(This article by military lifestyle writer Latayne C. Scott originally appeared in the June 2021 issue of Military Officer, a magazine available to all MOAA Premium and Life members. Learn more about the magazine here; learn more about joining MOAA here.)
When many people think of vacationing in California, they think of Six Flags Magic Mountain, Knott’s Berry Farm, Universal Studios Hollywood, and Legoland California. But coronavirus made even Disneyland, “the happiest place on earth,” one of the loneliest as gates closed in 2020. The state’s economic reopening plan is based on a color-coded COVID risk system that may keep even theme park facilities in the healthiest counties at greatly reduced capacities of 35% or less. Call ahead and make reservations before you firm up travel dates.
Don’t let restrictions keep you from the great outdoors. Planning ahead and monitoring the unique situation of the place you’re visiting will ensure you have the beach experience you want on California’s 840 miles of coastland.
Take a ride in an authentic Venetian gondola over the river in Napa Valley, famous for its vistas, world-class restaurants, and wine-tasting events. Want to go more rustic? Visit Yosemite National Park. Its 1,200 square miles contain jaw-dropping waterfalls, swoon-worthy views, trails for hikers and cyclists, rock formations unlike anywhere in the world, and ancient trees. Yosemite is popular, so avoid crowds and the summer heat by going in May or September.
Sponsored Content: Making Paradise Valley Estates home places you in the heart of bountiful Northern California, just a short drive from Napa Valley wine country, the bustling San Francisco Bay area, and the stunning lakeside ski slopes of Tahoe. Equally inspiring is joining a resort-style, life plan community founded by retired military officers. Enjoy living among a world of new experiences just outside of your neighborhood, including the vast resources of Travis AFB and David Grant Medical Center. Welcome to a community where retired officers, their spouses, and surviving spouses of officers are welcomed with respect, appreciation, and open arms.
Bringing the kids? Take practical advice from people whose steps you can literally walk in, like blogger Preethi Harbuck at www.localpassportfamily.com. Her tips for a Yosemite family hike will make it an educational and fun experience for all ages.
Oh, the trees! See them at Muir Woods, Calavera Big Trees, and Humboldt Redwoods state parks. Eureka’s brand-new Sequoia Park Zoo’s Redwood Sky Walk lets you see the famous redwoods from heights as high as 100 feet on its quarter-mile canopy trail — all ADA accessible and included with the zoo entrance fee.
CALIFORNIA’S MILITARY MUST-SEE: Families can plan a scenic trip to northern California to the hauntingly beautiful Living Memorial Sculpture Garden. On the northern slope of Mount Shasta on rugged Forest Service land, the provocative, stylized statue groups and memorial wall honor men and women of courage.
More State Resources
Check out other states that make up Live and Play 2021. Thinking about a long-term move? Visit MOAA's Military State Report Card and Tax Guide as part of your financial decision-making process.