What are your favorite memories from childhood? For me as I look back, those fondest memories often involve family vacations, exploring new places and trying out new activities.
I realized my own family was due for some of that action. A weekend away would do the trick so on the advice of a good friend who’d been there before, I booked two days of fun in Concord, CA, just a few hours’ drive away from our own home.
For an active family like ours, the ideal destination should provide adventure and perhaps even a challenge or two, and Concord’s outdoors activities made it sound perfect. I set the stage for fun while my husband, Vic, packed the car, and my daughter, Bailey, helped me pick music for our road trip playlist. Concord lay a short jaunt beyond the horizon.
We arrived in Concord, CA, on a mild Friday evening, and after checking into our hotel, we took off with our rumbling stomachs in search of good food. I have to say, we were thrilled to find the familiarity of a Fuddruckers restaurant to fend off the hangries while keeping Bailey entertained in the kiddie arcade.
After a comfortable night’s sleep, we eagerly got our day of adventure under way. On our agenda: action-packed thrills at Six Flags Hurricane Harbor Concord. Vic is a water park fan from way back—his inner child keen to show Bailey some tricks—while Bailey was a new swimmer who loved the thought of playing in water. As for me, a lazy river sounded good! We weren’t sure whether Bailey would take to any of the more challenging attractions, but we would soon find out.
Though Bailey was tentative at first, as she stepped into Six Flags Hurricane Harbor, her eyes lit up. At Northern California’s largest water park, shouts of delight carried from palm-lined attractions across a vast acreage.
“How ‘bout we start with Splashwater Island?” Vic suggested. The park’s newest and biggest attraction has a kid-friendly area with tunnels, slides and interactive activities and proved the perfect starting point for Bailey, who still needed confidence in the water.
After hurtling down a few slides and generally making a splash, we reapplied sunscreen and I asked, “Would you like to try one of the bigger slides?”
Bailey’s grin gave all the answer we needed before she proclaimed, “Yes please!”
As we reached the top of the line for The Big Kahuna, a tall-ish family slide with rafts that seat up to four people, Bailey was suddenly nervous.
“It’s pretty high!” she said, but with a small amount of coaxing, we got her into the raft with us and took off, winding down through four stories to splash into the pool below.
Bailey squealed with excitement, “We did it! Can we go again?!” She was so proud that she had tackled something nerve-wracking—of course we went back to the top!
After ending the day with a relaxing float around the Kaanapali Kooler—which is what they call a lazy river in these parts—we headed back to our hotel to rest up for tomorrow’s planned adventure.
The next morning, we woke up to glorious, clear skies, perfect for our planned day trip to Mount Diablo State Park. Our family has always enjoyed hikes and outdoor activities, so while our day at Hurricane Harbor was energetic, we—especially Bailey!—had plenty of vigor for a new day.
We ascended to the summit of Mount Diablo by car, a stunning prospect for a clear day. At the top, we took in a glorious view with about 200 miles of visibility. We even saw the Golden Gate Bridge in the distance.
We gazed in appreciation at landmarks such as Sentinel Dome and Lassen Peak from the observation platform of the Summit Building. Next we headed to the Summit Visitor Center, with its collection of engaging exhibits inside the historic stone building. There, we heard a park worker say you can see more of the earth's surface from Mount Diablo than any other place in the Western United States. The whole family was captivated by the geological and human history of the area.
With a new perspective of the park, we headed out to hit one of the trails—our mission, the Summit Trail to Rock City and Sentinel Rock. This moderate, out-and-back trail of around 4.1 miles features gorgeous wild flowers in the springtime.
We beheld Rock City’s majestic sandstone formations and marveled at the alien sort of landscape created by the “wind caves,” holes in the rocks formed by erosion. Bailey’s imagination sparked immediately.
“Does anything live in those caves?” she wondered as she peeked into some of them, hoping for signs of life. As we made our way up the carved stairs of Sentinel Rock, we paused again in awe at the panoramic views from this natural treasure, before making our way back to the car for our homeward journey.
“Mom, that was awesome,” exclaimed Bailey on our journey home. “Do you think we can take a few more weekend vacations?”
Vic and I exchanged a look and smiled. Concord had been beautiful and had helped Bailey to conquer some challenges, including her first time on a high water slide. And we all had the fresh glow of time outdoors and carefree adventure.
We’re both quite certain this will be one of those fond memories Bailey looks back on as an adult, perhaps thinking, “I should take my family there.”