I am a horrible Southern Californian.
I'll admit, my heart is on the East Coast. Some might say it's because I was raised here, just a short drive to the Pacific Coast beaches, and a stones-throw from glamorous Los Angeles and Hollywood, that I am wasted on it's appeal. I just never really cared much for sun and sand- A trip to Massachusetts when I was was 6, shoveling snow in the front yard of my grandparent's house quickly conjured all of these romantic ideas of seasons and foliage. As an adult I've been back many times, and it never seems any less wondrous.
But for the typical American, those not born to seek out cold, damp, and even frozen (Alaska) climates for vacation, the California Coast truly is a playground.
I have been from Coast to Coast and seen beaches at every corner of this nation. I hold a soft spot for Rhode Island beaches in the Summer, but, if you can't make it, Monterey comes pretty darn close. The water is warmer- kids and patrons walk right in on the beautiful sands. Teenagers climb the shoreline rocks, laughing as the tide rolls in and out. Families build sandcastles just moments from the Cannery Row shops, and the wildlife is abundant. You can look in either direction on the horizon and see a paddle-boat, a sailboat, a fishing schooner or more- and yet, all iss o incredibly peaceful. It's a one of a kind mentality.
Monterey Bay Aquarium, be sure to plan at least an entire day to explore. Not all aquariums have penguins on site, but this one does- so bring your cameras as well! Exhibits change seasonally, with the newest Viva! Baja! exhibit featuring an array of colorful and exotic warm water fish, though daily shows and feedings remain constant year round. While there are food options inside the cafe, my advice is to walk out the door, directly onto Cannery Row, and enjoy meals locally instead.
What Daughter Says: Sometimes the best discoveries really are right in your backyard, so to speak.