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  • Writer's pictureShayna Gaman-Bean

NorCal Ventures, Part 1: A State Park, National Park, and more!

Updated: Oct 26, 2022

"Between every two pine trees there is a door leading to a new way of life." ~ John Muir



While we love to travel all over the world, we're lucky enough to live in a state that has so much to explore. And here are a few favs we've recently explored:



We recently visited here while looking for a place for a quick escape and hike. We happened upon a beautiful and easy hike to a secluded lake, perfect for boating and paddle boarding. It even has a campsite that looks like a perfect place to pitch a tent.



We started with walking across the beautiful restored Bridgeport Covered Bridge.



We checked out the Yuba River which is such a great spot to go swimming and rafting on hot summer days.



After our walk we explored more of the Gold Rush history of the area at the old buildings in the surrounding area.



This place will always be near and dear to our hearts as it's where Mike's dad's family lives. We love visiting and have visited many times over the years, but this last visit was extra special as it was just before Christmas. Here's what we did during out most recent trip:


First, we actually visited Monterey. We started out with lunch at Louie Linguini's which we loved! Great seafood, great view, and family friendly too! Next was the Monterey Bay Aquarium followed by some shopping on Cannery Row.


The next day we were busy.. we started at Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park and did a nice walk amongst the beautiful redwoods.




We then headed to lunch at Davenport Roadhouse for another delicious seafood lunch. Next we headed to The Mystery Spot



Lastly, we finished off with a beautiful sunset walk along West Cliff Drive with some awesome views of the surfers.



The next day was pretty rainy and we were mostly hanging out with family, but we did manage a nice walk in Santa Cruz Harbor




Just south of Santa Cruz is this beautiful resort community and 100% worth a visit. Such a fun beachy summer vacay, but even in December it's worth checking out.



My kids loved running along the beach, chasing the surf, going in the water, and building sand castles. They are fearless and didn't even seem to notice the cold. They had the time of their life and I love walking along the beach and watching the kids have so much fun. Literally everything here is picturesque.




Ok, maybe this is obvious, but on our most recent trip there I learned a few great tips that I had to share:


First of all, we stayed at Yosemite Westgate Lodge and had such a great time there! Great prices, great rooms (large with 2 beds and sleeper sofa, perfect for bigger families), they even have a pool, hot tub, and playground! Another huge plus is an awesome restaurant is right next door. Great service and food! My kids absolutely loved it.


Second, we learned you have to visit sometime during fall before it starts snowing. The fall colors are so beautiful!!



Third, we absolutely loved exploring Lower Yosemite Falls. The hike is easy for kids and they had so much fun hiking the rocks up to the falls.



You also get great views of Half Dome and El Capitan. Plan to be there at sunset to get this amazing view!




Bonus! Here are some of my favorite companies to partner with this past year:


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