When one thinks of visiting the West Coast, it’s easy to think of big cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco, or Las Vegas. There’s a whole other side to the West Coast exploding with nature that people rarely think to visit.
Here are some of the hidden gems on the West Coast that you can visit with your kids, they’re all fantastic and will allow for some great family time!
Hoover Dam and Lake Mead
It’s hard to find a more majestic place than the Hoover Dam on Lake Mead, one of the largest artificial lakes in North America. Any lake enthusiast has this great American lake on their go-to list.
So, how deep is Lake Mead you may ask? Lake Mead is a vast lake. It is about as deep as the height of a 15 story building (84 meters). Your children will love the experience of catching fish such as bass, catfish, and carp.
On the ‘Extreme Hoover Dam Tour’, you can see things on the dam that are usually closed off, like the Control Room. If you have older kids, they might enjoy a tour called ‘Behind The Scenes: Powerplant Tour’ where they get to visit the interior power generating areas of the dam.
Yosemite National Park
Yosemite National Park is one of the most popular attractions on the West Coast. The park has three different areas: Yosemite Valley, Tuolumne Meadows, and Hetch Hetchy. There are great hiking trails that will keep the kids entertained for hours.
For a more extreme hike, try hiking Half Dome. It’s not too technical, but it has a reputation of being extremely tough and potentially dangerous. If you have time, go to Glacier Point, which is on top of a mountain with amazing views!
Big Sur is the final stretch of highway 1 on the West Coast, which means you’ll be able to have some unbelievable views. For artistic kids, there are many places where they can make their paintings using Big Sur river rocks and different shades of sand as paint.
There are also various hiking trails if your kids are looking for physical activity.
Monument Valley is one of the most iconic parts of the West Coast. It has been a favorite of Hollywood directors for decades, which means if your kids are into movies, they’ll have a lot to be excited about.
If you’re traveling during springtime, visit Totem Pole and see the wildflowers that cover Monument Valley.
When most people think of Arizona, they think of the Grand Canyon, but there’s another notable site just a few miles away from the Grand Canyon that most people don’t know about: Oatman. It used to be a mining town, and now it has become a tourist attraction.
There are wild burros running around freely that you can pet, but most come here to experience a bit of the “old wild west”. This town literally feels like you are put in a Western film and is quite an experience for younger kids!
Death Valley is one of the most extreme places in North America, known for being one of the hottest places in the world!
There are sand dunes and lots of interesting geological formations that are incredibly unique. If you have older kids, take them to Ubehebe Crater, a giant hole caused by an ancient volcanic eruption. If your kids like caves, there’s a great cave tour that’s full of bats and other creatures.
Next time you’re looking for a vacation spot, consider these gems' natural beauty and history on the West Coast. Some are off-the-beaten-path spots that tourists often overlook, while others have been designated as National Parks or historic sites in their own right. They are easily accessible on your RV or car.