I took my kids and mother to the Monterey Bay Aquarium today.
I love the aquarium. It's 100 miles away, but we're family members, and generally go there every couple months. Certainly nothing else that's 100 miles away (which would include everything from Davis to Marin) holds the same attraction, at least at this stage in the kids' lives. For me, the place is like Disneyland, in the sense that it's so clearly better at what it does than anyone else, and so brilliantly designed to fulfill its mission.
The latest thing they do well is something called the "Real Cost Cafe." It's a diner where, with your seafood order, they give you the other things that are caught when the trawler brings up the shrimp that ends up in your scampi, or the rest of the shark that's thrown back in the water after its fin is cut off.
It sounds pretty macabre, and of course it makes some very serious points about the need to pay attention to economic externalities. And you'd think that it would repel children. Yet it's now my kids' favorite part of the aquarium. Partly it's the novelty, but they also like finding the best thing on the menu.
We've also now discovered a small beach a couple blocks away, right off Cannery Row, that the kids like to go to after the aquarium. So they're wet when they get back to the car, but at least they're more tired.
[To the tune of The Beatles, "A Hard Day's Night," from the album "Anthology 1 (Disc 2)".]