Visiting Northern California, Our ‘Neck of the Woods

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Can you guess who is coming to visit us?

monterey bay

As soon as I get back from my Alabama and Florida trip, we have company arriving!!  We LOVE hosting our friends and taking them sight-seeing. When we lived in DC, we hosted about 7 families/year. California is so far off from most of our friends and family that this happens a lot less.

We are all so pumped to have friends come! Joshua has a countdown going.

There are endless things to do, right here within two hours of my house. That’s what I’m going to focus on here. For everyone who wants to come visit, allow me to give you some excursion suggestions. Then you can pick and plan which activities you’d like to do!

So without further ado:

*All blue words will take you to blog posts that I wrote, complete with photos, on that topic.

Point Lobos

Point Lobos

 

1. Point Lobos Wildlife Reserve

This one is non-negotiable. I have a state park pass, so if you come visit, we will definitely take you to this beautiful place.

What to do here:

hiking, bird watching, spotting seals and sea lions, climbing rocks, getting wet if you want, and looking for crabs

Posts I’ve written about Point Lobos:

I love Point Lobos State Park!

Sea Lions vs Harbor Seals: I finally figured out the difference.

“A World Without Friends, I Don’t Think I Could Bear It”

So we took away the video games and computer fun again.  REALLY GREAT PHOTOS on that one.

Obviously, We heart Point Lobos.

 

I took so many pictures of these cardboard people in the fields. I've only seen that in California.

I took so many pictures of these cardboard people in the fields. I’ve only seen that in California.

I love that I took all these pictures of The Farm, as we drove into California a year ago. In fact, it’s a family run farm. As it turned out, one member of that family was Joshua’s tutor this year. The part of California that I live in is highly agricultural. Not only is it part of wine country, it’s also The Salad Bowl of the U.S.

San Francisco

San Francisco

2. San Francisco

You really can’t talk about this area without it. It’s a beautiful, clean city, full of amazing hills. Our friends that are visiting us in July have family there, so we won’t get to show them San Fran, but here are a few posts I wrote about it.

No more desert pictures. I promise.

Thank you. Merry Christmas. Excuse Me. I’m sorry. (our flight through San Fran)

A God We Can Depend On

Be a friend to your environment. Ride the cable car.

Be a friend to your environment. Ride the cable car.

San Francisco

San Francisco

I know they aren’t known for their churches, but I thought this one was beautiful.

tall ship IMG_3899

sea lion

sea lion

3. Monterey

Monterey has so much to do, it’s ridiculous. We will do a ton of it. I promise.

Monterey Bay

Monterey Bay

Moss Landing

Moss Landing

Monterey Bay stretches from Monterey all the way up to Santa Cruz. We’ll talk more about Santa Cruz in a minute.

Moss Landing is amazing because the water is a sea otter haven, and whales are often spotted there, even from the beach.

Moss Landing

Moss Landing

Sometimes the beach is very COLD.

Sometimes the beach is very COLD.

whale tour in Monterey Bay

whale tour in Monterey Bay

You can take a whale watching tour boat from any of the wharfs on the bay. We loved ours and highly recommend it. Children must be at least 5 years old. We saw tons of sea lions and humpback whales, and I felt good about calling that a field trip!

My parents even saw killer whales on their tour!

sea otter in Monterey Bay

sea otter in Monterey Bay

spotting humpback whales in Monterey Bay

spotting humpback whales in Monterey Bay

sea lions everywhere!

sea lions everywhere!

Monterey

Monterey

If we’re lucky, maybe the lady that sells turns in the bubbles will be out!

Monterey

Monterey

There are excellent climbing trees all over the place! Just look out for poison oak!

There are excellent climbing trees all over the place! Just look out for poison oak!

The grass is green in the late fall and winter. It's all dead and brown in the summer.

The grass is green in the late fall and winter. It’s all dead and brown in the summer.

Beautiful beaches everywhere you look!

Beautiful beaches everywhere you look!

So, in Monterey, you have all of this:

Beaches

Whale watching tours

kayaking

more kayaking

Walking paths

Daniel, at Cannery Row

Cannery Row, full of shops and restaurants

Fisherman’s Wharf, lots of restaurants, a fair-like atmosphere, and well…homeless people. : /

There are museums, but I haven’t made it to any of them yet!

But best of all….is….

We love this place.

4. Monterey Aquarium (Click on it for my blog post on the aquarium.)

On our first visit, we didn’t give it enough time. We spent 3 and a half hours there the second time. There is so much to see. This one ranks right up there with Point Lobos.

Big Sur

 

Big Sur

5. Big Sur

This stretch of highway goes on for an hour. It’s a beautiful meeting of ocean and mountains. There are gobs of places to stop and take photos, as well as several state parks to go hiking in.

Carmel by the Sea, a name that comes from the Bible actually

Carmel by the Sea, a name that comes from the Bible actually

6. Carmel by the Sea

This little town is beautiful, and it has great beaches, shopping, and food too.

7. Santa Cruz

There’s a boardwalk!!!  I haven’t gone to it yet, but it has the whole amusement park thing going on, and if you are interested, it’d be a fun first for us too!

Redwoods!

8. Also in Santa Cruz: Henry Cowell State Park: You have to go there and see the big Redwood trees!

Henry Cowell with Kids

9. Other ideas:

There’s a great outlet mall nearby that I still haven’t made it to, and there are several of those wine tour places. If you want to visit one, I could ask around about that.

Also, if Sean wants to get his camp on, we know some camping spots too! Of course, you know I don’t camp.

Yes, there are 2 Calebs and 2 Joshuas in this photo at Fisherman’s Wharf. Pretty weird, huh?

 

We also offer lots of trampoline time and silliness! 😉 Can’t wait!

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