Summer Road Trip Blog Hop: California

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


Sandra Bennett – Canberra

By |2018-08-06T00:53:48+00:00August 1st, 2018|Summer Activities|17 Comments


  1. […] Kristen Lamb:  Buckle up as Kristen takes you through historical sites in California. […]

  2. Julie Gorges August 1, 2018 at 11:43 pm - Reply

    As a fellow Californian, I have been to many places you recommended and love them all! My youngest son, his wife, and granddaughter live right below Sequoia and we finally visited Kings National Park last year. Amazing! Love that you included a recommended reading list in your blog. Great article!

    • K. Lamb August 2, 2018 at 12:02 am - Reply

      Thanks for reading, Julie. 🙂 I love hiking outdoors in the mountains (although I am a lightweight) and California has such wonderful opportunities to explore. Our national parks are top-notch. Yosemite and Sequoia will always hold a special place in my heart for all the memories they have brought to my family throughout the years. I’m glad you were able to visit Kings Canyon. There are so many things to do and see! I would love to visit again soon. Too many years have passed since our last visit. Next time be sure to check out the caves if you weren’t able to on your last visit and also Moro Rock. The views are spectacular!

  3. Carmela Dutra August 2, 2018 at 1:58 am - Reply

    Oh Kristen, your blog brought back so many memories of taking pro trips through Northern California. I love tracking through the John Muir words as a child and visiting the Giants along the coast at the Sequoia national Forest. I have only been to Yosemite once, I must go again! When I make my way up to North past San Francisco, I’ll have to grab a cuppa coffee with one of my favorite author pals 😀

    • K. Lamb August 2, 2018 at 2:15 am - Reply

      I look forward to the day we can grab a cup and share our memories and adventures with one another, Carmy! However, we may need more than one cup of coffee as I suspect we may be there for awhile. 😀

  4. Rosie Russell August 2, 2018 at 7:26 pm - Reply

    What a fun adventure you took us on Kristen. I’m just so happy you got away from that bear! Oh my!

    Your “related reading articles” were great and what a wonderful thing to include for children and families visiting each place.

    Speaking of Missions, we did view a Missionary years ago. I want to say it was in Carmel. I remember something about Clint Eastwood having a place there. We were young teenagers, so I have to ask my brother.

    As a child, we didn’t travel much. We went to fairs here in the Midwest which was always an adventure for us. Out mom and dad packed up the station wagon and off we went. Great memories.

    Thanks for sharing your part of California with us. I hope to make it to your area someday.

    Have a wonderful weekend Kristen!

    • K. Lamb August 2, 2018 at 10:21 pm - Reply

      Thanks for reading, Rosie! You are 100% correct. There is a mission in Carmel. It is called Mission San Carlos Borromeo del río Carmelo and was built in 1797.

      You are also correct that Clint Eastwood has a place in Carmel; at least he did, not sure about now. One of my favorite road t as a child included a trip to Carmel/Monterey. It was so much fun. My grandparents took us. I was 12 at the time, and I took a self-paddle boat out on the water, and there were seals all around. It was both exciting and scary! That same trip we went to Winchester Mystery House and Santa’s Village. What a wonderful memory!

      I hope you have a great weekend, too. If you do make it out to California we will have to try and connect!

  5. Rhonda Paglia August 3, 2018 at 12:50 am - Reply

    Hi Kristen – I loved reading about your beautiful state, California. My husband and I had a short visit to San Francisco, but someday, we’d like to return and explore the beauty of your state a little more. We enjoy national parks, so including trips to Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks sounds so inviting. We also like history and wine, so we’d definitely include a trip to the missions – and Napa Valley. Thanks so much for sharing your beautiful state. <3 Rhonda / Grammy Pags

    • K. Lamb August 3, 2018 at 2:18 am - Reply

      Hi Rhonda! Thanks for reading. Should you and your husband ever make it out to wine country, let me know! We are a close 20-30 minute drive from Napa and I would love to meet up. I don’t drink, but Castello di Amaroso in Napa Valley makes a delicious non-alcoholic wine. Their winery is beautiful and they do a great wine tasting. We took Danielle and her friends there to celebrate her 21st birthday.

      If you love National Parks, you will be thrilled with Yosemite Valley and Kings Canyon/Sequoia NP.

      Again, thank you for reading. I appreciate your visit.

  6. Rebecca Lyndsey August 3, 2018 at 4:17 pm - Reply

    I would love to visit Kings Canyon and see those trees! I don’t want to be chased by a bear though. lol However, living in the mountains of WV, I have had my own personal encounters with wildlife, including a bear joining us for breakfast. 🙂

    • K. Lamb August 3, 2018 at 5:15 pm - Reply

      You will thoroughly enjoy both parks, Rebecca. Although, I feel I should warn you that we’ve had a few bear encounters between the two parks. As long as you use common sense, you’ll be fine. They really aren’t interested in humans—just their food. Yet, at the same time they are used to the many tourist so they wander closer than they might normally in the wild (unless they’re hungry of course!).

      However, this is probably the biggest scare we ever had. The bear had wandered into a lower campground, and the frightened campers began banging on pots and pans, blowing air horns, screaming, etc. This irritated the bear to no end and he wandered up the ravine next to our campground which was at a walk-in site higher up in the hill. Because of his angry growl, and close proximity, I thought sleeping in my truck versus my little dome tent was a smart idea!

      Thanks for joining me for my two favorite National Parks in California! I hope you have the opportunity to visit both.

  7. Sandra Bennett August 4, 2018 at 11:29 pm - Reply

    Hi Kristen, loved visiting your neck of the woods. National Parks are my favourite places to visit. Give me time in nature over cities any day. I have always had the Giant trees in California on my bucket list. We have been to the giant Tinglewood forests at the bottom of Western Australia, they are the second tallest trees in the world after yours. No bears to worry about there though, except perhaps ‘drop bears’. If you have ever read my short story on these elusive creatures you would understand my joke. I will definitely get to California one of these days, I am determined to see your beautiful mountains and trees. Thanks so much for sharing them with us.

    • K. Lamb August 5, 2018 at 3:00 am - Reply

      Sandra, I am with you…I will take nature over the city any day, too! I love the peacefulness of the mountains. There is something so awe inspiring about them. It’s a place where you can take a deep breath and let your worries go.

      Hmm, I have not yet read the story that includes ‘drop bears’. Now you have piqued my curiosity!

      If you ever make it to California you will have to give me a heads up! We are only a few hours away from Yosemite and Kings Canyon; an easy weekend or day trip for us!

      Thanks for reading! See you on the next hop. 🙂

  8. Cat Michaels August 5, 2018 at 12:25 am - Reply

    Like a kid in a candynstore, I don’t know where to begin. I have been to California just once to see the Rose Parade but did not get to see much beyond. I see Yosemite often on my apple computer screen but would love to visit there in person and wander in Sequoia, too. Love history, so stops in the Missions have me wanting to head that way soon. Maybe some day, but I appreciate your armchair tour in the meantime!

    • K. Lamb August 5, 2018 at 3:10 am - Reply

      Cat, when I was a little girl my dad actually rode in the Rose Parade! Can you believe it? My dad is a cowboy/rancher and was invited to ride a friend’s ‘show’ horse in the event. They needed an extra rider for formation. The horse he rode had one of those heavily laden silver saddles– quite flashy– and was a fancy little stepper! The men were also quite dapper in elaborate, matching outfits. They were impressive. It was the first and only time I saw the parade in person seeing that we are from Northern California and it is held in Southern California.

      If you ever make it to California, I would love to take a walk with you among the trees of Sequoia or along a waterfall trail in Yosemite! What a lovely chat we would have as we admire the beauty surrounding us.

      Thanks for joining me from your armchair. Enjoy the remainder of your weekend!

  9. Cat Michaels August 5, 2018 at 10:36 pm - Reply

    Whoa, learned a ton about your stay, especiallly about missions, Kristen. They were totally off my radar. However, as a kid, I dreamed of visiting Disney Land, and I finally made it to Disney World as an adult. Seeing those giant Sequoias is another stop on my bucket list. I have great respct for John Muir’s pioneering efforts to establish public green spaces. Thanks for the tour!

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