California: 7 must-do activities and leisure activities for the whole family!

With its theme parks, wide open spaces and cultural scene, California has something for all the family. In this huge state in the American West, there's no shortage of things to do for young and old alike. Whether it's a ghost town, an amusement park or a trip aboard a locomotive, all you have to do is choose the perfect activity to spend some quality time with your family and leave with a lifetime of memories!

Oakland Bay Bridge, San Francisco, Californie, Etats Unis

- © canadastock / Shutterstock

Spend a hair-raising afternoon in Santa Monica

It's the first image foreigners have of Santa Monica: a colourful Ferris wheel at the end of the beach. Pacific Park, the city's famous theme park, appears regularly in Hollywood films. A symbol of entertainment and excess made in America, it's a must-see on any trip to Los Angeles!

Grande roue de Santa Monica, Californie, Etats-Unis

- © Angel DiBilio / Shutterstock

The park has a dozen attractions. From rollercoasters and rocking boats to bumper cars, there's no shortage of possibilities. The best part is riding the Ferris wheel at the end of the afternoon to watch the magical sunset over Santa Monica.

To round off the day in style, the park is home to a number of fast-food stands and boutiques!

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Jellyfish watching in Monterey

The Monterey Bay Aquarium is one of the largest in the world. Located just two hours from San Francisco and fifteen minutes from Carmel-by-the-Sea, it is home to over 600 species.

Every year, two million visitors marvel at the orcas, turtles, rays and whales that live here. But the real stars of the aquarium are the jellyfish. There are several species in all shapes and colours - a real sight for sore eyes!

You'll also be impressed by the gigantic picture windows, allowing you to watch the animals swim in complete peace and quiet. The aquarium, which is highly educational and perfectly suited to children, is well worth a minimum two to three hour visit.

👉 To find out more: here

Shiver in the ghost town of Bodie

On the border with Nevada, just two hours from sublime Lake Tahoe, a visit to Bodie is a must. Born of the gold rush, this small town was abandoned in 1942 after a fire.

Since then, although it has been emptied of its inhabitants, Bodie is still home to some very well-preserved buildings. The buildings have not been restored and the interiors of some houses have been left as they were. Even the kitchen utensils have not changed!

The best time to visit this historic site, which is sure to delight the whole family, is in summer. Inaccessible because of the snow in winter, and very difficult to access in spring because the melting ice makes the track impassable, the months of June to September are the most suitable.

On the programme: a walking tour of the school, cemetery, church, fire station and several houses that once made up one of California's most vibrant towns.

👉 To find out more: here

Fill up on outdoor activities at Whiskeytown Lake

For a refreshing getaway in north-western California, head for Whiskeytown Lake. This translucent reservoir is set in a stunningly beautiful green setting, and there's no better way to discover it than with one of the many outdoor activities available in the region: kayaking, fishing, mountain biking and hiking.

Children can ask at the tourist office for the "Whiskeytown National Recreation Area Junior Ranger Book", a book designed for children aged 6 to 12 that explains the history of the park, the state of its biodiversity and the threat posed by global warming.

With its waterfalls and shady paths, it promises to be a relaxing holiday. Several campsites have been set up around the lake to enable visitors to extend their stay. Animal lovers be warned: pumas and bears also live here.

👉 To find out more: here

Meet the animals at Santa Barbara Zoo

Head to the Californian Riviera for a complete change of scenery. Santa Barbara Zoo is home to 146 different species and over 500 animals. Giraffes, gorillas, lions, leopards, rhinoceroses, tarantulas, tortoises and snakes are just some of the animals to be discovered.

The park is a member of the Species Survival Plan (SSP) and works to protect the animals while encouraging them to reproduce in good conditions.

There are several activities on offer for families. The ride on the blue train to discover the zoo and the giraffe-feeding workshop are children's favourites.

The zoo also organises "Zoo Camps" based around games and encounters with the different species.

👉 To find out more: here

Visit the USS Midway museum in San Diego

The aircraft carrier USS Midway sailed from 1945 to 1992 and saw more than 220,000 servicemen pass through her waters, notably in Iraq and Vietnam. The ship dropped anchor in San Diego in 2004 and since then has been welcoming curious visitors who want to find out more about this huge US Navy ship.

The ship's officers' quarters, dormitories, pilothouse and flight deck are just some of the places to discover.

One of the museum's main attractions is the upper part of the ship, where dozens of military helicopters are on display.

A number of flight simulators and guided tours are also available to extend the experience. Enthusiasts can even spend a night on board the USS Midway.

👉 To find out more: here

Travelling around Northern California on the Skunk Train

The Skunk Train has been running through Mendocino County in the north-west of the state since 1885. Today, five trains offer an original way to explore California's wilderness and take in the sights of this region of exuberant vegetation.

To get the full experience, one of the iconic routes is the Pudding Creek Express, a one-hour journey departing from Fort Bragg. The locomotive travels through sequoias forests and offers sublime panoramic views of the coast.

Another unusual escapade: rail biking. Ideal for exploring the region in complete peace and quiet!

👉 To find out more: here

⭐ Where to sleep?

Geary Parkway Motel California

Geary Parkway Motel

The hotel is 10 minutes from San Franciso and has free private parking.
7.8 Fine
£108 / night
by Editorial Team
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