Back to Nature

nullSouthern California offers many back to nature getaways. You can hike to a secluded area for some peace and quiet. You can take the kids to the park for some fun and games or some light fishing. You can go to the nearby beaches to stroll next to the waves, or take the plunge and enjoy some swimming and surfing. You can go to the mountains to hike or play in the snow.

This section will provide information about some of those activities. See the sub-topics for more detailed descriptions.

Hiking:

  • Oak Canyon Nature Center, Anaheim
  • Crystal Cove - El-Moro Canyon
  • Salt Creek
  • Ralph B Clark Regional Park
  • Griffith Observatory Trails
  • Monrovia Falls
  • Barbara's Lake.

Disney California Adventure

California Adventure park at duskCalifornia Adventure opened its doors on February 8, 2001. It is a totally separate theme park from Disneyland, but they both reside within the Disney Resort complex.

The park started with five areas but was remodeled recently to include 7 distinct areas. Each area represents various aspects of California, its culture, landmarks and history. It is home to Disney’s only real rollercoaster, a must-see hang-glider ride, and a unique Ferris wheel. 

Visit Paradise Pier or Pacific Wharf to relive summer times at a California beach town. Or go to Hollywood Land for a look into how Disney movies are made or to rescue the Guardians of the Galaxy. And for a trip into California's wilderness, visit Grizzly Peak. Finally, for a thrilling race through Radiator Springs go to Cars Land. 

Where to stay at Yosemite

nullThe decision on where to spend the nights at Yosemite depends on your preference, budget, and your planning skills. You can find very inexpensive tent cabins or you can go all the way and stay at the luxurious Ahwahnee Hotel (Majestic Yosemite Hotel). You can rough it at a campground or go on a backpacking trip through the wilderness.

Whatever you decide to do, you will need to plan way ahead. All hotels, lodges, and campsites are booked many months ahead of time. Some of the more popular ones are booked 12 months in advance.

Lodging

In my opinion, the best lodge for the value is Yosemite Lodge at the Fall (Yosemite Valley Lodge). It is located right on the valley floor next to Yosemite Fall. It is a large complex with about 240 rooms, a swimming pool, a food court, a restaurant, shops, bicycle rentals, and many other amenities. Rooms will run you around $200 per night depending on the season.

The main drawback is that there is no air conditioning in the rooms and if you want WiFi for your gadgets you will need to go to the main lobby. 

Out Of This World Circus

nullThe circus is in town!

Circus performers and animals have been entertaining audiences for decades. Every circus has acrobats, high wire walkers, aerialists, lion trainers, and clowns – and this show has them all and much more.

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey took all those acts and wove them together with a storyline that ignites the audience's imagination and makes every performance much more interesting.

The arena is set up with floating globes and bright LED projections. Images of stars and galaxies flash all around and on the big screens. The ice floor is illuminated with astronomical designs. The whole setup prepares the audience for a trip to outer space.

Las Vegas Springs Preserve

Las Vegas Springs Preserve - Water Tower - from WikipediaA few miles away from the hustle and bustle of downtown Las Vegas and the Strip, you will find this nature preserve with exhibits, nature trails and a bit of Las Vegas history.

The “Springs Preserve” is a 180 acres stretch of protected land around the original source of water for the Las Vegas Valley. Those springs formed an oasis in the middle of the parched desert and help support early inhabitants from local native American trips 10,000 years ago to first settlers in the 1800s.

Stargazing at Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park - Night Sky - by Lian Law

Living in cities, it is almost impossible to have a good view of the stars. You would have to go to a place like Joshua Tree NP for a fantastic view of the heavens. 

In this high desert, it is very easy to avoid the glare of human civilization. Just walk a few feet away from any road or camp, and you are in total darkness. Also, the skies are clear most nights of the year due to the low rainfall. 

Ralph B. Clark Regional Park

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This park is located in the city of Buena Park, Orange County, CA. It is another large recreational area with lakes, streams, trees, hills, playgrounds, sports fields, bike trails and a very nice hiking trail.

The parklands range from large open grass areas, to gently rolling hills of native plants, to shear sandstone cliffs to the north.

For sports enthusiasts, the park offers sand volleyball courts, three softball fields and a baseball diamond and tennis courts.