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California winter activity fun for families

November 19, 2015 | [email protected]

And just like that, winter is almost here

Winter in California can be anything and everything we want it to be.  And, even though the weather changes may not be as drastic as they are in other parts of the country, when the temperature dips, you may be inclined to stay indoors.  However, I’ve learned that fresh air combats boredom and crankiness, and our moods soar higher than the temperature when we get out, start moving and celebrate the season. So here are some tips and tricks for California winter activity fun for families!

Outdoor activities in winter abound, and they’re as engaging and exciting as they are any other time of year.  So, let’s take a look at some of our suggestions for you and your family to explore and find your fun!


Don’t let winter keep you from getting outdoors

  • Visit Año Nuevo State Park in the South Bay area to see one of the world’s largest elephant seal breeding colonies.  This natural preserve also protects otters, sea lions, coyotes, as well as other animals.  Be sure to bring your binoculars for some bird watching and hike out to Año Nuevo Point!
  • Feel indecisive about whether you want to hike or bike in the Peninsula area?  Purisima Creek Redwoods Preserve offers 4,711 acres of majestic redwoods, expansive views, waterfalls and creeks, and lush forests.  Plan on playing I Spy and have your kiddos find rough-skinned newts, Pacific giant salamanders, ferns and fiddleheads, banana slugs, and all sorts of fungus.
  • Out and about in the East Bay?  Spend half a day exploring either Redwood Regional Park or Joaquin Miller Park.  No matter whether you choose a hidden redwood forest or a rustic woodland trail, pack a picnic and soak in the beauty around you.  When you finish up, head over to the Chabot Space & Science Center and experience the galaxy through one of 3 of the largest telescopes on the west coast.  Awesome!
  • Plan a day in the North Bay and explore Sausalito like you never have before.  The Bay Model gives visitors a unique opportunity to learn about the geography, ecology, topography and history of the San Francisco Bay and Delta.  Take a docent-led tour or explore on your own at The Marine Mammal Center.  Learn about marine mammals, their health and environment, as well as how they’re rescued and rehabilitated.  Maybe you’re in the mood for a family adventure through Nature Bridge?  Check out their calendar for events like a family night hike and a campfire or some moon gazing?  With a mission to connect children to nature, Slide Ranch offers families an opportunity to wander and explore 134 acres with farms, animals and trails – and why not have a picnic overlooking the ocean?


Even though weather changes can be more subtle, depending on where you are, seasons are different.  While many winter days can be mild and sunny, others can be chilly, windy and wet.  We’ve got some tips to make any outdoor activity fun!

  1. Wear layers of clothes and pack for the weather.  I’m all about wearing natural fibers, but that’s not the best choice for hiking, for example.  Cotton doesn’t dry quickly when you sweat or when your kiddo gets wet.  Choose synthetic, moisture-wicking clothes.  Pack socks, wind and rain jackets, hats, and gloves, depending on the weather.  These items can be the difference between comfort and misery for everyone!
  2. Bring plenty of water and snacks.  Keep away from crumbly snacks.  Instead, pack things like trail mix, apples, carrots and nutrition bars – maybe include a treat you wouldn’t normally give your kids.  Make sure to have plenty of water for everyone, and don’t fall into the trap that our bodies use/need less water when it’s cold outside.  Drinking enough water helps circulation, which, in turn, helps cold noses, toes and fingers.
  3. Thinking about timing of activities.  Break up activities into half-day adventures.  Plan an outdoor morning activity with lunch indoors to have time to warm up and get a second wind before heading out again.  Be willing to take a break and not push kiddos too hard.  No activity is worth a meltdown.


All seasons point to fun, and “Yes,” that means winter, too!  So, dress for the weather and whatever fun you have in mind and grab your family to make memories!  For more winter activities in California, take a look at our Cool California winter outdoor adventures for the entire family post.

Do you have a favorite California family winter activity we missed?  We’d love to hear about it!  Leave a comment below or join the conversation on our Facebook page!

About the Author: Lynne Marsala Basche spent most of her career on the island of Manhattan at two New York publishing companies.  A multi-year Avid4 Adventure mom and a contributor to the Avid4 Adventure website, Lynne’s writing adventures also take her to championing volunteerism and regional recreation stories as a staff writer for the Castle Pines Connection newspaper, as well as supporting separate large corporate communications programs.  By trying to keep pace with her mountain biking, rock climbing, snowboarding, lacrosse playing, unicycling, tae kwon do-loving son, she, like most Avid4 parents, loves sharing the value of outdoor recreation and its positive influence on children’s health and confidence development.  Lynne lives in Castle Pines, Colorado and regularly immerses herself in outdoor activities with her family where she also runs her freelance writing company, Blue Spruce Creative


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