Last Friday we took a last minute trip down to Carmel/Monterey along the coast. Aaron had some business down in Carmel, so he invited us to tag along! Lucy and I were so excited! It was going to be her first time there! So we packed up Lucy and hit the road!
Carmel is about a two hour drive from San Francisco, a little bit more if you drive along the coast, on Highway 1. We got in around noon and dropped Aaron off at his business meeting (which was really just golf, lucky guy! He was excited about playing at Spanish Bay, a really awesome course in Carmel, overlooking the ocean. It’s beautiful.) Lucy and I headed back to the hotel for a quick bite and to get ready for our adventure day.
When we arrived at the aquarium, Lucy was so excited! I had in the stroller to begin with, but I brought along our Peanut Shell Sling Carrier for when she wanted to get out and see things more closely. (We have multiple carriers, but I love our Ergo 360 and The Peanut Shell Sling the best. Hip carrying is my favorite. Learn all about why in my post about baby wearing coming soon!)
We had so much fun exploring the aquarium and looking at all the different fish. They have so many cool exhibits. One of my favorites it the “Pier Life” exhibit, where they have wood structures that mimic the wood posts from piers in the water. It’s really neat because you get to see how sea life grows and adapts on and around the wood posts and man made structures. I just found it really fasinating to see up close and personal how the animals and plants adapt to their surroundings so well.
So many amazing fish exhibits to check out. Deep sea creatures exhibit, tropical fish and reef exhibits and even a “Wide Open Sea” exhibit. Everything is just so cool. Then we found the penguins! Lucy LOVES penguins. She always has such a blast watching the zip by her in the tank swimming and jumping off the ledges. She smiles so big every time one darts by. We spent a lot of time just watching them swim around and loved every minute of it. Then we found this adorable little egg photo spot, and I just had to grab a photo of her in it.
One of our favorite parts of the aquarium was the baby/toddler play area. We couldn’t have found it at a better time because Lucy was starting to get antsy and wanted to run free for a little bit. Who could blame her, she had been in a stroller and/or carrier for a couple hours by now. So I got her out and let her roam. She was so entertained just crawling all over the place and playing with all the different contraptions and fun little areas for them to explore. There’s an area to crawl over that is almost like a water bed and even an area with a fake stream to show kids how fish swim.
This photo below is one of my favorites. I know it’s not a particularly good photo, but the moment it captured was priceless and precious. You can’t tell very well, but to her right was two twin girls, probably about the 2-3 years of age, who were trying to show Lucy how the fish can swim in the water. Lucy was pulling herself up so she could see what the girls were trying to show here and was just so mesmerized. She’s already so interested in what big kids are doing and loves to watch and learn from them, so seeing her interact with them was so adorable. It was so a special moment and I was really happy I got to capture it and share it with all you.
After the aquarium, we met up with Aaron for dinner. We went to Monterey’s Fish House for dinner near downtown and it was amazing. I couldn’t bring my camera along because it was a nicer place, but take my word for it, you should go. The food was amazingly fresh and delicious and the service and ambiance was killer. Aaron had heard about the place from his Uber driver, who said it was one of the best seafood restaurants in town, and also family friendly. So we decided to check it out and couldn’t be happier we did. We definitely plan to go there again. We finished dinner and went back to our hotel room and had a good nights rest. Lucy slept really well, considering she was just in a little pack n’ play crib in the bathroom. But hey, it worked!
When we woke up, we started our morning off with breakfast at the Wave Street Cafe and it was so delightful. Such a cute little cafe with a beautiful view. We got in before the crowd, so we got a nice table by the windows and had enough space to put Lucy in a highchair to eat as well. I had just randomly found this place on Yelp that morning, but we really enjoyed it. It was exactly what we were looking for.
Afterwards we wandered down to the main street near the aquarium. They have a bunch of little shops, restaurants and cute little pier and beach. It’s very touristy, so it’s not our favorite place, but it holds sentimental value to us, so we suck it up when we’re there.
Why does it hold sentimental value, you ask? Let me tell you! This picture right here is one of my favorite photos to date. This is the exact spot where almost exactly a year ago, Aaron proposed to me on this bench while I was pregnant, eating Dip n’ Dots. It was such a beautiful day and I was so happy to be back there a year later with Lucy. So naturally, I had to give Lucy her first taste of Dip n’ Dots, and needless to say, she loved them. (Don’t mind the awful photo, we had to ask some older woman who clearly didn’t really know what she was doing. But it’s the memory that matters!)
After our trip down memory lane with Lucy, we packed up the car and started the drive home. We planned on making numerous stops along the way, so it was bound to be an adventure! Driving along the coast has always been one of my favorite things to do. I love all the beautiful views and all the fun shops and tourist stops. I’m a sucker for some of those cheesy tourist stops, luckily Aaron just humors me and goes along with it.
We always stop at one or two produce stands on the way. I love me some fresh fruits and veggies! Barn Fresh Produce, in Castroville is one of our favorites. There is several good ones along the Great Highway, but this one is in the top three. They always have a great variety, super fresh produce and really amazing prices. We try to stock up on stuff when passing through on our way home, especially now that I’m making food for Lucy. I would stop at every stand if I could, but if you can’t, at least stop at this one!
Before ending our mini trip, we stopped for a late lunch at our favorite Mexican/Mayan restaurant, Café Capistrano, in Half Moon Bay. We love this place so much that it doesn’t really matter if we’re hungry or not, we’re stopping here for food. It always delicious, we love the low-key, quiet environment and the prices are totally reasonable.
This was Lucy’s first time at Café Capistrano and she loved it. She loved sitting out on the patio (they have big umbrellas for shade!), listening to the fun music and looking at all the fun, bright colors everywhere. Then when the food came, she couldn’t contain herself. She loved the guacamole and couldn’t get enough of the beans and rice. (I especially love this place because they’re technically a Mayan restaurant, so their enchilada sauce is a bit different and more smokey than traditional Mexican enchiladas.) It’s been a fun tradition for Aaron and I for years now, and we can’t wait to continue it with Lucy from now on.
After lunch we got back into the car and made the short drive home. Once we opened the front door, we all piled in and fell down in exhaustion. It had been a long day! Lucy had her dinner and bedtime story and was put to bed, and Aaron and I unpacked quickly and got ready for the next day.
It was such a spur of the moment trip, but I am so glad that we got to do it. It’s little moments like this that really make things easier and helps you appreciate the little things more. Spending time with Lucy at the aquarium and on the beach at all those different places was so much fun and started a beautiful family tradition. I look forward to doing this trip every year with our little family and I hope that Aaron has more spur of the moment trips pop up. Travel as always been important to me and I’m really grateful that we’re still able to travel, even with a baby.
Where are some of your favorite mini, over-night trips to do with your family and how do you create new traditions with your family? I’d love to hear from you! Like, comment and share!