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Kidifornia Foodie Finds

California, the birthplace of California Cuisine and the home of many Michelin star restaurants, is also a land of kid-friendly eats, sweets and food-based activities. So get ready to make some memories at tables across the Golden State.

Kid-Approved Restaurants

Hiouchi Café
In the heart of the redwoods in Crescent City, Hiouchi Café serves up 16-inch pancakes that can’t be missed. With three gigantic cakes to a stack, topped with strawberries and whipped cream or stuffed with chocolate chips, it’s a good thing you can walk it off at nearby Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park.

Alley & Vine
If you’re looking for a kids menu of chicken nuggets and hot dogs, don’t stop at San Francisco’s Alley & Vine. But if you have a budding gourmand, the three-course menu changes seasonally and is curated, so even picky eaters have an epicurean experience tailored to a child’s palate. Even better, each course is paired with an activity-word search, math problems, and crayons to keep kids engaged throughout the meal.

Pizza Maker
What kid doesn’t love pizza, and it’s even more fun when they can help make their own pie. At Cucina Urbana kids play pizza maker for a day, adding the toppings for a personal pepperoni pie themselves. Meanwhile, mom and dad can enjoy the California-inspired Italian fare the San Diego hotspot is known for.

Bun Times
Carlsbad’s Harumama Noodles + Buns, the cute character buns filled with savory items like chicken, onion and mozzarella or sweet buns of egg custard will delight kids of all ages.

Sweet Treats

Donut Delights
Golden Donuts in the Sacramento County city of Elk Grove is the place to start your morning sweet. Kids will love the candy-topped confections, while the croissant donuts offer parents a sophisticated sweet treat.

Shake it Up
Family-owned Great Shakes in Palm Springs serves up classic shakes, malts and floats using its homemade premium ice cream. By using ice cream at the right temperature, they don’t have to add milk to make a shake, resulting in a creamier, thicker and tastier treat. All the shakes can be made with their lactose-free ice creams so everyone can enjoy treats like the Almond Joy or Cookie Butter shake.

Chocolate Trail
While mom might love Rodeo Drive and its fashion, the kids will love the chocolate trail in Beverly Hills. Within the small city, families can discover: Edelweiss Chocolates, whose chocolate conveyor belt was made famous in “I Love Lucy;” Diane Kron Chocolatier, creators of the chocolate-covered strawberry; John Kelly Chocolates and its truffle fudge and the world’s first Cupcake ATM at Sprinkles.

Polar Playground
You’ve never seen cotton candy-like Huntington Beach’s Polar Playground makes it. The candy artists craft this confection into characters like Elmo, Pooh Bear, Spiderman and more right before your eyes.

Eat + Play

All Aboard
Since 1885 the Skunk Train has transported travelers through redwood forests, scenic bridges, and amazing tunnels as it winds through the heart of the Noyo River Canyon. Book the VIP Package on the Pudding Creek Express, and the family will enjoy a picnic lunch at Glen Blair Junction.

Tahoe Time
Spend the morning skiing the family-friendly slopes at Heavenly Ski Resort before heading to nearby Flat Stick Pub for lunch and a challenging round of indoor mini-golf with the kids. With a cheese-centric menu and many local beers on tap, it’s up to par for the kids and mom and dad.

Visalia Adventure Park
When the kids work up an appetite playing on Visalia Adventure Park’s seven acres filled with bumper boats, mini-golf, laser tag and batting cages, it’s time to order up a pizza. The recipe is based on the Italian owner’s mother’s favorite pie.

BBQ Discovery
Fun meets flavor at the Santa Maria Valley Discovery Museum. This surprising children’s museum features the BBQ Hall of Fame, which details the history of Santa Maria BBQ and the family brands that made the style famous. Kids can dress up like cowboys and girls in the life-size barn and work up an appetite to try the BBQ at one of many restaurants in town.

Zoo + Chocolates
Sugarplum Zoo in Temecula Valley is the world’s only petting zoo and chocolate shop. Located on eight acres overlooking the Valley, kids can get up close and personal with Alpacas, llamas, tortoises, water buffalo and more. Afterward, visit the chocolate shop (which supplies many of the five-star hotels in the area).