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Recreation - Parks - Activities

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Movie theaters often smell like popcorn and chemical air-conditioning, but this one smells like fresh pine trees and cool ocean breezes. It's the Outdoor Forest Theater, and it is the open-air setting for 10 weeks of Films in the Forest.

There are classics like Bringing Up Baby and The Wizard of Oz, laugh-generators like Who Framed Roger Rabbit? and Ghostbusters, and recent releases like Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events. Some clever sponsorships, too: The Man Who Came to Dinner by the American Institute of Food and Wine, or The Money Pit by the Women's Council of Realtors.

Tickets are only $5 (kids under 5 free); picnics and cushions are encouraged. For a full schedule, visit the website at

Family and Children: Recreation - Parks - Activities

Recreation - Parks - ActivitiesIf active adventure for families comes on a scale of one to ten, Monterey County can span the scale, from steering a four-wheeled, four-seater surrey along the sunny waterside Recreation Trail to hiking among towering cliffs in the Pinnacles National Monument. Depending on the ages of your children, they can pedal with you in a paddle-boat on Lake El Estero or paddle a kayak past seals in our sheltered bay. The tots who climb aboard a locomotive at Dennis the Menace Park progress to flying kites on Seaside’s sandy beach, while older kids try tricks in the new skateboard park or take their first scuba diving class.

Practice Makes Perfect
Safe sports are based in good technique. Many of the outfitters and facilities listed on our website offer instruction: English- and Western-style riding (spend a summer here and they might even leave having learned how to rope a calf), ocean kayak skills, and putting at the family-friendly greens at the Peter Hay Golf Course in Pebble Beach. Indeed, many courses like Rancho Cañada and Laguna Seca welcome golfing families with ‘mini-member’ rates that can bring a 3pm round of golf down to $10 a head.

El Estero Boating

The kids will love powering their own paddle boat on this freshwater lake surrounding Dennis the Menace and the new skateboard park. Located at the corner of Del Monte Boulevard and Camino El Estero, kayaks and canoes can also be rented for use on this tranquil lake. Open seven days a week, from 10am (except closed Mondays in winter months). Call 831-375-1484 for more information.

Top 5 for Family Recreation
o The Coast Ride begins where the Recreation Trail leaves off, in Pacific Grove's Lovers Point Park, rolling along Sunset Avenue to 17-Mile Drive and Pebble Beach.
o Young hikers love the Bird Island Trail in Point Lobos State Reserve: it offers access to two beautiful sandy beaches, Gibson and China Cove.
o Let a horse do the hard work ascending the rolling hills of Holman Ranch in Carmel Valley, as the family rides over wildflower meadows.
o Pedal a bicycle built for four known here as a four-seater surrey along the Recreation Trail to Lovers Point beach.
o Hop in a couple of two-seater kayaks and follow your guide along Cannery Row, past sea lions, seals and envious shoreside humans.

Sports Fun


An impressive 5600 square feet of molded, sculpted terrain with extensive bouldering awaits families at the Sanctuary Rock Gym, where little climbers can hone their skills. Call 831-899-2595 for hours and more information.


Youngsters take to kayaking like ducks to water. It's also one of the best ways for families to experience Monterey Bay marine life in its own unspoiled environment. Tour guides trained in safety will make sure kids receive proper instruction before hitting the beach. For more information, see our Kayaking page.

A great way to take in all of the sights along the recreation trail, biking is a safe and enjoyable activity for the entire family to enjoy together. For more information about biking in Monterey County, including a list of places to rent bicycles, see our Biking page.


Skaters now have their very own skateboard park adjacent to El Estero Lake behind the baseball field. In-line enthusiasts are also welcome at this concrete park. For more information, see our Biking page.