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planning a trip with a toddler to monterey/san francisco

phoenix, az
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planning a trip with a toddler to monterey/san francisco

We are planning a week long trip with a 2.5 year boy and my husband and I in March. This will be our last family vacation before he starts grad school for 2 years, so we want it to be very fun and special.

We are thinking of spending 4 nights in monterey (is this too long?) and then driving to Santa Cruz for night, then SF for 2 nights. Do you have any recommendations of what to do and where to stay in these places? I have the aquarium slated for Monterey and thats about it.

Any help would be super appreciated!

Los Angeles
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1. Re: planning a trip with a toddler to monterey/san francisco

In Monterey, the 17 mile drive is popular though I've seen locals on this forum suggest alternative (and free) drives to do instead. You may want to take a drive south to Point Lobos State Park or further into Big Sur. And of course visit Carmel and Pacific Grove while there. Personally, I tend to think 4 nights in Monterey is too long - I was just there for three nights, and while I was at the travelling mercy of a family member who was kind enough to invite me to their home and so didn't get to do as many activities as I would have liked, I was pretty much over it by the time I left. Its a great area, however - very beautiful and scenic, but I didn't feel like there was four or five days worth of activities there. If it were me, I'd take at least one night off of Monterey, perhaps two, and add them to San Francisco instead, or maybe head north of San Francisco to Napa.

San Francisco...
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2. Re: planning a trip with a toddler to monterey/san francisco

I agree with M3 It all depends on what your vacation style is like. If it is to relax and hang out staying in Monterey for 4 days is fun. But if it is to see the place the a couple of days would be fine. SF needs 3-4 full days

There is no wrong answer here.

Just to clarify your DH is going to grad school, not the toddler right ? One never knows !!

phoenix, az
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3. Re: planning a trip with a toddler to monterey/san francisco

Ha! definitely the DH going to grad school. These suggestions are great, our toddler is very routine oriented, so we have mornings and then after 4pm to do any activities to go around naptime. I think 3 days in Monterey will be plenty for us (we really just want to spend on the beach) then we will head to SF. Is Big sur an easy stop over from Monterey to SF?

One additional question: is there somewhere else in the area that would be more appropriate for a vacation to relax and be in view of the beach?

Thank you for the assistance!

San Francisco...
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4. Re: planning a trip with a toddler to monterey/san francisco

Hang on. Do read the primer on highway 1 which is in the top questions on the California forum and that will give you an idea of big Sur. It is the part south of Carmel to Cambria and not north to SF

March is not beach weather generally though one never knows. There are a couple of hotels north of Monterey closer to the Sand dunes and Santa Cruz has a few hotels but perhaps you need to reset your expectation of a beach vacation in northern Ca.

Carmel has beaches but no beach hotel

Southern Ca may be more moderate around San Diego for a beach vacation but the water won't be warm

Edited: 05 January 2014, 04:40
Santa Cruz...
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5. Re: planning a trip with a toddler to monterey/san francisco

Monterey and Santa Cruz are only 45 minutes apart. Although I am a DE for Santa Cruz I would not suggest a night here, since if you wanted to visit you could simply stop by on your way to San Francisco.

Our historic amusement park, the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is not open in March. Here is a traveler article to give you information about Santa Cruz....

http://tinyurl.com/y4hnbu9

I would take that night and at least one from Monterey and add them to San Francisco.

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6. Re: planning a trip with a toddler to monterey/san francisco

The Monterey Plaza Hotel is a very nice family-oriented hotel with beautiful views. Have fun! :)

Santa Cruz...
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7. Re: planning a trip with a toddler to monterey/san francisco

>>>Is Big sur an easy stop over from Monterey to SF? <<

I missed this in your message. Big Sur is not a stop over between Monterey and San Francisco, as it is SOUTH of Monterey.

San Francisco, Ca
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8. Re: planning a trip with a toddler to monterey/san francisco

Consider the Elkhorn Slough Safari... a flat-bottomed boat ride on an inland waterway where you'll see hundreds of birds and other critters -- including sea lions, otters, seals, etc.

And yes, as mentioned above, "beaches" in the area normally mean being bundled up rather than sunbathing. Good beach-combing, tide-pooling, wave-watching, etc.

9. Re: planning a trip with a toddler to monterey/san francisco

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