Welcome to California!

The #Gr8Blogs Summer Road Trip 2018 is about to take-off, so wash those windows and buckle up! We are going on a family-friendly excursion across North America, Great Britain, and Australia.

My author friends and I are sharing touring highlights for your summer fun. It is my pleasure to showcase my part of the world, California. Afterward, be sure to continue the journey for more inspiring ideas at the bottom of this page.

Rich Cultural History

California, the golden state. It is known for the glitz and glamour of Hollywood, the cable cars of San Francisco, the beauty of the Napa Valley, and the home of the Mouse, Disneyland. However, it is so much more. For Californians, it is a state that is rich in cultural history and diversity. If you are considering a road trip this summer, I would like to offer up some historical options to include along the way.

California National Parks

Our National Parks are magnificent. From coastal towns to mountainous terrains, California offers it all. Although I have listed my two favorite parks, there are 28 in all. Whenever you decide to visit, I hope you will choose one of them.

California Yosemite Valley

Yosemite National Park.

Yosemite is my favorite camping destination. Without a doubt, it is the perfect place to sit beside a waterfall and soak up nature. The National Park Service lists ten falls on their website. If you are lucky, you might come across some ephemeral falls that are not listed.

With the help of John Muir, a preservationist and activist, Yosemite became a National Park in 1890. As a result, it has been enjoyed by the public ever since for its natural environment, pristine granite cliffs, meadows, and scenic trails. Rangers offer recreational learning opportunities, and there are plenty of activities to keep the whole family engaged.

Whether you prefer to bring your tent or stay in a hotel, Yosemite can offer you accommodations—provided you make reservations well in advance.

Suggested reading list:

California Sequoia National Park

Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks.

Kings Canyon will always hold a special place in my heart. It was where my husband proposed over 30 years ago. Of course, it was also where a bear chased me from my tent and sent me running to the safety of my truck. However, do not let that discourage you. Although I must admit, it was the last time I camped at a walk-in site.

The most distinguishable feature of Kings Canyon is the trees. There is no denying the stateliness of these ancient guardians. They are a reminder of how we are a speck among nature. General Sherman, located in the Giant Forest, is the largest known living tree on Earth. It was at the base of this tree that my husband proposed.

Once upon a time, you could drive your vehicle on top of one of these fallen giants. It made for a great photo opportunity. This practice is now extinct, but if you are a camera buff, this park will provide you with a bevy of photographic options. Oh, and don’t forget to explore the caves! This park has two open to the public, Crystal Caves and Boyden Cavern. They both offer a rare view of underground rock formations.

For a full list of National Parks within California visit the National Park Service.

Suggested reading list:

California Santa Barbara Mission

California Missions

Most anyone growing up in California can attest to learning about the California Missions during social studies. It is a vibrant part of our history. As a student in my elementary school, you were expected to build a replica California mission and write a report. At the end of the year, you attended a field trip to  San Francisco Solano Mission.  We also visited General Vallejo’s home, located within walking distance of the mission. To this day, I can still remember my fourth-grade teacher and her zeal for social studies.

The first mission built in California was San Diego De Alcala by Father Serra. He was a Catholic Franciscan priest who was part of the Spanish Empire. Initially founded in 1769, the mission relocated in 1774. Expansion grew, and more were built to convert and colonize local natives. There are 21 missions in all.

Located in Sonoma, California, the final mission built was San Francisco Solano. It was erected in 1823 and later destroyed by the 1906 earthquake. Restored by preservationists, it is maintained by the State and open daily to the public. (Should you decide to visit San Francisco Solano don’t forget to make a stop afterward at Sonoma Train Town. It is a favorite among families and perfect for young ones.)

The missions stretch from Northern to Southern California. Wherever you are visiting in the state, you are sure to find one within reasonable driving distance. Meanwhile, be sure to check out this full list of California missions.

Suggested Reading List:

California Golden Gate Bridge

California: The Golden State

Learning opportunities do not have to be boring. Mix up your next vacation with thrills and education for a well-balanced summer road trip. Did I mention there are several National Parks and California Missions within driving distance to Disneyland? Or perhaps a road trip that includes panning for gold at Colombia State Historic Park.  Afterward, visit the nearby Moaning Caverns. The options are endless, but all are sure to provide a great family vacation full of new memories.

WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE ROADTRIP GROWING UP AS A CHILD? What made it so special? I would love to hear about it. Please leave a comment below.

Also, if you would like to join the blog hop with family-friendly content that relates to summer road trips, leave a link to your article below. We’ll be sure to do a drive-by and give your blog some attention.

Want to visit more destinations? The road trip isn’t over. Just click on the next #Gr8blogs location.

North America

Julie Gorges – Palm Springs, California
Rebecca Lyndsey – West Virginia
Rosie Russell – Kansas City, Missouri
Carmela Dutra – California
Cat Michaels – North Carolina
Rhonda Paglia – Western Pennsylvania

Australia

Sandra Bennett – Canberra