Ultimate Guide to the Best Hiking in Los Angeles (2023)

Would you ever have guessed that hiking in Los Angeles is *the* thing to do here? We were so surprised to learn this when we moved here 9 years ago. 

Traffic, yes.

Celebrities, of course. 

But hiking? Yes! it is really one of the most popular activities you will find Angelenos participating in all days of the week, and all times of the year. 

The truth is, there are a TON of amazing hikes in the Los Angeles area, that it can take years to experience them all. When we first moved to LA, my son was only 3 so we didn’t do a ton of difficult hikes at that time, focusing on the best hikes for toddlers, but as the years have progressed, we have added more and more to our arsenal.

In 2021, we started the year with a goal of hiking (and biking!) 100 miles for the month of January and 1000 for the year. For our own purposes to keep track of the hikes we have done and would recommend, we started this guide on all the hiking trails in Los Angeles that we have been on or have on our list!

We will cover the best hikes in LA (according to popular consensus), waterfall hikes in Los Angeles as well as some great hiking near Los Angeles. Read on for more information for each. Check back often for updates as well.

Read more

Hiking the John Muir Trail: Everything You Need to Know for 2023

More than 1,500 people attempt to walk the entire John Muir Trail every year. A bit more than half of them succeed in a good year, with less than a third making it through in a year with natural challenges – high snow, monsoonal rains or wildfires. This guide from a JMT thru-hiker provides key … Read more

9 Beautiful Joshua Tree Hikes For Unforgettable Views

Looking for the best Joshua Tree hikes? You have come to the right place. Joshua Tree National Park in California has become one of our favorite go-to trips – either as a day trip or for a last minute weekend getaway. Through our many visits, we have found a few trails that we return to … Read more

10 Things to Do in Kings Canyon National Park You Will Love

One of my favorite national parks that is often overlooked is Kings Canyon National Park. Most visitors see only a tiny portion of the park from the top entrance, never taking the time to get down into the deepest canyon in the US. If we can inspire you to do anything, it is to get down into the canyon where you find so many amazing things to do in Kings Canyon National Park that you will fall in love just like we did!

If you are planning a joint trip to Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon, make sure to check out our extensive post on visiting Sequoia which includes visiting the General Sherman Tree and other well known giant sequoias as well as tips on how to see both parks in a short amount of time. 

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, meaning at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

Read more

20 Useful Tips For Visiting Sequoia National Park In Winter

If you are looking for a magical getaway, consider visiting Sequoia National Park in winter. The majestic red giants are covered in glistening white snow creating a breathtaking landscape that is hard to beat.

Sequoia National Park is one of our favorite national parks during the busy summer months, but now that we have visited in winter we are even more in love.  Have you been to see the giants of Sequoia National Park in winter? If not, put it on your bucket list and get busy planning your trip with our tips below.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, meaning at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

Read more

Backpacking the Beautiful Little Lakes Valley Trail (Near Rock Creek)

Little Lakes Valley in the Eastern Sierras is one of the most beautiful hikes in the high sierra and one our favorite backpacking hikes in California with kids and for beginners. This beautiful hike follows along a creek, passes several pristine alpine lakes and offers gorgeous scenery without too much hard work. This is almost … Read more

10 Unexpected Life Lessons From My 11 Year Old on the John Muir Trail

This summer, I hiked 180 miles of the 211+ mile John Muir Trail (JMT) with my 11 year old son. The JMT runs through the Eastern Sierra mountains in California, starting from Yosemite Valley to the summit of Mount Whitney, the highest mountain in the contiguous US. For many this isn’t a huge outdoor accomplishment, … Read more

Seeking Out the Beauty of Mammoth Lakes Fall Colors

Did you know that you can find fall colors in California? While New England wins hand down for the best fall colors, those of us on the west coast can also cash in on this fall favorite. Mammoth Lakes fall colors lures visitors from near and far for their yearly display of bright yellow aspen trees and beautiful fall colors in California’s eastern sierras. The best fall colors are typically popping around mid Sept to the end of October, making it the ideal destination for a fall leaf peeping trip.

For those of us in Southern California, sometimes it’s hard to imagine that the seasons are really changing elsewhere in the US. We have heat waves and fires all through the fall, often making the changing of temperatures further up north a distant thought. If you are like me and try to bring a little bit of fall foliage into your autumn, head up the 395 where you can experience the beauty of fall from Bishop to Mammoth Lakes and even further north to the South Lake Tahoe area.

Read more

50+ Amazing Spots for Camping in Southern California

Best beach camping in Southern California

Camping in Southern California is one of the best outdoor, social distance activities available. Lakes, mountains, and beaches – a multitude of campgrounds in Southern California offer an incredible array of places to match the season and everyone’s interests. With vacations being cancelled and people worried about gathering in groups, camping is the in thing to do! Below is a collection of our favorite campgrounds in Southern California that we will continue to update as we come across more.

If you have some favorites that we have missed, please share them with us as we would love to check out more off the beaten path sites around the state.

Read more

6 Amazing Stops on Route 66 Los Angeles to Grand Canyon That You MUST Visit

Are you heading out on the iconic Route 66 Los Angeles to Grand Canyon route? Traveling on the notorious Route 66 is a dream for many. While it takes a lot of time and planning to drive the entire length of the road (all 2,451 miles of it!), it is possible to drive sections of the road without much of an effort. We haven’t fulfilled our quest to drive the entire length of the road, but we were able to get a good taste by driving Route 66 from Los Angeles to the Grand Canyon. It was just enough to know that we will be back for more. (Update: We did it again going all the way to Oklahoma!)

Starting the drive on Route 66 from Los Angeles to the Grand Canyon, we happened across some awesome sites that are worth the detour and longer drive times.  The most difficult part of this drive is continually rerouting the GPS to stay off of Interstate 40!

Read more

Backpacking In California: 20 Amazing Spots You Must Visit

Our two favorite things to do in the outdoors in California is hike and camp. Why not combine the two with a backpack camping trip? We know camping in Southern California is very popular with families to couples and folks with their dogs, but for the more adventurous, finding cool spots for backpacking in California is even more exciting.

There are some amazing spots for backpacking in California, from the Bay Area of San Francisco to Southern California and everywhere in between. Some favorite places for backpack camping include Joshua Tree, the Lake Tahoe area, Yosemite National Park and the Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Park areas. Much of these wilderness areas are more ‘hard core backpacking’ for those with experience and the legs to carry themselves further than a couple of mile hike.

For those of you who are new to this outdoor adventure, we share relatively easy, doable backpacking trails here in California to consider for your first (or second or third!) backpacking camping trip with or without kids. As we explore more of the backcountry camping options throughout California, we will update this list.

Don’t miss our top tips and backpacking hacks for beginners!

Read more

11 Extraordinary Road Trips in California You Will Love

California is the perfect destination for families, couples and solo adventurers looking to explore everything from national parks to iconic beaches. California is massive which means at some point or another you will find yourself driving around it. For those looking to get out and explore, California is your ideal destination. Below we share some of our favorite road trips in California and some we hope to take soon.

Read more

The Ultimate Guide to Exploring Yosemite with Kids

A family trip to Yosemite National Park is the quintessential American summer holiday. Exploring Yosemite with kids while camping (or glamping as it is for us!), splashing through rivers, and spying out some of the best natural scenes in the US is one of the best trips you can do with your family.

If you are planning a visit to California’s most iconic park, we have laid out all you need to know in order to have the best trip ever in Yosemite with kids. Below are our top picks for things to do in Yosemite National Park with kids as well as options on where to stay and eat. Trust me, seeing this national treasure through your little one’s eyes is a truly magical experience that you will not want to miss.

Read more

Epic Family Weekend in San Luis Obispo County (SLOCAL)

The California Coast is filled with amazing destinations making it difficult to decide just where to go when you are looking for a quick escape. We have found the answer with a weekend in San Luis Obispo County (SLOCAL). Sitting in the middle of the Central Coast, SLOCAL offers tons of adventure, nature and of course some luxury too!

San Luis Obispo County is a fun place to visit for families as there is no shortage of beautiful nature scapes, awesome food, and plenty of family fun that will easily keep you busy for several days. Read on for our recommendations on how to have an epic family weekend getaway in San Luis Obispo County.

ADVENTURE: A California Family Weekend in San Luis Obispo County // NATURE:  Sailing with Captain Mark // CRAZY FUN: Sand Dune Buggies // LUXURY: The Cliffs Spa & Hotel

Read more

15+ Beautiful Things to Do in Lake Tahoe Year Round

Whether you arrive in winter or summer or anytime in between, there are so many amazing things to do in Lake Tahoe that you could easily spend months here without getting bored. Lake Tahoe truly is one of California’s (and Nevada’s) most magical destinations.

Below we share some of the best things to do in Tahoe from summer to winter.  That said, we highly recommend visiting during the shoulder seasons as the crowds are thinned out and you can get the best of both seasons often in a week visit!

Check out SierraSafely for more information on how to experience Lake Tahoe during COVID, including a trail list with various businesses and activities to safely explore on your visit. 

Read more

This is the Tri-Valley: 15 Exciting Things to Do in Livermore, Pleasanton, Dublin & Danville

Are you looking for a weekend getaway in the Bay Area? Consider the Tri-Valley area where there are a ton of great things to do in Livermore, Pleasanton, Dublin and Danville. I lived in San Francisco for almost a decade while my cousins and aunt lived in the Tri Valley area just across the bridge. … Read more

Explore the Suisun Valley: A Vibrant Emerging Family Destination

Suisun Valley is a unique, rustic wine country and farming community located just north of the San Francisco Bay Area in Solano County between San Francisco and Sacramento. In the recent past most visitors made their way up to the area for the Jelly Belly Factory that is located in Fairfield. These days, there are … Read more

Pinnacles National Park: Everything You Need To Know To Visit

Are you planning a trip to Pinnacles National Park in California? Whether you are interested in seeking out California condors, hiking through talus caves or rock climbing, California’s smallest national park packs a lot in for all types of  visitors. Pinnacles is mainly known as a hiking park, with towering rock formations, an abundance of … Read more

7 Reasons to Visit the Bass Lake Yosemite Area

Looking to visit Yosemite but don’t want to stay inside the park? Our favorite place to stay outside the park is in the Bass Lake Yosemite area. The area is cute, quaint, offers a new dimension to your Yosemite visit and is well worth the drive into the park. Read on for our favorite things to do in and around the Bass Lake California as well as where to stay and eat.

Read more

Finding Fall Colors in Bishop, California

Growing up in Texas and spending most of my adult life in places that do not experience fall, I had had enough and wanted to find some cooler air and pretty fall foliage in Southern California! My nature loving sidekick was game as he has been searching for fallen leaves representing all the colors of fall. So off we went.

You may not think of Southern California as a place to see fall colors, and you are right! To really experience it, we had to drive several hours away. After doing our diligent research, the closest place to Los Angeles to see the true turning of the seasons from hot summer days to brisk cool mornings is in the Eastern Sierras, specifically around Bishop, California. 

Read more