View Our Family Trip Through California 2012 in a larger map
(How to use the map above: Because Google Maps is not playing nicely with WordPress you will have to either click the image or click the link below it to get into the interactive map. I have laid out our trip on the map in chronological order. Start on the red peg and head to the right and up towards the green peg. At the green peg head back down the coast toward the purple peg. The purple peg is the last stop before heading home. You can also read the pegs on the left-hand side.)
We spent almost two weeks traveling by car through California this summer. We saw the farmlands in central California and explored three national parks — Sequoia, Kings Canyon and Yosemite. We camped, canoed, hiked and swam in rivers — all with only an occasional internet connection! (I am definitely recommending Curry Village in Yosemite for camping for those who don’t know how to camp. It’s kind of like the Disney World of camping. They make it easy and half the world is there, but you can get out into the woods and feel alone.)
After roughing it, we headed north to San Francisco. The kids and I had never been to San Francisco, and we absolutely loved it. Surprisingly our National Park pass got a workout there too. Two of our favorite sites were the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, which was parkland on the cliffs surrounding the bridge. There were old military forts that once protected this great port from invasion. There was a missile base there that was used in more recent history. (The tour is guided and took too long so we just wandered a little on our own.) The land, the wildlife and the views of the bridge and port were just incredible. We also highly recommend the San Francisco Maritime National Historic Park. Besides a regular museum, it features historic vessels in the harbor that you can board and explore. The kids just loved it, and it really brought history to life.
From San Francisco we went up to see the wine country. I loved the kids seeing the vineyards and how grapes grow. One of the vineyards had a mission museum that explained how the Spanish missions developed in California. We only spent a few hours checking out the city and wineries. (We didn’t do any tastings with the kids.) From Sonoma, we headed back down the coast stopping at beaches along the way. (My $10 Target double-sided beach blanket/picnic blanket was very handy on this trip. We used it for camping, beaches and picnics.)
Pacifica and Carmel were my two favorite beaches we saw. The cliffs of Pacifica were beautiful and the sand in Carmel was the whitest I have ever seen. You can see the famous Pebble Beach Golf Course from the Carmel Beach. I asked Michael how he knew what it was. He said “I’ve played that course many times on Tiger Woods.” The town of Carmel is adorable.
Feel free to ask questions about touring California with your family. I am happy to try to answer.
(Read about our parents’ getaway to Oregon — with photos!)
(Photos courtesy of Michael Giarrusso.)