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Travel Tip For Today

Bring one pair of comfortable walking shoes as well as a pair of sandals or Tevas. Before you leave home, break in your new shoes so you're not uncomfortable on the road.

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Pacific States

California, Oregon, Washington

California Family Adventure

California is one large state that covers a number of types of destinations for your family to choose from. Well start at the south and head north, and then go out-of-state north into Oregon and Washington.

San Diego was the first town to grow in California following the arrival of Europeans, and its missionMission Basilica San Diego de Alcalawas the first in the string of 21 missions up the Camino Real. As the territory and then state grew, the hub of activity moved northward out of San Diego. But for the last 100 years San Diego has been putting itself back on the map.

The weather and ocean are beautiful and mild in the San Diego area, often with the summer morning fogs so common in San Francisco and other coastal towns. And San Diego does revolve around the water, despite increased growth inland. The Coronado, Mission Bay, and Balboa Park are among the loveliest areas.

San Diego is best known for two thingsthe San Diego Zoo and Wildlife Park and the military establishments. While both are all worth a visit, dont leave out Sea World, Old Town, the Mission, Point Loma, Del Mar, the water sports and ocean fishing available. There is excellent shopping downtown, and San Diego continues to provide great convention and meeting facilities.

Heading north, we come to the Los Angeles area, which everyone knows is the home of Hollywood and Disneyland. Fantasyland fits right in in Southern California. But not only is Disneyland available for you to enjoy (again and again)there is also Knotts Berry Farm and Universal Studios. To be more exact, and to get you pointed in the right direction, Disneyland is in Anaheim, Knotts Berry Farm is in Buena Park, and Universal Studios is in Universal City. But Hollywood is still in Hollywood, unless its on location elsewhere. Many studios open their doors to guests, so check with your favorite film studio or one located near your lodgings.

There is so much packed into this area. Some folks come just for Disneylandwhich is always funbut at least be aware of all the rest the Los Angeles Area has to offer. There is a museum honoring each numerous cultures and human endeavors, there are libraries and gardens and zoos tucked here and there. Many colleges and universities are in the area fro a family to check out for future college students/ Science, especially marine science, looms large on the southern California coast. History pops up in odd places in a city that, the more carefully you look, the less plastic it becomes. Culture comes together here and people try out their dreams under the fun. And while the sun does seem to be shining most of the time, right along the coast it is usually mild all year long.

Bridging from southern to northern California, you have your choice of following the coastal route, or giving the Central Valley a try. The Valley is very large and very special. Basically, the San Joaquin River flows up from the south and the Sacramento from the north, meeting in the Delta and dumping into San Francisco Bay. When Europeans first arrived, the Central Valley was mostly marshlandlush ad teaming with game. Now, this is a long drive through agricultural lands and growing towns, or you might want to include Palm Springs or Death Valley.

The coastal route is at least as long a drive and includes some great scenery. Parts of Highway I are not comfortable for those afraid of heights or who tend to carsickness. Favorite stops along the way are San Luis Obispo, San Simeon (reservations required at Hearst Castle), Monterey (and that great aquarium), Carmel, Santa Cruz, and maybe a fair and festival like Gilroys Garlic Festival or Watsonvilles Artichoke Festival.

Even those who dont know much about San Francisco and the Bay Area have an opinion about it. There is so much history, such a multiplicity of peoples and things, that everyone seems to be touched somehow by happenings in and near San Franciscowhether its Silicon Valley, sports teams, universities, social upheaval and re-evaluation, seismic and wildlife activities including wayward whales, immigration events.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the San Francisco Bay is the gathering of cultures. You can immerse yourself in several Asian cultural areas (Chinatown in San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose; Japan Town in San Francisco; Southeast Asian communities), Hispanic areas (the Mission in San Francisco), Mexican, Central American and Filipino areas throughout the Bay Area); European (North Beachs Italian community, the Russian community out in the Avenues); Native American enclaves quietly maintained here and there (remember when the Indians reclaimed Alcatraz?); and African American communities of long standing in San Francisco and Oakland. A very proud and elite community has grown from those settlers. Also, San Francisco became the seat of the Russian Royalists in exile, providing the basis for a Russian community, which now welcomes a generation of Russians out exploring the world.

For natural wonders, expect diversity in opportunities and in weather. Water sports are not as popular as in warmer, more southern climes, but whale watching and ocean fishing trips are available, there are yacht harbors and marinas here and there, and the San Francisco Maritime Museum is fascinating. Angel Island is a great getaway by ferry from Tiburon in Marin with bike and hiking trails. The Golden Gate National Recreation Area encompasses large chunks of land along the ocean, including Fort Mason and the Golden Gate Bridge. Extreme effort by many individuals is working toward a natural hiking trail that will completely encircle the Bay area. The trail down the East Bay is complete, and other portions are in place, but the final trail will be awesome and definitely will not be possible in one days march. There are resorts, spas, tennis clubs, golf courses, skating rinks, racetracks, etc, to meet anyones desires.

The entire San Francisco Bay Area loves to party. Opening Day on the Bay, Mardis Gras, St. Patricks Day, Cinco de Mayo, Chinese New Years, and the list goes on and on. And the Bay Area has been a favorite home for many musicians and artists, from the conservative to the avant-garde. Rarely will you see such diversity of peoples and architectureOK, rarely on the West Coast.

Whether you are looking for a quiet foggy day in the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park, a fast and furious day of shopping downtown, a day at the races at Golden Gate Fields, museum hopping at the De Young, the Mexican, the Asian, the California Museum of History, the Cartoon Art, the Performing Arts, the Oakland Museum, or the Exploratorium, bicycling down the Peninsula, enjoying the grand old hotel-now-spa Caremont in the Oakland hills, re-visiting the Old Fillmore Theater and the Haight-Ashbury, hitting the theater district (dont forget Beach Blanket Babylon!), or round tripping on the various ferries on the Bay, watching the seals and windsurfers, circling Alcatraz and flying a kite off the sternits worth a trip!

Several hours east of San Francisco is Lake Tahoe. Lake Tahoe perches atop the Sierra Nevada Mountains in the elbow angle between California and Nevada. At over 6,000 feet elevation, the weather is alpine. Long known for its pure, deep, blue waters, this jewel is surrounded by mountain peeks, smaller lakes, meadows, and the long slow decline to the Nevada salt flats to the east and the Sacramento Valley to the west.

Tahoe is not a cosmopolitan metropolis, but it does abound with natural beauties and nature explorations, water sports, snow sports and hiking in excess. Needless to say, this is a small sampling of what the Golden State has to offer.

California Cuisine

Dining in California is so great for the family, because such a wide menu is offered almost everywhere you go, which will please every family member. While in San Diego, be sure to grab some delicious Mexican food, as San Diego is full of taco and burrito hot spots made by the natives, and promised to satisfy. Heading north, the family will definitely want to indulge in the almighty Californian burger, a tasty cut of meat, or some freshly caught seafood. San Francisco is infamous for their sourdough bread and superb fish-so keep this is mind while visiting. Also while in San Francisco, it is a must to visit Ghirardelli Square, home to the most delicious ice cream and sundaes known. Not only can you enjoy watching the chocolate being homemade in the store, but you can also sit down for a tasty treat in the cozy shop! The kids will sure love this experience.

Outstanding Oregon Family Fun

But there is a lot more to the Pacific states. North of California is Oregon, renown for its beautiful coastline, its green, fertile valleys, and its rugged mountain ranges. Two main arteries north south are Highway 101 which runs right along the Pacific Ocean and is beautiful if slow (be sure and stop in Tillamook for some great cheese), and Highway 5 which runs up through Ashland, Eugene, Salem and on to Portland. Ashland is the home of a great Shakespeare festival that runs all summer long, Eugene is a very pleasant and welcoming university town, Salem is the capital of the state and Portland is a lovely city that just gets better and better. Portland is also a major port on the Columbia River, which borders Oregon and Washington. There are great outdoor opportunities on the Columbia, as well as several parks on either side of the river.

Oregons interior has destinations that you will want to fit into your itinerary. Crater Lake is a geological wonder with a beauty all its own; the Cascade Mountains and Siskiyou National Forest provide miles and miles of wilderness; and the eastern side of the state offers more mountains, high plains and open country.

Wonderful Washington Family Adventure

Washington State is no slouch in the area of great scenery and outdoor recreation either. From the forested Olympic Peninsula to the enormous inland waterways and lakes or the Straits and Sound to the many lakes and mountains farther inland, Washington is a wonderland of many lakes and mountains farther inland. Washington is a wonderland for hiking, packing, water sports, hunting, and fishing. And in just about all of these locales you will find evidence of the Native American cultures that have maintained continuous residencethis is the land of totem poles and huge war canoes.

Seattle, Tacoma and the cities of Puget Sound are very cosmopolitan and have many sights. These are also the jumping-off points for those visiting the islands of the Sound, and Seattle is a great spot to board ship for Vancouver Island or an Alaskan cruise. Just be sure to take along your wet weather gear when you visit the Washington coastal areas. The Olympic Peninsula is one of the few remaining cool-weather rainforests, and that takes a lot of moisture.

Dining in Oregon & Washington

Oregon and Washington fare is almost one in the same, since these states are not too far from one another. While Washington, be sure to grab a red delicious apple, oysters, and some tasty Dungeness crab. While in Oregon, be sure to indulge in some Tillamook cheese, Tillamook Crab, visit a scrumptious barbecue restaurant, or dine in a cozy local eatery. Oregon is also full of multiple exquisite coffee shops with live entertainment and late night hours.

The Pacific States are beautiful family destinations that will surely please every traveler. Be sure to take advantage of all the activity and fun these three states have to offer. You may just have to plan a second trip in order to take in all of this excitement!


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