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California Vacations In The Sun | Plan You California Vacation Today


A family vacation in California could mean several things. Is this going to be a beach, mountain, park or desert vacation? Whatever you choose, you can bet it will be set in a relaxed atmosphere in the great State of California! Theme parks and beach vacations are the type of vacations in which parents are most inclined to take their children, because they are exciting, unpredictable and beautiful to feel, watch and enjoy together. California vacations are like ‘ocean waves filled with opportunity’ because they offer learning experiences and time for family bonding.


Southern California has so many fun and exciting things for a family to do when you vacation there. Number one for family “fun in the sun” is the theme park, Disneyland Resort. Here one can spend quality time with the Mickey Mouse crew and play on all the fun rides. Like animals? How about exciting SeaWorld, where people get to see spectacular shows, experience animal interactions, take some adventurous rides and see outstanding entertainment. Knott’s Berry Farm is 150 acres of thrilling rides, exciting attractions, outstanding live entertainment, fascinating historic exhibits, and world-famous dining and one-of-a-kind specialty shops. Universal Studios Hollywood is the place to ‘ride the movies’. It offers plenty of thrill rides, one-of-a-kind attractions, live shows and is said to offer more than any theme park in the world.


One of my all-time favorite theme parks is Legoland® in the seaside town of Carlsbad, California. The adults had as much fun as the children on our last few visits. The day starts at ‘The Beginning’ which is the main entrance plaza to this exciting, sunshine filled Park. You’re met at the entrance with a bright red welcoming dinosaur that stands nine feet tall and 34 feet long from his nose to the tip of his tail, made completely from Lego® bricks! There’s shopping with just over 8,000 square feet and is packed with a huge selection of Lego® merchandise – and they can ship it all for you. At the Market you can purchase fresh muffins, croissants, brownies and cookies, coffees, espresso, soda and juices. Go to Dino Island and ride a rollercoaster called Coastersaurus and as it climbs and dips you can view a prehistoric jungle of animated and life-sized Lego® brick dinosaurs. Children and adults of all ages can pilot their own Lego® boat at Skipper School. My favorite place to visit is Miniland, USA, the place that explores famous landmarks. There are replicas of wonderful cities, such as, Washington D.C., New Orleans, San Francisco, New York City, Las Vegas and the Southern California coastline, miniature-sized all built with 20 million Legos®!


The 100 acre San Diego Zoo, which is located in picturesque Balboa Park, cares for more than 4,000 individual animals. Since last October lots of new babies have been born at the zoo, including 4 cheetah cubs, a panda bear, an Indian Rhino, 3 tiger cubs, 2 Sun Bear cubs (also referred to as “monkey bears”) and an African Elephant increasing the herd to 12 African elephants. The Zoo’s new two-hour Backstage Pass program is ‘just the ticket’ because it not only lets you slip past the crowd, but you’ll be able to enjoy the interactive encounters with variety of animals you would not see as a regular guest. Included is a gourmet picnic meal while watching a private show of the Zoo’s amazing animal stars and their celebrity trainers. Additionally, if you show your pass, you’ll be provided with special seating for shows at Wegeforth Bowl and Hunte Amphitheater. You will be out in the sun most of the time spent here, so don't forget your hats, sunglasses and sun protection.


In California there are three Six Flags amusement parks. Discover the wildlife at Six Flags Marine World that is home to tigers, dolphins, sharks, elephants, giraffes and other amazing animals. Here you can experience the best in wild rides with Vertical Velocity which is the new tallest and fastest skyrocket of a thrill-coaster in Northern California. Six Flags Discovery Kingdom is located in Vallejo and you can see watch a performance by Shouka, the killer whale. Looney Tunes has a talent show where you can see Bugs Bunny and all his friends in a musical competition. Bottlenose dolphins will keep you captivated with their graceful swimming ability and much more. Last, but not least, is Six Flags Hurricane Harbor in Los Angeles. Here you can ride the thrilling speed slides to cool off in this tropical paradise and work on your sun tan.


One of the most amazing, fascinating wonders of the world is Yosemite National Park, where a family can take a hike through the forests watching deer and bears wander freely. The park is one of the first wilderness parks in the United States and is best known for its waterfalls within its nearly 1,200 square miles. You can also find deep valleys, splendid meadows, ancient massive sequoias, a wilderness area on a grand scale, and much more. Visit historic mining sites that remain from a time when miners came to the Sierra to find gold. The Yosemite Museum has a very successful museum collection of more than 4 million items including a reconstructed Indian village. Descendants demonstrate basket weaving, beadwork and traditional games. The museum contains a research library of about 10,000 books, photographs and articles relating to this beautiful park.


South of San Francisco, we come to San Jose where “the fun never stops”. Here you can see the Cathedral Basilica of St. Joseph, visit the Children’s Discovery Museum, tour the Winchester Mystery House or go to the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum and Planetarium. Take a break from California’s sunshine in the heat of the day and visit the Children’s Discovery Museum where the children can explore, test, crank, listen, prod and tinker with the 150 interactive exhibits on hand. The Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum and Planetarium houses the largest collection of Egyptian artifacts on exhibit in the western United States and includes objects from pre-dynastic times.


The Winchester Mystery House is a Victorian mansion, designed and built by the late Winchester Rifle heiress and is filled with many unexplained oddities. The home contains 160 rooms that had modern heating and sewer systems, gas lights, three working elevators and 47 fireplaces. The floors have exquisite hand inlaid parquet floors and beautiful Tiffany art glass windows. It’s amazing to see all of the creativity, energy and expense that went into each detail of this home. Don’t forget Great America with Firefall, a thrill ride that takes 40 riders to a height of 60 feet with twists, turns and 360° degree vertical arcs spinning through fire and water effects. Wow!


Arriving in San Francisco, The Golden Gate National Recreation Area is the largest urban national park in the world with a total park area of 74,000 acres of land and water and about 28 miles of coastline. At nearly two and one-half times the size of San Francisco, Golden Gate Park has many things to do and see, including: windmills, the Academy of Science, the Conservatory of Flowers, the Japanese Tea Garden, park stables, a children’s carrousel, walking tours are available and much more. Alcatraz Island is part of Golden Gate and you may get a close-up look at this island when on a bay boat tour. Or take a ferry to the island, home to an historically famous federal prison and investigate the inside of the prison. Groups are able to make reservations to stay overnight but you can only make the reservations for the following year between November 1-30 and it is very popular.


Pier 39 is a great place for shopping and eating! This San Francisco two-level outdoor, sun-filled attraction contains an offering of more than 110 stores that sell everything from chocolates to jewelry to high-fashion leather to souvenirs. The pier includes 11 full-service restaurants with bay views and many fun-filled attractions. Don’t forget to check out the very famous, very stunning Golden Gate Bridge.


Some families with children can be happy just to visit to a sandy beach with a shovel and pail, while parents are allowed to soak up some California sun and grab a great sun tan even in a single afternoon breathing in the fresh Pacific Ocean salt mist air. Well, you can easily do this here, because there are 1000 miles of great beaches, with the best sun bathing beaches located from San Diego to Santa Cruz. Catalina Island is only 22 miles off the coast of Los Angeles but it feels like a world away. You can soak up the sun while strolling down the streets of Avalon and exploring the village of Two Harbors and walk past grazing buffalo.


Huntington Beach is enjoyable year around with its "Mediterranean climate". It has over eight miles of private beachfront and a magnificent pier. Here you can also discover the largest wetlands preserve on the coast. You might be able to catch the U.S. Open Sandcastle Competition at Imperial Beach. This is a unique beach which is ideal for surfing or just sunbathing, swimming or walking. Have a family picnic in Dunes Park and check out their fantastic playground. There’s also Long Beach, Newport Beach, Seal Beach and Venice Beach. Newport Beach has the world’s largest small yacht harbor, great shopping, boating and water sports, and the golfing is suppose to be the best. Sailing at Seal Beach is the best on the west coast. There’s also a lot of boogie boarding, kite flying, wind surfing, fishing off the pier and much more. I also heard they have some of the very best restaurants in all of southern California. Venice Beach draws in all the artist and street performers.


If your family prefers to go in the camping direction for your vacation, Redwood National Park would be a great place to visit and explore. The park has four developed campgrounds, three of which are located in the redwood forest and one on the ocean. This is an unforgettable experience, especially when walking through a redwood forest on a foggy morning. There are sounds of water slowly flowing around the mossy rocks and ferns. It’s the peaceful tranquility that seems to put a spell on visitors. There are more than 200 miles of trails that weave through prairies, beaches and redwood forests. Because of the elevations which range from sea level to just over 3,000 feet, the temperatures remain mild year-round. Temporary bridges are used for trails in summer but are removed for the rainy season limiting access to some areas. Go explore! Be sure to pick up a map at the visitor center and chat with the rangers.


One of my family’s very favorite vacation spots of all time, any time of year, is Lake Tahoe where the sun shines over 300 days a year. It is the most phenomenal sight you’ve ever seen when you drive from Carson City up over the mountain and there below you is the most beautiful blue lake surrounded by snow-capped mountains. It will take your breath away! The community at the lake features wonderful places to stay, summer outdoor recreation, sunbathing on the beaches, shopping, restaurants, entertainment, museums, art galleries, skiing, snowboarding and more!


Snow and skiing are a significant part of the area's economy and reputation. The mountain and lake scenery are attractions just in themselves the whole year through. The Nevada side also includes large casinos. Lake Tahoe is the second deepest lake in the United States and about two-thirds of the shoreline is in California. The south shore is dominated by the lake's largest city, South Lake Tahoe, California, which adjoins the town of Stateline, Nevada, while Tahoe City, California is located on the lake's northwest shore. Please remember your sunscreen while here because you can get too tanned just as quickly skiing on snow as you can on the water.


There are just so many, many things to do and fabulous places to see in California. I know I haven’t named all of them, so if you or a family member has a favorite place to recommend please let us know at: info@suntan.com. We would love to share with everyone.


Okay families, now you need to get out your calendars and start planning your trip! Go on your vacation and have a wonderful time, be safe, take lots of pictures and enjoy the sunshine with your family!



-Ms. Suntan


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