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California Vacation Ideas for Families: Must-Visit Destinations

by Indiana Lee
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Every family should visit The Golden State at least once. The state is synonymous with perfect weather, fun in the sun, Hollywood splendor, and many fun things to do. If you only have a few days, you’ll want to visit the essential destinations exclusive to California. There are endless thrills to discover, from the theme parks to the beaches and parks. You’ll even get a chance to learn a few things along the way.

As you plan your next family vacation in Cali, make sure you add these incredible activities to your itinerary.

California vacation ideas for families | DenisTangneyJr from Getty Images Signature via Canva.com
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Visit A Theme Park Or Two

You can’t plan a California vacation without visiting at least one of the fantastic age-appropriate theme parks in the state. For starters, you can’t go wrong with Disneyland, where kids can see their favorite characters in live action, and parents can enjoy some of the roller coasters and the other incredible rides. The great thing about Disneyland is that there are attractions for all age groups. Even toddlers can enjoy time in soft and safe playground environments.

If you’re near San Diego, check out SeaWorld. This is another wonderful park with many great rides, but there are also countless aquatic animals to discover. It’s an excellent chance for the kids to learn about sea life and create some great memories. Another theme park with a bit of educational flair is Sesame Place. That’s the home of the gang from Sesame Street. There are roller coasters to ride during the spring season and many water rides for the hot summer months.

Save Money On Parks And Attractions

When planning trips to theme parks or any other exciting destinations in California, it’s good to be prepared. Research ahead of time and ensure that the parks will be open when you plan to visit. Also, look at ticket prices. Your trip may be months out, but buying tickets in advance may get you a better price. While every park may differ, you may get a better deal on tickets and hotel stays by booking your trip during the off-season. That may mean going to Disney when most kids are in school or visiting a theme park during the fall when others may be less inclined to go.

Outdoor Adventures

California is known for its tremendous beauty, and there are many areas in the state where nature is the star, and there’s a lot of fun to be had. Start your search for family outdoor adventures by checking out at least one of the many national parks, as there’s something at each of them that will excite and delight. For instance, you and the kids can climb a real-life volcano at Lassen Volcanic National Park. Go during July and August. That’s when the gorgeous wildflowers are in full bloom, and you can see them during your hike.

Another must-see California destination is Death Valley National Park, which is unlike anything you’ve ever seen. Your kids will think they’ve stepped onto another planet as they pass the gigantic dunes.

Since you’re going to California to see things you can’t see everywhere else, spend at least one day exploring the Redwood Forests in Northern California. The redwood trees will blow you away, and your kids will be amazed when they look up at the towering giants. You can even drive your car through the trunk of a giant tree.

Don’t Forget A Few Educational Experiences

Parents can bring their family vacation to another level by mixing education with fun and thrills. While the opportunity to learn anything is important, if you can fit STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) learning into the equation, you’ll be helping your kids and the world. The sad thing is that there’s been a lack of diversity in STEM careers because of societal biases that still exist and biased hiring algorithms, but you can help bring about positive change. The fact is that diversity in STEM matters because when people of different backgrounds come together, they can create solutions that benefit all of humanity.

You can encourage this type of education in your community by encouraging your kids to find an interest in these crucial fields and asking questions that spark debate while you are participating in STEM-related and educational activities on your vacation.

Your kids can get the science part of STEM into their vacation routine by visiting the Griffith Observatory. The 67,000-square-foot location is full of exhibits and things to discover, and kids can use public telescopes to view the skies and really start to comprehend the vastness of the universe.

Then, your whole family can continue learning by visiting the California Science Center. There are countless exhibits that will teach you about everything from space travel and fire safety to the design and function of different aircraft. Finish the engaging science lesson by spending a few hours at the La Brea Tar Pits and Museum, where the kids can stare in wonder at fossils from long ago.

Family-Friendly Wineries And Cultural Experiences

Finally, complete your well-rounded California vacation by going off the beaten trail to absorb some relaxing and cultural experiences.

Go during the summer, and you can attend the LA County Fair, where you can be amongst a melting pot of people of different nationalities who all have the same thing in common: the desire to enjoy one another and have fun. If you’re lucky enough, you can also plan your vacation just in time to see many inclusive parades, from the Rose Parade to the Golden Dragon Parade.

Visit A Winery

Another fun activity you may not realize can be relaxing and educational for the whole group is visiting one of California’s many family-friendly wineries. A visit to a winery allows parents to try the newest wines, kids to see gorgeous landscapes and friendly people, and everyone to learn about the fascinating wine-making process.

Some of the best family-friendly wineries in the state include Alpha Omega in Napa Valley, where kids can learn about the process and walk away with a fun coloring book. At the Benziger Family Winery in Sonoma County, you’ll get an excellent tour of the vineyards and caves on the property. Finally, visit Castello di Amorosa, and your kids can look in awe at a gigantic Italian castle that comes complete with wild peacocks.

Wherever you go, it’s vital that you follow winery etiquette during your stay. You should book your tour in advance, take the time to ask a lot of questions, and stay engaged during the visit. While parents should enjoy their time, remember that a winery is a business and the employees take their work very seriously, so teach your kids proper etiquette, and to not venture off on their own. A final insider tip is to avoid wearing perfume or cologne during your tour, as the aroma can distract from the fruity notes of the wine.

Wrapping Up

California has endless opportunities for fun, learning, and adventure. When you plan your trip, leave some time open to explore. You never know what amazing family memories you could create during your trip out west.

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