Posts Tagged ‘Beach’

Kids on the Peninsula

Tuesday, May 27th, 2014
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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 as a mom of two, the Monterey Peninsula is one of the best family-friendly travel destinations around!  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 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 visit. Free and open seven days a week, (click here for more information) the park is perfect for families and offers a multitude of play structures, tunnels, bridges and a maze. Looking for something indoors in downtown Monterey? Try the Monterey County Youth Museum (MY Museum), a hands-on interactive children’s museum, perfect for the busiest of toddlers and young kids.

If you are traveling with kids that are a bit 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.

All of these activities are within walking distance of the Portola Hotel & Spa making a trip to the complex that much more appealing. 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 of family fun!

Unforgettable Beach Picnics on the Monterey Peninsula

Thursday, May 22nd, 2014
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For many people summertime means lazy days in the sun, kicking back with good friends and good food!  In my opinion, there is no better way to celebrate this tradition then heading to the beach for an old fashioned picnic.  The Portola Hotel & Spa has some fun tips to create you perfect beach picnic!

 

Step One – choosing the right beach. The Monterey Peninsula is filled with amazing beaches and each one comes with unique scenery and features. Here are some favorites along with what makes each location so special.

Del Monte State Beach – Just a short walk from Portola is the Del Monte State Beach, which spans from the Monterey Fisherman’s Wharf to Seaside. The long stretch of beach allows picnic goers to find their own intimate spot in the sand or a grab a picnic table and watch the crowds go by on Monterey’s bike trail. Dogs are welcome on this beach and the water is perfect for boogie boarding and surfing. Great for activities for all ages, it is ideal for flying kites, playing catch or a game of volleyball with courts located right off the beach. For picnickers that are planning to stick around after sunset, be sure to bring ingredients for S’mores along with firewood, since beach fires are permitted.

Lovers Point – The teal waters, protected swimming coves and tide pools galore make Lovers Point the perfect spot for picnics! Make camp on the sandy beach or in the park just above the beach at the picnic tables. A protective cove makes this beach a little warmer than the others and once lunch is fully digested, wade into the Bay or take a dip in the Lovers Point Children’s Pool open daily from noon to 4:30pm.  Kayak and paddle board rentals are also available at the beach from Adventures by the Sea.

Asilomar State Beach – Just south from Monterey in Pacific Grove are the white sands of Asilomar State Beach. Asilomar is Spanish for “refuge by the sea,” and it lives up to this name. Picnickers and their dogs too, can spend all day walking the boardwalks surrounding the beach and the sand dunes, exploring tide pools and watching the surfers catch big waves, as a State designated beach, beach fires are also permitted.

Carmel Beach – Bright blue waves, white sand and dogs galore await you at Carmel Beach. The long stretch of beach with views of golfers on the Pebble Beach golf course, quaint Carmel homes and the luscious scenery of Point Lobos will keep picnickers entertained for hours. The world-renowned beach attracts people from all over the world to picnic by day, take in the beautiful sunset and set up bonfires by night.

 

Step Two – food and beverage. The Monterey Peninsula is jammed packed with great restaurants and cafés that serve food to go. We have picked a few that will delight the taste buds with a little local flavor!

Jacks Restaurant & Lounge – Located inside the Portola Hotel & Spa, Jacks is one of the Peninsula’s most popular spots for lunch and is available for take-out.  As a member of the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch® Program, Jacks is committed to using healthy, sustainable and locally sourced ingredients.  Jacks lunch menu features a Mediterranean Vegetable Sandwich, Whole Wheat Chicken Wrap and a Classic Club Sandwich, just right to pack in your picnic basket. For something a little lighter, try their Warm Chicken & Cashew Salad or a Crispy Dungeness Crab Cake Salad, pair these with the perfect wine and you’ll be all set!

Happy Girl Kitchen – Two blocks form the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Happy Girl Kitchen is a café and cannery that specializes in house-made baked goods. Delicious organic breakfast and lunch options include sandwiches, soups and delicious cheese and cracker plates. This spot also specializing in preserves so be sure to grab one of the jams, pickles or a jar of local honey.

Troia’s Market – Located just a few blocks up the hill from Portola, Troia’s Market is a great place to stop to pick up traditional quality deli sandwiches, a selection of sides such as potatoes salad and other homemade options such as mac and cheese, salads and lasagna. There is a vast assortment of snacks to grab and a nice beverage selection for those of age.

Whole Foods Market – Located right off the freeway at the Munras exit, Whole Foods is a great option for picnickers on their way to Asilomar or Carmel Beach. Offering a full service deli, sushi bar and big selection of ready food to go, Whole Foods is a great place to stop to ensure that everyone in the picnic party will be able to enjoy their favorite food on the beach.

Wine – What is a great beach day without a bottle of wine? Just steps from Portola are two great places to pick up world famous local Monterey County wines. Stop in Wine From the Heart or Terranova Fine Wines to taste a few before purchasing your new favorite bottle and heading to the beach.

It’s hard to go wrong on the Monterey Peninsula when selecting a location along with food and beverage for a picnic. Don’t forget sunscreen, towels, a blanket, chairs, sand toys and a football or volleyball!

When it comes down to it, finding the time to relax and be around loved ones is precious, so get out there and have day on the Peninsula that everyone will remember!

Family Fun – Monterey Style

Monday, March 3rd, 2014
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Explore the Monterey Bay Aquarium

A treasure trove of outdoor adventure, Monterey is the perfect location for a family vacation.  With unparalleled beauty at every turn, the Monterey Peninsula and beyond promises endless opportunities for fresh-air fun and adventure for the whole family!  Whether you’re a land or sea body, the Monterey Bay area has something for everybody.

Develop your sea legs and take off on an ocean safari with Princess Monterey Whale Watching. Offering year-round whale watching trips, you can take in the majestic view from the midst of the bay while making some fluked friends along the way!  Maybe getting wet isn’t quite your style; get your under-the-sea fix at the Monterey Bay Aquarium instead.  Located on historic Cannery Row, the Monterey Bay Aquarium promises to inspire wonder and learning through its innovative exhibits and unparalleled variety of aquatic wild life.  With more than 35,000 creatures, and representing over 550 species in nearly 200 exhibits, the Monterey Bay Aquarium promises a full day of fun for the whole family.  By the end of your excursion you’ll have just about sprouted fins of your own!

Home to some of the world’s most majestic ocean views indeed, the Monterey Peninsula is more than just a marine-lover’s mecca.  With Adventures by the Sea you can explore local sites by land or by sea.  Just pic your mode of transportation, bicycle, kayak, or guided tour and experience all that the Peninsula has to offer.  Looking to head to the hills, a hiker’s paradise awaits.  Check out legendary Point Lobos for unmatched views and a chance to run into some pretty feisty wildlife or explore Garland Ranch Regional Park in Carmel Valley.

For the animal lover within, visit Vision Quest Ranch & the Monterey Zoo. Set on a 51-acre ranch and centrally located off the Monterey-Salinas Highway, the Monterey Zoo (formerly Wild Things) is home to over 100 wild, exotic, and domestic birds and animals.  Take a family trip around the world without having to drive a mile, and learn all that there is to know about these majestic creatures.

So, for your next family trip, look no further than the Monterey Peninsula.  With a little something for everyone, there’s no better place to make family memories that will last a lifetime.

Venue Ideas for Your Perfect Monterey Bay Wedding

Wednesday, February 19th, 2014
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Memory Garden behind the Portola Hotel & Spa

World famous for its natural beauty, iconic history and incredible events, the Monterey Peninsula has amazed visitors for decades. More recently, however, wedding fever has caught on in this area and not just by the residents. As destination weddings have become as much of an option as more traditional ceremonies, couples are continually looking for something different. Places such as Hawaii and Las Vegas will always be popular, as will other tropical locations, but where else can two lovebirds and their families find such a wide variety of locations for their perfect day?

Whether big or small, simple or ornate, the Monterey Peninsula offers a venue for every type of wedding. If you are looking for a natural setting many of the local, regional and state parks offer locations that are beautiful and practical at the same time. Lovers Point Park in Pacific Grove is continually voted as best wedding venue by local publications. It offers a grassy park overlooking the Monterey Bay and who can beat a place with Lovers in the name. But, if a true beach wedding is your desire, the Carmel State Beach or Asilomar State Beach are great choices that are serviced my many of the local event companies.

Meadow and forested themes are also gaining in popularity. Facebook founder Sean Parker went all out in Big Sur and there are several great locations at Pfeiffer State Park, as well as the Santa Lucia Chapel owned by All Saints Church. The outdoor chapel which is nestled in a grove of redwoods overlooks the Big Sur River offers a truly rustic experience. Breathtaking views are the hallmark of the Wedding Rock in Carmel, which sits high upon a bluff overlooking Monastery Beach. Simple yet unique, this site is managed by the California State Parks system.

One of the most popular wedding themes over the past decade is the Rustic or Shabby Chic event. While these weddings can be held at a traditional hotel or event space, their reliance on the thematic location has allowed many local historical landmarks to become something more, housing many couple’s special day. Chautauqua Hall in Pacific Grove, built in the late 1800’s, was once a place for religious events and artistic gatherings. Now, it sports a modern kitchen and a flowered garden outside.

If, however, you seek the best of everything, look no further than the Memory Garden located next to the Historic Custom House Plaza in Monterey (just steps from the Portola Hotel & Spa). The adobe walled garden offers a fountain amid Southern Magnolia trees and a lush flower garden.  This California State Park venue, is attached to the garden is the Historic Custom House which offers 19th century Spanish Maritime architecture and authentic Monterey Bay charm. Continue the celebration converting the ceremony space into your reception or change it up a bit and head on over the Portola (just steps from the garden), dance the night away in one of their ballrooms or outdoor courtyard and let their amazing event staff take care of all the details.

From the beauty of the Monterey Bay and the history of Old California to the serenity of the coastal California Redwood forests, the Monterey Peninsula offers so much for regular visitors, but it offers the ultimate in destination wedding experiences.

Come One & Come All to the Fourth Annual Whalefest

Thursday, January 23rd, 2014
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If you are like me, you love the ocean. Whether it’s walking along the beach, visiting an aquarium or experiencing some nautically inspired art, the ocean and specifically the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary give each and every one of us so much to be thankful for. That’s why I’m calling all marine-life enthusiasts, from near and far to swim on over to Monterey’s Historic Fisherman’s Wharf for the Fourth Annual Whalefest. This free, family-friendly event takes place this weekend, January 25-26, 2014 from 10am to 5pm.

The event is a celebration of the whale, its environment and the many organizations that protect the Monterey Bay. Not only does Whalefest offer music, lectures, exhibits and films, but there are live art demonstrations and a 60 foot model gray whale that attendees can explore. And since it is migration season, now is the time to observe these beautiful creatures. So, if an up close view of these huge mammals is more your speed, whale watching trips are available throughout the day as are tours on a 29 foot Coast Guard Transportable Response Boat.

Old Fisherman’s Wharf is a site rich in Monterey’s iconic history and this event will be buzzing with vibrant sights and exciting exhibits in every nook and cranny. There’s a world of deep-sea adventure to be had right here in Monterey. Whalefest promises to be a weekend of inspiring, educational and empowering exploration of the majestic Monterey Bay. With the mission of protecting the beautiful Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, Whalefest is a weekend of fun, for a cause.  Don’t miss out on a moment of the excitement.

Visit www.montereywharf.com for additional info plus a schedule of performers and events.  Don’t miss out on this “whale” of a good time!

Looking to book a whale-themed getaway – check out the Portola Hotel & Spa’s Whale Watching package, it includes two tickets for a whale watching tour, plus 15% off the regular nightly rate.