I had the pleasure of meeting Sunset Magazine’s Deputy Travel Editor, Peter Fish, last weekend at annual Celebration Weekend at their headquarters in Menlo Park. Sunset is longtime resource for Best of Western Living content — from travel tips, to home decorating ideas, to gardening — this magazine always has unique ideas to share.
I picked Peter’s brain for his top-of-mind California summer travel tips:
California Summer Travel Tips for Families
Something Different: Lassen National Park
Lassen National Park in Northern California is an often overlooked — but fabulous — destination for summer family travel with smoking volcanic mud pots and excellent all-age hiking. Kids ages 7-12 can become a Junior Ranger.
Lakes Less Traveled: Lakes Basin Northwest of Tahoe
Sardine, Gold, and Packer Lakes in the Lakes Basin are phenomenal for lakeside camping and this area is much less crowded than Lake Tahoe.
Something Between Car Camping and Backpacking
Backpacking is a tall order for young kids who are too small to carry much weight a consequential distance, but you can still get outside for an overnight that is a step beyond car camping. Andrew Molera State Park near Big Sur offers easy-to-access but beautiful hike-in campgrounds.
Southern California Gem: Channel Islands National Park
Channel Islands National Park off of the Santa Barbara/Ventura coast offers wonderful camping, bluff hiking, and swimming. There are no hotels on the islands so the islands provide a great opportunity to get away from Southern California congestion and crowds.
Outdoor Adventure without the Work
Costanoa and El Capitan Canyon have tents ready for action so families can get access camp benefits without the work. John Muir Lodge (Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks) is another way to embark on an all-family outdoors adventure with no logistics.
Farm-to-Table Family Camp
Emandal offers a farm-to-table family camp in Northern California near Willits in Mendocino. From swimming in natural swimming holes to giving farm chores a go, Emandal is a great place an all-family digital detox.
Must-Have Camping Gear
Jetboil makes a great portable stove that boils water in minutes. Coffee is a camping essential for parents and Stumptown makes a great Camp Coffee Kit. An ice cream ball is a serious in-camp crowd-pleaser for kids who will be excited to make homemade ice cream with no electricity.
Great Outdoors Cookbook
If you think you are limited by what you can cook just because you are in a campground, think again! The Great Outdoors Cookbook is filled with ideas for delicious fixings without a kitchen.
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Best family hotels and things to do in California with kids on Ciao Bambino
Editor’s Note: Sunset Magazine provided Ciao Bambino with complimentary access to their Celebration Weekend festivities. As usual, our opinions are our own. Photos by Amie O’Shaughnessy