10 Awesome Kid-Friendly Places in Northern California to Visit this Summer
Enjoy any or all of these kid-friendly places in Northern California
If you are looking for kid-friendly places in Northern California, this list of 10 Awesome Places to Take Your Kids This Summer in Northern California is the perfect place to start. Whether you are spending time in the San Francisco area or looking to explore the northern part of the state, you’re sure to find something to please every kid in your family!
If you’re looking to go to Southern California we’ve got you covered there too. Check out our article 10 Awesome Kid-Friendly Places in Southern California.
Northern California is a beautiful place for a family vacation. Explore rocky northern beaches and redwood forests in Humbolt county. Or wander the steeply-hilled city streets of San Francisco, one of the most artistic and enchanting cities in the world. Whether your kids love animals, museums, or playing in the water, this list of kid-friendly places in Northern California will help you find someplace perfect to explore.
Monterey Bay Aquarium
Monterey Bay Aquarium – Monterey, CA (Monterey Bay Aquarium)
Do your kids love nature and learning about the wonderful creatures living in or near the ocean? If so, the Monterey Bay Aquarium is one of the best kid-friendly places in Northern California to visit. Enjoy daily shows, live cams, beautiful exhibits, and other fun adventures. You and your family can learn all about some of the amazing animals with whom we share our planetary home. Be sure to check out their website before your trip to see what is coming up on their schedule. Print up some fun coloring pages and other activities for your kids while you’re at it. It will give them something fun to do while on the road!
The Exploratorium – San Francisco, CA (The Exploratorium)
No trip to San Francisco is complete without a visit to the Exploratorium. A science museum and then-some, the Exploratorium is an amazing experience for kids and adults. Everywhere you turn is something wonderful to learn about through play and interaction. Not only that but by interacting with the various activities they offer, you help others to learn, as well. The Exploratorium may be dedicated to science, but at times it can seem downright magical. It has a way of making you feel young at heart, regardless of your age. It’s a great place to spend the day, playing with your kids as you learn and explore the wonders of the world together!
California State Railroad Museum
California State Railroad Museum – Sacramento, CA (California State Railroad Museum)
If your kids love trains, they will be completely thrilled when you take them to the California State Railroad Museum in the Old Sacramento area of Sacramento. Explore the beautifully restored train cars and engines while learning the history of the railroad. Every weekend from April to September, you and your family can enjoy a trip back in history. The incredible 40-minute Excursion Train Ride is pulled by either a steam or a vintage diesel engine. And if you are local, you can even have your kid’s birthday party at this wonderful museum!
Winchester Mystery House
Winchester Mystery House – San Jose, CA (Winchester Mystery House)
If your kids are into spooky places, the Winchester Mystery House is an amazing place to visit. This beautiful Victorian mansion is a stunning place of beauty and well-worth seeing, whether or not you believe that spirits really wander inside. The regular tour takes you through 110 of the 160 rooms found in this beautiful mansion, and the tour guides are friendly and knowledgeable, with many wonderful stories to share. The grounds outside of the house are wonderful, too, filled with gardens and a carriage house and other great things for kids to see and explore. And if you watch closely, maybe you’ll even catch a glimpse of Sarah Winchester!I’ve been on this tour without my daughter as she doesn’t love scary stuff. It was interesting but unfortunately, you can’t take photos inside the house but you can take photos outside. The grounds themselves are quite lovely and can make for a good spot for an impromptu family photo. I was there in the summer, just remember San Jose is warm that time of the year so I would go in the morning with kids and make sure to have water on hand.
Cable Car Museum
Cable Car Museum – San Francisco, CA (Cable Car Museum)
If your kids are into Cable Cars or machinery, a visit to the Cable Car Museum in San Francisco is definitely in order. The museum has a wonderful collection of photos, displays, and real cable cars. Kids will love seeing all the amazing exhibits and watching the working models as they run. With so much to see and do, they may even learn something while having fun!
Sequoia Park Zoo
Sequoia Park Zoo – Eureka, CA (Sequoia Park Zoo)
If you are visiting Northern California, a visit to Humbolt County is like taking a trip to another world. The old growth redwood forest is a magical place to be, and the small towns of Eureka and Arcata are wonderful places to explore. If you visit, be sure to drop by the Sequoia Park Zoo in Eureka. This wonderful zoo might be small, but as the oldest zoo in California, it is rich in history. Spend time with adorable red pandas, spider monkeys, and gibbons, walk through the aviary and hang out with goats and sheep in the Contact Corral. Kids will love this wonderful zoo and the way they make visitors feel right at home!
Alcatraz Island – San Francisco, CA (Alcatraz Island)
Although prison is no place for children, Alcatraz Island is one of the best kid-friendly places in Northern California. The fun boat ride across San Francisco Bay is just the beginning of your adventure to “Pelican Island” where the infamous prison of Alcatraz awaits. “The Rock” is well-known for many famous prisoners, and for its reputation as being impossible to escape. Kids will love the spooky atmosphere, fun boat ride, and stunning views of San Francisco across the bay. Whether you are just passing through on vacation or are a resident of northern California, Alcatraz is always worth a visit!
Forestiere Underground Gardens
Forestiere Underground Gardens – Fresno, CA (Forestiere Underground Gardens)
In the heart of the city of Fresno is a place of pure wonder – the Forestiere Underground Gardens. This amazing garden is over 110 years old and must be seen to be believed. Wander a network of hand-built passageways and underground rooms where you will find an incredible assortment of fruit trees, vines, shrubs and more, all growing underground. The Forestiere Underground Gardens are a great place to escape from the summer heat as you explore a place that must be seen to be believed!
Aqua Adventure Waterpark
Aqua Adventure Waterpark – Fremont, CA (Aqua Adventure Waterpark)
When you are looking for kid-friendly places in Northern California, the Aqua Adventure Waterpark in Fremont is the perfect place to let your kids blow off a little steam while making a big splash. From the Lazy River to the Lil’ Squirts splash pad, there is a fun place to play in the water for every member of your family. And if you live in the area, the Aqua Adventure Waterpark offers swim lessons and fun classes for kids of all ages!
Turtle Bay Exploration Park
Turtle Bay Exploration Park – Redding, CA (Turtle Bay Exploration Park)
The incredible Turtle Bay Exploration Park is an amazing place to explore for every member of your family. This beautiful facility features a museum, wildlife center, botanical gardens, and the famous Sundial Bridge, which is one of the largest sundials in the world. Learn about plants, animals, and conservation as you and your family explore hiking trails along the beautiful Sacramento River.
When on vacation this summer, keep these kid-friendly places in Northern California in mind. Busy kids are happy kids, which will make your vacation time even better! Where would you like to go first?
PIN this article for when you plan your trip to Northern California!
Here are some great resources & products you may want to have before you travel and some to take with you.