Hitting the road at a moment’s notice may be a thing of the past, but once you’ve done the hard work (remembering snacks, bathing suits, arranging for a crib), there are some destinations that require less planning.
Set your GPS to Monterey.
It’s true: Dennis the Menace Playground (777 Pearl Street; 831-646-3860) is even more fun than Koret. Let off steam on the way into town with a romp through the epic spot’s crazy slides and mazes, real train, and rock-climbing wall.
All roads lead to The Clement Monterey (750 Cannery Row; 831-375-4500), the swanky bay-side hotel that goes out of its way to make sure you have as nice a stay (in-room babysitting services) as your kids (tasty children’s menu).
Ready to swim with the sharks? The jaw-dropping Monterey Bay Aquarium (886 Cannery Row; 831-648-4800) should be the centerpiece of your trip. Arrive at opening (9:30 a.m.) to avoid long lines and consider a membership (worth it if you plan on visiting more than once) to make ins and outs easy.
Once inside, check out the Splash Zone for the under-3 set (water play amid penguins, cuttlefish, and moray eels), the languid jellyfish tanks, the touch pool areas, and the Wave Crash tunnel. If your junior Jacques Cousteau gets hooked on sea life, sign up for the just-for-families Shark Tour or Feeding Frenzy, where you can toss vittles to the animals before opening (reserve spots at 866-963-9645).
Nothing could be more spontaneous.
|Getting there is half the battle. We’ve found games and gear to get little ones from point A to point B — as well as more ideas on where point B should be. |
BUY (and SELL)
What: Our favorite secondhand shop for kids’ clothing and gear debuts a second location in Inner Sunset.
Why: Bernal’s best-kept secret is out.
When: Her sleeves are too short.
Where: 616 Irving St., b/t 7th & 8th Aves. (415-664-4611).
What: The San Francisco Circus Center’s biannual showstopper with clowning, acrobatics, and feats of aerial strength.
Why: There are two matinees.
When: Fri., 7:30 p.m.; Sat., 2 & 7:30 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.
Where: San Francisco Circus Center, 755 Frederick St., b/t Arguello Blvd. & Willard St. (415-759-8123). Tickets online at circuscenter.org. General admission, $20; children 12 and under, $15.
Cut Arts Silhouettes
What: Scissors virtuoso Karl Johnson snips portraits lickety-split.
Why: You’ll always remember him looking that way.
When: Monkey Bars, Sat., 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Peek Aren’t You Curious, Sun., 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Where: Monkey Bars, 1339 Park St., b/t Central & Encinal Aves., Alameda (510-769-6905); Peek Aren’t You Curious, 1536 Redwood Hwy., at The Village at Corte Madera (415-945-0100). Call for reservations. Cost is $25-$30.
Photo: Randy Wilder / Courtesy of Monterey Bay Aquarium