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Family Travel Files Ezine Family Vacations Resource
Southern California Secret Family Vacation Places Offer Fun, Sunshine, and No Lines. Glamis Sand Dune AdventuresTaking the kids and going off the popular family vacation grid can yield countless rewards for the whole family. With family vacations sometimes less is more because sharing time together is what a family vacation is all about.

Our Secret Places vacation folder highlights oodles of spots not yet discovered by mass tourism. With family vacations sometimes less is more because sharing time together is what a family vacation is all about. I have highlighted three unique destinations in southern California each offering easy-paced fun and the potential to share time and make amazing discoveries.
Calipatria - Roadrunners, Sand Dunes, and Imperial Bike Trails. If wide open spaces, fresh air and sunshine sound appealing look at the Imperial Valley and Calipatria at the geographic toe of California. A network of biking and hiking trails weaves throughout the valley’s agrarian landscape and the world famous Salton Sea and wildlife refuge offer visitors amazing views of thousands of migrating water birds as well as opportunities to enjoy hiking, boating, camping, fishing, hot mineral baths, and off-road vehicle rides. Bonus Points: Imagine climbing a 300 foot sand dune. The giant sand hills populate Glamis Sand Dunes part of the largest desert land mass in California. The sandy terrain provides visitors opportunities for off-road or dune buggy adventures, rock hounding and exceptional stargazing. Wait for it! Salvation Mountain - a small hill which is entirely covered in thousands of gallons of acrylic paint, straw, concrete, adobe - is a quirky tourist attraction in the area. Location on the planet: Vacation below sea level in Calipatria the spot that holds the record for being the lowest populated elevation in the western hemisphere. It is located about 50 miles north of the border with Mexico and not far from San Diego, Palm Springs, and Los Angeles attractions. Family vacation base: Calipatria Inn and Suites has an affordable spa package worth a look. (700 N Sorensen Ave, Calipatria, CA 92233. (760) 348-7348 or Calipatria Inn and Suites)

Indian Wells – Desert Hikes, Cool Water Fun, and Camel Rides. If a slower pace is what you have in mind, something with fresh air, sunshine and maybe spa time in the mix the desert oasis of Indian Wells shows promise. Hiking trails weave throughout nearby desert canyons and yield oasis like secret spots ideal for picnics and discoveries. Make time to discover the high desert with a guided walk at Joshua Tree National Park. The rangers relate unique stories about the earliest settlers in the Mojave Desert. Visit the Living Desert and share behind-the-scenes adventures plus animal encounters. Bonus Points: From October through April it is possible to ride a camel at the zoo. Wait for it! For high energy family fun the 16-acre Knott’s Soak City complex is perhaps the coolest the coolest spot in town offering 13 intense water rides and a four-story interactive family funhouse. Location on the planet: Indian Wells is in the heart of Southern California's Coachella Valley just minutes from Palm Springs. Family vacation base: Hyatt Regency Indian Wells Resort & Spa is a renowned resort situated on a 45-acre desert oasis with Camp Hyatt. Children ages 17 and younger stay free. (44-600 Indian Wells Lane, Indian Wells, California, USA 92210 or Hyatt Regency Indian Wells Resort & Spa)

Ontario and Rancho Cucamonga – Art, Fishing, and Scandia Screamer Thrills.Waterbug Rides at Scandia Family Fun Center Ontario CA The best secret vacation spots offer a mix of fun and the luxury of down time for a lazy day at the pool or time for fishing without a schedule. Rancho Cucamonga in California’s Inland Empire fits the ticket for easy-paced, affordable fun. The 150-acre Cucamonga-Guasti Regional Park is a family-friendly vacation secret featuring a swimming lagoon, several waterslides, two lakes for fishing, a playground, and horse shoe pits. Bonus Points: Make a shot stop at The Museum of History & Art, a local museum offering the story of Ontario through art exhibitions, lectures, and educational programs. Euclid Avenue and Route 66 are featured and themed exhibitions change annually. Entry is free but experience will not be interactive without the help of a docent. Wait for it! Checkout the coolest Scandinavian themed amusement park in North America - Scandia Family Fun Center. It features 25 rides including the “Screamer”, two Scandinavian-themed miniature golf courses, an arcade with 150 video games, batting cages with fast and slow pitch options, and two restaurants. Location on the planet: Rancho Cucamonga is in San Bernardino County within close proximity to downtown Los Angeles and Orange County. Family vacation base: Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites Rancho Cucamonga offers a California Family Getaway Package with everything needed to treat a family of four to the ultimate vacation – pool time included. (9589 Milliken Avenue, Rancho Cucamonga, CA 91730. Toll free: 1-866-735-4864 or Holiday Inn – Ontario)

Content researched and posted by Nancy Nelson-Duac, Curator of the Good Stuff for the Family Travel Files. Images courtesy of Scandia Family Fun Center, Living Desert Zoo & Gardens, and BLM Imperial Valley.  Copyright updated 2015.
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