Archive for the ‘Family Fun’ Category

Kids on the Peninsula

Thursday, August 2nd, 2012
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When most people think of the Monterey Peninsula they think of beautiful golf courses, million dollar homes and some of the world’s most famous events. Others think of miles of pristine coastline, romantic walks along the water and shopping and dining. But some do not realize the amount of kid-friendly activities available.  With as many family friendly activities as there are par fours, Mom, Dad and the little ones can have the time of their lives. Oh, and if the “little ones” are actually teenagers…there is plenty for them to do as well.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium on Historic Cannery Row is one of the world’s premiere displays of aquatic marvels. The Splash Zone is entirely devoted to kids and kids of all ages and the aquarium as a whole can keep the family interested for hours, but what about the next day?

How about Dennis the Menace Park located by Lake El Estero in Monterey? Hank Ketchum, the legendary creator of the cartoon icon Dennis the Menace made Carmel his home and this park brings the same smile to all who come. Free and open seven days a week, the park is perfect for families and offers a multitude of play structures, tunnels, bridges and a maze. The cornerstone of the park is an actual Steam Engine that can be climbed and played upon, if you’re looking for something indoors, try the interactive, hands-on Monterey County (MY) Museum.

If you are traveling with kids a little older, check out the paddle boats available for rent on Lake El Estero directly behind the park. It’s a great time and you can get up close and personal with the ducks, Canadian Geese and swans that make the lake their home (don’t forget the breadcrumbs!) Or, for a more radical departure, make a visit to the free skate park also adjacent to Dennis the Menace. With exciting elements to challenge the skills of skateboarders and in-line skaters, this park was created with input from community skaters resulting in a fantastic design overlooking the lake. Between glow-in-the-dark mini golf on Cannery Row, hiking at Point Lobos to kayaking on the Bay, an activity for every member of the family awaits!

Most all of these activities are within walking distance of the Portola Hotel & Spa making a trip to the Peninsula one of ease and most importantly fun! With green grass, picnic benches and the beach just across the street, why not order a delicious lunch to go from Peter B’s Brewpub and enjoy a wonderful day!


Top 10 Picnic Spots

Tuesday, July 31st, 2012
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It’s summertime, and with all the vacations, camps, games and other activities, we sometimes forget that this time of the year is supposed to be relaxing.  Even mealtime seems hurried as we try to fit one last thing into the longer summer days. So why not downshift and spend a little quality time with the family (and don’t forget to bring the dog) while taking in the beautiful scenery of the Monterey Peninsula? Food, family and fun are always a recipe for relaxation so here is our unofficial Top 10 (in random order) picnic spots on the Peninsula and a little beyond.

1. The nearest park or open-space or enchanted garden. Keep it simple and enjoy each other’s company, explore the Custom House Plaza and nearby Memory Garden/Pacific House or Old Whaling Station Garden.

2. Lovers Point Beach: What’s better than a lush park right next to a beach, with a view of Monterey Bay?

3. Dennis the Menace Park: Picnic tables and grills behind the park overlook Lake El Estero and a skate park. Perfect for kids of all ages (dogs not allowed in the park gates).

4. Marina State Beach: Miles of beach are perfect for flying kites and the occasional hang glider make for great entertainment; make sure to bring a windbreaker, as that’s why this is the best place for kite flying!

5. Colton Hall: Revel in the beauty downtown Monterey and sit among shady trees, beautiful architecture and a lush lawn.

6. Garland Ranch: Work up an appetite with a hike before sitting down to drink in the beauty of Carmel Valley.

7. 17-mile Drive: Beach, forest, golf or all of the above are offered along this famous stretch of road. The views aren’t half bad either!

8. Asilomar State Beach: Catch one of the area’s great sunset spots and white sand beaches, build a small bonfire, go tide-pooling and a walk amongst the dunes.

9. Monterey Bay Coastal Recreation Trail: By bike, foot or surrey rental you can take-in the views and stop at any of the numerous benches and open spaces along the route for a meal.

10. Pfeiffer Beach State Park: This State Park offers it all and is a wonderful way to explore nature with your family and enjoy the majestic views and tranquility of Big Sur.

If you are looking for the perfect culinary compliment to this family fun, why not stop off at Peter B’s Brewpub or Jacks Restaurant at the Portola Hotel & Spa and pick up a delicious lunch for your group. With choices galore, your family and your taste buds will thank you!

California Rodeo Salinas

Friday, July 20th, 2012
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Photography Richard Field Levine ©

Since 1910, the California Rodeo held annually in Salinas, California has grown from a small Wild West Show with some bucking bronco riding to a full-fledged week-long celebration of the history of the Salinas Valley.  Complete with a full slate of officially sanctioned professional rodeo events, the event features concerts, carnival games and enough down-home cowboy fun to fill a 10 gallon hat!

The rodeo or “Big Week” as it was coined in 1911 kicks-off on Friday July 13th and runs through Sunday, July 22nd. On Friday the 13th, the carnival will open at 4pm with games for kids of all ages and on Saturday the 14th Kiddie Kapers and the annual Colmo del Rodeo Parade in Downtown Salinas rev up the fun even more.

Photography Richard Field Levine ©

The professional rodeo cowboys start their competition on Wednesday the 18th with the preliminary rounds of their specialty. The early rounds continue on Thursday and Friday evenings featuring the Tough Enough to Wear Pink event on the 19th and the Fight Hunger event on the 20th.

On Saturday and Sunday the action switches to the daytime with the semi-final and final rounds of competition. Saturday is Salute to the Military Day and the fun continues into the evening with the week’s biggest performance, when Country Music legend Alan Jackson and friends take the stage at 6:30pm.

Sunday is the Crown Royal Day of Champions featuring the finals of the professional events including: Bull Riding, Tie Down Roping, Bareback Riding, Team Roping, Saddle Bronc Riding and Steer Wrestling. Tickets are available at the box office or online at

So if you want to learn about the rich history of Salinas and take in some of the best live action around, go big at Big Week and the California Rodeo – Salinas!


Portola Pirates Program

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012
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For today’s traveler, there is such a wide variety of lodging options that at times, it might seem overwhelming. There are resorts of all shapes and sizes, hotels that are located around a certain attraction and those specialized options that cater to a specific type of guest. It’s not often though, that a destination hotel will go out of its way to provide a specialized program for families while still keeping a mainstream aesthetic. The Portola Hotel & Spa has done just that with the introduction of its completely unique Portola Pirates Program. Family-friendly fun begins immediately upon check-in as each child between the ages of 3 and 12 is greeted with a treasure chest full of activities and toys. With Monterey’s rich maritime history as the backdrop, kids and parents will be able to learn and interact while viewing the hotel’s collection of antique model ships displayed throughout the hotel and experience the historic memorabilia and photography from days gone by! The Portola’s two award winning restaurants, Jacks and Peter B’s Brewpub, also get in on the action offering a customized kids menu featuring meals like the Portola Pirate Pizza and Black Beard’s Pasta. The staff at Portola is keen on keeping the fun fresh so participants have a new voyage with each visit.

 This seaworthy program is offered year round and is not only for guests of the hotel. The fine folks at Portola invite local residents, educators and groups to join in the fun for birthday parties, special events and field trips. Each return visit to the Portola Hotel & Spa young crewmembers will earn additional benefits and surprises when they continue take part in our Portola Pirates Program!

So raise the anchor and set sail for fun with the Portola Pirates Program!

4th of July in Monterey

Tuesday, June 26th, 2012
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Nothing says American like the Fourth of July. Whether you are joining a hundred thousand people at Boston Pops with cannons and a gigantic fireworks display over the Charles River or a family BBQ with a few sparklers, celebrating America’s independence is quintessentially… American!

The Monterey Peninsula is no different with a myriad of great events. Pacific Grove, known as America’s Last Hometown is presenting an old fashioned community BBQ at kid-friendly, Caledonia Park. The celebration, Wednesday, July 4th from 11am to 3pm will feature renowned San Francisco jam band Moonalice, a delicious BBQ, games, bounce houses and free goodies for the kids. In the tradition of the National Archives there will also be a dramatic reading of the Declaration of Independence.

Carmel-by-the-Sea is also ringing in Independence Day in style with a Fourth of July celebration on Wednesday July 4th from 12pm to 4pm. Held in Devendorf Park, the event features a concert, food and games.

Of course, the Fourth would not be complete without a patriotic parade bringing spirit and patriotism to the streets of downtown Monterey. The parade steps off at 10am and winds down Alvarado Street and turns up Del Monte Avenue past the Portola Hotel & Spa before turning onto Calle Principal. This year, a parachute team made up of former Navy SEALS begins the festivities with a jump onto the route and after the parade; attendees are invited to come by the City’s annual lawn party at Colton Hall from 11am to 4pm. The fun continues on into the evening with a special light and laser show at Jack’s Ballpark at 8pm with a special concert by the Monterey Bay Symphony.

As the Fourth of July’s go, this year is jam packed with something for everyone; just like our country!