If you are in the process of planning your next travel experience in the US, then you will almost certainly have considered California. One of my best childhood friends lives in California, so that makes it nice for me! (Free place to stay!) The state is incredibly well-known for the plethora of options it offers to tourists, and remains one of the most visited states in the US for a reason. It really is diverse and beautiful.
However, California is not a state particularly known for its child-friendly options. Many of the most popular attractions in state – from wine tours to the nightlife of LA – are rather adult-focused, which are less than ideal if you’re looking for a family vacation. Thankfully, California is a great destination for a kid-friendly experience, and below, we’ve put together a few hints and tips that can help you get the most of the Golden State…
When is the best time to visit California?
California enjoys a mild climate, so you should be able to enjoy pleasant temperatures throughout the year. However, if you’re hoping to visit one of California’s famous beaches, May to September are usually the best choice.
However, as we have noted, California is an extremely popular destination – which can mean it is crowded and overwhelming for children during the summer months. If you’re looking for a quieter experience, then look to plan a trip just after Thanksgiving but before Christmas. The weather will still be pleasant, but the tourist numbers will be far lower, and you should be able to find some good prices on accommodation too.
Where are the most kid-friendly places to stay in California?
The most famous places to stay in California are not necessarily very kid-friendly, especially given issues such as smog and pollution. As a result, avoiding the major cities such as LA and San Francisco is advisable for families – you can visit for a day trip, but basing yourself elsewhere is likely to be the better choice.
Instead, look for family-friendly resorts that are located just outside major cities – there are hundreds dotted across the state, so you should be able to find an option close to the main attractions you wish to visit. These resorts are specifically designed with kids in mind, and many offer on-site amenities such as pools and tennis courts that you and your family are sure to enjoy when you’re not exploring elsewhere.
Is California expensive to visit?
California does have a reputation as an expensive state to visit, but as with all vacations, where you choose to stay, the type of accommodation you choose, the sites you choose to visit and the discounts you can find will greatly influence the overall cost of the trip. However, as a guide, the average cost per person, per day, for a vacation in California is around $200.
What attractions and tourist hotspots are suitable for kids in California?
- Disneyland. Of course, if you’re not from Florida, you’ll have to visit Disneyland. It would be impossible to discuss a kid-friendly California vacation without a mention of Disneyland, which is located in Anaheim. Given the eternal popularity of the park and that discount Disneyland tickets can help to keep the experience as affordable as possible, it’s definitely worth ensuring your vacation is enhanced by all the magic and charm Disney is able to provide.
- Santa Monica Pier. Santa Monica Pier – which is located, unsurprisingly, in Santa Monica – is a Californian classic, with plenty of kid-friendly attractions and rides that will keep the whole family entertained for hours.
Living Desert Zoo and Gardens. A spectacular experience that will live long in the memory, the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens are a must for families visiting California. Located in Palm Desert, Living Desert offers the chance to see a huge range of wild animals, explore the San Andreas Trail, and even take a glimpse behind the scenes if you wish.
- Griffith Observatory. Found in LA, the Griffith Observatory is the perfect choice for parents looking to add an educational element to their trip. Your kids will be delighted by the amazing Samuel Oschin planetarium and the astronomical exhibits, and you’ll also be able to enjoy the surrounding landscape by grabbing a bite to eat in the on-site cafe.
What natural wonders can you and your kids explore in California?
Studying the National Parks is always a fun activity for homeschoolers and non-homeschoolers alike.
Yosemite National Park. Located in the famous Sierra Nevada mountain range, Yosemite National Park offers incredible natural features such as waterfalls and cliffs, breathtaking panoramic views of the landscape, the opportunity to visit renowned ancient sequoia trees, and much more besides. If you want to ensure your children have the chance to immerse themselves in the delights of nature during your Californian vacation, you simply can’t go wrong with a day or two spent in Yosemite.
Joshua Tree National Park. Another famous natural wonder in California, the Joshua Tree National Park is always worth a visit if you are visiting southern California. You and your family will be able to see the eponymous trees, explore the desert landscape, and visit exhibits such as those at the Cottonwood Visitor Center – a perfect day out for a nature-loving family.
Pinnacles National Park. It’s fair to say that, when compared to Yosemite and Joshua Tree, Pinnacles National Park is nowhere near as well-known – but there are still plenty of wonders to explore in the Salinas Valley, around 80 miles from San Jose. Bear Gulch Cave is worth the trip in and of itself, but you’ll be able to explore the incredible landscape and, if you’re lucky, may even catch sight of one of the park’s 27 condors.
McArthur-Burney Falls. Finally, the McArthur-Burney Falls, located around six miles north of Burney, a little-known natural Californian gem, but one that you’ll definitely want to see if you have the opportunity. As well as the spectacular falls themselves, you can enjoy the peaceful surrounding landscape and wildlife, while there are also numerous hiking rails to explore if you decide to linger.
California may be a state that seems to have more to offer to adults than children, but as the above shows, it could well be the perfect choice for your next family vacation adventure!
If you’re on the East Coast, and want to combine your summer break with some educational activities, be sure to see our post Georgia History Spots That Kids Will Absolutely Love.