Point Reyes National Seashore
If your family enjoys outdoor exploration rather than museums, head straight for the Point Reyes National Seashore. It comprises some 65,000 acres that are administered by the National Park Service, offering everything from hiking and camping to ranger-guided programs that the whole family can enjoy.
Depending on the time of year, you'll have an interesting choice of animals and more to watch in the wilderness:
From January through April, you can see the gray whales migrating along the coastline.
From December through March, you can watch the elephant seals breed in a large colony.
From March through May, and again from August through December, you can see various species of migrating birds.
From March through June, you can see what the park service calls harbor seal pupping, which means the young ones are learning their way around the water.
From April through May, you can enjoy the peak flower season.
Two major manmade annual events also take place at Point Reyes National Seashore: the Big Time Festival in July and the Sand Sculpture Contest in September. The Big Time Festival focuses on Native American culture and history, while the Sand Sculpture Contest offers prizes in various age divisions.
If you're looking for an authentic backcountry camping experience, then Point Reyes National Seashore is a good place to go. Its campsites — which take reservations and fill up fast — are accessible only by foot, bicycle, horseback, or kayak. If you want to park a car or an RV, you'll have to stay at a campsite outside the park itself. Learn more about the available sites and rates at
For those families who just prefer to wander, 147 miles of trails are great for hiking, bicycle riding, and horseback riding. Seven of the trails take less than an hour to traverse, so even the littlest of legs won't get too tired. For more serious hikers, there are six trails that take from three to six hours to complete.