Posts Tagged ‘Family’

Winter-time Wonderland at the Monterey Bay Aquarium

Saturday, December 6th, 2014
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In case you hadn’t noticed, winter has arrived. Yes, for most of the country, Winter means weather, but in California and specifically on the Monterey Peninsula, Winter is more about the holidays and wondering why scarves and gloves look cool, but are actually uncomfortable in 65 degree weather. Most importantly, however, winter and the holiday season mean family. Whether you are entertaining guests from out of town or spending time with your own, there are many options around the Monterey Bay, but none excite the group as much as the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Beyond the world-wide reputation and overall greatness, the Monterey Bay Aquarium is offering several recently new and exciting exhibits and that are sure to awaken the wonder in everyone. Tentacles, the Astounding Lives of Octopuses, Squid and Cuttlefishes debuted to much fanfare a few short months ago and has been enchanting guests ever since. Featuring giant rooftop tentacles and multiple tanks filled with 9 types of cephalopods, the exhibit will immerse you into a whole new world of these ever-changing sea creatures.

One of the other recent exhibits is the Jellies Experience. Gain a whole new appreciation of this beautiful mysterious and sometimes dangerous ocean dweller. Eight different types are featured and their graceful water-ballet amidst black-lit rooms is something to truly behold. Their simplicity and complexity are on display all at once in an almost surreal experience.

The Aquarium’s favorites are of course on hand with Penguins, Sea Otters, the Kelp Forrest, the Splash Zone and daily feedings and classes available for everyone’s enjoyment. Most recently, viral videos of rescued sea otters have made the rounds on YouTube and Twitter, but now you can see these cuddly kits in person!

If your guests are from out of town, the Portola Hotel & Spa offers a very special Monterey Bay Aquarium Family Getaway for $199 (now through January 31, 2015). Guests will receive accommodations in a nautically inspired guest room, a warm homemade chocolate chip cookie, 25% Off* on Food & Beverage for Dinner in Jacks Restaurant and two adult tickets to the Monterey Bay Aquarium which are good for two consecutive days. Book Now!

This winter, if the parkas and scarves have not made it out of the closet, but you are looking for a great experience for the family, check out the Monterey Bay Aquarium. They’ll thank you for the best present of all, quality family time!

 

Book now and stay December 1, 2014 to January 31, 2015.  Terms and conditions apply.  Based on availability. Not applicable to groups. Blackout dates apply.
*Not valid during holidays.

Celebrate All Season Long at the Portola!

Monday, November 24th, 2014
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Nothing beats the holiday season, especially California Coast. Although, the only white Christmas you may experience are white sand beaches, the cheer of the season is everywhere, especially in Monterey at the Portola Hotel & Spa.

If celebrating the holidays at home is a family tradition, then what do you do to work off Mom’s turkey, Grandpa’s eggnog or the hors d’oeuvres from the holiday party at work? Why, ice skating in Monterey of course! With views of the Pacific Ocean, Ice Skating by the Bay returns to bring the feeling of the season to the historic Custom House Plaza November 22, 2014 -January 4, 2015. The rink is open Monday through Saturday from 11am to 10pm and on Sundays from 12pm to 8pm. Tickets can be purchased at the rink but if you are visiting family or friends, the Portola offers a package that includes tickets! Book Now!

If the knees can’t take a session on the ice, the Portola offers a range of packages perfect for getting rid of those holiday blues. Take the family on an artistic adventure on New Year’s Eve with Portola’s First Night Package. First Night offers a family friendly lineup of dancing, music, singing, artistic creation and excitement. Book Now!

If a leisurely morning is more your speed, then check out the Winter Breakfast for Two package. Bottomless Mimosas will start your day off right while the European-style buffet will give your taste buds the gift they have been missing. Book Now!

And finally, no list of holiday themed packages in Monterey County would be complete without some of the region’s award-winning varietals! The Winter Harvest Package allows you and a guest to experience a bottle of the County’s finest wine along with a guide to Monterey Wine Country, a logoed wine bag and corkscrew. You can take the wine up to your room, with you on a picnic or enjoy it at home while toasting the memories or a wonderful experience. Book Now!

Each one of these packages includes a one night in a nautically inspired guest room, a warm homemade chocolate chip cookie on arrival and use of the 24-hour fitness center and heated pool, Jacuzzi and poolside cabanas.

A crispness may be in the air, but in Monterey the weather is always fair, so get out of the cold and come to the coast this holiday season!

Fun Fall Activities for the Kids

Monday, October 20th, 2014
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Although California’s warm weather continues, there is the unmistakable feeling of Fall in the air. While we don’t have the same explosion of color that the trees in New England have, our incredible growing climate allows the Monterey Peninsula to have Halloween themed farms and events aplenty this time of year. The kids and especially their parents will be especially thrilled to have so many options within such a short distance.

For a good old fashioned Halloween experience, check out Swank Farms in Hollister or Borchard Farms in Salinas. Swank Farms offers an over the top bevy of Halloween activities including a fantastic corn maze that becomes a haunted event at night and a more relaxed pumpkin patch. It also offers an interactive Kiddy Corral as well as a Pumpkin Catapult and Corn Ear Cannon, bouncy elements and a fully stocked snack shack and store. Check the website for the most current schedule of events and tickets and be prepared to be haunted!

Borchard Farms, home of the giant pumpkins also offers a family friendly corn maze, a spooky ghost town, a haunted barn and a petting zoo for kids of all ages. The ghost town is perfect for the little ones as it is 10 and under only and includes pumpkin bounce houses, a haystack maze, a leap the pumpkins game and plenty of Halloween photo op areas.  The haunted barn is a bit scarier and is great for your older ghosts and goblins.  Both Swank and Borchard Farms are also great for picking up pumpkins and decorations for your home or office.

A more relaxed family experience can be found at Earthbound Farms in Carmel Valley. The organic farm offers a wide range of regular and specialty pumpkins amongst a tranquil setting. The farm includes an expansive selection of other organic fruit and vegetables, as well as premade food and other offerings made on site including ice cream, soft serve and other kitchen goodies. The farm stands also include a cut your own herd garden and a walking labyrinth and an interactive kid’s garden with touchable foliage.

If you’ve already got your fill of farm, you can enjoy the thrill of a pirate’s treasure hunt at the Portola Hotel & Spa in Monterey. The Portola Hotel’s Pirates Program is a great way to engage your little buccaneer while at the hotel and emerge them into a world of high-seas adventure. Guests of the hotel from 3-12 years old can participate for free and will receive a Portola Pirate Bag and a self-guided treasure map so you can hunt for buried treasure.

Or, you can visit Downtown Pacific Grove on October 25th, 2014 for a free family friendly trick or treating event. Between 10am-4pm costumed kids and a responsible adult are invited to take to the streets of Pacific Grove and enjoy candy and toys given out at participating businesses while being entertained by musicians throughout downtown.

There is no shortage of Halloween events throughout the Monterey Peninsula. On your October visit, don’t have a fright, have fun and enjoy the spooktacular times today!

A Memory Garden Memory

Monday, July 28th, 2014
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So… it’s not too often that I get personal on our Central Coast Living Blog, but every July I get a little sentimental!  Nine years ago, this month I was walking down an aisle dusted with rose petals at one of the most magical venues in all of Monterey (in my humble opinion)  – the Memory Garden.  I’ll never forget walking through the Portola Hotel & Spa on my way to marry my best friend.  Each step I took through the lobby as the sun was shining through the windows; I was one step closer to becoming Mrs. Thomas.

My husband and I were immediately drawn to the Memory Garden.  The clean white walls of the adobe and enchanted garden were exactly what we had envisioned for our wedding day.  The natural flora and fauna of the garden didn’t really need any extra decorating; it was perfect just as it was.

I remember vividly, as I peeked from the gates before the ceremony, that this was it – my dream wedding, simple, romantic, elegant and quintessential old Monterey. After, we walked hand in hand to Frank Sinatra’s “It Happened in Monterey” (yes I know he’s referring to Monterey, Mexico, but it still worked) and as we gazed back at our family and friends, all was right in the world at that very moment!

Now our walks near and around the garden include our amazing six year old twins, who fondly call it Mommy & Daddy’s Wedding Flower Garden, and every time we take that first step through the gates, my husband and exchange a glance with one another, reflecting on our wedding day.

 

 

 

 

 

August Happenings On & Around the Monterey Bay

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014
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No matter what weekend you decide to make Monterey your summer getaway, chances are there’s a festival just waiting for you to enjoy.  With everything from the Scottish and Greek Festivals to the Watsonville Strawberry Festival, there’s no shortage of good food, fun entertainment and great excitement to be had!

Start off with a weekend of sweet strawberry bliss and the annual Watsonville Strawberry Festival on August 2-3, 2014.  A two-day festival in historic downtown Watsonville, this event showcases the strawberry, one of Monterey County’s most famous crops.  Free admission to all and fun for the whole family, the festival features delicious food, premier live entertainment, an exciting carnival and the beloved gooey strawberry contest.

Also on the same weekend is the 47th Annual Scottish Games and Celtic Festival. This event brings the tartan of Scotland and the green of the Emerald Island to Monterey from 9am – 5pm on August 2-3, 2014. Featuring authentic music, dance and athletic events there are activities galore for the whole family. One of the centerpieces of the festival is the pipe band competition where teams of bagpipers and drummers toe the line to see who is best. Throw in Highland and Irish dancers, as well as arts and crafts and you have an experience not to be missed.

Next, let a quick trip down to Monterey’s historic Custom House Plaza transport you to exotic Greece for the annual Greek Festival.  A favorite event for locals and visitors alike, the Monterey Bay Greek festival offers three full days of Greek culture and excitement, set amid the charming backdrop of Monterey’s Fisherman’s Wharf.  With free admission you can enjoy a weekend full of authentic Greek cuisine, live music and dancing.  Kicking off Monterey’s beautiful Indian Summer, the festivities, spanning from August 30 -September 1, 2014, will have you feeling Greek in no time.

These are just three of the many exciting August activities on the beautiful Monterey Peninsula. So whether you are a local or a visitor, you’ll have the opportunity to experience some of the more colorful countries and cuisines of the world, Monterey style.

 

We can’t wait to see you here!