Both Jason and Grace got 3 weeks off for Christmas Break. The first week was rather hectic, getting last minute things ready for Christmas and the second week was busy with gatherings and New Year's. So, it was great to have the third week- it really was a break! We headed to Monterey Bay for 3 days/2 nights. The first night, we arrived in time to go to dinner at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., first time for all of us. We chose that place because we knew it was kid-friendly. After dinner, we headed to Ghiradelli Ice Cream & Chocolate Shop for dessert. Their World-Famous Hot Fudge Sundaes are to die for!
The next morning, we headed off to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. The last time we were there, Grace was only 14 months old. This time around, both kids clearly enjoyed themselves and couldn't move fast enough to see all the exhibits. It was so nice to visit without any crowds, probably because most kids have gone back to school already. Grace said she loved the whole aquarium, but her favorite part was being able to touch the starfish. Jeremy's favorite was the tropical fish tank that had fish similar to those found on the movie, Finding Nemo (we're assuming this was his favorite, based on his excitement and the amount of time he stood completely fixated on the tank). My favorite was watching the cute sea otters, and Jason has always loved the huge Outer Bay tank, with the tuna, sardines, sting rays, etc. After our day at the aquarium, we dropped by Nestle Tollhouse Cafe for a snack (personally, Ghiradelli's is better, but who really says no to cookies?!). On our next day, we went to the Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary in Pacific Grove to see if we could catch a glimpse of the monarchs. Every year between October and March, thousands of butterflies gather at this very spot. Unfortunately, we only saw a handful of butterflies! It was disappointing... On our way back into Monterey, we stopped by Lover's Point Park.What great ocean views! Here, we watched the waves crash against the rocks, collected shells, and observed life in the tidepools. For lunch, we took a chance and went to Monterey's Fish House. We hadn't read any reviews or heard anything about it, but every time we drove by that place, it was packed with people. Since it's not near the touristy area and not mentioned anywhere in the touristy brochures we got, we assume that the place is frequented by locals. Jason had calamari steak, I had clam pasta, and Grace had the clam chowder. The place isn't exactly kid-friendly (no kid menus- a good place for a date, or business dealings), but they went out of their way for our kids. It was soooo good and we would definitely return!
Before heading back to Fresno, we spent a few hours at the Dennis the Menace Park. Several people had recommended that we visit this public playground. The park was designed by Hank Ketcham, the creator of Dennis the Menace and long time resident of the area. Our kids had a blast- there was so much to do: a maze, play structures, slides galore, a bridge, some tunnels, rock climbing wall, swings, and even a real train. After this trip, we can truly say that we had a great Winter Break! School starts up again on Monday! (more pictures in the album on the right hand side)