Monday, 29 September 2014

Dennis the Menace Park, Monterey, CA

A hidden gem in Monterey for families with kids is the Dennis the Menace Park at
777 Pearl Street.

As parents of an energetic 4yo we are always on the lookout for a kiddie attraction on our day trips. We like to do this first, to provide some relief after the long drive (for all of us) as well as to use up some energy so we can all have a more peaceful time for the aquarium, sightseeing, lunch etc.  So we drove up here first thing, reaching at about 10 am -  there is plenty of free parking and clean restrooms.





There is no entrance fee, and once in the park is just delightful, and lots of play structures with many happy little kids and big kids playing. There is a roller slide - kinda like a assembly line conveyor belt - looked painful but was very popular, everyone wanted to try it! My son enjoyed the rope bridge and the wooden maze the most and was so happy there it put us all in great spirits for the rest of the day. There is also a  rock climbing wall,  skate park and paddle boat pond behind this park.

Monday, 22 September 2014

The General Grant Grove - Kings Canyon National Park, CA

 We drove in from Fresno in the morning and parked at the visitor center. After a quick tour inside the visitor center, armed with a map we walked to the General Grant Grove. It about a 1.2 mile hike each way, easy but with lots of ups and downs around tree routes. Also we were there in the middle of the day so suggest you have plenty of water handy as together with the sun it can be tiring.

A section of the Kings Canyon National Park, with groves of giant sequoias including some of the oldest trees in the world. The Giant Forest is home to half of the Earth’s largest and longest-living trees with more than 5,000 colossal sequoia trees many over 300 years - it really is a most awesome sight.

It a beautiful walk through the woods and you will pass many big fallen trees and branches. And there's one giant tree trunk you can walk through - actually many people can walk through it at the same time!



The undisputed King of the Giant Forest, the General Sherman tree is  the largest living tree in the world. A giant sequoia this tree is about 2,100 years old and over 275 feet tall.


If you have ever read or heard of the faraway tree or enchanted forest stories ( courtesy British children's author Enid Blyton) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Faraway_Tree, then you're going to think you've found the enchanted forest :)

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Monday, 15 September 2014

A Stop at Bravo Cheese Farms, Traver CA


A delightful place to stop for quick meal while travelling in the Central Valley CA is the Bravo Cheese farm (http://www.bravofarmstraver.com/).  It has a gift shop where you can pick up interesting old trinkets - a great place for antique knickknack aficionados. Also a good variety of cheeses, breads and local snacks where you can fill up your snack pack.  There's a play area in the back with mini petting zoo with a llama , and old wagon,  some little cars, a video arcade from olden times etc. In the yard outside an old western town complete with county jail, housed in little wooden houses - that you can even buy. 

The best highlight about this place though is the 7 floors tall tree house, that you can climb into and play in - it’s a lot of fun even if you're not a little boy! 

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Monday, 8 September 2014

A Walk through Boyden Cavern, Sequoia National Park, CA


Within easy driving from Fresno (about 30 minutes) you can visit the Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks (http://www.nps.gov/seki/index.htm). There is an entry fee of $20 per vehicle, but longer term admission passes are also available.


One of the special attractions in Sequoia National Park is the Boyden Cave. Situated along the Kings Canyon Scenic Byway, The cavern is a limestone cave that was discovered by a fisherman, named Boyden, fishing on the nearby Kings Canyon River. He actually lived there and gave guided tours himself for 5 cents apiece, long ago. The cavern has many interesting formations of stalactites, stalagmites, including – an upside down miniature Disneyland, a wedding cake, a bear, a stack of pancakes etc. and there’s also a subterranean stream that you can follow out.  Just outside flows the beautiful Kings Canyon River that you can even walk down to. It’s always 55°F inside the cavern so a pleasant break even on a hot day.



A great way to introduce caves and their many wonders to kids – our 4 year old enjoyed the walk, following the stream back out, an ice cream at the gift shop and then building a cairn by the river.

Regular tours of the cave are given by a licensed guide company (http://kingscanyon-boydencavern.blogspot.com), the walking tour is 45 minutes and costs $14.50 per adult and $8.50 per child. For the more adventurous rappelling and canyoneering are tours also available. The tour guide is knowledgeable and friendly, ours even took a very nice family photo for us on request. Just bear in mind that it is a steep walk from the gift shop to the cavern – so take your time.


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