Hidden California Travel Blog

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Welcome to our new travel blog. Where do our readers like to go? Please tell us about your favorite California travel spots with one or two images to share, and we may post them here along with occasional travel tips.

 

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Traveling with kids

Affordable tips
for traveling
with little kids,
stress-free
 

When you have little ones, traveling can be a serious source of stress. Ideally, you want vacations to be relaxing opportunities to get away from the demands of daily life. However, the extra work of keeping everyone content on the trip can make it feel less like a getaway. Fortunately, you can reduce the stress of traveling with small children, and you don't need to spend a bundle to do it. Here are a few affordable tips for stress-free traveling with your kids:

Get Ahead of Luggage Worries

One thing most parents worry about when traveling with little kids is keeping track of luggage. Small children are notorious for putting things down somewhere then wandering away. In an airport and if your youngster is big enough to carry their own, Mapping Megan notes this can be a recipe for disaster. Moreover, there's always a concern that another passenger might accidentally grab your luggage, leaving you stuck without your things.

One way to reduce these worries is to get everyone in your family matching luggage. This will ideally be in a bright, difficult-to-miss color. This way you'll notice if your little one wanders away from their carry-on, and you're less likely to have someone grab your things by mistake. Search for something that rolls, which will be easier for your little one to manage, and check out online luggage deals so you don't have to spend an arm and a leg.

Bring Along Entertainment

One of the best things you can do to keep little kids content on the road or in the air is provide plenty of entertainment. Bring along lots of books and quiet toys, and load up a few favorite movies on a tablet, phone, or computer. Then, when they get fidgety, point them toward one of their toys. An audiobook can also be the perfect source of calm entertainment in this situation.

Little toys and pre-loaded movies can also save you a ton at the destination. You'd be amazed how quickly pay-per-view movies at the hotel can add up - having something already downloaded will cut costs substantially.

Plan All-Ages Activities

When figuring out what to do on your trip, you may be tempted to pick a lot of activities that are either mainly for the grown-ups or mainly for the kids. However, the more outings you can plan that have multi-generational appeal, the happier everyone is going to be. You don't want the vacation to be a constant flux between "fun for them" and "fun for you."

Museums are a great option for all members of the family, particularly if they can balance great visuals with plenty of information. Science museums geared toward children can be particularly engaging for both little ones and adults. As EdSurge notes, you can use the interactive exhibits as an opportunity to introduce them to some scientific concepts. You might even learn something new along the way, too! Many museums are free to kids under a certain age as well, so check particulars before you visit.

Another idea is to give you and your kids an outlet for energy. Physical activities and outings in nature, such as hiking or visiting a beach, tend to appeal to all ages, and they're a great way to stretch your legs when you've been cooped up in a vehicle. On top of that, they won't break the bank.

Build In Plenty of Breaks

Little kids have endless energy…until they don't. Anyone who has spent time around a toddler knows the importance of regular naps. Make sure to build this time into your day. These breaks are a good opportunity for you, as well. You can use this time to unwind and read a book, or take a nice relaxing bath.

If you're traveling with other adults, you can trade babysitting duty during nap times and spend the downtime doing something the kids wouldn't enjoy. It's a great way to corral stress and make the most of your pennies and your moments.

Traveling with little ones doesn't have to be stressful, nor does it mean overspending. With the right plan you can ensure that you and the kids all have a great time on your trip. Enjoy your adventure together as a family, and build memories to look back on forever!

 

Glass Beach

 Glass Beach
Fort Bragg, CA

See glass close up

Glass Beach is a beach in Fort Bragg, California that is abundant in sea glass created from years of dumping garbage into an area of coastline near the northern part of the town. In the early 20th century, Fort Bragg residents threw their household garbage over cliffs owned by the Union Lumber Company onto what is now Glass Beach, discarding glass, appliances, and even vehicles. Locals referred to it as "The Dumps." Fires were lit to reduce the size of the trash pile.

The California State Water Resources Control Board and city leaders closed the area in 1967.Various cleanup programs were undertaken through the years to correct the damage. Over the next several decades the pounding waves cleaned the beach, by breaking down everything but glass and pottery and tumbling those into the small, smooth, colored pieces that cover Glass Beach.

There are three Glass Beach sites in Fort Bragg where trash was dumped into ocean between 1906 and 1967. Glass Beach Site Two and Three (1943-1949) are located at the end of the path that begins on the corner of Elm Street and Glass Beach Drive. These sites are accessible by foot and by a short climb down the cliffs surrounding the beach. Site One (1906-1943) is located south of Sites One and Two and can only be accessed by water because there is no trespassing on the cliffs above the cove.

In 1998, the private owner of the property determined that Glass Beach should belong to the public, and in 2002 it was incorporated into MacKerricher State Park. The beach is now frequently visited by tourists. Collecting is not permitted on the park's beach, although sea glass can be found on other local beaches outside the park boundary. A Glass Festival is held annually on Memorial Day weekend.

Trona Pinnacles

Trona Pinnacles
Trona, CA

The Trona Pinnacles is one of the most unusual geological features in the California Desert National Conservation Area. They grow at an elevation of 1,800 feet above sea level and are located approximately 10 miles south of Trona, California. The unusual landscape consists of more than 500 tufa spires (porous rock formed as a deposit when springs interact with other bodies of water), some as high as 140 feet, rising from the bed of the Searles Lake (dry) basin. They now sit isolated and slowly crumbling away near the south end of the valley, surrounded by many square miles of flat, dried mud and with stark mountain ranges at either side.

The Pinnacles are recognizable in more than a dozen hit movies. Over 30 film projects a year are shot among the tufa pinnacles, including backdrops for car commercials and sci-fi movies and television series such as Battlestar Galactica, Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, Disney's Dinosaur, The Gate II, Lost in Space, and Planet of the Apes.

Access to the site is from a BLM dirt road (RM143) that leaves State Highway 178, about 7.7 miles east of the intersection of State Highway 178 and the Trona-Red Mountain Road. The 5-mile long dirt road from State Highway 178 to the Pinnacles is usually accessible to 2-wheel drive vehicles, however, the road may be closed during the winter months after a heavy rain. They are well worth the visit.

Portola Expedition Marker

San Francisco Bay
Discovery Site
Pacifica, CA

Elephant Seal

 

Located in the town of Pacifica, California, the site of the discovery of San Francisco Bay consists of the point at which the Portola Expedition, 1769, crossed over Sweeney Ridge, and for the first time, came to view one of the world's largest sheltered anchorages. From the top of Sweeney Ridge one can see not only inland to the Bay, but north along the ocean coast as far as Point Reyes. In late October of 1769, Captain Gaspar de Portola and his party of sixty men (with a caravan of 200 horses and mules for riding and the pack train) had come from San Diego in search of Monterey Bay, but from their overland approach, they had failed to recognize it. 

On November 1, 1769, Sergeant Ortega with a squad of scouts began a three-day reconnoitering tour. Somewhere along the five mile stretch between Mussel Rock and the summit (Point Reyes), Ortega saw San Francisco Bay on his first day of scouting. Three days of slow travel then brought the expedition to the site of modern Palo Alto where a new base camp was made to await Ortega's probing of the east side of the estuary. Ortega returned in four days with discouraging news. He observed great stretches of burned-over land leaving no pasture for the expedition's livestock. A council was then called and the decision was made to return to San Diego.

The Portola Expedition ultimately accomplished its purpose of finding Monterey Bay. The San Francisco region was further explored by Lieutenant Pedro Pagas in 1772 and by Juan Bautista de Anza in 1776. The importance of the inland bay was further emphasized by the establishment of a presidio and two missions in the environs of the bay. Today, the site of the discovery of San Francisco Bay consists essentially of two knolls from which the member of the expedition acquired the view. There are two commemorative monuments that celebrate the Gaspar de Portola Expedition. The Portola Site monument, shown here, was erected in 1968 when the site received its National Historic Landmark designation.

Bridgeport Bridge

Bridgeport Bridge
Bridgeport, CA

 

One of the most beautiful bridges in Nevada County, if not in all of the Gold Country, is the Bridgeport covered bridge on the South Fork of the Yuba River in the South Yuba River State Park. The present road to French Corral, Nevada County, leaves Highway 20 midway between Smartville and Rough and Ready. That paved road twists and turns for 5 miles before passing close by the longest single-span covered bridge in the nation.

The 233-foot-long Bridgeport Bridge, or Wood's Crossing, was originally constructed in 1862 and was part of the Virginia Turnpike Company Toll Road that served the northern mines and traffic to and from Virginia City and the Comstock Lode in Nevada. More than a century ago, pioneers and miners paid a $2 toll to drive their wagons and horses across the river. Now, traffic is limited to pedestrians only and there is no toll.

On October 20, 1997, there was a flood on the South Yuba River that almost took out the bridge. It was 135 years old at the time and workers put in 10-hour days making repairs on the landmark wooden bridge. But it still needs more work. On April 24, 2014 the State Assembly Budget Subcommittee voted 4-0 to support the State Senate's recommendation to fully fund restoration of the bridge. Visitor Center hours: 11am to 4pm all days from Memorial Day to Labor Day and Thursday to Sunday from Labor Day to Memorial Day.

Hubcap Ranch

The Hubcap Ranch
Pope Valley, CA

Hubcap driveway

Wouldn't you stop if you were driving along and came to a spot that has more than 5,000 hubcaps, hundreds of old license plates, highway signs of every description, odd-shaped tail lights that defy counting, and zillions of beverage can bottoms fashioned into little fans that twinkle in the sun? Such a spot can be found north of Pope Valley on the road to Middletown. It is rather difficult to miss because the entrance stands out like a diamond in the rough.

The man behind this unusual collection was Italian-born Litto Damonte, who spent most of his life in San Francisco before retiring to Pope Valley in 1942. The hubcap king started his collection of "highway art" by nailing pieces to the garage in back of his home. Over the years his collection grew to the point where it covers the house, patio, porch, trees, fences and outbuildings.

"Anything that hit the ground and broke, he made into art," says his grandson Mike Damonte."He really liked anything that was shiny." In 1987, two years after Litto died, Hubcap Ranch was named a State Historic Landmark, complete with a plaque proclaiming it an "exceptional twentieth century folk art environment." Mike Damonte took over the ranch in 1982 and has been a faithful servant of the hubcaps, allowing a steady stream of car clubs, preschools, European tourists and biker gangs to stop and gaze upon the gleaming assemblage.

If you go, be polite and quiet, people live there!

Olema Fault Line

Earthquake Walks
Olema, CA and
Pt. Arena, CA

Point Arena Cove

When we talk about land movement, we normally associate it with big real estate deals that boggle the mind. But in the case of a little spot near Olema, in Marin County, we're talking about earth-shaking news! In 1906, the San Andreas Fault shook, rattled and rolled, causing widespread damage throughout California.

At Olema, the effects were noted mostly by terrain movement. Fences and trees moved more than 10 feet, primarily because the Pacific Plate and the Eastern Plate converge at this point. Pressure between the two plates far below the surface builds up over time, setting up stresses that cause upheavals when they let go. During the 1906 upheaval, the Point Reyes Peninsula moved 16.4 feet to the northwest.

Just west of Olema, Bear Valley, which is a part of the Point Reyes National Park, offers visitors the opportunity to walk the earthquake trail and learn more about our shifting and ever-changing world. A short paved loop explores the Fault Zone and interpretive signs describe the geology of the area. This trail begins at the southeast corner of the Bear Valley Picnic Area, across the street from the Bear Valley Visitor Center.

A lesser-known place to view the San Andreas Fault is from Point Arena Cove in Mendocino County. One could say that the fault's lowest point is in the Pacific Ocean west of Point Arena. You can have lunch at the wharf and enjoy a glass of wine while looking across the cove to the telltale streaks in the cliff, hoping that they don't move anytime soon.

Ellen DeGeneres Show

 Hidden Gems
in Burbank

 

 

Burbank is considered the "media capital of the world," and this vibrant California town is full of attractions and entertainment surrounding its culture of film and theater. While many people are familiar with the more popular studios in Burbank, check out these hidden gems you may not have known found their home in Burbank.

The Ellen Show

If you've ever dreamed of being an audience member for a taping of "The Ellen DeGeneres Show," but didn't know how or where to go, you can finally put those plans to action by visiting Burbank. The Ellen Show is filmed at Warner Brothers Studio, which is located in Burbank. Laugh your head off at her hilarious celebrity interviews or marvel at the incredible stories and talents of ordinary people invited to share on her show. You could also get lucky with some of her amazing audience gifts and giveaways.

Martial Arts History Museum

You won't find this kind of museum in most towns. Visiting the Martial Arts History Museum is a one-of-a-kind experience, and something the whole family can enjoy. Learn about the history of various styles of martial arts and how they influenced the culture and development of countries, including the United States. This museum was designed by artists from the Walt Disney Company and DreamWorks, so you know it will be a sight to behold.

Flappers Comedy Club

From seasoned greats to up-and-comings, see the best acts in comedy as they perform center stage at Flappers Comedy Club. There are always Comedy Central stars and national headliners, but you may also be privileged to witness some of the first work of potential superstars of the comedy world.

 

 

 

 

 

Please tell us about your favorite California travel spots or travel tips!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Great links:

Ideas for or fun road trips 

California Hwy 395 Road Trip 

Strangely Awesome Stuff

 

 

 

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