Fun Things to Do in Arnold for Families
Arnold, California, and surrounding towns are fantastic places to go for a family trip away from the Bay Area. Just 10 minutes from our family-friendly rental cabins in Dorrington, situated between Tahoe National Forest and Yosemite National Park, Arnold is a quiet town in one of the most beautiful landscapes in all of California. There is plenty to do here with kids of all ages, including exploring the State Parks, rafting down rivers, and learning about the culture and natural history of the Sierra Nevada mountains.
As you’re planning your trip here are some of the best things to do in the Arnold area with kids.
Calaveras Big Trees State Park
Arnold is home to two groves of giant sequoia trees, both of which are preserved in Calaveras Big Trees State Park. Giant sequoias are the world’s largest tree, and they only grow in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California, making them as rare as they are beautiful.
Founded in 1852, Calaveras Big Trees State Park is considered California’s longest continuously operated tourist attraction! Today, the park encompasses 6,500 acres of trails, outdoor recreation areas, and sequoia groves. It is open to the public to learn about these enormous trees and enjoy the idyllic scenery of the sequoia groves.
There are plenty of outdoor activities for kids here, including guided tours of the park and a museum with interactive exhibits on local flora and fauna like mountain lions, black bears, and bobcats.
Arnold Rim Trail
The Arnold Rim Trail stretches along the Ebbetts Pass National Scenic Byway, taking hikers, bikers, and even horseback riders along the breathtaking Sierra Nevada mountains.
Catch the Arnold Rim Trail in Stanislaus National Forest to hike out to a magnificent waterfall, relax along the shores of a lake, enjoy birdwatching, and catch some beautiful views of the national forest along the way.
There is something for everyone along this trail, so enjoy the natural beauty on foot, bring the bikes out to explore, or even go explore on horseback!
Sierra Nevada Logging Museum
With the abundance of old-growth cedar, fir, and spruce forests, the Arnold region has been defined by the logging industry. Check out the Sierra Nevada Logging Museum, which showcases the area’s historical and modern logging operations. There are exhibits of antique equipment such as sawmills, handsaws, and axes, and interactive exhibits like the Willamette Steam Donkey, a restored locomotive made for logging in the 1920s.
The museum hosts events and tours and offers a beautiful picnic and barbeque area to have an outdoor feast with the kids and spend the day in the beautiful mountains of Arnold.
With big mountains come big rivers, and the Stanislaus River is the perfect place to have a great time in some white water. There is something for everyone along the Stanislaus River, including scenic walking trails, camping, fishing, and swimming. Just minutes from our Dorrington cabins, there is free river access along Boards Crossing Road at Sourgrass Recreation Area in the summer, spring, and fall.
Although there are plenty of gentle stretches of the Stanislaus, adventurous kids will love whitewater rafting on Class IV+ rapids on the North Fork of the river. Check out a rafting tour for some unforgettable moments with the whole family.
Stanislaus National Forest is an outdoor recreational paradise, with a stunning hiking trail offering breathtaking views of the Sierra Nevada and whitewater rafting on the Stanislaus River, but one of the biggest draws of this beautiful area is the idyllic mountain lakes.
Lake Alpine is the most popular lake in the area, with swimming, boating, hiking, camping, fishing, picnicking, biking, and interpretive programs. In winter, the lake becomes part of the Lake Alpine SNO-PARK, where kids will love snowmobiling, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing.
Nearby Murphys, about 20 minutes from Arnold, is an old gold rush town, now a thriving mountain community focused on outdoor adventures, boutique shopping, and arts and culture. Stop by Murphys on your way to or from the Arnold Rim Trail for a quick bite at one of the cafés on historic Main Street, or stay all day to explore the shops, art galleries and museums.
Murphys is known for its vineyards, but the kids will love Murphys Community Park, which has a children’s playground, a wishing well, and a beautiful creek running through it. Murphys also frequently holds festivals like Oktoberfest and Dia de los Muertos with kids’ activities and events.
Just outside Murphys is Mercer Caverns, one of the first of the many caves in the area to be discovered and opened to the public. When it was first opened in 1885, it was known for the six skeletons found in the cave, later identified as being over 1,500 years old. Because of this, the cave was initially named New Calaveras, which means “New Place of Skulls.”
Now, Mercer Caverns is one of the most accessible caves in the Arnold area and is known for its impressive stalagmites, stalactites, and aragonites–a rare cave formation caused by proximity to marine environments.
Mercer Caverns has tons of kids’ activities including tours, a kid-friendly stalagmite formation that you can actually touch, and a museum featuring interactive exhibits on gem mining in the 1800s!
These are just a few of the many family-friendly attractions awaiting you in the Arnold Area. Natural beauty, California history, and modern conveniences converge in this unique area, and we invite you to explore it for yourself!