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What kids really want to see in California

Tiger-Jane Clearly, 10, travelled around the Golden State on road trip with her family. These are the best California kids activities in her words. 

San Francisco

 We were staying at Argonaut  and it was the best hotel ever. Mum said it was “nautical-themed” – I just liked the cool details; the room had all these round ship holes, and it was blue everywhere. Blue is my favourite colour.

California kids activities

We stayed right here, at the Argonaut. Picture: Supplied.

People love riding bikes in San Francisco and Mum really wanted to go for a bike ride.

We went to a place called Blazing Saddles and they had a few different bikes to choose from. Eventually, we got one we could both ride together. Mum wanted to cross the Golden Gate Bridge, and I was pretty excited too as it was featured in my favourite shows – Full House and Fuller House.

California kids activities

Biking to the Golden Gate Bridge. Picture: Supplied.

That night we had dinner at Capurro’s, which was across from our hotel. I had spaghetti carbonara. They didn’t have free wi-fi, but the hotel did. We slept really well that night.

Mum and I slept in a little bit the next morning then went to Starbucks. Unfortunately, they had stopped serving the Unicorn Frappuccino, so I got the Crystal Ball Frappuccino instead.

We had bought tickets for a hop-on, hop-off bus around San Francisco. I really wanted to see the painted ladies (In American architecture painted ladies are Victorian and Edwardian houses), so we walked to the closest bus stop, where there was a lobster-roll café called Crabsters. Mum tried one and I had a buttered roll – it was the best thing in the world! Mum really liked her lobster roll.

The bus wasn’t leaving for a while, so we walked around and found the huge lolly shop It’Sugar. They had massive packets of Nerds and so much other stuff. Everything was huge!

California kids activities

It’Sugar had the best lollies ever! Picture: Supplied.

Then we caught the bus, first stopping at Haight-Ashbury and bought Doc Martens and ate guacamole. Then we ran for the next bus to take us to see the painted ladies. It was the one thing I really wanted to do in California: to see the houses that were in Full House. We walked for a block to Alamo Square, through the park where the Tanners have their picnics. It was so fantastic!

We decided to walk along Divisadero Street to get our next bus to the Marina District. Along the way, we walked past a small church. We could hear what I thought sounded like opera, but Mum said it was gospel music. We peeked through the window and a lady saw us and waved for us to come in. There were a lot of people there who were very good singers. We stayed for two songs, then mum said we had to go because we were wanting to clap after the songs, not during like everyone else.

We finished our adventure in Chinatown, where Mum bought me some awesome Squishies. I’m a little obsessed – okay, a lot obsessed – with Squishies. We were really tired after all that, so we went back to the Argonaut and tried to watch Pitch Perfect 3. Mum was asleep before it ended.

California kids activities

Squishies take the cake. Picture: Supplied.

San Diego

The next day we got up really early to fly to San Diego. It was a tiny plane, but I could charge my iPad on it. We landed and got on a bus to where we could hire a car. Mum had never driven in America before. I was a bit scared, so I stayed in the back seat and watched YouTube; the car had wi-fi!

Mum drove us safely to Paradise Point Resort & Spa where I jumped in the pool straight away – they have three pools! My favourite pool was the warmest one – it was actually a spa. After a quick swim, we went to Mission Beach Boardwalk. There was a carnival there – it was really cool. I started getting hungry again, so I got churros, which are Spanish donuts.

My favourite part of the day was when we found a shop where we could hire hoverboards to use along the Boardwalk. They were called i-Go Robots and, even though they were really hard to steer, they were awesome. When we’d had enough of the hoverboards, we went back to the resort.

California kids activities

Cruising on hoverboards was epic. Picture: Supplied.

Our room was cosy but comfy – there was a really big bed, a table, a huge TV that had Disney Channel, a bathroom, a fridge and a couch. The whole hotel is built to look like a movie set and it’s really awesome. For dinner, Mum made me walk to the hotel restaurant – I had salmon and veggies, which I really like. There was a pond there where we could feed fish, and there were even a couple of sharks in there too!

The next day, we went to the San Diego Zoo. They had an Australian outback experience that was pretty cool but a bit weird, considering there’s a big mob of kangaroos living in our yard at home. I really enjoyed seeing them, but it made me feel a bit homesick. The first thing we saw at the zoo were the birds. They were so, so, so cute. There were different types of birds – my favourites were the scarlet-chested parrot and the diamond dove – they were both so pretty. My next favourite was the bobcat – I’d love one of those. Right next to them were the flamingos – they were amazing. These ones were more orange than pink, though – apparently they’re that colour because of the shrimp they eat. And their feathers are actually grey. I learnt a lot at the zoo.

Huntington Beach

The next day, after breakfast in the city of San Diego, we met a cool little fluffy dog called Ali Rasta Pup. He had dyed hair and his own Instagram page, and now my dog Poppy and he follow each other.

We drove up the coast to Huntington Beach and we got a hotel room at The Waterfront Beach Resort: A Hilton Hotel with an awesome view. This place also had a really great pool – I didn’t want to leave it, but I was pretty tired, so we went to the restaurant there. The food was delicious – it was so good that I ordered two things: chicken tenders and pasta. We went back for breakfast and ate there again the next night (and again the next morning). They have a great kids’ menu. We hired another tandem bike at a shop opposite the hotel – one with giant handlebars – and rode down to Huntington Beach Pier.

That evening, Mum and I hired a s’mores cart and headed to the beach to start a fire. The wagon comes with everything you need – chairs, firewood, marshmallows, everything. We watched the sunset and made s’mores – they are so delicious. It was such a beautiful ending to the day.

California kids activities

Huntington Beach Pier’s beautiful sunset. Picture: Randy Hines / Shutterstock

Los Angeles

It was time to head to Los Angeles. Mum drove straight to Santa Monica Pier. They had a carnival on and we won a unicorn cat (aka Caticorn), a water frisbee and an emoji plushy. I wanted to keep playing games but Mum said our luck was so good that we wouldn’t be able to fit everything on the plane going home. So we went to our hotel: Hilton Los Angeles Universal City We were going to go to Universal Studios the next day – I was so excited. The hotel had a really nice pool area and Mum and I had a great swim. By now I really needed some alone time, so I just chilled and watched some TV. We ordered room service for dinner later.

California kids activities

Swimming at the Universal City Hilton. Picture: Supplied.

Universal Studios

Universal Studios is the best. When we walked in, there was an Animal Actors show on, so we hurried in and saw all the beautiful animals. The animal stars put on a great show – it was really funny – and we even saw two owls from the Harry Potter movies.

I was a bit scared about going on The Simpsons Ride because I thought it was a real rollercoaster, but because it’s mostly animation it didn’t have those lump-lumps that toss you around. It was really fun! Mum went on the Harry Potter ride and I didn’t, but I did have a Butterbeer and go into Ollivander’s wand shop in Diagon Alley. Mum bought me Hermione’s wand, and we want around all the stores to cast the spells. I was magical. We also went on Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem (it could’ve gone longer) and Mum bribed me to go on Jurassic Park: The Ride. I found it really scary, not because of the dinosaurs, but because of the massive drop. I loved California, but after all of this adventure, I was ready to fly back home to Melbourne.

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