Q. Donna C. of Northern California writes that her family with 5 and 6-year-old children is looking for a Thanksgiving getaway within driving distance, that is off the beaten path, relatively quiet, outdoorsy and environmentally friendly.
A. From mapping the location of your current home, we see that you already live in a very beautiful part of the country near Palo Alto. But since you want quiet, and a route without traffic, here are a few special places suggested by other FTF families from California.
One is the rustic and wonderful Montecito-Sequoia Lodge in Kings Canyon National Park, about a 3.5 hour drive from you. It’s a small place in the number of cabins, but there’s lots of land packed with redwoods and great outdoors programs for young children. At the holidays, they usually do group style meals and have special guided walks and activities to match the season.
Here’s the review from Family Travel Forum of Montecito Sequoia Lodge when it won the Top 10 Getaways Awards.
Another personal favorite is Pt. Reyes National Seashore. We spent a week there with our 3-year-old in a very comfortable rental cottage just outside the small town of Pt. Reyes. As you know, the area is famous for its great food and wine, and the restaurants are very kid-welcoming as so many families stop by to eat early. We walked from our cottage past fields filled with deer and took short hikes in the National Seashore, where he could see elk in the distance and seal out at the beach. Since you have a few days, you spend one on the land hikes through gentle hills, and another one near the beautiful seashore — beautiful to watch but way too rough to swim in. You mentioned your interest in a pool and while you won’t find one at these small cottages, our had a hot tub that our son loved and many of them do. For real budget accommodation, there is a youth hostel in a lighthouse in the park.
Here is the review of a family stay in Pt. Reyes National Seashore.
Another place that is quiet and won’t be so busy is Yosemite National Park. While it’s very popular, this is sort of between seasons for them as their ski area will just be opening then. However, there are some great places to stay ranging from rustic tents to nice hotels, and the outdoor skating rink will be open. If you are concerned about the traffic, you might consider an Amtrak train to Merced, where you can catch a shuttle bus to the lodgings. Your kids would probably enjoy a train ride if they haven’t been on one before.
Here is a story about Yosemite National Park in winter, and there are other travel FTF blogs about summer activities, many of which will still be available.
Photo courtesy Jim Bahn via Flickr Creative Commons License
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