Big Sur with a toddler??

Old Jul 2nd, 2011, 07:30 AM
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Big Sur with a toddler??

Hello! My family is planning a trip to the Monterey area in September 2011. We will be bringing our toddler along as well. He will be 17 months old then. We can only stay 5 nights/6 days. My question is do we have enough time to see San Francisco as well as the Big Sur region in that time? My family mainly wants to do the coastal drive from Monterey to the San Louis Obispo area, but if we have time I would like to see a few sights in San Francisco first. The main concern is not driving too much because our toddler will get restless.

Sights we would like to see: Monterey Aquarium, 17 mile drive, Huerst castle, Julie pheiffer burns state park, redwood trees.

So here is my questions..
1. Should we fly into San Francisco and spend a day or so there and then head towards Monterey? Or should we forget SF and just start in Monterey Bay area? Or fly into San Jose?

2. Is it foggy along the drive? If so, what is the best time of day to head out to avoid the fog?

3. Any other places we should stop along the way? We want to stop frequently because our little guy will get restless..so I imagine we will be pulling into the scenic lookouts alot!

4. Any other places that are fun for toddlers in the area? (He likes to play in sand and he will love the aquarium, but I'm not sure what else he would enjoy.)

Thanks!
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Old Jul 2nd, 2011, 08:28 PM
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With a toddler and to minimize driving, I would skip SF. I would fly into San Jose or better yet into Monterey airport. After a couple days in Monterey area, drive through the big sur route, spend a night in San Simeon, see the castle the next day then drive back to Monterey area. For toddlers, beach time is the best activity.
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Old Jul 3rd, 2011, 02:36 PM
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We are flying in from Dallas, and there isn't a direct flight. We whould have to change planes and wait. So we are going to fly directly into SF or San Jose. I'm guessing you are from the Monterey area Bob? Will it be warm enough in September for my little boy to enjoy the beach? And what beaches are best for kids? Thanks!
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Old Jul 3rd, 2011, 04:30 PM
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I would do San Francisco for sure. Check out point Lobos Reserve.

I probably wouldn't go any further than Hearst Castle. That is pretty much a full day outing anyway.

Fog is a crapshoot at any time.
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Old Jul 3rd, 2011, 04:33 PM
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http://share.shutterfly.com/action/w...0IatW7FqybsWEK

Here is a link to my photos from last weekend there. They start out in Big Basin Redwoods and the rest you will probably recognize. We ended in Moss Landing/Elkhorn Slough kayaking with a lot of wildlife.
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Old Jul 4th, 2011, 05:48 AM
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I enjoyed the photos. We are heading to Monterey next week, but we only have one night. I loved the wild life photos. We hope to go to Moss Landing. Where did you eat? I'm wondering about the frozen concoction.
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Old Jul 4th, 2011, 07:50 AM
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Thanks for sharing your photos!! You have some really great shots! Where did you fly into? I loved your Big Basin Redwood pics and now I am wanting to try to squeeze that in!! Also, I am from Texas where it is over 100 degrees right now, so in September do you think there would be any reason for me to pack shorts?
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Old Jul 4th, 2011, 08:46 AM
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palmettoprincess,
The Ice Cream Bonbons were at The Sardine Factory. They have another desert that is presented in the same way. They also have a sorbet that is a lighted swan ice sculpture. The food was all very good. They have 4 or 5 different rooms to dine in. We were in the Glass Atrium Room, which we liked. We got the desert mor for the show than the taste, although it was good. It came with a carmel dipping sauce and chopped nuts, which allowed us for optional dipping choices. It was their homemade ice cream thick dipped in chocolate. We would certainly eat there again.

We also ate at The Tuck Box for breakfast, First Awakenings for breakfast, Cafe Demetra. All super super good. Falafels Drive In is in San Jose not far from the airport. It was probably our favorite and was only about $5pp.Although, Cafe Demetra is really good too. We ate at Nepenthe and while it was good, I don't know that I would go back. Really I didn't see the big deal about Big Sur, it was a lot lot smaller than I had imagined. Carmel was a lot lot bigger and more shops than I had imagined.

Moss landing was fantastic.

Marlena06,
Don't miss Point Lobos
Do not access Big Basin Redwoods from HWY1, all that is there is just a beach. You reach the main are further inland(like 25 miles). Really do your homework on how to get there as GPS and guidebooks(including Fodors) really really are off on this one.

I am from Oklahoma and operate trash trucks, it was 101 last week with heat index of 106. The coast is cool, but it can be several degrees warmer a few miles inland. I would probably take shorts. We hike a lot, so we have those hiking pants that zip off into shorts. Not very stylish, but comfortable.
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Old Jul 4th, 2011, 11:15 AM
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Hey spirobulldog! I have a few specific questions for you if you don't mind.

1. Which castle tour did you take? And is it suitable for our toddler's stroller?

2. How long does it take to see Point Lobos?

3. We will have 4 nights to spend in the Monterey/Carmel/Big Sur/ Hearst Castle area... How long does it take to see the area?
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Old Jul 4th, 2011, 11:40 AM
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You can definitely take a stroller for Hearst Castle Tour #1, possibly others as well, but Tour 1 is probably the best for first time visitors anyway. Keep in mind though that you need to ride a bus up to the castle and back and stay with your assigned tour group - which may be too much structure for a toddler, depending on his disposition. Some kids are fine staying in their stroller at that age, some are not.

Point Lobos - you can see it in an hour or so, but I think you should plan at least 2 hours. There are some good, easy walks and easily accessible tide pools, which makes it great with small kids. And you can usually sea mamals from shore, and sometimes deer and rabbits along the paths. Lots of fun with kids.

As for how long it takes to see the area - you could spend a lifetime and not see it all, but with 4 nights, you can skim the surface and get a pretty good intro.
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Old Jul 5th, 2011, 06:29 AM
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Thanks for the tips november_moon! Point Lobos sounds like a great place for our little boy.
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Old Jul 5th, 2011, 08:57 AM
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September is generally the best weather month along the coast - it's usually warm and without the persistant summer fog. But that said, you can never bet on Mother Nature. I personally think September is the perfect time for the beach, because they're less crowded with all the kiddies in school, the water's a bit warmer (relatively speaking - it's always cold in N. Cal.), and the temps are perfect.
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Old Jul 5th, 2011, 09:16 AM
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If you have time, try to stop for a bit in Capitola and/or Pfeiffer Beach. The entrance to the latter is very hard to find, so I'm posting my "trip report" of a day trip we took a couple of years ago, which gives directions.

http://www.fodors.com/community/unit...t-part-way.cfm
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Old Jul 6th, 2011, 07:02 AM
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Thanks for the trip report sf7307! Directions are always appreciated.

Does anyone know of any decently priced hotels in SF and Monterey? I was shocked at how much they are!! They are as expensive in SF as they are in major European cities!
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Old Jul 6th, 2011, 01:02 PM
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September is what we call Monterey's "secret season." The fog is usually gone by then and have warmer temps than in the summer.

Below are a few things that your family might enjoy while in the Monterey area.

- Carmel Mission
- Elkhorn Slough Safari- Located in Moss Landing (20 mins. north of Monterey) which is a great wildlife boat tour, expect to see lots of sea otters
- McWay Falls in Big Sur
- Nepenthe's- a great lunch/dinner restaurant in Big Sur

As for accommodations in Monterey, there are several great hotels on Munras Ave., that tend be less expensive than those on Cannery Row. Look into Hotel Abrego, Mariposa Inn & Suites and Casa Munras. Pacific Grove (only 5 mins. from Monterey) also has several nice properties.
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Old Jul 6th, 2011, 02:44 PM
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Hi Allyson- thanks for your tips. I am praying for nice weather, so your comment is reassuring to say the least.

Is the Elkhorn Slough Safari boat tour suitable for a 16 month old? I am wondering if he would get restless.. I'm thinking probably so.
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Old Jul 6th, 2011, 05:06 PM
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Marlena: Strollers are not allowed at Hearst Castle due to the many stairs to climb. Not the place for a toddler. If you want to see it, take turns with your other family members staying with the little one.

Good luck and have a fun trip. I would plan the drive during nap times.
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Old Jul 6th, 2011, 07:03 PM
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Thank you for the info MichelleY. I looked on their website and they do not allow strollers which does make sense. I am so glad you told me that.

How long does it take to tour the castle?
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Old Jul 6th, 2011, 10:39 PM
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Order your tickets ahead of time. Even with that, the will call line is also very slow. Try to arrive at least 1/2 hour before your time. You will then board a bus up to the castle. This will take about 15 min (?). The tour is about 1 hr. Allow at least 2-3 hours for into and out of the parking lot.

Just north of San Simeon is an elephant seal beach. They are right along Hwy.1. Your toddler will love seeing them, as will you!
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Old Jul 7th, 2011, 06:57 AM
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Oh wow! Will the seals even be there in mid September? How exciting!

In your opinion in the castle worth seeing? It sounds like half my family will have to stay with our kiddo, and then we switch.. so for everyone to go it will be a full days event.
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