Where to go? What to do?
Here you will find family friendly places to explore and things to do. Each activity has been explored and comes highly recommended by families who are on the road.
WATERFALLS ARE FLOWING ACROSS CALIFORNIA AGAIN, BOOSTING INTEREST IN SPRING AND SUMMER CAMPING
California has more than 100 significant waterfalls, many of which are close to campgrounds and easily accessible on foot.
Mountain streams and waterfalls aremback to life across California after five years of drought, thanks to a series of powerful storms.
"These are best storms we've seen in years," said Debbie Sipe,CEO of www.Camp-California.com, a travel planning website featuring more than 300 campgrounds.
And while the wet winter weather is good news for California's ski resorts, it's also good news for campgrounds, many of which are located close to scenic waterfalls that will be at their peak in spring and early summer.
"Everybody thinks of Yosemite when they think of waterfalls, but there are actually more than 100 breathtaking waterfalls throughout California, many of which are accessible by taking short hiking trails," Sipe said.
One great resource to find waterfalls is www.World-Of-Waterfalls.com, which provides detailed information and photos of California's waterfalls as well as directions on how to get there.
"Visit the World of Waterfalls website first to find waterfalls of interest to you, then check Camp-California.com to see which campgrounds are nearby," Sipe said, adding that many campgroundshave rental accommodations if you don't have a tent or RV.
Here's a sampling of exceptional waterfalls that are a short driving distance from campgrounds in several different areas of California:
- Alamere Falls: Considered one of the most beautiful waterfalls along the Northern California coast, Alamere Falls is located in Point Reyes National Seashore. It cascades over a cliff onto a beach and then runs into the ocean. It can be accessed via the Palomarin Trailhead at the southern end of Point Reyes.
Nearby campgrounds include:
- Olema Campground in Olema, which has RV and tent sites. www.olemacampground.net
Burney Falls: Located inside McArthur Burney Falls Memorial State Park, Burney Falls is considered to be among the most scenic in the state. Nearby campgrounds include: - Hat Creek Resort and RV Park in Old Station, which has RV and tent sites as well as cabin, yurt and motel rentals. www.hatcreekresortrv.com - Lassen RV Resort in McArthur, which has RV and tent sites. www.lassenrvresort.com
Feather Falls: One of the tallest waterfalls outside of Yosemite, Feather Falls is a 410-foot waterfall in the mountains roughly 40 minutes east of Oroville. Campgrounds to consider as base camps include: - Dingerville USA RV Resort, which has RV sites. www.dingervilleusa.com - Riffle's RV Park & Campground in Oroville, which has RV and tent sites.
Waterfalls at Big Basin Redwoods State Park. This park, which is located in the greater Santa Cruz area, includes 70-foot Berry Creek Falls, Silver Falls and Golden Cascade. Nearby campgrounds include: - Cotillion Gardens RV Park in Felton, which includes RV and tent sites and rental cabins. www.cotilliongardensrvpark.com - Santa Cruz Redwoods RV Resort in Felton, which has RV and tent sites. www.santacruzredwoodsrvresort.com
Waterfalls in the Big Sur area: There are 13 waterfalls in the Big Sur area, including McWayne Falls, an 80-foot waterfall that plunges from a forested cliff onto the beach below. The fall is located in Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park and can be seen from State Route 1. Other noteworthy waterfalls in the area include Limekiln Falls in Limekiln State Park and Salmon Creek Falls, which is really a pair of 100-foot waterfalls that join together as they plunge. Nearby campgrounds include: - Big Sur Campgrounds and Cabins, in Big Sur, which includes RV and tent sites and rental cabins. www.bigsurcamp.com - Fernwood Resort in Big Sur, which includes RV and tent sites as well as furnished "Adventure Tents." www.fernwoodbigsur.com
Waterfalls in San Diego County: One of the county's most spectacular waterfalls is Cedar Creek Falls near the picturesque mountain town of Julian, which has several campgrounds close by, including: - Butterfield Ranch Resort in Julian, which has RV and tent sites as well as rental accommodations. www.ButterfieldResort.com - Pinezanita RV Park and Campgrounds, which has RV and tent sites as well as rental accommodations. www.pinezanita.com
Of course, if you have your heart set on seeing Yosemite's waterfalls and can't get a reservation, take heart. There are several privately owned and operated campgrounds just outside the park, including: - Yosemite Pines RV Resort & Family Lodging, which features RV and tent sites as well as furnished cabins, yurts and retrotrailer rentals. www.yosemitepinesrv.com - Yosemite Lakes RV Resort in Groveland. This campground is situated inside a 400 acre preserve five miles from the western entrance to Yosemite National Park. The campground includes RV and tent sites as well as cabin and yurt rentals. The South Fork of the Tuolumne River runs through the preserve. http://www.rvonthego.com/california/yosemite-lakes-rv-resort/
For more information on trip planning ideas and campgrounds across California, please visit Camp-California.com.
Kayaking Downtown Chicago River
This relaxing 2.5 hour kayak trip takes you through the picturesque urban chasm that is the Chicago River as it flows through downtown. Take in the sights and history along its beautifully landscaped riverside promenade and kaleidoscopic view of some of the greatest American architecture of the 20th and 21st centuries.
During our excursion, we enjoyed passing under a multitude of articulated ironwork bridges (the largest movable bridge system in the world!); the fantastic shoreline people-watching; and the wide variety of wildlife that has been drawn to the majestic downtown segment of the Chicago River as the cleanliness has dramatically improved over the past few decades.
At the put in site we reviewed the basics of flat water kayaking, talked about river safety, made sure we were outfitted properly, and got the family on the water.
As we began our journey through the city we stopped at the best vistas on the river. Our family of four, choose to separate Mom and Dad each with a child for safety. Our Malibu XL Two ocean kayaks performed well on the river even with the big sightseeing tour boats blasting waves.
Before kayaking we homeschooled about how Chicago went from an outback trading post to a bustling metropolis. During stops, we could see for ourselves the strong links between the Chicago River and the city itself. Larger-than-life personalities are standard here, from the first fiddle playing, unofficial mayor, to the early boosters whose investments drove major development, to the pioneers and innovators of industry who established Chicago as a world-class city. In addition, the prominent buildings created a backdrop where we could discuss the historical and architectural significance of each one we paddled by.
The surroundings from the peaceful platform of our kayaks allowed us to savor the atmosphere as we glided past Chicago's spectacular interior skyline. Many amazing pictures are waiting to be captured along the way.
We all paddle back to the dock and made sure everyone gets out safely. Even though we did not use a service, our recommendation would be Wateriders; Chicago Kayak Tours and Rentals.
THE 10 BEST SCIENCE CENTERS - according to Parents Magazine
You might not think about visiting a science center until your kids are out of kindergarten. After all, what's there really to do with children who are still testing the principles of gravity by dropping their sippy cup? According to Parents' poll, about a third of the nation's 150-plus science centers have galleries designed specifically for children 6 and under.
National Parks Pass - a mere $80 provides access for a year to spectacular sites and historical treasures for the entire family for a year. You will find a free guide to all 388 National Parks and more information at Nationalparks.org
Science Centers and Zoos make great educational stops along the way. For the best deal get a membership with a museum that is part of >ASTC. Then you will get free or reduced rates at reciprocal museums across the country. Zoos should be a part of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA).
There are three locations (that we know of) that offer memberships to both Science Centers AND zoos. Most others offer only one or the other. Both of these sites have a downloadable membership that you can mail in. Compare reciprocation lists to see which one serves your needs the best.
- Happy Hollow Zoo in San Jose, California.
- >CuriOdyssey also in the SF Bay Area, California
- >Boonshoft Museum of Discovery of Dayton, Ohio has all three reciprocal programs (Associations of Zoos and Aquariums, ASTC and >Association of Children's Museums) if you get the Adventurer membership, vs. the Family membership
- >Western Nature Center in Asheville, North Carolina
Travel Information (US, Canada, Mexico)
If you decide to purchase a pass through another museum or zoo be sure to ask about teacher's discounts if you are homeschooling.
Map of Theme Park Locations
View Larger Map
>Six Flags offers a season pass. Get one online or pick it up at any park and use it any of the other 18 parks. Open weekends May 5-22, daily beginning May 23. Shop around for your "home" park as prices vary. However, you are also required to use your pass at your "home" park the first time.
Anheuser-Busch Adventure Parks offers a yearly pass that will cover admission to: SeaWorld Orlando, SeaWorld San Antonio, Busch Gardens Tampa, Busch Gardens Williamsburg, Sesame Place (PA), Adventure Island (FL) and Water Country USA (VA).
Taking Breakdowns in Stride
"I was worried about how my teens would feel watching their RV be towed away behind a giant tow truck. They completely loved it! To them - this is the Grand Adventure! One evening after a particularly awful day - the kids were tucking themselves into bed in a moldy hotel room in Santa Cruz reviewing their day and Sarah said to Dave "today was even better than if everything had worked the way Mom planned - it was so exciting!."
~Mary Ann (FOTR since 8/31/2007)
Educational Activities for Families on the Go
Check out the Roadschooling section for more homeschooling on the go resources and ideas.
Jr. Rangers - While visiting your National or State Park ask about their Jr. Ranger programs. Which are free educational activities lead by rangers and staff (there may be a small supply fee or donation request). Your child may be given a booklet or page of questions to answer or your family may join a ranger on a hike or participate in a craft activity. No matter what the whole family will gain from the engaging experience and the kids will earn a souvenir badge or patch.
Jr .Rangers are highly recommended by a kid on the road
Geocaching -You need a GPS for this activity.And preferably a handheld one as you will going off the roads and highways to play this live action seek and find game.
To begin visit >geocaching.com where you will find clues to secret stashes hidden around the globe and learn the ins and outs of the game (no muggles allowed!). Once you have your clues and coordinates in hand, the objective is to find the hidden treasure and then log your find on the web. You might even find a "travel bug" and be able to help him live his dream and reach his destination.
It's nice to know that you are not alone out there. The best way to catch up and meet with other FOTR is to post on the FOTR Forum .
And check FOTR Rallies page for rallies and upcoming gatherings.
Connecting with other HSers in towns where you will be visiting is also relatively simple. Start by searching for groups at >A2Zhomeschool or >localHS then email or call the contact person for the group(s) that you think will be a good fit for your family. Most groups are very receptive if you explain your situation and will invite you to park day or let you know about other field trips and fun educational opportunities or get-togethers.
Another way to connect to a community is drop by the church of your choice and attend service or prayer meetings.
Read Church on the Road an article by Janet Hirsch
If you are interested in living history you may wish to get involved with the >Society for Creative Anachronism which offers kingdoms all over the country. Invest some time into researching and making medieval clothing and wares.Then catch up with other enthusiasts at campouts and enjoy other time warping events.
Also read Friends on the Road