Carmel with Tweens: A Perfect Family Day

by Karleen Wetherald, an AOL Travel ContributorPosted Sep 27th 2010 01:09 PM

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Carmel with Tweens: A Family Vacation

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The picturesque city of Carmel is nestled along the Californian coast within Monterey County. This affluent community is not often thought of as a destination for exciting family vacations. Carmel does, however, offer plenty of things to do in and around the city, and there is no shortage of family vacation ideas. Take a cue from the itinerary below to experience your best family vacation in Carmel with tweens.


Morning


A healthy breakfast is the perfect start to any family vacation in Carmel with tweens. Appease your tweens' hunger by ordering up some delicious breakfast fare from Katy's Place. Located in the middle of Carmel Village, this restaurant has been a tradition since 1982 and is a popular gathering place for locals as well as tourists.

Katy's extensive breakfast menu is sure to satisfy every member of your family. Enjoy such items as corned beef hash and eggs, wonderful blintzes, biscuits and gravy, omelets and eggs served several ways, French toast, waffles, pancakes (try the mixed berry) and one of the 16 varieties of eggs Benedict (the California with turkey and avocado is delicious)! It does get crowded here but the friendly employees will seat you pretty quickly. Prices are a little on the high side, but the food is good and the choices are endless.

Katy's Place, Mission Street between 5th and 6th, Carmel, CA 93921, 831-624-0199. Katy's is open every day from 7AM-2PM.

After breakfast, there are plenty of things to do in Carmel with tweens. For instance, you can spend the morning exploring Point Lobos State Natural Reserve. This unparalleled nature reserve contains a diverse mix of animal and plant life, interesting rock formations, and some of the best scenery in California.

Enjoy a casual family walk or hike one of the many trials in the reserve (avoid the poison oak). Observe the bountiful marine life such as seals, sea otters, sea lions and, during the season, whales. There is even a great tide pool area your children can check out. Learn some history about the local whaling industry and the Point Lobos area at Whalers Cabin, a structure built in the 1850s that is now used as a museum.

Keep an eye on your kids as you may encounter some steep areas and slippery rocks. Bring your camera and a jacket, and don't forget to pick up some maps from the rangers upon entrance to the reserve. The Point Lobos State Natural Reserve is a don't-miss Carmel family travel destination.

Point Lobos State Natural Reserve, Route 1, Carmel, CA 93923, 831-624-4909. The reserve is open daily 8AM until sunset and entrance fees are $10 per vehicle with senior discounts available.


Afternoon


Lunchtime is always important when on a family vacation. Carmel's pleasant weather means it is not always necessary to dine indoors, especially with kids in tow. Take advantage of the beautiful weather and enjoy the charm of this European-esque city with a picnic lunch.

Stop off at Bruno's Market and Deli to pick up some sandwiches - the best in the city. They offer made-to-order sandwiches, so let your children decide what they would like to eat. However, if you like meat, make sure you order the tri-tip. They grill their meat daily and all the ingredients are fresh. There is also a market you can wander through to pick up some drinks and snacks. Once you receive your order, head over to nearby Devendorf Park. This park occupies an entire block and is a great place to picnic, relax and enjoy the city.

Bruno's Market and Deli, 6th & Junipero Ave, Carmel, CA 93921, 831-624-3821.

For the next stop on your family vacation in Carmel with tweens, visit Point Pinos Lighthouse. This small lighthouse opened in 1855 and is the West Coast's oldest continuously operating lighthouse. Let your children step back in time as they tour this historic building and learn a little history about the lighthouse. Be sure to stop and admire the rocky coastline that surrounds this area. This will be a small stop on your agenda, but it really is a gem that should not be missed.

Point Pinos Lighthouse, Asilomar Ave between Lighthouse Ave & Del Monte Blvd, Pacific Grove, CA 93950, 831-648-3176. Open Thu-Mon 1PM-4PM. Admission is free, but there is a suggested donation of $2 for adults and $1 for kids.

Who said exercise is never fun? Enjoy getting a good workout on your Carmel family vacation as you pedal or glide along a portion of the Monterey Bay Coastal Recreation Trail. Rent some bikes, a Surrey (quadricycle with multiple seats) or in-line skates and see the sights from a different perspective.

This two-lane pedestrian trail stretches a total of 18 miles from Castroville to Pacific Grove. If you do not want to take on all 18 miles, just stick to the Monterey Bay Coastal section and ride along the coast, stopping along the way to enjoy sea lions and otters playing in the water, do some shopping along Cannery Row or watch the fishing boats at Fisherman's Wharf. There are several local business that rent bikes, including Bay Bikes, which charges $7-$12 per hour for bikes, and $20 per hour for a small Surrey. Call 831-655-2453 or visit them at 585 Cannery Row, #101, Monterey, for details.

Want to join your tweens and feel like a kid in a candy store? Sweeten up your best family vacation in Carmel by making a pit stop at CandyLand. This candy store has all types of candy, including fudge, jelly beans, barrel after barrel of flavored salt water taffy (candy apple and cookie dough rock!) and lots of nostalgic candy as well. Grab a bucket and fill it with your tween's favorite choices.

CandyLand, Cannery Row, Monterey, CA 93940, 831-655-7744.


Evening


Family vacations in Carmel with tweens must involve eating fresh seafood at some point. Sit down for an enjoyable dinner at The Fish Hopper on Cannery Row. This place is very kid-friendly with a great menu for the 12 and under crowd, featuring pasta, burgers, hot dogs, shrimp and fish n' chips all for under $7. Adults can dine on more sophisticated fare, including hearty and delicious clam chowder, pastas, salads, chicken, beef, and of course, an array of seafood. With friendly servers and stunning views of the bay, this is the perfect spot for your family to enjoy a satisfying dinner together.

The Fish Hopper, 700 Cannery Row, Monterey, CA 93940, 831-372-8543.

Finally, if your children are still itching to do something else before hitting the sack, join them for one last family activity in Cannery Row. Play some miniature golf at Oceans 18 Mini Golf Course, enjoy their elaborate, state-of-the-art underwater theme, navigate your body through a maze of lasers at the Monterey Mirror Maze & Laser Challenge, visit the Steinbeck Wax Museum or watch a movie at the Cannery Row IMAX Theater.

Whatever your kids choose, they are sure to have fun, putting the perfect end on your best family vacation in Carmel with tweens.
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