California has the largest state park system in the nation, with 280 parks that together encompass more than a million acres of nature preserves, breathtaking waterfalls, sprawling forests and more.
Today, I have some recommendations for the best parks to visit this summer, no matter what type of vacation you want. The park system has recently been launched a digital passport program to encourage people to try and visit them all. (You can use a mobile app to track your visits and earn badges.) You can too check the vehicle passes for most California state parks from your local public library.
Jorge Moreno, a spokesman for the state parks department, advised travelers to check the weather before heading out and to bring plenty of drinking water. And keep in mind that California’s rivers run faster and colder than normal due to the snowmelt.
Stay safe and have a good trip.
Take a dip in an ancient inland sea.
Majestic Single lake, about 60 miles east of Yosemite National Park, is one of the oldest lakes in North America and estimated to have been around for more than a million years. The lake and its environs have been protected as a park largely to preserve the lake’s tufa towers – gnarled limestone spiers that rise high above the water’s surface and make for a wonderfully Seussian sight.
Mono Lake is so loaded with minerals that it’s more than twice as salty as the ocean and « makes for a delightfully lively swim, » according to the state parks department. The department adds, « Veterans say a dip in the lake will cure almost anything. »
Visit a 19th-century state capital.
California’s oldest standing former state house is in Benicia, a city on the Bay Area coast that was the seat of state government in 1853 and 1854. You can visit the original Benicia Capitol buildingwhich has been restored to look as it did 170 years ago, and learn more about the legislation it passed, including the law that created the state’s Department of Education and another that allowed married women to own property regardless of their husbands.
Stay in a historic beach cottage.
Along the coast of Orange County, Crystal Cove State Park offers long stretches of sandy beaches, tidal pools to explore, and miles of hiking and biking trails. The park includes a fascinating historic district, originally a beach colony built in the 1930s and 1940s for holidaymakers visiting what was then a private beach. In addition to a few restaurants, the neighborhood has 21 quaint beach cottages for the public to rent.
Fish in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
northeast of San Francisco Bay, Brannan Island State Recreation Area it is known for its year-round water recreation, including fishing, swimming, and boating. The park includes a collection of streams that pass through marshes and islands in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Even on hot summer days, there is usually a cool breeze to keep you comfortable.
Camp in a SoCal coniferous forest.
Though only a 90-minute drive from downtown San Diego, Palomar Mountain State Park it feels much more remote, with pristine forests and placid meadows. At an elevation of 5,000 feet, its dense coniferous forests, where you can camp, picnic and hike, are rare in Southern California.
Where are we travelling
Today’s tip comes from Lisa Riddell, who recommends a place in Cambria on the Central Coast: “The Fiscalini Ranch Preserve Trail it is incredibly beautiful and dog friendly! It’s one of our family’s favorite road trip destinations. »
Tell us about your favorite places to visit in California. Email your suggestions to CAtoday@nytimes.com. We will share more in future editions of the newsletter.
We are almost halfway through 2023! What are the best things that have happened to you so far this year? What were your victories? Or your unexpected joys, big or small?
And before you go, some good news
This week, the wild parrot became the official pet of San Francisco.
The parrots arrived in San Francisco in the late 1980s — most likely running away from a pet store — and two species have since mated to create a hybrid parrot that is unique to the city. The San Francisco Chronicle reports.
Mark Bittner, who starred in Judy Irving’s 2003 documentary, « The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill, » told The Chronicle that the parrots were perfect ambassadors for San Francisco: « They’re colorful, they’re loud, they’re from somewhere else part and have truly bizarre personalities.