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Family-friendly vacation hotspots: California Edition

Travel/Family Activities
By Summer Lane

Photo: Deposit

The days are slowly getting hotter and the end of the school year is right around the corner! Parents, are you looking for the perfect family vacation that will entertain your kids AND you?

In today’s beleaguered economy and crime-ridden cities, it’s easy to feel as if the safest place to be is home. And hey – that’s probably true. But when the travel bug bites hard, there are a few ways to spend time together as a family that are easy, efficient, and just plain FUN!

I’ve compiled a list of top attractions for California visitors this summer. This will be the first of a multi-installment series on CCM. Next time, I’ll focus on attractions in the great state of Texas.

San Francisco

There’s a lot of negativity in the news these days about San Francisco, but there is a lot to see and do in the city that is safe and sound. Like any other city, San Francisco has its good and its bad areas. If you’re looking to have an unforgettable experience in one of the most beautiful cities in the world, check out the Presidio and the Palace of Fine Arts. You’ll be struck by the beauty of both – and you can see them for free! Walk through the gardens at the palace and then hop down the street to the Walt Disney Family Museum, if you so desire. Disney may be “woke” today, but the family museum offers some rare insight into the creativity of the Disney family and the humble beginnings of Walt himself – before “woke” was ever on the menu.

You can also experience the beauty of the Golden Gate Bridge at no cost or wander the streets of downtown San Francisco. The pier is a huge tourist attraction – be careful when you visit the city during baseball season. You never know when the Giants will draw heavy traffic into town.


Monterey and Carmel-by-the-Sea are two of the most beautiful places on Earth. Enjoy the excitement and wonder of the Monterey Bay Aquarium and visit Cannery Row for fun and easy dining. Check out the tidepools of Pacific Grove or walk through the historic Point Pinos Lighthouse.

Drive through the gorgeous seaside homes of Carmel and do some shopping on Ocean Street. Don’t miss the Cottage of the Sweets – and be sure to keep your eyes open for Hog’s Breath, the restaurant once famously owned by former Carmel Mayor Clint Eastwood.

Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks

The stunning beauty of God’s creation is unmatched in the Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Forest. Walk with the giants and visit Grant Grove, stopping for a bite to eat at the restaurant near the visitor’s center. You can walk to see the General Grant Tree or head to Sequoia and check out General Sherman. Take a detour toward Hume Lake Christian Camps and catch the breathtaking views of Kings Canyon.

Fish or suntan on the shores of Hume Lake and grab a milkshake and a burger at the Snack Shop near the boat dock. Drive to Cedar Grove or embrace your daring side and take a day hike up to Zumwalt Meadows.

There is so much to see and do in the Sierra Nevada mountains – this is just the tip of the iceberg. If you want to go camping, be sure to reserve your spot early. Spaces fill up fast!


The capital of California has a lot to offer families. Perhaps the top attraction is Old Town Sacramento, where you’ll be able to walk recreated streets of yesteryear, ride a steam train, and dine on the beautiful Sacramento River.

The unmatched California State Railroad Museum is a must-see for everyone – it’s well worth the price of admission. You can also visit the State Capitol Building and peruse the beautiful Capitol gardens. Looking for another historical experience? Check out Sutter’s Fort – a must-see!

Los Angeles and San Diego

The Southern California area can be so much fun to visit! The Santa Monica Pier and Muscle Beach are two iconic hotspots to stroll on a warm summer day. Walk Hollywood Boulevard if you want to get a taste of what L.A. is really like (hint: the streets aren’t actually paved with gold!) and get a kick out of driving through Beverly Hills and checking out the gorgeous mansions.

If you want to head farther south, San Diego is basically the motherload of family-friendly activities. The San Diego Zoo is the biggest zoo in the world – you don’t want to skip it. Seaworld is another highlight, along with the embarcadero in downtown San Diego. Check out the U.S.S Midway and test out a flight simulator inside the ship.

Cross the bridge and take a gander at the military community of Coronado Island, or better yet, browse through the gift shops at the Hotel Del Coronado, where the famed author of The Wizard of Oz, Frank Baum, wrote a portion of the iconic story.

If you get lucky, you just might catch the Navy SEALs training on the beach outside the hotel.


Stay tuned for the next installment. I will be going through several major states in the U.S. and highlighting the top five tourist hotspots for families this year!


The opinions in this article are specific to its author, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the entire Counter Culture Mom team. This specific article was written by Summer Lane, and may not be reproduced, except to quote for reviews or interviews, without the express permission of the author. 




Summer Lane is the #1 bestselling author of 30 books, including the hit Collapse Series and Resurrection Series. She is an experienced journalist and columnist who reports on news within the U.S. and abroad. She is the Associate Editor for Right Side Broadcasting Network. Additionally, she analyzes politics and policies on The Write Revolution.

Summer is also a mom and wife who enjoys rural country living, herding cats, and gardening. She is passionate about writing about women’s issues, parenting, and politics from a theologically-grounded perspective that points readers to the good news of the gospel.

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