| Monterey’s New Activities and Lodging make for an ideal Fall Getaway
By Kathy Chin Leong
Fall is an ideal time to indulge in a farewell-to-summer weekend in Monterey. Today, a fresh spate of activities await the been-there-done-that family. So grab your sunscreen, fill up the tank, and go!
If you haven’t been to Monterey in a while, it is a time for a refresher course. Bring the clan to the Monterey Bay Aquarium where officials have spent $4 million in redesigning and doubly expanding the Splash Zone family exhibit.
The new and improved Splash Zone leads visitors through three ocean habitats. The Enchanted Kelp Forest features a 42-foot-long touch pool with two different heights so little ones can reach and touch the exhibits.
Coral Reef Kingdom lets babies up to 3, climb, crawl or sit on coral-themed play structures. In the Rugged Rocky Shore, kids steer boats through a waterway and create their own currents.
Do make time to go to the Kelp Forest Feeding and Otter Feeding which can be highlights of the day. At the Kelp Forest Feeding, a docent talks to a diver who feeds the variety of sharks and sea creates in the three-story tank.
Older children itching for more action? Kids ages 8-13 can sign up for the aquarium’s Underwater Explorers program and enjoy a 90-minute surface scuba in the indoor tide pool. Basic swim skills are required.
Kids that go to MY Museum won’t have to worry about sensory deprivation either. This interactive museum, best for ages 7 and under, gives kids a host of things to do from operating a pizza palace to playing veterinarian.
In November, the museum will move to larger quarters on 425 Washington Street with 8,500 square feet of floorspace. Take note: the museum is closed on Wednesdays.
Want a super-sized experience? This spring a new IMAX opened its doors, boasting a 290-seat theater with a 55-foot high by 65-foot-wide screen. What’s different about this IMAX is that the owners are committed to showing G movies with ocean themes, and every movie will be aired in the 3-D format with patrons wearing special glasses.
“It’s nothing like you’ve ever tried before. Things really look like they pop out at you,” says Cindy Vandenburge, the theater’s marketing director.
Right next door is Willy’s Smokehouse & All American Grill: This casual BBQ restaurant offers a $19.95-$24.95 dinner and a IMAX movie package. 95 Prescott Ave., 831/372-8880 ; www.willysmoke.com
InterContinental The Clement Monterey: This $70 million hotel represents the newest waterfront lodging in the area in 20 years. Next to the aquarium, it offers a VIP Kid’s Club that has fitness gear, video games, a climbing wall, and more. Rooms feature flat screen TVs, Internet access and soaking tubs. On site is the Energia Body Centre for spa treatments.: 750 Cannery Row; 831/375-4500 ; www.intercontinental.com/montereyic. Rates start at $207, but drop to $189 in November.
Hyatt Regency Monterey Resort & Spa: Completing a $60 million renovation, this resort has everything you can think of. Flat-screen TVs and refrigerators. Ping-pong, tennis, pools, fire pit, golf course, spa for mom and dad, cool restaurant… what’s not to like? For an extra fee, you can bump up to Club level and have access to a special room that offers continental breakfast, afternoon snacks, and dessert at night. One Old Golf Course Road. 831/372-1234 ; www.monterey.hyatt.com. Rates start at $200.
You’ll never get tired of the Monterey Peninsula as long as you keep introducing your family to new and enriching experiences. Chances are, when your kids become parents, they will take their children to this sliver of heaven as well.
Here is a list of new and well-loved activities:
Adventures by the Sea: www.adventuresbythesea.com
Cannery Row: www.canneryrow.com
Culinary Center of Monterey: www.culinarycenterofmonterey.com
Dennis the Menace Park: www.monterey.org/rec
Farmers’ markets: www.co.monterey.ca.us/ag/farm_mark.htm
IMAX Cinema: www.bellacinema.com
Monterey Visitors Info: www.montereyinfo.org
Monterey Bay Aquarium: www.montereybayaquarium.org
Monterey Bay Chocolates: www.montereybaychocolates.com
Monterey County Youth (MY) Museum: www.mymuseum.org
Point Lobos State Reserve: www.parks.ca.gov
Kathy Chin Leong is editor of BAFT and loves Monterey County.