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coryandcarissa Jun 6th, 2009 02:25 PM

Monterey Trip Report
My husband, 2 yr old daughter and I (7 1/2 mos. pregnant) went on a short trip up the California coast to Monterey. We decided on a trip to Monterey to have a vacation centered primarily around our daughter and the things she would enjoy, as this will most likely be her last trip as our "only child."

Monday, June 1st

Headed out on our 6 1/2 hour drive up the coast. Mapquest was pretty right on about this one. We made one pit stop for gas and to enjoy our picnic lunch that I had packed, and pulled into our hotel around 4ish. The only real point of interest along our drive was the intersection of Hwy 41 and 46, which we traveled by, which was the site where James Dean met his tragic end. :(

Booked our hotel through Priceline (love 'em) and got the Intercontinental Clement Monterey for $110 a night. We LOVED this hotel!!! It's listed as a 4 star, but in our opinion it exceeded standards of a 5 star hotel! Located right on the water of Cannery Row, and next door to the Aquarium, it was perfect place for us. We received a complimentary double upgrade on our room upon check-in, to an ocean view room, which was of course awesome, and loved everything about the hotel and service from check-in to checkout!

After unloading the car, we headed off to Dennis the Menace Park, which is truly a park among parks. A full size train engine, climbing wall, multiple play sets, maze, and a suspended bridge are just a few of the highlights. A must for any young child in your group. Our daughter enjoyed playing on everything here, and we did too!

Upon leaving the park, called Monterey Fish House where we had planned on for dinner to see about reservations, and they suggested we come now (which was about 6pm) and they could seat us right away. We did so, and enjoyed our fish dinners respectively. My husband had an appetizer of Oysters on the Half Shell which he really enjoyed. Slightly odd waiter, but the busboy's never let my water glass empty, which I appreciated. The problem however came much later... a little before midnight I woke up with horrible stomach cramps and to put it as nicely as possible, after several trips to the bathroom, my body made sure in one way or the other, that I had no trace of dinner left in me. I was only grateful for the fact that my husband had fed our daughter off of his plate, and that they were both okay. And to dismiss any questions, I can assure you this was not pregnancy related. Something was not washed or prepared properly on my plate, and my body knew it! So, although we all enjoyed our dinner initially, I would not recommend or return here for obvious reasons!

We also stopped at the Nestle Cookie Shop (across the street from the hotel) for a quick and yummy cookie dessert.

Tuesday, June 2nd

Woke up feeling great (thank goodness!!!) and headed to First Awakenings (walking distance from the hotel) for breakfast. Ate outside on the patio next to the fire pit, and had a super great breakfast! My daughter enjoyed the birds begging for crumbs, and we all enjoyed good service and great food! Kid friendly with a kid’s menu and crayons – yeah!

Headed to the Aquarium, used our $2 off coupon that I had printed prior to our departure to save a bit - and spent the day exploring the sea. Our daughter loved everything here, especially, “the sharks – yikes” as she would say. Amazing sky-high tanks and fun touch pools too; it’s really a complete underwater adventure for any age.

Had our hands stamped for reentry later, and headed to Vivolo’s Chowder House (walking distance as well) for lunch. Had a nice meal here, our table neighbor happened to be the owner’s wife who was dining with a friend for lunch, and she especially made sure everything was perfect for us. Our neighbors on the other side of our table included a two-year-old boy who totally hit it off with our daughter, and they entertained each other the whole time. Crayons and a kid’s menu here too!

Headed back to the hotel for naptime, but after lying down for an hour, we realized the only ones dozing off were Mom and Dad! So, we threw our shoes back on and headed out to finish off the Aquarium. After the aquarium, did a bit of shopping along Cannery Row on our way back to the hotel.

For dinner we had planned to go to Favaloro’s Big Night Bistro per the very high reviews from TripAdvisor, which we did. However 25 minutes later we walked out without even being offered a glass of water! Upon walking in the waiter (the only waiter) asked us if we needed a high chair, to which we responded, “Yes, thank you.” This must have slipped his mind, because some time later a busboy came by and asked us the same question, however he did return with a highchair. The waiter did return to tell us their specials, but offered nothing further. The busboy brought over a basket of bread, but as I stated, no drinks to wash it down with. The restaurant was not full, but they had no service! At the rate we were going, we both not impressed, and knew a 2-hour dinner marathon wasn’t going to be a success with us, or our 2 year old, so we left.

Since it was now getting to be somewhat late, we decided a quick dinner without a wait for seating was better than none at all, so stopped into Gianni’s, a pizza place in downtown. Average pizza fare, not exactly the Italian food we were hoping for, but fit the bill for that night.

Wednesday, June 3rd

I had a 2nd breakfast stop chosen for our last day, but my husband insisted on going back to First Awakenings since really this had been our best meal. Happily agreed and enjoyed a very similar experience and good food as we had previously.

Packed up the car to head south, back home. Took the scenic route out of Monterey on our way to the 17-mile drive entrance. What a fabulous drive, definitely worth the $9.25 toll. They give you a brochure to help guide you on your way, pointing out notable sights along the drive. It has many a great and beautiful places to stop along the way too. Stopped at one of the beaches to let our daughter place in the sand and have the water chase up her legs. Saw the infamous Lone Cypress and also Pebble Beach Golf Course. The houses along this drive are almost as grand as the scenery. A great exit to say farewell to our Monterey adventure.

Used our handy-dandy “In-n-Out Store Locator” (you can ask for one at any register) to find one in Salinas, and took the opportunity to fill up the tank as well as our bellies before really hittin’ the highway. Had a safe drive home, and were glad to have enjoyed a great vacation with our daughter!

easytraveler Jun 6th, 2009 02:47 PM

What a great trip report!

I always enjoy those trip reports where you take me along with you and I'm having the same experiences you are having!

Thanks so much for sharing! :)

november_moon Jun 7th, 2009 02:51 PM

Sounds like a great trip overall - next time we are in Monterey overnight, I think we will try First Awakenings :)

kimamom Jun 8th, 2009 07:41 AM

Very nice report! We loved our weekend in Carmel last month at La Playa. ***kim*** ((#))

sf7307 Jun 8th, 2009 08:31 AM

Makes me want to visit the area again!

Centralparkgirl Jun 8th, 2009 05:00 PM

Lovely report - we're heading that way in Sept - will try First Awakenings. I'm glad your 'experience' with stomach upset was a brief one - could have been a lot worse.

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