Fun Family Road Trips in Crescent City & Throughout Del Norte County

Things to Do with the Kids Here in Crescent City and Del Norte County, California

Though our outdoors are untamed, your gang of littles will find a warm welcome in Crescent City and all of Del Norte County. From a high-speed river adventure to a calm quest for tiny creatures, your kids will be exhausted and happy at the end of an unforgettable day, weekend, or an entire week. After all, this is “Where Nature Outnumbers People” by a long shot, so let them roam!

THE TOP KID-APPROVED ATTRACTIONS

Ocean World

Your kiddo will earn mad playground respect when they can brag, “this summer, I pet a shark.” In addition to interactive pools with starfish, urchins and more, Ocean World aquarium also features observation tanks and sea lion shows. (Watch out for Cora – she has been known to give the occasional fishy kiss!) The attraction was built in Seattle and floated its way down the coast to Crescent City in 1964. Conveniently open seven days a week, Ocean World is an easy add to any travel itinerary. Explore their gift shop before or after your visit to find fun souvenirs, hoodies, hats,  tees, toys and more. 

Pet a Shark at Ocean World aquarium in Crescent City

Trees of Mystery

A 15-minute drive south to Klamath is a towering collection of trees and one big-talking lumberjack. The Trees of Mystery experience is way more than a roadside stop with accessible trails that wind through forest shrines, a gondola ride that climbs 1,500 feet up through the redwood canopy, and the newly built forest canopy walk. Traveling with a dog? There’s no need to leave them behind — Trees of Mystery is a dog-friendly spot where Fido can romp and roam everywhere except for the Redwood Canopy Trail attraction. 

The Redwood Canopy Trail features aerial suspension bridges and wooden staircases that spiral 50 to 100 feet above the forest floor. Savor the enchantment of the redwoods as your kiddo’s heart soars higher. Sturdy platforms along the way help make this a very safe attraction for those that are at least 36 inches tall and can stroll on their own two feet. 

The Redwood Canopy Trail is one of only two forest canopy walks in the U.S, but it’s not the only unique feature within the Trees of Mystery. Stop in at the impressive gift shop, fudge and ice cream bar, and the free museum featuring one of the best Native American “First Americans” tribal artifact collections around. Don’t forget to say “Hi!” to the 50-foot tall Paul Bunyan and his trusty ox, Blue. Paul always has a smile on his face and often has something fun to say to kids who linger around his big boots. 

Scale a suspension bridge 50 to 100 feet high through a redwood tree canopy.

Drive-Thru a Real Redwood Tree

Just a little further south from the Trees of Mystery, 20 miles south of Crescent City, is Klamath’s Tour-Thru Tree. Exit off the 101 just north of the Klamath River bridge to Highway 169 and look for the signs. This 800-year old giant was carefully carved to ensure it continues to thrive for generations of motorists. It’s a tight fit, so tuck in those side mirrors as you slowly roll through a tunnel of history. Be sure to leave the trailer or RV behind. This stop will give your entire troop a tale to tell. The drive-thru redwood tree is open year-round … just drop your fee in the honor box if you happen to hit it up during off-hours. 

THE TOP TOURS THAT KEEP THEIR ATTENTION

Get a Thrill on a Klamath River Jet Boat Tour

Share a thrill ride with your tribe on a Klamath River jet boat tour. This two-hour tour will captivate your crew without fail. It’s not just the beautiful scenery that goes whizzing by you. Wildlife is commonly spotted during the voyage including bears nibbling on berries along the banks and bald eagles soaring above. You may get the picture of a lifetime on one of the photo-op stops. Your seasoned jet boat captain will also share exciting stories of the area such as native Yurok tribe history.

Ride in a Carved Out Redwood Tree

For something a little more serene but completely unique to the region, check out a seasonal canoe tour with a member of the Yurok Nation. Yurok Redwood Canoe Tours is owned and operated by members of the Yurok Tribe. Pile in the family and paddle down the tranquil Klamath River in a handcrafted dugout redwood canoe (ohl-we-yoch) as the Yurok’s ancestors did. Along the way, your guide will reveal a rich background of their people, cultural landmarks and Yurok traditions. This is truly a one-of-a-kind tour and a must for your bucket list — there’s nothing like this anywhere in California.

Paddle an Authentic Redwood Dugout Canoe on the Klamath River

Gallop Along a Serene Pacific Ocean Beach or Trot Through Ancient Redwood Forest

Hand over the reins of worry any time of year to Crescent Trail Rides. The hardest part will be choosing either a horseback ride through sandy dunes and beaches or through a beguiling redwood forest. Choose the timing that works for your group, from one and half hour tours up to three hours. The pace is kept to a comfy walk so you and your youngster can soak up the scenery. Ages six and older are welcome.

A Redwood Forest Ride on the Mill Creek Horse Trail

Whitewater River Rafting & Flat Water Floats on the Sparkling Smith River

Raft along the clear Smith River to Stout Grove to see the tallest Redwood Trees. 

Redwood Rides is a family-friendly guide service offering guided rafting tours as well as raft, kayak and standup paddleboard rentals. Their experienced guides tell the most interesting tales of the surrounding ecosystem and wildlife. If you want more thrills and splashes, spring and early summer offer “wilder” river rides with guided whitewater rafting tours on the Smith River — from advanced whitewater rafting on the North Fork to small rapids on the South Fork, there’s a skill level for all members of your family.

Whitewater and flat water rafting trips on the Smith River

THE TOP “CHOOSE YOUR OWN” NORTHERN CALIFORNIA ADVENTURE

A Day at the Beach (for Days and Days)

Looking to freestyle a bit and roam free? Del Norte County has that, too. 

Give your family some much-needed “Vitamin Sea” with days at the beach. Descend a bluff onto the secluded Enderts Beach and gather around a tidepool to admire a tiny aquatic world. Kellogg Beach is a prime spot to play on the dunes, fly a kite and watch the sun set. This is also where Crescent Trail Rides has its daily horseback riding tours on the beach. There is treasure to be found on South Beach in Crescent City where kids can hunt for agates and sand dollars. This is also a great beach for surfing and stand-up paddleboarding.

Play a game of “I Spy” for whales at the numerous lookout points throughout the region: Klamath Overlook, Crescent Beach Overlook, Battery Pt. Lighthouse and Pebble Beach are all “lucky spots” to see both migrating and resident whales. For a possible close-encounter with a whale and other wildlife, kayak a short 1/2 mile out to Castle Rock — a 14-acre island that is a protected national wildlife refuge in Crescent City. You can watch playful sea lions and very large elephant seals in their natural habitat along with sea birds and even occasional whales. Redwood Rides offers kayak rentals and guided kayak tours that are ideal for beginners and kids of all ages.

Flint Ridge Overlook in Klamath California

Flint Ridge in Klamath, California is One of Many Beaches for Picnics, Tidepoling, Shore Fishing and Whale Watching

Drop a Line or Cast a Crab Pot

With world-famous fishing from our two wild rivers — the Smith River and the Klamath River — there are endless opportunities to cast for salmon, trout and steelhead yourselves, or watch skilled anglers fish the mouth of the Klamath River where it meets the Pacific. While at the Klamath mouth, you might spot a Yurok tribe member using their traditional drift net fishing methods to provide sustenance for their fellow tribe members, young and old.

Crescent City’s B Steet Pier is a popular place to drop a line or cast a crab pot out. England Marine in the Crescent City Harbor can hook you up with everything you need. Find a guided crab and fishing charter to take your whole family fishing for the day. And if you get skunked, you can always order up a fresh catch from one of our restaurants in Del Norte County.

Fishing the Klamath River for Salmon

Pedal Past Ancient Redwoods or Miles of Seashores Along the Crescent City Harbor Trail

Still have some energy to burn? Bring the bikes or rent beach cruisers from Redwood Rides to pedal the Crescent City Harbor Trail which winds its way from South Beach, past Pebble Beach and then finally ending at Pt. St. George trails. You’ll cruise by sea lions, fishing boats and scenic vistas perfect for family photos and sea-worthy selfies. At the trail’s end, you can hike around on beach dunes and check out the famous Pt. Saint George Lighthouse off in the distance. There are also endless beaches for walking and exploring from here. 

Want to mountain bike under the tallest trees in the world? Rent bikes from Redwood Rides (or book a guided tour). They’ll provide state-of-the-art mountain bikes, maps and transportation to some of the area’s more off-the-beaten path trails for all riding levels. Plan a post-ride picnic in one of the redwood parks and cool off with a dip in one of the Smith River’s famous swimming holes.

Bike or Walk the Crescent City Harbor Trail that Connects with the California Coastal Trail

Family-Friendly Eats

Plan to grab a bite, a piping-hot bowl of clam chowder, a handcrafted pizza, or ice cream cones at several seaside restaurants in Crescent City: The Chart Room, House of Jambalaya, Crescent Seafood, Fisherman’s Restaurant and Seaquake Brewery all welcome kids of all ages for dining. 

Dine at One of Our Many Restaurants Along the Crescent City Harbor Trail. The House of Jambalaya has sandy shoreline views of South Beach.

Get a Good Night’s Sleep

Camping amongst ancient redwoods or on the beach with the sound of waves will leave you with a lasting memory. The Del Norte County region has hundreds of camping and RV sites, some with flush toilets, ADA accessibility and guided tours. It’s guaranteed that the S’mores eaten on this family vacation will be the best they’ve ever had.

Many motels in Crescent City offer beachfront accommodations where you’re steps from the sand. Scopa at the Sea offers stunning views from their en suite bed and breakfast style rooms or you can rent an entire house on-site.  There’s even a charming vintage-style motel made from one very large redwood tree. Look for riverside and ocean overlook motels, bed and breakfasts, cozy cabins in the woods, and more Airbnb options in Klamath, too. There are plenty of airbnbs and vacation rentals scattered all over our amazing county for all budgets. 

Cuddle into a Retro Room at the Curly Redwood Lodge Made from One Large Redwood Tree.

There is no limit to the adventures and the vacation memories for your family. Make a road trip plan and let the rugged spirit of Northern California and Del Norte County’s outdoors do the rest.

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