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New Family Travel Experiences in California

As the seasons begin to change, the warmer temperatures inspire families to plan the perfect getaway. Below is a list of new family travel experiences that offer something for everyone, ranging from hiking in Redwood forests to unwinding at some of the state’s newest hotels. You’ll even find a few staple activities worth checking out!

NEW FAMILY TRAVEL EXPERIENCES

New Family-Friendly Experiences in Downtown Napa
Downtown Napa Valley may be best known for its world-class wine tasting rooms and restaurants, yet it is also a welcoming destination for families. Take an authentic Venetian gondola ride on the Napa River with Napa Valley Gondola, one of the newest additions to the area. Later this summer, Downtown Napa will welcome a new rotation of the Napa Art Walk sculptures – a true outdoor treasure hunt for art that is a perfect activity for kids of all ages. After exploring, swing by Oxbow Public Market to find an upscale food court that will appease every palate.

Ride an Authentic Redwood Dugout Canoe in Yurok Country
Take a tranquil Redwood Yurok Canoe Tour down the Klamath River in Yurok Country on a traditional dugout canoe (ohl-we-yoch) hand-carved from ancient redwood trees by the Yurok themselves, California’s largest Native American tribe. Paddle the calm river while learning about the native Yurok and their people, cultural landmarks, sacred grounds and Yurok traditions. Along the way, keep an eye out for local wildlife, sea life and birds.

San Diego’s Balboa Park Carousel Gets a Makeover
Visit the historic Balboa Park Carousel in San Diego to experience firsthand why it has delighted children of all ages since arriving at Balboa Park around 1922. The 1910 Herschell-Spillman menagerie carousel received a full makeover to return the popular family ride to its original glory, and is one of a few in the world still offering the brass ring game to everyone taking the five-minute ride.

Explore Farmer Bob's World at McKellar Family Farms in Visalia
Visalia’s newest area attraction, Farmer Bob’s World at McKellar Family Farms, is located in the heart of the Central Valley, just minutes from Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks. The 182-acre citrus ranch is an educational and interactive agricultural experience perfect for families and the local community to discover. After enjoying wagon tours of the orchard, educational exhibits and the farm store, book an exclusive guided walking tour through the groves with a local area orange grower for deeper insight into the citrus industry.

Mission Plaza “Light Up Downtown” Installation in San Luis Obispo
Mission Plaza in San Luis Obispo is being transformed throughout 2021 into an attraction for both locals and visitors to enjoy while in the city’s iconic downtown core. The “Light Up Downtown” event encourages people to walk through installations, take photos in front of backdrops and enjoy the attraction’s current theme – both day and night.

Scale a 100-foot Suspension Bridge in Del Norte County
Celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, Trees of Mystery in Del Norte County is California’s original Redwood forest attraction and recently unveiled a new experience. The Redwood Canopy Trail is one of only two forest canopy walks in the U.S., and enables visitors to walk mid-canopy on aerial suspension bridges with staircases spiraling 50- to 100-feet above the forest floor. This safe yet exhilarating adventure is suitable for most of the family as long as they can stroll on their own two feet and are at least 36 inches tall.

Save Money While Enjoying San Diego
Explore San Diego for less by saving up to 60% on attraction ticket prices with the new Go San Diego Explorer Pass. Choose between a select number of activities from over 40 attractions like the San Diego Zoo, San Diego Zoo Safari Park, the USS Midway Museum, water activities, breweries and more. The digital pass is valid for 60 days from the first attraction visit.


FAMILY FRIENDLY HOTEL EXPERIENCES

Family Getaway to Sonoma County

The newly renovated Flamingo Resort in Sonoma County is pet-friendly and a perfect choice for the whole family. The Family Spring Break Adventure package includes an excursion kit backpack to explore hiking trails around Santa Rosa, including hiking sticks, binoculars, blanket, hiking guide and bottled water. Add-on adventures include horseback riding at Jack London State Park, whale watching at Bodega Bay, a safari or ziplining at Sonoma Canopy Tours.

Hyatt Regency Indian Wells’ New Outdoor Waterpark 
Hyatt Regency Indian Wells Resort & Spa in Greater Palm Springs recently renovated its property to include a multimillion dollar waterpark perfect for the ultimate family vacation. Zip down two of the tallest waterslides in the Coachella Valley at HyTides Plunge Waterpark or float along the 450-foot Twist Lazy River. The resort also boasts seven heated or chilled pools, including an adult pool, three tennis courts, an award-winning spa with a fitness center and championship golf.

Unwind at San Luis Obispo’s Newest Hotels
Families looking for a luxury experience while still surrounded by small town vibes should look no further than San Luis Obispo’s newest hotels, Hotel Cerro and Hotel San Luis Obispo. Located within steps of downtown, parents can explore Libertine Brewing Company, grab a glass of wine at Luis Wine Bar, or snack on sweet treats with the kids at Doc Burnstein’s Ice Cream or SLO Sweets. For those looking to relax, book a self-care service at SLOCO Health and Wellness.


POPULAR FAMILY DESTINATIONS AND EXPERIENCES

Ventura County Coast is Home to Family Activities

Ventura County Coast offers fun activities for visitors of all ages, including the beach, airplanes, museums and an island full of rare wildlife and beautiful sights. Spend a day at the Commemorative Air Force Southern California Wing in Camarillo. Cruise over to the Channel Islands National Park for whale watching. In Port Hueneme, play in the sand and sun on the spacious beaches or dive into history at the U.S. Navy Seabee Museum. Top your family vacation off with a sweet treat from Coastal Cone in Ventura Harbor Village.

Bring Your Families to the Fields in Historic Auburn
Nestled between the Lake Tahoe basin and Sacramento, families will be enamored by the gorgeous outdoorsy locale of Auburn. Begin your family vacation by hiking one of the scenic trails in the Auburn State Recreation Area where families can venture to the vast American River and find the iconic Foresthill Bridge. Children can enjoy the vibrant colors on the Windy Point Trail, known for its access to the stunning California Poppies and over 100 species of wildflowers. Families can have a peace of mind knowing Auburn’s trails boast low crowds for optimal, socially-distanced enjoyment.

Interactive Education on the Central Coast
Pack up the car and the kids for an educational getaway in San Simeon. Tour the historic Piedras Blancas Light Station, built in 1874 and still in operation today. Head over to the Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Rookery on Highway 1, where nearly 17,000 elephant seals gather throughout the year to birth, breed and molt. Don’t forget the tide pools at Hearst San Simeon Beach for a hands on experience to explore sea life up close.

Close Encounters with the World’s Largest Birds at Gilroy Ostrich Farm
Ostriches may be native to the savannas of Africa, but you don't need to go that far to get up close with these amazing big birds. The Gilroy Ostrich Farm, located in California’s lush Central Coast, is one of California’s largest ostrich farms where guests can take a self-guided tour to learn about ostriches and see the miracle of chicks hatching in the Incubator Room. Get up close to feed the ostriches in one of the breeding camps, and make sure to say hello to the alpacas, sheep, goats, pigs, rabbits and chickens while visiting. Tickets can be purchased online or at the California Welcome Center Gilroy.

Family-Friendly Forest Adventures Near Lake Arrowhead 
Heaps Peak Arboretum is in the San Bernardino National Forest near Lake Arrowhead. The botanical gardens feature native trees, shrubs, wildflowers and plants identified with signs. The mile-long Sequoia Trail is easy to walk, and is also good for strollers and wheelchairs. Dogs are allowed on a leash and benches along the trail provide a place to relax in the forest. There are also picnic tables, drinking fountains and restrooms. Visitors are encouraged to check hours and safety regulations before arriving.

Elkhorn Slough Safari in Monterey County
Elkhorn Slough Safari is an exciting way for families to see a variety of wildlife in Monterey such as sea otters, harbor seals, sea lions, hundreds of species of birds and more. Guests can explore one of California's most spectacular wetlands aboard a spacious pontoon boat that provides an in-depth look at various aspects of slough ecology, history and birding in the company of a naturalist guide. The boat tour is ideal for families, with special activities provided for children. Plan a visit in early April to see Harbor Seal pups.

Note: As communities re-open after COVID-19-related closures, some parks, businesses and attractions may still be closed or have new protocols in place. Please verify local guidelines and regulations for all destinations and hours and availability of individual businesses before publishing. Check out Visit California’s Responsible Travel Hub for guidance on how visitors can travel within California safely.

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