With school letting out, many parents are planning their summer getaways, but sadly, family travel can conjure up visions of costly activities, long lines, and undue stress. Ditch the drama this summer with a visit to laid-back Lake County for an affordable family adventure that focuses on fun. By Gina Teichert
Photo: Big Rick Stuart
Northern California’s Lake County is a unique place unto itself. Our people are as warm as the weather, and our namesake, Clear Lake, is the largest body of freshwater in the state. We are within easy reach of major metro areas such as San Francisco, San Jose, and Sacramento, but we love being close to the outdoors and cherish our small town way of life.
Our forests, vineyards, and lakefront can be explored by bike or on foot, and many natural areas are open to the public free of charge. Quaint towns dot the scenic drive around Clear Lake, and their historic main street shops and restaurants are ready to serve.
Discover Old West artifacts and give the kids a peek at a classroom from the 1800s at the Lower Lake Schoolhouse Museum, or lace up at Paradise Skate in Lakeport for some retro fun from a more recent era. The Junior Ranger program at Clear Lake State Park is for kids age seven through 12 and features topics like “Volcanos” and “Hiking Prep” every Saturday during the summer at 10 a.m. and noon. Call (707) 279-4293 for more information.
Photo: Paradise Skate
Perfect for families with younger children – or anyone who prefers the tranquility of swimming and fishing in a motor-free lake – Blue Lakes is an alternative to the high octane watersports of Clear Lake. The pair of spring-fed finger lakes boasts lodging options ranging from cozy cabins to affordable RV and tent camping.
Families with older children and a thirst for excitement can head over to Clear Lake for an adrenaline-pumping ride on a power boat. With multiple vendors offering fuel, rentals, and charters, your Clear Lake boating excursion can start at one of several marinas on the 100-mile shore.
Photo: The Lodge at Blue Lakes
Whether you’ve got a long weekend or a week of adventure to fill, load up the car and bring the kids to Lake County this summer. Skip the overscheduled, crazy expensive trips in favor of one that reminds your family what vacations are truly about.