Spending time with your beloved grandchildren is special enough on its own. However, occasionally, you may want to get out and explore the sights and sounds around beautiful Monterey Bay. The next time you have the opportunity to spend a day or weekend with your grandchildren, why not try one of the amazing activities listed below? They are ideal for year-round fun, and they are even applicable during winter months.
Five Fun Winter Activities to Do with Your Grandchildren in Monterey, CA
Monterey Bay Aquarium
Cost: Ticket price from $49.95
This beautiful aquarium located on the ocean’s edge provides a unique glimpse into the world just under the ocean’s surface. It is the proud home of thousands of marine plants and animals, including the giant Pacific octopus, tiny seahorses, sharks, penguins and adorable otters. The mission of Monterey Bay Aquarium is to conserve the ocean, so not only will your grandkids enjoy getting to see the marine life present, but they will learn a valuable lesson about being good stewards of the earth at the same time.
With your all-day access to the aquarium, you will enjoy a wide variety of exhibits, entertaining for kids of all ages. The aquarium also offers shows throughout the day, such as their ‘Mysteries of the Deep’ show that includes penguin and otter feedings. Current aquarium exhibits are listed in part below but are subject to change. Call ahead to confirm the exhibit you want to see is still available.
Monterey Bay Aquarium Exhibits:
- ¡Viva Baja! Life on the Edge: This exhibit showcases the community of habitats and animals that live within the Baja deserts and into the seas of the Pacific
- Tentacles: As you might have guessed, this exhibit showcases the sometimes-shy octopi along with cuttlefish and squid. These masters of camouflage will put you and your grandchildren’s sleuthing skills to the test as you try to locate them within their habitat.
- Life on the Bay: This exhibit offers breathtaking ocean views from an observation deck. From this deck, you might see humpback whales or sea otters within their natural habitat. Within the Marine Mammal Gallery portion of the exhibit, your grandchildren will be able to see life sized models of dolphins and whales.
- Splash Zone & Penguins: This exhibit allows you to explore the ocean as a family. You can dive into the coral reef kingdom and the kelp forest and explore a rocky seashore. You will also get to see the penguins, sharks and rockfish who live in these environments.
- Sea Otters: Kids of all ages are fans of the silly, cute, playful sea otters. At their exhibit, you will be able to enjoy watching them wrestle, tumble and romp through their habitat.
- Sandy Shore & Aviary: This exhibit allows you to investigate the world of marshes and mud flats, teeming with life. You can see long-legged birds, flounders and more.
- Open Sea: Known as being the aquarium’s largest exhibit, while in this section of the aquarium, you can enjoy watching tuna and sharks zoom by, observe large swarms of glittering sardines, sea turtles, brilliantly colored jellies and more. All of which are made easy to view by a 90-foot window.
Dennis The Menace Playground
Located in Monterey’s El Estero Park, the Dennis the Menace Playground is a fun little playground unlike any other. It was so named because it was originally established in part by Mr. Hank Ketcham, who was the creator of the famous Dennis the Menace comic strip. Although the outdoor park will only be applicable on sunny, milder winter days, it is still worth noting because it is a free outing and a favorite for younger children. It includes several structures within the playground complex, such as a climbing wall, three large slides, a huge adventure ship, play structure, hedge maze and a suspension bridge. There is also an authentic Southern Pacific steam engine parked near the playground that kids can climb up on and let their imaginations run wild. They also have paddle boats available sometimes. You will want to check ahead of time to make sure this is available when you plan to visit. Also note that they are closed on Tuesdays.
Monterey County Youth Museum, MY Museum
Cost: General Admission is $8.00
Located on Washington Street in downtown Monterey, the Monterey County Youth Museum is a fun indoor activity perfect for you and your young grandchildren to enjoy. The children’s museum’s 8,500 square foot space is jam packed with fun hands-on exhibits your grandkids will love. You can visit again and again because available activities change on a regular basis. One parent noted as part of a Trip Advisor review that the museum’s creation area was especially enjoyable for anyone who loves crafts. Kids are provided a variety of materials and encouraged to let their creative juices flow. There is also a bottle rocket section and a golf area. This is the ideal spot for kids from ages two to around eight. Since exhibits change regularly, it’s recommended that visitors check the website before visiting.
Explore some of the exhibits MY Museum is currently featuring below, or visit their website to learn more about each experience’s target age and description:
- MY Day at the Beach
- MY Go-Fore Golf
- MY Healthy Farm
- MY Creation Station
- MY Hospital
- MY ImagiTree
- MY Theater
- MY Town Hall
Cost: Daily tours $16 for adults, $14 for kids
Almost all children adore animals and can’t get enough of seeing them in person. That’s what makes an outing to the Monterey Zoo such a good idea. You and your grandkids will enjoy this educational experience where you will get up close and personal with exotic, wild animals. Although the zoo is presently still under construction, there are several exhibits that can already be experienced, which have been completed, such as those featuring bears, tigers and lions. Unlike a typical zoo, where you walk through, unguided, the Monterey Zoo provides daily tours via a guide that will help you experience the zoo in a unique way. You can even purchase additional “meet and greet” experiences that give you and your grandchildren even closer access to the animals. Keep in mind, this activity does contain some outdoor exhibits, meaning you need to wait for a mild, sunny winter day to enjoy the zoo.
Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History
Cost: $8.95 for adults, $5.95 for kids. Free for Monterey County residents.
The Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History is a low-key, small museum that is a less crowded option to the aquarium. There are docents that will help you experience the museum to its fullest. Kids of all ages will find something to enjoy at this museum. The monarch exhibit is open year-round and is one of visitor’s favorites. This exhibit includes amazing videos, real specimens, a “cabinet of curiosities” and other hands-on opportunities.
Kids will also love the museum’s scavenger hunt, perfect for children of all ages. Ask your front desk host or a docent for a scavenger hunt and have fun. The kids will search for items like a banana slug. Kids who find everything on the list will get a special prize. Also, ask your front desk clerk for a book bag for your grandchild, full of supplies and materials. They can carry this while touring the museum. The museum also has interactive exhibits and activities catered to small children. These include the following:
- Matching fake fur to an animal
- Matching animal eyes to the right animal
- Learning to weave
- Sand tables in the bird room
- Butterfly table with color pencils and paper perfect for tracing
- World puzzles
- Natural blocks for building
- Rock garden for digging
In conclusion, no matter which of the activities listed above you choose to experience with your grandchildren, know that you are the most important factor. The effort you put into the event and your willingness to step out and experience life with them in a new way, will show them how much they mean to you. Of course, they might have just as much fun simply spending time with you at home. That is, of course, if you reside in a place like the elegantly renovated, historic Forest Hill. After all, this full-service retirement community encourages residents to socialize, explore the beautiful town of Monterey and live their best lives.