Turn those California Dreams into weekend warrior reality! California is not only the most populous state in the country, it’s the most geographically diverse. Hop in the car and you can drive to any of these spots (some may take more than a weekend, if you’re driving) and explore castles, wine country, majestic mountains, ski vacations, apple picking, desert delights and more. These are our top ten picks for family road trips you’ve simple got to take while the kids are little.
Yosemite National Park
Yosemite National Park is one of the oldest nature preserves in the US, and also one of the most majestic. If you’ve never been, it may be hard to know where to start your visit, but we know where to find the best trails for small hikers, which activities will thrill the most and which lodging is best for tired little toes. There are miles of valley to explore but the most kid-friendly paths are near the bottom. We recommend starting with the Sentinel Meadow Loop for amazing views of Half Dome reflected in the Merced River. It’s a 2.25 mile walk, great for strollers and offering lots of bathrooms, and a snap to stop off at Yosemite Valley Store for snacks before or after the trek. Looking for a little more of a challenge with a huge payoff? The Bridal Veil Falls hike may only be ½ mile out and back and stroller accessible but it is a little steep. A huge bonus is that the waterfall runs year round, unlike many others which dry out in mid to late summer months.
When you’re ready to rest your head, there are options for every price point and rugged-loving level. The splurge-worthy Ahwahnee Hotel is a world-renowned, four-diamond hotel, but for families, we love the Yosemite Lodge at the Falls, which offers amenities like family rooms complete with private patios, refrigerators and bike rentals. Get rustic at Curry Village with a tent or enjoy a cabin or private room equipped with electricity, bathrooms and maid service.
What’s your favorite California adventure? Let us know in the comment section!
—Beth Shea, Erin Feher & Meghan Rose