5 Places to Visit In Northern CA with Kids

5 Places to Visit in Northern CA with Kids

We headed to Northern California from Paris (where Aaron’s parents live) while we waited to hear back from various job opportunities and before finally accepting an offer in Washington state (you can read more about that here).

While we were there, we wanted to take advantage of all the neat things to see and do and so we tried to take our family on several outings. Here are some of our favorite things we did in the area.

The Beach

5 Places to Visit In Northern CA with Kids

It might not be as warm as Southern California, but Northern California still has some amazing beaches. We went to Half Moon Bay the first weekend in April and while we were in long sleeves, we still enjoyed the sunshine, the sand, and had a fantastic picnic with my in-laws.

Beautiful wildflowers were all over the hills above the ocean and since Half Moon Bay is a State Beach, there were no ugly buildings nearby and one could really enjoy being out in nature.

For more information on Half Moon Bay State Beach, click here.

Sacramento Zoo

Sacramento Zoo is such a great zoo. It’s small enough to see everything in one visit while still giving plenty to do during the day. Plus it has an awesome playground which was perfect for our girls to run around on after the hour long drive from my in-laws.

Our favorite animals to see were the giraffes, the giant anteater, and the red panda (which was actually awake and super cute during our visit).

Admission is fairly inexpensive ($15 for adults and $10 for kids 2 and up) and you can even bundle it with tickets to Fairytale Town which is a small amusement park across the street from the zoo.

For more information, click here.

Monterey Bay Aquarium

5 Places to Visit In Northern CA with Kids

I’ve always loved Monterey. I visited for the first time back when I was 14 and just fell in love with the area and of course, the aquarium.

Since then, I’ve been back a few times and have always loved my time there. We were very excited to go with Aaron’s parents in April to celebrate London’s birthday and to take our girls for the first time.

5 Places to Visit In Northern CA with Kids

One of our favorite activities at the museum was the Kelp Forest Feeding. We learned about the different fish that live there and then watched a diver hand feed each one. It was so interesting and beautiful to watch.

5 Places to Visit In Northern CA with Kids
She loved how this little penguin kept swimming right up to her

The museum is also incredibly kid friendly. There were several areas where the girls could touch different sea animals or sea plants, a couple playgrounds and play areas (including a special area just for little ones 4 and under), and little tunnels to climb through. I noticed special little seats in the restrooms for kids and also a couple Mothers’ Rooms.

5 Places to Visit In Northern CA with Kids

We also loved walking out onto the back deck and seeing the ocean all around us. We saw wild sea lions and otters and just enjoyed the view.

Our favorite exhibits were definitely the Kelp Forest feeding, the penguins, and the cuttlefish.

We also grabbed lunch at the museum, which was delicious.

For more information, click here.

The whole area around the aquarium is beautiful and fun to walk around as well. There are also tons of great restaurants in the area (we grabbed dinner at Bubba Gumps).


5 Places to Visit In Northern CA with Kids

My husband grew up visiting Yosemite and the girls and I were excited to visit for our first time in April. There is a ton to see in the National Park and it’s a wonderful place to spend a day (or several days if you have the time).

5 Places to Visit In Northern CA with Kids
Ready to check out some waterfalls

We started our day off with a picnic at the base of El Capitan next to a river. The girls had a blast checking out the water and running around after our long car ride.

Next, we checked out Lower Yosemite Fall Trail, which was a really easy walk. We never made it to the base of the waterfall due to the path being flooded, but it was another great place for our girls to get out and enjoy nature and we still had a great view of the falls the entire time without getting all wet. 😉

5 Places to Visit In Northern CA with Kids
Such a great view!

Our oldest really wanted to see snow and the girls were due for a nap by the time we finished our little walk, so my father in law drove up towards Wawona (I think) to try and get higher in the mountains where the snow was, but the road ended up being closed. On our way up though, we stopped at an incredible look out at Tunnel View (along Hwy 41) where we could see Bridal Veil Falls, El Capitan, and Half Dome all at the same time. It was gorgeous and totally worth the little bit of a drive (plus it gave our girls time to rest a bit).

5 Places to Visit In Northern CA with Kids

Our last stop for the day was Bridalveil Falls. We walked up the the base of the waterfalls and while it was very wet, it was also very beautiful!

We loved our day at Yosemite and hope to visit again in the future!

For more information on the National Park, visit their website here.

San Francisco

5 Places to Visit In Northern CA with Kids

Alright, I’ll be honest with this one – my husband and I actually left our girls with their grandparents and snuck away to San Francisco for one of our last days in California. It was wonderful spending the day just the two of us, but I do hope to bring our girls sometime as well. There’s tons to see with or without kids.

One thing that I loved walking through was the Ferry Building marketplace. They had an awesome selection of food and local items. It’s a great place to stop for lunch.

Another place that’s always fun to walk around (even if it is touristy) is Pier 39. We got the classic clam chowder in a bread bowl and it was delicious. There’s lots of fun shops and a huge carousel. Also, if you head up to the second floor, you can get a great view of the infamous sea lions with far less crowds.

There’s tons and tons to do with kids in San Francisco. High on our list for when we do go back with our girls is the California Academy of Sciences, ride a cable car (have you read Maybelle the Cable Car? Such a cute story that ties in perfectly with a visit to the city), and visit the Exploratorium.

For more fun, family friendly ideas in San Francisco, check out this awesome map.

5 Places to Visit In Northern CA with Kids
The Painted Ladies

*Bonus: Calavera Big Trees State Park

We didn’t get a chance to go on this trip, but we love visiting the Big Trees. It’s a state park that is full of redwoods and has easy walking paths perfect for small children. Last time we went, London was a little over 1.5 years old and I was super pregnant with Adeline and we had a great time. The path was even nice enough for pushing a stroller on (which was perfect because London napped for about half of our walk). We’d love to come back again next time with both of our girls!

For more information, click here.

What did you think of 5 Places to Visit In Northern CA with Kids? What places do you love in the area that I left out? Comment below some of your favorite places to visit!

Bébé Voyage

4 thoughts on “5 Places to Visit In Northern CA with Kids

  1. We’re currently travelling with our two little ones (2 and 1) and were wondering about a stop in Monterey and a trip to the aquarium and your post here has just made me decide we should definitely do it! Thank you 🙂 #bebevoyage


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