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5 Central California Attractions to Visit for a Family Vacation

by Guest Author 17 January 2018 11:27

With over 350 miles of sunny beaches, jagged coastlines, picturesque beach towns, and many state parks, you could spend years discovering Central California. But, if you are only visiting the area for a few days, don't worry. Here are five destinations you and your family will love.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium was built on the site of the old Hovden Cannery when the sardine fishery collapsed. The aquarium today boasts 34 major galleries with over 200 exhibits. More than 35000 creatures from 550 species live at their seaside location. The aquarium was featured in the 1986 movie Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. Among its many residents are giant Pacific octopus, sharks, stingrays and countless others, representing the huge variety of Central California's marine life.

Pismo Beach offers enough to keep you exploring and having fun for days. Home to an award-winning boardwalk and Pismo Beach Pier, the area offers a wealth of outdoor activities. Here you can surf, fish, hike and ride ATVs on the beach. Horseback riding, golf, and skydiving are other experiences you can enjoy along the sunny seaside. And when the crew is hungry, just pick from a wide choice of Italian, Mexican, Thai, Japanese, seafood and steakhouse restaurants. Surf pubs and wine bars also dot this coastal area, rich in fun year-round events.

At Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary you can discover endangered species, protected habitats, shipwrecks and maritime heritage. Other recreational activities, such as fishing, kayaking, scuba diving and snorkeling take place in the sanctuary. With 27 local species of whales and dolphins, whale watching tours are very popular. Under the ocean's surface, you can dive around kelp forests and nearly 150 shipwrecks, at depths suitable for various skill levels.

Cannery Row is probably Central California's most visited coastal area. With its many waterfront establishments, boutiques, and restaurants, cannery row offers a unique vantage point to experience Monterey Bay. During its history, different cultures settled in the area. Originally Native Americans and later Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Japanese, and Chinese all left their mark. Once an industrial canning boom town, John Steinbeck immortalized the street in Cannery Row, one of the several novels based around the Monterey Bay area. It certainly has come a long way from its colorful early days as the "Sardine Capital of the World."

Big Basin Redwoods State Park is an incredible site if your travel plans include doing some camping. California's oldest State Park, it contains the largest old growth giant redwood forest south of San Francisco. Its elevation ranges between sea level and 2000 ft. and boasts many year-round waterfalls. The park is home to mountain lions, foxes, deer, coyote and dozens of bird species. With family campsites and over 80 miles of trails, you can experience California's amazing coastal wilderness.

These are only five attractions, but as you explore them, you will discover many more reasons why Central California is a top-level family destination.

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