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California, Lafayette (California)

3 Weeks Excursions in State Of California

We are family of four from India, intend to visit state of California in summer of 2014. (May 2014) for a 3 weeks stay. Parents are 40+ an two kids are 15 and 13 respectively. We would like to do activities which shall include Beaches, Mountains, Jungle Safari, Zoo, Planetarium, Museum, Adventure Parks, Food, Night Life and all other excursion which state of California can offer. We would have an access to own car and company of our friend, so may not need details about transport and stay. However we would definitely would like to have details about places and activities of interests. Most of the time our base would be in the town Lafayette, CA near San Francisco. 

We are vegetarians, so eggs and meat is no-no.

Please assist.


7 Answers

top answer by
Nicole from Walnut Creek

Hi Tejas! There are a LOT of places I would recommend visiting since you are so central in the bay area. I would recommend:

San Fancisco

1.  California Academy of Sciences for museum. All of  Golden Gate Park is wonderful and you can spend a whole day roaming around and visiting the different museums. There is also the  Japanese Tea Gardenand   De Young Museum very close to the museum.

2.  Exploratorium. It is located on the Embarcadero. Brand new (within the past year) and has a lot of hands-on activities to do for both adults and kids. 

3.  Ferry Plaza Farmers Market on a Saturday morning

Outside San Francisco

1.  Muir Woods - See the HUGE redwood trees.

2. Take the Ferry to Sausalito. Best to go when its a clear day so you can see all of the bay, SF, Golden Gate Bridge etc.

3.  Santa Cruz - visit the beach and has a boardwalk with rides, roller coasters and arcade games. Or a more low key beach area to visit is  Capitola which is pretty close by. 

4.  Walnut Creek has the most nightlife in the East Bay near Lafayette. You can also try some places in  Oakland

I am sure i will think of some others and update when I do!


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. California Academy of Sciences (attraction)
  2. Golden Gate Park (attraction)
  3. Japanese Tea Garden (attraction)
  4. De Young Museum (attraction)
  5. Exploratorium (attraction)
  6. Ferry Plaza Farmers Market (attraction)
  7. Muir Woods (attraction)
  8. Ferry to Sausalito (attraction)
  9. Santa Cruz (city)
  10. Capitola (attraction)
  11. Walnut Creek (attraction)
  12. Oakland (city)
6 thankscomments (1)

answered by
Carina from San Francisco

For you beach fix, I'd highly recommend taking a day trip to  Santa Cruz Beach. They have a great  Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk that's not only fun, but also filled with history- they are the home of the famed 85-year-old red wooden rollercoaster, 'The Giant Dipper'. While there, you MUST stop at  Marianne's Ice Cream‎. This is an old classic sundae spot that has been around for over 50 years- the line is alllllways out the door, even in the middle of winter (they have everything from basic vanilla to coffee cardamom crunch flavors, which is my personal favorite). In  Lafayette (California), a great place to eat is  Chow - Lafayette. Though not necessarily an entirely vegetarian menu, they have a lot of options that are meat and dairy-free, while still showcasing a wide array of local farmers' produce and seasonal delicacies (try the stuffed eggplant, and a slice of their pumpkin pie!). In  San Francisco, the  Ferry Building holds a Saturday morning market that is unsurpassable. The hustle and bustle is vibrant with people passionate about their city, food, and community. Nearby the Ferry building is the  Exploratorium- it's a type of 'strange science' museum that offers inside looks and hands-on demonstrations of the most imaginative, quirky things. It's a very kinesthetic experience that would turn even the most science-despising person into an aspiring scientist for the day.  Mount Diablo State Park in  Danville (California) (which is close to Lafayette) is a great place for a hike on a Sunday morning. You can see panoramic views of the entire bay area, observe the rolling green topography, and have a picnic as the sun goes down. There's an amateur rock-climbing wall there, too, that is actually doable, even for beginners. For a jungle safari you have to check out  Safari West. It's hidden in the heart of the beautiful wine country, and houses hundreds of species of animals shipped from Africa, free to roam about the unenclosed acres upon acres of land. Your family gets to take a safari through this area, getting up close to water buffallo, giraffes, cheetas, rhinos, and the like (warning: if you are afraid of animals, it probably isn't suitable as this is a very up-close-and-personal experience). 

I hope this helps!


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Santa Cruz Beach (attraction)
  2. Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk (attraction)
  3. Marianne's Ice Cream‎ (restaurant)
  4. Lafayette (California) (city)
  5. Chow - Lafayette (restaurant)
  6. San Francisco (city)
  7. Ferry Building (attraction)
  8. Exploratorium (attraction)
  9. Mount Diablo State Park (attraction)
  10. Danville (California) (city)
  11. Safari West (attraction)
3 thankscomments (1)

answered by

Folks already suggested some great local attractions. If you are up for a bit of a drive:

Yosemite National Park is amazing that time of year. It will be crowded, so plan ahead, but it is a truly amazing park. 

2)  Napa Valley is not too far away. There are wineries of course, but a couple great places for kids too are  Oxbow Public Market and  di Rosa Preserve. 

3) The M Monterey Bay Aquarium is great fun and you can continue your drive south along highway 1 through  Big Sur. The drive and scenery are breathtaking. 

Being a vegetarian in the bay area is very easy. Almost every decent restaurant you will go to will have options. And if you are unsure, simply call ahead. 

Have a great trip!

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Yosemite National Park (park)
  2. Napa (city)
  3. Oxbow Public Market (attraction)
  4. di Rosa (attraction)
  5. Monterey Bay Aquarium (attraction)
  6. Big Sur (city)
3 thankscomments (1)

answered by
Jeff from Frisco

Take a look at it is a nice savings if you are interested in all that it has to offer. 

1 thankscomments (1)

answered by
christina from Leipzig

Muir Woods is a wonderful. The  Exploratorium -- MUST GO. I still have memories of going when I was a kid (well over 30 years ago). It's that good -- really (call ahead and check their schedules to see if any special events are happening). 

Highway 1 is a beautiful drive -- explore along the way. There's whale watching in Monterey Bay depending on migration patterns -- or there's always the  Monterey Bay Aquarium. Definitely worth it. 

There's California's Great America for an amusement park,  Raging Waters not too far away, and also the unique adventure of  Alcatraz.  Or the calmer and more literary  Jack London State Historic Park.

If it lines up with Gilroy's  Gilroy Garlic Festival Association make the trip -- you'll smell it from the highway but it's one of a kind. 

For Vegetarian food, you've got some great options. My favorites in the Bay Area are  Herbivore (absolutely LOVE LOVE LOVE this place -- it's Vegan food but most of the time you won't be able to tell),  Greens Restaurant is a bit more expensive but is a nice night out (maybe without the kids?), and  Cafe Gratitude -- if you want raw food. Saturn Cafe and  Dharma's have you covered in Santa Cruz for relaxed environment and vegan/vegetarian food. 

Per beaches - there are as many kinds of beaches as there are personalities. My favorite is  Natural Bridges State Beach near Santa Cruz -- you can watch the surfers around the bend at the other parks but this has tide pools you can wander at low tide. If you catch it in the right season, you'll also get to see the Monarch Butterflies as they migrate.

Further down the coast, you'll find  Ano Nuevo State Reserve where you can see sea lions galore. 

Just remember the golden rule of summers in California -- if it's hot inland, it's cooler on the coast but it'll be cold in San Francisco. If it's too cold in SF, go inland. 

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Muir Woods (attraction)
  2. Exploratorium (attraction)
  3. Monterey Bay Aquarium (attraction)
  4. California's Great America (attraction)
  5. Raging Waters (attraction)
  6. Alcatraz (attraction)
  7. Jack London State Historic Park (attraction)
  8. Gilroy Garlic Festival Association (attraction)
  9. Herbivore (attraction)
  10. Greens Restaurant (restaurant)
  11. Cafe Gratitude (restaurant)
  12. Saturn Cafe (attraction)
  13. Dharma's (attraction)
  14. Natural Bridges State Beach (attraction)
  15. Ano Nuevo State Reserve (attraction)
2 thankscomments (1)

answered by
Shrirang from Pune

As Nicole has said, there are a LOT of places. Here are few additions

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Universal Studios Hollywood (attraction)
  2. Six Flags Magic Mountain (restaurant)
  3. Hollywood (attraction)
  4. Las Vegas (city)
  5. Grand Canyon National Park (park)
  6. Ripley's Believe It or Not! Museum (attraction)
  7. Coit Tower (attraction)
  8. San Francisco Chinatown (attraction)
  9. Ghirardelli Square Shopping Center (attraction)
  10. Pier 39 (attraction)
  11. Alcatraz (attraction)
  12. Golden Gate Park (attraction)
  13. Lombard Street (attraction)
  14. Gilroy Premium Outlets (attraction)
  15. The Mystery Spot (attraction)
  16. 17-Mile Drive (attraction)
2 thankscomments (1)

answered by
Shrirang from Pune

A little unrelated answer - if you have not already booked the tickets (which is the case I guess), plan the air tickets such that you can utilize the  stop over and visit one more place on your way to California. The stop over could be at a place like New York, Chicago, Denver, LA. This can be your port of entry to the US. If you are going via Europe, you can plan a stop over in one of the airline hubs like Frankfurt/ Munich/ Paris/ Amsterdam/ London.

This can be planned better as you get close to actually booking the tickets.

1 thankscomments (1)

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