Family Travel Files Ezine Family Vacations Resource
California Screen-Free Family Adventures Include Art Experiences, Cowboys Encounters, and a Tar Pit. Southern California is an awesome place for families wanting sunshine and beach time as well as screen-free activities with memory making potential. 

Here's the scoop.
 Even though Hollywood anchors the Los Angeles area with big screen images it is still possible to enjoy non-commercial, screen-free time on vacation. The comfortable arid landscape mixed with blankets of wild flowers and towering eucalyptus trees encourages spending time outside. Mornings often begin with fog and days usually conclude with sunshine. Cafes and open-air markets offer a cornucopia of treasures to be shared. Southern California demands screen-free participation in the moment. Read on to see why?

Time travel California style. The Pioneer Village and Ken County Museum in Bakersfield provides oodles of ways to connect with the past as well as the future. Situated on 16 acres, the complex has more than 50 historical buildings dating from 1865-1945.The grounds provide an enjoyable way for generations to share experiences in an interactive, educational, and historically rich setting. From the Lilliputian size town for kids to the story of oil, visitors are entertained with caring and purpose.  The Lori Brock Children’s Discovery Center is a treasure for the tiniest of guests. (Pioneer Village 3801 Chester Avenue, Bakersfield, 93301. (661) 852-5000 or

Follow a roadrunner. At the California Living Museum (CALM) visitors will enjoy the antics of a resident roadrunner in the desert habitat. CALM is a zoo, botanical garden and natural history museum in one location that showcases living plants and animals native to California. They provide displays and information about native animals, plants, specimens, and artifacts. Respect for all living things is demonstrated through education, recreation, conservation, and research. (California Living Museum 10500 Alfred Harrell Hwy. Bakersfield, 93306-9654. Toll-free 1-800-872-CALM, (661) 872-CALM (2256) or  San Diego Safari Park Screen Free Butterfly Encounter

Sing with the cowboys. Discover the cultural nuances of the American West at The Autry Museum of Western Heritage also in Griffith Park. Through our wide-ranging exhibitions, collections, programs, and educational offerings, they connect the past to the present and showcase the history of the region west of the Mississippi River. Throughout the year they have a selection of workshops, classes, and activities for children. Discovery: Within the museum there is a Hands-on Family Discovery Gallery, where children and their families learn about history through games and exploration (The Autry Museum 4700 Western Heritage Way, Los Angeles, 90027-1462. (323) 667-2000 or

Hug a tree, pet a goat. The Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens is one of nine accredited botanical gardens in the country with an impressive collection of plants as well as animals. Located on 113 acres in the heart of Griffith Park it is home to species from around the globe. In addition to browsing the zoo independently there are several organized zoo adventures for families. Discover the wonders of wildlife as you learn about amazing animals, terrific habitats, and fantastic ways to survive. Discovery: The children’s zoo has an interactive living book series and docents provide many opportunities for animal encounters from holding birds of prey to grooming domestic farm animals. (Los Angeles Zoo 5333 Zoo Drive, Los Angeles, 90027-1498. (323) 644-6400 or

Get into a tar pit. One of the world's most famous fossil sites is literally in the middle of Los Angeles. The Page Museum is located at the Rancho La Brea Tar Pits, contains displays and exhibitions of a diverse assemblage of extinct Ice Age plants and animals. Within the museum special viewing windows allow for visitors to watch ongoing work in the paleontology lab that services the famous “Pit 91” excavations. Outside the Museum, in Hancock Park, life-size replicas of several extinct mammals are featured. Each summer scientists return to continue work at "Pit 91," where they are seeking more Ice Age fossils for study. Discovery: There is an observation Station in Hancock Park that is open free to the public Wednesday through Sunday. (Rancho La Brea Tar Pits 5801 Wilshire Blvd. Los Angeles, 90036. (323) 934-PAGE (7243) or Diego Zoo Screen Free Tortoise Encounter

Ride over the zoo. Located in beautiful Balboa Park, the 100-acre San Diego Zoo cares for more than 4,000 individual animals representing 800 different species. It is recognized as one of the finest zoological parks in the entire world. In addition to seeing state-of-the-art bioclimatic habitats that place animals in familiar settings, visitors may get a birds eye view of wildlife from the Skyfari aerial tram or stroll tree shaded pathways and boardwalks. The variety of interesting programs and animal encounter is endless. Bonus Points: Families may take behind-the-scene tours, participate in mini wildlife workshops or make a visit at night. (San Diego Zoo 2920 Zoo Drive, San Diego, 92101. (619) 234-3153 or

Walk on the wild side. The San Diego Zoo has a sister site just 32 miles northeast of the Zoo near the city of Escondido. The Wild Animal Park is 20 times larger than the Zoo and is a totally different experience. The 1,800-acre wildlife preserve provides visitors with fantastic views of exotic animal herds in terrain that is similar to habitats of Asia and Africa. The Park has more than 3,500 animals representing 260 species, and is also an accredited botanical garden. (Wild Animal Park 15500 San Pasqual Valley Road, Escondido, 92027-7017. (760) 747-8702 or

Content reserached and posted by Nancy Nelson-Duac, Curator of the Good Stuff for the Family Travel Files. Images courtesy and San Diego Zoo. Copyright updated 2018.