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Summertime family bucket lists

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Posted: Tuesday, April 2, 2013 9:59 am

Summer is just around the corner and if you haven’t already, it’s time to start planning family adventures to check off the bucket list. Living in the central valley, we have plenty to do within driving distance. Here is a list of ideas close and far to get your wheels spinning.

Although ideal in Alaska, you can also get a peek of whales in San Francisco. Blue and humpback whales can be spotted in June right off of our nearest coast.

There are 4,000 miles of historic sections to explore at the Great Wall of China, but you can also take a stroll by foot through the largest Chinatown outside of Asia and it’s within driving distance. Visit the oldest Chinatown in North America which is located in San Francisco.

Travel to the happiest place on earth, Disneyland. If you are looking for closer amusement, take little ones to the Sacramento Zoo and Fairytale town. Older children might like a day at Great America or Six Flags Discovery Kingdom.

Everyone should see the U.S. Navy Blue Angels fly at least once. On July 26-28, they will be flying at the Oregon International Air Show.

Go horseback riding on the beach. There are several central coast stables to choose from. Check with individual stables for age requirements.

For an adventurous family, it doesn’t get much better than white water rafting. If you want one of the best thrills in the U.S., voyage down the Deschutes River in Oregon. If you can’t make that trip, don’t fret. There are many options for great rafting tours on the American River.

Ziplining across Maui is definitely a bucket list item, but you could also get adrenaline pumping closer to home. At speeds of up to 40 m.p.h., you can fly across the Gold Country foothills at the Moaning Cavern Park.

Visit Las Vegas. Yes, there are lots of family activities available! Circus Circus has lots of whimsical entertainment and games for people of all ages. There are several thrill rides to provide a rush, including Insanity which sits 68 feet over the edge of the 1,149 foot Stratosphere and spins at speeds up to 3Gs. To relax, you can take a peaceful gondola ride at the Venice Hotel. And to educate, visit my favorite (for older kids) attraction, the Bodies Exhibit. You will leave understanding human anatomy at a new level. It’s incredible.

Bargain shopping tips: Do your planning online. Kayak.com will pull up multiple options with one search. Groupon and Living Social also have great deals for local events and activities. You can change the region to see what is available at the destination you wish to visit. Make sure to read the fine print noting exclusions and expiration date. If there is a deal you are interested in, google the company and check out the reviews left by previous customers prior to purchasing.

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