Join #KidsToParks Day and Discover Mother Nature’s Biodiversity

Has your child ever wanted to sit in the middle of the trail and inspect bugs, or count how many bright yellow flowers line the neighborhood pond? Well, the National Park Trust, in association with National Geographic Kids wants to give them a chance to channel their inner naturalist.

This Saturday, May 21, 2016 marks the 6th annual Kids to Parks Day, encouraging families all across the U.S. to get outside into the great outdoors to play, protect and preserve our wonderful natural landscape. Organized by the National Park Trust and supported by a large group of regional and local groups and organizations, Kids to Parks Day is just one way to instill in our children an active lifestyle full of exploration and discovery.


For the past decade, leading up to the National Park Service’s Centennial Celebration, the NPS and National Geographic have been leading BioBlitz community events at a different national park each year. And the biggest BioBlitz blitz is happening now, with over 250 scheduled for 2016, culminating in a cornerstone nationwide event to celebrate Kids To Parks Day.

If you’ve never participated in a BioBlitz, you have a lot to look forward to this Saturday, May 21st, because in Southern California there are four biodiversity festivals to choose from. Join scientists, students, teachers and your community as we work together to identify, count, and log the local diversity of our natural places, animals, plants, fungi and other organisms.

Want to join a BioBlitz? Here’s what you need to know:

Joshua Tree National Park
Ethno-botanical BioBlitz
May 21, 2016 from 9am – 4pm
Joshua Tree National Park Oasis Visitor Center
74485 National Park Drive, Twentynine Palms, CA

Channel Islands National Park
BioBlitz and Biodiversity Festival
May 21, 2016 from 9am – 4pm
Channel Islands National Park visitor center in the Ventura Harbor
1901 Spinnaker Drive Ventura, CA 93001

Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area
Biodiversity and Science Festival
May 21, 2016 from 10am – 4pm
Paramount Ranch
2903 Cornell Road, Agoura Hills, CA, 91301

Cabrillo National Monument
Biodiversity Festival
May 21, 2016 rom 9am – 8pm
Cabrillo National Monument
1800 Cabrillo Memorial Dr., San Diego, Ca. 92025

Don’t live in Southern California? Check out National Geographic’s BioBlitz events map to join forces in your own community!

[El Capitan Canyon] Mommy Hiker Campground Spotlight

Family camping in santa barbara

Nestled in a breathtaking canyon, surrounded by hills covered in colorful wildflowers, and just minutes from the Central Coast city of Santa Barbara, California sits El Capitan Canyon, a hidden gem of a campground. Offering families numerous outdoor lodging options from canvas, safari-style tent camping sites to comfortable adventure yurts, and even luxurious cedar cabins, this resort-style campground boasts creature comforts like hot showers, super clean toilets and even awesome, kid-friendly amenities like playgrounds and heated outdoor pools.

To read our full guide to camping and hiking at El Capitan Canyon, see Jennifer Fontaine’s article on

Reserve your spot today at El Capitan Canyon for your next unforgettable family camping adventure!

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El Capitan Canyon has provided Southern Californians with a cozy sanctuary since the early 70’s. Take advantage of the local hikes with trailheads on property, frolic with their llamas and goats, enjoy live music concerts in the summer, or indulge in an in-room massage.

The Canyon Market and Deli is well stocked with a large selection of local, organic groceries, world renowned wine, and those often-forgotten sundries like sunscreen and bug spray. Order their signature BBQ kit which includes all the necessary ingredients to enjoy a family meal cooked over the campfire, or if you don’t feel like grilling, the restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Natural Features

Situated on 300 acres of towering sycamores and California coastal oaks, each one of El Capitan Canyon’s 139 individual sites offers guests a relaxed, communal experience. Originally a Chumash tribal celebration site, the canyon is blanketed by flavorful elderberries and wildly fragrant sage. Two local hikes take you over soft rolling hills, along the majestic Pacific Ocean, and through vast pastures where goats and llamas dance to the sounds of the crashing waves.

Here’s a list of our favorite amenities and activities El Capitan Canyon has to offer

  • Family Room 5+
  • Kitchenettes
  • Laundry Service
  • Onsite Dining
  • Onsite Market
  • Refrigerator
  • Heated Outdoor Pool
  • Playground
  • Fire Pits
  • Room Service
  • Maid Service
  • Complimentary Beach Cruiser Bikes
  • Hiking
  • Yoga Classes
  • Massage Therapy

Get Your Hike On in Newport Beach

A quick one hour jaunt south down the 405 freeway from Los Angeles, the sophisticated coastal town of Newport Beach, California offers more than you think. With miles and miles of scenic hiking, biking, surfing, over 400 local restaurants, and a laid back nightlife, its intoxicating charm will have you coming back for more.

Crystal Cove, Newport Beach [Photo Courtesy Visit Newport Beach]

Mommy Hiker’s Top 2 Favorite Newport Beach Hikes

One of the largest coastal wetlands in southern California, offering 1,000 acres of open space, the Upper Newport Bay Nature Preserve and Ecological Reserve is a mecca for birders, hikers, runners, bikers and picnickers. Classified as a “critical estuary,” its preservation is crucial to providing a safe haven for nearly 200 species of birds, and foraging, spawning and nursery habitat for numerous species of fish, such as halibut, croaker, white sea bass and barred sand bass. 
For breathtaking bluff-top trails, head over to the northwest side of the bay. If it’s jogging or a brisk walk you’re looking for, Back Bay Drive is a multi-use road that stretches 3 miles northwards along the east side of the Bay from the Back Bay Science Center at Shellmaker Road to Vista Point on the corner of Eastbluff Drive.
Avid cyclists can enjoy a 10-mile bike loop around the Bay which starts at Jamboree at San Diego Creek, and the more ambitious adventure seekers can tackle the 22-mile Mountains to Sea Trail, which runs from Weir Canyon north of Irvine Regional Park joins the Back Bay Loop at Jamboree Road and continues through to Shellmaker Road.
Divided into three beach areas, Reef Point, Pelican Point and Los Trancos, Crystal Cove Beach boasts 1,140 acres of majestic underwater beauty for snorkelers and scuba divers and white sand beaches for sunbathers to frolic. If water and sand isn’t quite what you’re looking for, head to El Moro Canyon located at the southernmost edge of the beach to explore 18 miles of pristine hiking, biking and horse trails.
Newbie surfers at Blackies Beach, Newport Beach [Photo Courtesy Visit Newport Beach]
On the northside of the Newport Pier is a special swath of sand called Blackies, known for its slower breaks it is the perfect spot for kids who are itching to get their toes wet in the sport of surfing.
Join over a million delight-filled viewers at the 107th Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade, the nation’s longest running lighted holiday boat parade, for five jam-packed nights on December 16-20, 2015.
December through April is prime grey whale watching season and Newport Beach is ranked as one of the top destinations to witness these magnificent creatures make their way down to the warmer breeding grounds of Mexico.
Stand Up Paddleboarders, Newport Beach [Photo Courtesy Visit Newport Beach]
From full moon paddles, to SUP movie nights, and sunset outings, take advantage of the gorgeous year round sunshine Newport Beach has to offer by taking the whole family out on a stand up paddleboard adventure.