The Redwoods may not seem like a toddler friendly destination, but with a little planning it can be an amazing trip for even the smallest visitors. These five tips for exploring the Redwoods with toddlers will make your trip a giant success.
5 Tips for Exploring the Redwoods With Toddlers
When you think of toddler friendly vacations, the Redwoods may not be the first, or the fifth place, that pops into your mind. After all, the Redwoods usually involve a lot of driving and a lot of walking. But with a little planning and some tools, a trip to the Redwoods with toddlers can be a giant adventure the entire family will love. We decided to explore the Redwoods with toddler twins and a six-year-old. I learned a lot and have five tips for anybody wanting to take on such a large adventure with little ones.
Choosing Which Parks to Visit
The Redwoods are actually several state and national parks along the northern coast of California. It can be overwhelming trying to figure out which parks you want to visit, so I strongly suggest searching travel blogs for trip reviews. My family chose to stay in the Lower Humboldt County parks near Eureka, CA. These parks had some of the most iconic locations, toddler friendly trails, and Eureka had plenty of activities for our kids, like their zoo, if we needed a break from hiking. If you need an idea of things to do in Eureka, check out this post.
How to Find Toddler Friendly Trails
If you have a child that loves to get out and explore his surroundings, the Redwoods will not disappoint. One challenge of exploring the Redwoods with toddlers is finding trails that the family can do together. When we started planning our first trip last year, I came across a great site, Redwood Hikes, that became our biggest tool for our Redwoods vacation.
The site breaks down all of the trails by park, and then gives you the length, total incline (so you don’t choose a super steep trail for your two-year-old to hike), and even how picturesque the trail is.
It includes details on the condition of the trails, trivia, and my favorite, easily links to Google Maps to get driving instructions to the trail head. Using this site we were able to find several trails that were around 3/4 a mile and flat that our toddlers could easily walk on their own.
Deciding What Gear to Take to the Redwoods with Toddlers
One thing that was different about going to the Redwoods with toddlers, compared to other locations, is what gear we took. We did not pack our stroller for the trip. Instead, we chose to take some hiking carrier packs like a Kelty or Deuter Kid Comfort Air. We were able to wear our toddlers for longer trails or those with steeper inclines.
We also had to make sure to pack rain jackets for our family. The Redwoods were not super cold, but they were wet, so rain jackets were a must.
Finally, we had to make sure to take a travel changing pad or blanket and hand sanitizer. There are no changing stations, even at the ranger stations, so you will want somewhere to change your toddler without having to lay her on the ground. A simple travel changing pad works great.
Make the Redwoods Exciting for Your Toddler
One challenge we faced with our toddlers was getting them excited about what we were seeing. The Redwoods are extremely tall trees, and our toddlers are extremely close to the ground. We found they enjoyed the Redwoods a lot more when we took the time to point out the really tall trees. We would show them some skinnier trees, and then some thicker trees as well. I think their absolute favorite though was when we came across trees they could go inside or trees that were fallen and they could see how big the trees were right next to them.
Head Out Early and Take It Slow
It is really easy to have a long list of trails and sites you have to see on your Redwoods vacation. We found that our twins did much better when we headed out early and took it slow, letting them enjoy their surroundings. Yes, we only got to do about 1/4 of the trails we wanted to, but we were able to have fun and avoid melt downs.
Each day we headed out around eight in the morning. This way we made it to the trails with plenty of energy and avoided some of the crowds. We also made it back to the hotel every day in time for nap. While our twins napped one of us would take our older son to the pool and let him swim. We could then spend the afternoon and evening enjoying other child friendly activities in town.
With a little bit of planning you can have an amazing time in the Redwoods with toddlers. Have you explored the Redwoods with toddlers? What tips or must-see items would you suggest to others? Let me know in the comments below.
Want to explore the California Redwoods, but short on time? See what you can do in the Redwoods in just 24 hours here.