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Old 08-28-2012, 06:41 PM   #12
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I think that's a good decision...while I loved the 17 mile drive, if given a choice between the 2 I take Point Lobos every time...
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Old 08-28-2012, 07:00 PM   #13
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We did Monterey Bay Aquarium, 17 mile drive, shopped in Cannery Row and had a good time. I probably wouldn't pay the money for MBA. I have been to a few aquariums in the country and this one is good but not in my tops. I know I will probably get flamed for this but its just the way I feel. The 17 mile drive is nice but we drove the PCH from LA to Monterey and felt we could do the same thing for free as we drove up. Sounding like a bummer now aren't I? We ended staying at the Sanctuary Beach Resort just North of Monterey (think an exit or two up) and loved it there. The beach access was just amazing. We also ate at a wonderful steak restaurant called the Whaling Station. I would do the 17 mile drive though so you can see Pebble Beach golf course. We went into the clubhouse and enjoyed the amazing views. If your not driving up and down the coast at all then definitely do it.
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