Berkeley, California (EastBayDaily) — With Memorial Day launching the start of summer in just a few weeks, many families are getting ready to embark on their annual camping trip. To help families plan this year’s trip, Tom Stienstra—award-winning travel writer, outdoor columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle, and author of the newly released Moon California Camping—is offering his recommendations for California’s top 10 campgrounds for families.
With plenty of breathtaking parks and lakes—including Yosemite National Park and Lake Tahoe—California is the ideal destination for families looking for a fun outdoor adventure. According to Stienstra, there are many ways to make the camping experience more kid-friendly.
“Remember to take kids to places where they’re guaranteed action. Camp in a park where large numbers of wildlife can be seen, go on a fishing trip, or to a hunting spot. Be enthusiastic, it’s contagious,’’ Stienstra said. “Another tip is to show kids how to do something rather than lecture to them. The biggest tip is to just let kids be kids, and let the adventure happen.”
For the ultimate (and family-friendly) California camping trip, Stienstra recommends the following destinations:
1. Historic Camp Richardson Resort, on Lake Tahoe. With cabins, restaurants, and live music (often nightly in summer) also on the property, this place that offers one big package for the entire family.
2. Lake Siskiyou Camp-Resort, near Mount Shasta. This gem of a lake offers a variety of quality recreation options with great swimming, low-speed boating, and fishing.
3. Lake Alpine Campground, on Lake Alpine in Stanislaus National Forest. Lake Alpine is one of the prettiest lakes that you can drive to, set at 7,303 feet elevation amid pines and Sierra granite. Kids will have fun swimming, fishing and romping in the sun.
4. Convict Lake, in Inyo National Forest. After driving U.S. 395 to get here, it is always astonishing to clear the rise and see Convict Lake and its gemlike waters set in a mountain bowl beneath a back wall of high, jagged wilderness peaks.
5. Summit Lake: in Lassen Volcanic National Park. Summit Lake is the most popular lake for swimming in the park. Evening walks around the lake are perfect for families.
6. MacKerricher State Park, north of Fort Bragg overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The camps are set in a coastal forest, with gorgeous walk-in sites. Nearby is a small beach, great tide pools kids will love to explore, and a rocky point where harbor seals hang out in the sun.
7. Serrano, on Big Bear Lake in San Bernardino National Forest. Big Bear is the jewel of Southern California lakes, the Lake Tahoe of the South, with outstanding trout fishing and waterskiing.
8. Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, Redwood Empire. This park consists of old-growth coastal redwoods, prairie lands, and 10 miles of scenic open beach perfect for sunbathing or building sand castles with the kids.
9. Gaviota State Park/ El Capitán State Beach, near Santa Barbara. Spectacular and beautiful, Gaviota State Park covers 2,700 acres, providing trails for hiking and horseback riding, as well as a mile-long stretch of stunning beach frontage. El Capitán has a sandy beach and rocky tide pool. The water is warm, and the swimming good.
10. Dorst Creek, on Dorst Creek in Sequoia National Park. Dorst Creek is a favorite for families because the spacious sites are set beneath a forest canopy and the campground itself is huge.
For more information on camping in California, or more detailed travel tips and advice on California travel, visit the Moon Travel Guides website.
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