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Berlitz Summer Camp
by Mimi Slawoff
The beauty of California is its diverse terrain and year-round (mostly) pleasant weather affording us the luxury of enjoying snowy slopes, sunny beaches, desert sunsets and valley views – all within close distance. And there’s no better time than spring to explore our state’s contrasting landscape.
Mighty Mountain Fun
Shed heavy outerwear and slather on sunscreen to enjoy pristine spring skiing with snow, sunshine, discounts (save 30-40 percent on lodging) and fewer crowds at Mammoth Mountain (www.MammothMountain.com), usually open through June. Starting April 23, adult lift ticket prices drop to $69. Ages 7-12 pay $30 all season.
Closer to home, Big Bear (www.bigbear.com) blooms with activities including inner tubing down snowy hills at Alpine Slide Magic Mountain (www.alpineslidebigbear.com), off-road segway tours (www.actionsegwaytours.com), ziplining over treetops (www.actionziplinetours.com) and fishing.
Now is a good time to catch rainbow trout waking from winter slumber. Learn about local wildlife at the Moonridge Animal Park (www.moonridgezoo.org), home to bobcats, coyotes, golden eagles and other critters. For stunning lake and forest views, hike along the Pacific Crest Trail festooned with wildflowers.
Diggin’ the Desert
There’s more to Palm Springs (www.VisitPalmSprings.com) than shopping, dining and golf (although that’s fun, too!). Spring’s mild temperatures are just right for exploring desert canyons via horseback, off-road vehicles or on foot. Just minutes from downtown is a rugged desert landscape with native palms and cool streams accessible by horseback. Hummer and jeep tours bring riders to the San Andreas Fault, windmills and nearby Joshua Tree National Park.
Put on your walking shoes and bring water for a two-mile loop hike that leads to a seasonal waterfall on the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla tribal land. For amazing panoramic views ride the rotating Palm Springs Aerial Tramway to Mt. San Jacinto State Park at 8,500 feet elevation.
People gather at sunrise to watch a colorful bouquet of hot air balloons soar over Temecula (www.VisitTemecula.org), 90 miles south of L.A. Join the fun! Hop in for a 60-75-minute flight over lush vineyards and citrus groves. Rates start at about $130 per person.
Kids learn how hot air balloons work at PennyPickle’s Workshop/Temecula Children’s Museum in historic Old Town Temecula, a charming, pedestrian-friendly neighborhood with shops, restaurants and wine bars.
Down By the Sea
Besides kite flying, rollerblading and biking at local beaches, there is a boatload of exciting ocean activities for families oceanside.
Aquarium of the Pacific (www.aquariumofpacific.org) and Harbor Breeze Cruises in Long Beach offer year-round whale and dolphin watching trips aboard a catamaran. Gray whale season usually lasts through April but fin whales, various dolphin species, sea lions and migratory birds are seen throughout the year. Two-hour tours including aquarium admission cost $44.95 for adults, $29.95 for ages 10 and younger.
Tidepools at Point Fermin State Marine Park in San Pedro are brimming with sea crabs, muscles, sea urchin shells and marine plants. Cabrillo Marine Aquarium (www.cabrillomarineaquarium.org) offers tidepool walks. Time your visit for low tide.
Pump up the fun with kayaking or stand-up paddleboarding in the sparkling Pacific. Watch for dolphins and fish! Paddle through the calm waters of Naples Canals in Alamitos Bay with Kayaks on the Water (www.kayakrentals.net). Rates start at $9 per person.
Catalina Island (www.catalinachamber.com) is a short boat ride away and is a fantastic day or overnight trip. Summers get packed but spring is glorious for biking, walking, snorkeling, boating or riding a golf cart about town.
Let’s Go columnist Mimi Slawoff is a California native who never tires of exploring California.
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