Where to Getaway for Camping, Aquarium Time, and a Sunset on the Beach

For the month of February, things were getting a little busy with Evie’s birthday preparations and the family that was coming in town to celebrate with us. ¬†We thought about possibly postponing our usual camp weekend, but we also felt the need to get away and relax after all the events were over. ¬†One of the greatest opportunities we have living here in California is the various options for getaway weekends. ¬†In any direction, and in as little as an hour, we can find ourselves having an adventure.

Coming from Chicago, I got used to the only getaway options being the Wisconsin Dells or Indiana Beach. ¬†Don’t get me wrong, Illinois has its share of nature to fish and hike, but sometimes these places start looking identical. ¬†The drawback to living in the Midwest, I guess. ¬†California has options¬†because of the ecological diversity here. ¬†From mountain ranges, to deserts, to beaches, and to thick forests, you have so many options to explore.

We knew we wanted to get away, but rather than make something more stressful than it needs to be, we decided going bout two hours south to the Monterey peninsula. ¬†Monterey is a cute little city, surrounded by more cute little cities, but also has a rich history of their own. ¬†As one of California’s oldest cities, many different groups of people survived in the area, from Native Americans to Spanish to Californians. ¬†Monterey was known a long time for their sardines whaling. ¬†It also has an area known as Cannery Row that has been developed to be more touristy with many sights to see, winery tasting locations, seafood restaurants, and the Monterey Bay Aquarium at the end of ¬†the main street.

It’s a shame to say that in the almost 8 years that we’ve been living in California, that we never made time to enjoy this attraction. ¬†The aquarium was amazing with great interactive areas to learn more about the waters and animals as well as keep the little ones entertained. ¬†As you wander in and out of the floors, there are different doors to the outside that you can just take a break to enjoy the amazing coastline.

But I digress, we didn’t even come to Monterey for the aquarium. ¬†We came to camp somewhere close and just by chance met someone in the area who had guest passes we were able to use. ¬†(I love finding opportunities like that, its like winning the karma jackpot!) ¬†There’s not much land that is not developed on the peninsula, so it wasn’t easy to find areas to camp either. ¬†Our friends, Jessie and Grizz, luckily found¬†Monterey’s Veteran War Memorial Park. ¬†This was about five minutes from the touristy area of Cannery Row, and seeming right in the middle of the city. ¬†You wind up the road, and at the top of this hill was an open green park. ¬†Camp spots were of average size, I thought they would be smaller or less private since we are in the middle of the city, but I was pleasantly surprised. ¬†We were able to fit two tents and two cars comfortably with the fire pit and picnic table in the middle. ¬†The children’s park was probably one of the best I’ve ever seen at a campsite with lots of things for Evie to burn off some energy.

Instead of taking one of the hikes they offer at the Park, we opted to meet an old family friend of Jessie’s and see the area by her home in Pacific Grove. ¬†After a 5 minute drive, we found ourselves by her home that was within walking distance from Asilomar beach. ¬†The cute side street roads led us right to the beach during sunset and gave us the perfect opportunity to check out some tide pools and take some photos. ¬†Evie had so much fun collecting seashells she found on the beach and stuffed so many in her pockets that day. ¬†We didn’t even notice until later that night when we physically picked her up and she sounded like a maraca. We climbed up and down the large rocks on the beach to find little pockets of water left by high tide and Evie was able to see the seawater life close up. ¬†The five of us (Peabe, Evie, Jessie, Grizz, and I) hung out on the rocks and chatted until the sun went down over the water.

There really is something so special about going out on a camping adventure with one thing in mind, just to find yourself whisked away in other adventures that you weren’t expecting. ¬†This weekend proved to be one of those adventures. ¬†I’m sure we will be back in the area at some point to visit them again, or explore more things that we didn’t get to like the Pacific Grove butterfly sanctuary. ¬†In the end, when taking a trip to Monterey, camp at the Veteran War Memorial Park, visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium, catch a sunset at Asilomar Beach… but don’t forget your appetite for good seafood and pack a little bit of free time to see explore other adventures you may happen upon.

 

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Collecting shells on the beach, she usually has a game of making a “collection” at every campsite we visit. ¬†Some of her collections include rocks, feathers, shells, twigs, and other things she finds on her adventures.

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This is the really nice playground at the Monterey Veteran’s War Memorial Campground.

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Packing up our campsite with Jessie and Grizz.  Our dog, Toaster, usually finds a nice twig or pinecone to chew up while he waits.

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High fives to the puffins, she really enjoyed how bushy their eyebrows looked.

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‘Finding Evie’. Checking out the clown fish is one of the many areas that were made for the little ones. ¬†

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TIP: Make sure your child’s arm is long enough to reach the Bat Rays in their touch pool. ¬†This is how we ended up with one side of her body wet.

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Getting up close and personal with the sea life in the pool.

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