Top 10 Things to do in Monterey With Kids

Wondering what the best things to do in Monterey with Kids are? Check out these ten activities that are sure to keep the whole family entertained on your trip to Monterey!

Ok, I have a confession…even though we’ve lived all over the United States, including Hawaii and all over Europe, I was born and raised in California, married in California and all my children were born…in California, there is still so much of this huge and beautiful state that we have never explored. But being back in the golden state for the past 9 months has forced me to explore more than I have ever before and it’s been glorious!

monterey with kids things to do in monterey
Looking for the best things to do in Monterey California?

Ever since we put our house up on Airbnb, we’ve had some weekends that we had to go away (darn) so we decided to head down to Monterey. We lucked out and had the most beautiful weather. A perfect 70 degrees and not a cloud in the sky.


There are plenty of VRBOs and small hotels in Monterey area and Pacific Grove that are fun to stay at. We stayed at the Monarch Resort. The staff was friendly and the location was great, about 1 block from the lighthouse. There are so many things to do on your Monterey trip. You could live there for years and not see it all. We packed in as much as we could in the weekend we were there, but I can’t wait to go back!

It’s a great place to stop for a few days on a California road trip. Read this if you’re looking for more things to do in Northern California.  If you are visiting Monterey, here are 10 things to do with kids Monterey.  

If you’re visiting Monterey, you’ll definitely need to bring your own car or rent one. This is not a public transportation kind of trip.

If you’re renting a car, there are two companies we prefer to use: Rental Cars and Expedia Cars. We have had no issues with them and have been able to find the best prices available.

10 Things to do in Monterey with Kids

1. 17 Mile Drive

monterey with kids things to do in monterey
The Lone Cypress is over 250 years old!

This was probably our favorite thing to do in Monterey county. It was relaxing and scenic for the adults, fun and windy for the kids with great sandy beaches to stop at!

There is a $10 fee to enter 17 mile drive, but it is worth it. You will see gorgeous, untouched beaches, mansions of the rich and famous, the lone cyprus and stunning cliff top views. Go early in the morning as there can be a line of cars to enter. You can use your ticket to enter any time that same day. There are several entrance points, but we started in Pacific Grove and went along the coast.

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2. Drive Highway 1

monterey with kids things to do in monterey
Iconic Bixby Creek Bridge is not to be missed!

Upon exiting 17 Mile Drive you can hop on the 1 and drive down the coast. Just like 17 mile, it’s a stunning drive. There isn’t much between Carmel and Big Sur, so grab snacks and a good playlist and head on down! (you may even spot sea lions!)

Luckily there are about 100 porter potties between Monterey peninsula and Big Sur. I think we tried about half of them!

monterey with kids things to do in monterey

3. Hike or Relax in Big Sur

monterey with kids things to do in monterey
Our little picnic in Big Sur

We stopped in Big Sur Station for lunch. It’s beautiful driving from coastal cliffs and breezes and into tall redwoods and warmer weather. We stopped at the Big Sur public library and had a little picnic in the park behind it. There are several places to grab lunch in Big Sur including the roadhouse where you can grab a burger. There are several hiking trails throughout Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park that would be good for families. We wanted to drive farther south on the 1, but it was closed due to a collapsed bridge! They have had 80 inches of rain in the past 8 weeks. That’s a huge amount for California, who has been in a drought for the last 5 years! We’ll have to come back and finish the 1 in a few months when the roads are repaired.

4. Carmel Mission

monterey with kids things to do in monterey
Beautiful Carmel Mission Basilica

On our way back up the 1 to Monterey, we stopped at the Carmel Mission. The mission was the headquarters of the Alta California missions founded by Saint Junípero Serra and founded in 1771. Anyone who has had a 4th grader in California, or was a 4th grader in California, will know all about the California Missions and their importance in the colonization and founding of the state. Father Serra, who was recently canonized in 2015 as a Saint in the Catholic church, is buried here.

monterey with kids things to do in monterey

monterey with kids things to do in monterey
Love the architecture here!


5. Carmel-By-The-Sea

monterey with kids things to do in monterey

Ok, this is quite possibly the cutest town in all of America. Think quintessential quaint European town meets California surf town. The shops and houses are just adorable and the beach is gorgeous. Once a year in August this town hosts Car Week which is incredible. I think we’ll be going back for this!

6. Dennis the Menace Playground in Monterey

monterey with kids things to do in monterey

Dennis the Menace Park is one of the things we were looking forward to most on our trip to Monterey, but sadly it was closed for repairs the weekend we went.

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Such a bummer, but we’ll be back. My kids have been to this before (several years ago) and absolutely loved it and still talk about it today.

It’s one of the kid-friendly things to do in Monterey, especially with toddlers and even older kids. Dennis the Menace Park has an outdoor playground with a bunch of fun equipment, like slides, tunnels, and bridges. Plus, they have swings for all ages and a sand pit.

7. Monterey Bay Aquarium

monterey with kids things to do in monterey
Gorgeous Jellyfish at the Monterey Bay Aquarium

One of the fun things to do with kids in Monterey, The Monterey Bay Aquarium is considered as a world class aquarium we’ve ever been to. Located in Cannery Row, it’s huge with plenty to discover and organized really well. The jellyfish are always a favorite!

You can also spot other sea creatures such as sea otters and even blue whales. There are also whale watching tour you can take part of!

8. Pacific Grove

monterey with kids things to do in monterey
Lighthouse in Pacific Grove

Pacific Grove is such a chill little town. It’s like Monterey’s hippie little sister. I love wandering the main street and eating at the quirky little cafes and diners. Our hotel was about a block away from the lighthouse. We loved walking along the coast. It was so relaxing and not busy.

9. Fisherman’s Wharf in Monterey

A fun place to hang out, grab a bite to eat and watch the seals. This reminded me of a smaller scale version of San Francisco’s Pier 39.

monterey with kids things to do in monterey
Fisherman’s Wharf at Night

10. Go to the Beach

This may be a given, but don’t forget to go to the beach. Monterey might not boast the warmest waters in California, but they are clean and beautiful. If you go at the right time of the year you can even see whales. In fact, while we were in town a group of Orcas attacked a group of whales.

Don’t worry, they won’t come close to the shore. There are lots of great beaches in Monterey County, but our favorites are on 17 Mile Drive. The one we loved most was right by Seal Rock, across the street from the gingerbread looking house. You can’t miss it!

monterey with kids things to do in monterey
Our favorite beach on 17 Mile Drive by Seal Rock

monterey with kids things to do in monterey
Best way to end our trip…gorgeous sunset spent with the ones we love!

There are beach options you can go to when you’re in the area such as Del Monte Beach, San Carlos Beach park, Pebble Beach, San Carlos Beach, Mcabee Beach, Monterey State Beach, and other options. If you’re planning to go for a swim, Monterey State Beach is a good option as it has lifeguards on duty and many public amenities.

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Best Tours for Families in Monterey

Monterey Bay: Whale Watching Tour

As I’ve mentioned, a whale-watching tour is one of the known things you can do while visiting Monterey.

In fact, Monterey Bay is the premier destination for whale watching all year!

There are whales seen every day here in Monterey. The Monterey Bay: Whale Watching Tour trips are often narrated by a licensed marine biologist or naturalist where they discuss interesting facts about whales and wildlife.

It’s an educational experience that your family will love. Here’s what you can expect here:

  • See whales in their natural habitat
  • Explore Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary
  • Admire some of the most incredible animals on earth

Elkhorn Slough Wildlife Tour

The Elkhorn Slough Wildlife Tour is a great way to discover the new side of Monterey—and get up close and personal with its wetlands and wildlife with their family-friendly boat tour!

Have an up-close view of Elkhorn Slough while being in a boat right and get to see sea lions, sea otters, birds, and other wildlife! It’s a great way to introduce your family to the wonders of nature.

During the tour, you’ll get to expect the following:

  • Enjoy a convenient escape into nature on this Elkhorn Slough boat tour
  • Learn all about the local habitat and wildlife from your naturalist guide
  • Have the chance to spy on sea lions, otters, bird species, and more
  • Take a morning and afternoon tour times are available to suit your schedule

2.5-Hour Electric Bike Tour Along 17 Mile Drive of Coastal Monterey

If you’re up for an adventure, why not try the 2.5-Hour Electric Bike Tour Along 17 Mile Drive of Coastal Monterey? It’s a great Monterey family activities that you get to experience from a 17-Mile Drive on an electric bike tour from Pacific Grove!

The e-bike allows you to cover more ground without getting worn out. They also have the option to ride with your kiddos that are less than 120 lbs or 54 kgs.

About the tour, here’s what you can expect:

  • Travel through the city with ease on an electric bike
  • Choose from two convenient departure times
  • Ride tandem with your child
  • Use a provided helmet and gloves

Where to Stay in Monterey with Kids

Traveling to Monterey with kids isn’t complete without a place to stay. With that, I’ve also listed down some of the hotels that are family-friendly and close to all the places mentioned above.

Tides In – Monterey Beach House – Oceanfront, Walk to Fisherman’s Wharf

Do your kids love going to the beach? The Tides In – Monterey Beach House – Oceanfront, Walk to Fisherman’s Wharf is the perfect place for them!

This hotel is just steps away from the beach, and close to attractions like Fisherman’s Wharf. It has 4 bedrooms that can accommodate 10 people, and amenities like a fully-equipped kitchen, WiFi access, 3 TVs, and more!

The best part about this hotel is that there are three nautically-appointed bedrooms that complement the location of this beach-front paradise! How cool is that? Click here to view beach house rates.

Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel & Spa

The Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel & Spa is only 1.6 mi (2.6 km) from the airport and offers a free shuttle. Nearby some hiking and biking spots in Monterey, this hotel offers luxurious amenities that have a large outdoor pool and hot tub, a fitness center, and even a golf course!

The best part? Children stay for free!

They are also pet friendly and it’s also near Fisherman’s Wharf. It’s a convenient yet

relaxing option for families traveling with kids. The spacious rooms and suites provide enough space for everyone to feel comfortable, and the hotel offers cribs and rollaway beds upon request to accommodate families of all sizes. Check rates here.

Portola Hotel & Spa

The Portola Hotel & Spa is only 5 minutes walk from Fisherman’s Wharf, and 1.6 km from the historic Cannery Row.

A luxurious hotel, the Portola offers an outdoor pool and hot tub, a fitness center, and even a spa. The rooms and their lounges are one of the best features of this hotel, providing a comfortable and relaxing space for families to unwind after a day of exploring Monterey.

The rooms at the Portola Hotel & Spa are spacious and beautifully appointed, with modern decor and plush furnishings. Click here to view their room rates.

Monterey Bay Inn

If you’re looking for a charming and picturesque hotel in Monterey, the Monterey Bay Inn is a fantastic choice for families. Located right on the waterfront, this boutique hotel offers stunning views of Monterey Bay and easy access to popular attractions.

Some amenities you can expect are Free WiFi, a business center, hot tub laundry, a sauna, spa tubs, and a complimentary breakfast.

You can also ask for a tour and ticket assistance that can help you plan an exciting family day out in Monterey. Check rates here.

Our trip to Monterey was such a dream! I know that we’ll be back soon! Have you been to Monterey? What else would you add to this list? If you would like to learn more about what to do in Monterey, check out See Monterey! I hope this helps you decide what to do in Monterey during your visit. Whatever you choose, you’ll have a blast! Here’s a little video of our weekend in Monterey

MONTEREY COUNTY WITH KIDS: Discovery the best things to do in Monterey as a family.

What are some fun outdoor activities for kids in Monterey?

Monterey offers various outdoor activities for kids, such as visiting the Monterey Bay Aquarium, exploring the Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History, enjoying a day at Dennis the Menace Park, biking along the Monterey Bay Coastal Recreation Trail, and taking a whale watching tour.

Are there any family-friendly beaches in Monterey?

Absolutely! Monterey has family-friendly beaches where kids can have a great time. Some popular options include Del Monte Beach, Lover’s Point Beach, and Asilomar State Beach. These beaches offer gentle waves, sandy shores, and picnic areas for a perfect family day out.

Are there any educational attractions for kids in Monterey?

Yes, Monterey has several educational attractions that are perfect for kids. The top recommendation would be the Monterey Bay Aquarium, which provides an interactive and educational experience about marine life. Additionally, the Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History offers exhibits and programs geared toward children, teaching them about the region’s natural history.

Are there any hiking trails suitable for families in Monterey?

Absolutely! Families can enjoy scenic hikes together in Monterey. Point Lobos State Natural Reserve is a great choice, with its easy trails and stunning ocean views. Jacks Peak Park also offers family-friendly trails surrounded by beautiful forests. These trails provide an opportunity for kids to connect with nature and enjoy the outdoors.

Are there any amusement parks or arcades for kids in Monterey?

While Monterey doesn’t have large-scale amusement parks or arcades, it does offer smaller entertainment options for kids. The Monterey Mirror Maze & Laser Challenge provides a unique and fun experience as children navigate through a maze of mirrors. In downtown Monterey, there are a few arcades with classic games and activities that kids can enjoy.

If you would like to follow along with us day by day you can follow @wanderlust.crew on Instagram or on Facebook  or on Twitter or sign up for our newsletter! We would love to hear from you!

Wanderlust Crew

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