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California

From balmy beach towns to Sierra snows, from desert palms to redwood forests, there is almost everything you could imagine in this state. Traveling in California with kids, stand among trees 1,000 years old, fly a Chinese kite in front of the Golden Gate, ride rapids through Gold Country, boogie board on endless beaches, get your picture taken with Minnie or Mickey Mouse at Disneyland, pet a baby cheetah at the San Diego Zoo, or watch the waves break at Big Sur.

Tip for traveling to California with kids: Don't miss our top picks for children's books, see below.
North
  San Francisco
 

Wine Country – Napa, Sonoma

    High Sierra - Yosemite, Lake Tahoe
    Gold Country
    Shasta Cascade
    North Coast
Central
 

Central Coast – Santa Cruz, Monterey, Big Sur, Santa Barbara

    Deserts – Death Valley
South
  Los Angeles – Disneyland
    South Coast
    San Diego
family hotels california
Travel for Kids has so many fun things to do with kids in California, but you'll need a fun place to stay.

Here's our own Travel for Kids hand-picked list of family hotels in California, all styles and price ranges, in neighborhoods that are comfortable for families, and near to places you'll want to explore:

 
San Francisco Anaheim (Disneyland)
Napa Valley Los Angeles
Lake Tahoe South Coast
Monterey Carlsbad
Santa Barbara San Diego
kids books california
     
childrens books Our California  
Our California
Pam Munoz Ryan

Welcome to California, from San Diego to San Juan Capistrano, Los Angeles, the Channel Islands, Monterey, San Francisco, Sacramento, Yosemite, and Death Valley. Lively poems, fun facts and sparkling illustrations, this is our home state. (Picture book)

 

     
Into the Firestorm
Deborah Hopkinson

It's 1906, and young Nick has recently arrived in San Francisco. On the night of the earthquake, Nick leads a little girl and her injured mother to safety, and risks his own life to save his employer's golden dog. A fabulous story that conveys the experience of devastation and heroic efforts after the earthquake. (Chapter book)

 

 
adventure earthquake california kids Into the Firestorm
     
Al Capone Does My Shirts kids california
 

"Today I moved to a twelve acre rock covered with cement." Moose Flanagan was an ordinary 7th grader until his dad takes a job on Alcatraz. Now Moose lives on an island where Al Capone works in the laundry, J. Edgar Hoover gets his pocket picked, and a bunch of kids foil an attempted escape. Two funny, unforgettable adventures on Alcatraz! (Chapter book)

 

     
Gathering the Sun
Alma Flor Ada, Simon Silva

Rich bounty of California harvests and those who work the land, in a Spanish and English alphabet – from arboles (trees) to Cesar Chavez, jardín (garden), zanahoria (carrots) and more. Colorful illustrations in gold, greens, reds and browns, like a cornucopia. (Picture book)

 

 
Gathering the Sun hispanic kids california
     
holidays california kids Cinco de Mayo  
Cinco de Mayo
Diane Hoyt-Goldsmith, Lawrence Migdale

Engaging photo-story of a California family as they celebrate Cinco de Mayo with their friends and community – parades with dancing horses and charros, dances, singing, mariachi music, and delicious food at the fiesta. (Picture book)

 

     

Guide for the adventurer headed for the gold fields – how to get there (overland or by sea), tools of the trade, how to mine for gold, dangers and disasters, fortunes won and lost. Rich historical details and illustrations. (Picture book)

 

 
How to Get Rich in the California Gold Rush history kids
     
california adventure kids By the Great Horn Spoon  
By the Great Horn Spoon
Sid Fleischman

Teenage Jack and Praiseworthy, his family butler, head for the gold fields of California, traveling by sea around Cape Horn. In Hangtown, Praiseworthy takes to gold panning with an umbrella, and together they strike pay dirt. Action-packed reading. (Chapter book)

Don't miss two more great California adventures in this trilogy: Bandit's Moon and The Giant Rat of Sumatra

 

     
Rachel's Journal
Marissa Moss

1850. Rachel's family travel in a covered wagon to California, passing herds of buffalo on the prairie, surviving treacherous river crossings and poisoned waterholes, until journey's end at the Sacramento Valley, "the land of milk and honey." Like a long lost scrapbook, filled with personal details and drawings, this is a gem. (Illustrated chapter book)

 

 
Rachel's Journal pioneers kids california
     
 
Donner Dinner Party
Nathan Hale

Pioneer families going to California didn't have it easy, and it could be downright deadly, as the Donner Party found out. After taking a shortcut, they were trapped by winter snows in the mountains, and some starved to death. A gripping true story, good for older kids. (Graphic novel)

     
Redwoods
Jason Chin

Discover the amazing coast redwoods of California – they live for more than 2,000 years, and are the tallest trees on the planet. Close-up illustrations, from seedling on the forest floor to treetops high in the sky, capture the wonder and majesty of the redwood forest. (Picture book)

 

 
nature childrens books california Redwoods
     
Sierra nature kids California  
Sierra
Diane Siebert, Wendell Minor

Poem and stunning illustrations bring to light the Sierra Nevada – glacier-carved granite rocks, majestic sequoias, graceful deer, big black bears, clear streams and alpine lakes, the wide-open high country. (Picture book)

 

     
Pop's Bridge
Eve Bunting, C.F. Payne

"My pop is building the Golden Gate Bridge." Two boys watch their dads work on the bridge, skywalkers who string the cables, painters, carpenters, riveters, laborers, working together to build the most beautiful bridge. (Picture book)

 

 
Pop's Bridge
     
facts california G is for Golden kids  
G is for Golden
David Domeniconi, Pam Carroll

California from A to Z in quick rhymes and fun facts, plus richly detailed illustrations. "A is for Alcatraz, an island in San Francisco Bay, a fun place to visit, but you wouldn't want to stay." (Picture book)

 

(More children's books on other California pages)
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