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Soledad and surrounding areas...what to do, what to do?!

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Maui, Hawaii
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Soledad and surrounding areas...what to do, what to do?!

Aloha!

We'll be in the Soledad area in the beginning of October. Travelling with tweens and young children (5 and under). We'll be there for close to a week and the only thing I have planned is a trip out to Monterey to go to the aquarium (that's one day...5 to go!). Visiting a winery is the only other thing on our wish list...which winery can you recommend?

Suggestions for any activities/attractions are welcome!

Mahalo for taking the time to post a reply! \m/

San Diego...
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1. Re: Soledad and surrounding areas...what to do, what to do?!

Of course, you will see the old mission and ruins in Soledad. Then I would recommend going about 45 miles north to San Juan Bautista, a charming historical town (and historical state park) also with an old Mission (not ruins).

In Monterey, you might take the very scenic 17 mile drive (toll) seeing the golf courses of the former Bing Crosby tournament (now AT&T). Carmel is also a very attractive town that is worth a stop. Here's the website for the wineries (I am not familiar with them):

www.gomonterey.com/wineries

You might enjoy a visit to nearby Pinnacles National Monument, see www.nps.gov/pinn

Finally, you are 130 miles from San Franciscoso a day trip is doable if you don't mind the driving. At least ride the cable cars and maybe drive the Golden Gate Bridge.

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2. Re: Soledad and surrounding areas...what to do, what to do?!

Are you actually staying in the city of Soledad with family or friends, or is this a vacation trip and you have chosen to spend it in Soledad?

If this is a vacation and you have a choice of places to stay, there are other places where you'd be more conveniently located to more visitor sites. The main things in or near Soledad as delmar said are the old mission and Pinnacles National Monument. The west entrance that you would take from Soledad is a daytime entrance only; more people enter on the east side throug Hollister. There is no connecting road between the east and west entrances. If you wanted to do some hiking, either entrance is fine, but most of the visitor programs are on the east side.

The Pinnacles may still be pretty warm by the time you come.

Since you're bringing kids, the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk would be fun. It's an old-fashioned Coney Island type resort area with traditional rides and fun stuff (not thrill rides like Magic Mountain that give you concussions or make you barf). There's a pier that extends half a mile into the ocean. It's actuall Monterey Bay, but it's so exposed that I always think of it as ocean. The pier has restaurants, shops, a fishing area, and cut-outs in the deck to look at sea lions that nest on the pilings. October will be past the main vacation season but the water will still be fairly warm. (A couple of Thanksgivings ago, I saw folks playing volleyball on the beach in swimwear). Santa Cruz is about 65 miles from Soledad.

For young kids, the John Steinbeck Center may not be too exciting, but just so you know, it is one of the big attractions in Salinas, Steinbeck's hometown. It has exhibits on his life and work, the places he wrote about, the social issues that his books addressed, and California agriculture, which plays such a huge role in his writing.

Maui, Hawaii
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3. Re: Soledad and surrounding areas...what to do, what to do?!

We'll be in Soledad to visit relatives, otherwise I don't think the town (does it qualify as a city?!) would have made it on my list of places I must visit during my life. =P

I'm grateful for the suggestions!

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4. Re: Soledad and surrounding areas...what to do, what to do?!

Soledad has about 26,000 people. That should qualify it as a small city. But according to the city's website, that includes the state prison population--and those folks don't really count as real-life residents cuz they can't go sightseeing, dine at the restaurants, play softball in the city park, etc.

There are actually two institutions with about 11,000 inmates: Salinas Valley State Prison and Correctional Training Facility Soledad. They don't have visitor programs, but in case you're curious, you can see what they look like:

yaca.state.ca.us/Visitors/fac_prison_CTF.html

www.cdcr.ca.gov/Visitors/fac_prison_SVSP.html

Fremont, California
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5. Re: Soledad and surrounding areas...what to do, what to do?!

There are a number of wineries in the Soledad area to visit:

www.cityofsoledad.com/tourism/Wineries.cfm

If you just want to visit one, suggest Hahn (however any of these will do if work in better with your trip.).

Gilroy Gardens (new name for Bonfante Gardens) which is about an hour drive from Soledad would also be fun for the family. If they do the same as last year, they also had scarecrows and pumpkins. Fun train for the kids; lots of kid friendly rides and also a gentle, but fun coaster for the tweens; and a nice place to go for the day. You might also want to tie it in with some shopping at Gilroy Premium Outlets

http://www.gilroygardens.org/

www.premiumoutlets.com/outlets/outlet.asp…

There is the National Steinbeck Museum in Salinas.

This is about a half hour drive. This is actually a pretty interactive museum with fun things to see and do at it. It provides a nice overview of the area. Its about a half hour drive.

http://www.steinbeck.org/MainFrame.html

Pinnacles National Monument (picnic and some walks, hiking) is close by to Soledad.

http://www.nps.gov/pinn/

Maui, Hawaii
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6. Re: Soledad and surrounding areas...what to do, what to do?!

Frisco RR: I guess Soledad is bigger than most towns here in Hawaii...even if most of their citizens are the domestic types, stuck at "home". I think I'll pass on the jails... =P

mini: Great suggestions! I wondered how the museum might be for the kids...good to hear that it's interactive. And I hadn't come across Gilroy in any of my readings so far...I'll definitely look into it!

Mahalo nui loa, once again!

7. Re: Soledad and surrounding areas...what to do, what to do?!

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