A Magical Legacy of Memories: Five Strategies to Creating Your Family’s Monterey Dream

PortolaIt never ceases to amaze me how life changing a simple moment can be. Waking up to the smell of clean, ocean air. The knowledge that the world's greatest tasting breakfast is on its way. The joy that my teenage children are a few feet away and that all the miracles that will be discovered in the coming hours will be shared by all of us. This is my dream moment. Thankfully, with a little magic and a few angels in the wings, my dream became a reality when I opened my eyes and realized as I pulled back the curtains I was looking out over the incredibly gorgeous and unending perfect Monterey Bay from the equally gorgeous Portola Hotel.

There is nothing as bonding and empowering to a family than sharing moments that will last a lifetime. Vacations and travel in my opinion are the very best way to connect, especially with teens. Making memories is the secret to finding balance in life, finding joy and ultimately, creating a family legacy. For my daughter's 17th birthday, this was hands down, the best way to celebrate how much I appreciate what a miracle she is to me.

I recommend every parent give these legacy strategies a try when you get a chance to create your next magical moments, which I still say, requires the Monterey Bay!

1.    Texting is allowed - but only to each other as needed. All communication to friends and family back home is done via pictures and notes that are taken, saved and shared later.

2.    Adventure - Include at least one adventure activity. In our case, it was a breathtaking drive toward Big Sur to watch the whales play off the California coast. There were so many right off the road we didn't need a boat. We liked the flexibility to stop wherever we wanted. Of course, no trip would be complete without a trip to the famous Rocky Point Restaurant!

3.    Down Time - Our hotel included a superb collection of movies, which made the evenings fun and a time to just relax, take in the lights and watch a great movie. Ok, yes, there was a little chocolate involved and a glass of wine. But hey, we can have popcorn at home.

4.    One Great Meal - We tend to love steak. I realize that in Monterey fish is the dinner of choice. Most places offer both thankfully, but if you do want to savor the greatest steak in the world you just can't beat Jacks.  It’s phenomenal. It is a splurge, but there is something truly freeing to saying its ok to pay $10.00 more for dinner than we might normally pay. Not crazy expensive, but enough to say yes, this is a good thing and so glad we did it! Watching everyone relax, laugh, talk and enjoy a special meal is a powerful way to connect.

5.    History - I want my kids to understand the value of history, including their own. Visiting a few prominent historical locations on the trip was important to us. Seeing the first theater in California, the Presidio, and classic landmarks like Cannery Row helps kids see that history is fun. Its alive and makes them appreciate they are in fact, part of history too.

As your days get busier this year, take a moment to plan a magical getaway. You don't have to go far, however if you can put Monterey into your plans this year, your children, whatever their ages, will thank you. The incredible abundance of sights, sounds, smells and activities will create a legacy of memories that will stay with you long after you return home to life's daily routines.  It was not a dream, but rather an amazing adventure that will be cherished for a lifetime. I must say, it gives me joy to see the smiles on my kids' faces as they remember the fun we had.....together. EVEN as teenagers! Now that's a great gift!


Anne Leedom is the Publisher of Parentingbookmark.com, a website offering expert strategies on raising caring kids. She frequently contributes to national media and works with The Portola Hotel and Spa and other travel destinations to offer ideas on how to connect with kids through the wonder of travel and adventure. For more information visit www.parentingbookmark.com.


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