Named for its numerous waterways, Lake County is a prime area for Northern California vacations. Although it’s in the heart of wine country and offers plenty of tours and tastings for adults, it’s still easy to find family-friendly activities if you’re traveling with your children. So once you find the perfect Lake County vacation rental for your brood, check out some of the best family activities in the area.

1. Go Boating

Whether you’re bringing your own kayak to store in the garage of your vacation rental or planning on renting a boat once you arrive, there are miles of waterways to explore. Clear Lake, which is the largest natural lake in the area and the oldest lake in North America, is a popular choice. For a quieter experience, visit Blue Lakes. These two lakes are a great spot for fishing and do not allow motorboats to help preserve the peaceful atmosphere.

2. Take a Bike Ride

Lake County offers plenty of mountain biking trails of varying levels of difficulty, so you can find one that’s suitable for kids of any age or experience level. Mendocino National Forest draws numerous mountain bikers, though Clear Lake State Park also has trails available if you want to go for a relaxing swim after a day of biking. Many roads in the area are also designed for cyclists, so you can explore your vacation rental’s neighborhood with ease.

3. Visit the Pear Festival

The Kelseyville Pear Festival is an annual event that was originally developed to show off the area’s agricultural industry, though it has grown in popularity and now attracts more than 10,000 people every year. There are numerous live music acts on multiple stages, equestrian demonstrations, pie eating contests and more. In addition to the Pear Festival, most towns in Lake County hold Independence Day festivals and other holiday events.

4. Explore the Forest

Lake County is home to numerous protected areas that are great for hiking and exploring. Two of the most popular are the Mendocino National Forest and Clear Lake State Park. The Cache Creek Natural Area is a great spot for wildlife viewing due to its large population of tule elk and bald eagles, and the Anderson Marsh State Historic Park lets you explore the human history of the area. It is home to more than 40 archaeological sites that once belonged to the Pomo people, as well as a historic ranch house where rangers give guided tours to show the way early European settlers lived.

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5. Take a Boat Tour

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One of the best ways to see Clear Lake’s natural beauty is from a boat, and Eyes of the Wild is one of the most popular boat tour companies in the area. The experienced guides maneuver the boat around for spectacular wildlife viewing opportunities while educating guests about the area’s complex and delicate natural ecosystem. Grebe mating season, which occurs in the spring, is a particularly good time to take a tour because the birds put on elaborate, complex displays to attract a mate. Lake Pillsbury also has guided boat tours for wildlife watching. Keep your eyes peeled for a sighting of a bald eagle or rare tule elk.

6. Watch a Geyser Erupt

Although it isn’t as large as the famous Old Faithful in Yellowstone, the Old Faithful Geyser of California is still a spectacular sight. This geyser erupts about every 30 minutes, so you don’t have to worry about missing it. This geyser is so reliable that it can even be used to predict earthquakes since it only misses its regular eruptions when one is about to occur. The park also has bocce courts, a geology museum, and a small petting zoo where kids can pet and feed goats, llamas, and other farm animals.

7. Enjoy a Swim

Boating isn’t the only way to have fun on the water in Lake County. Blue Lakes is a popular location for swimming since its spring-fed waters and unique geology have prevented it from being affected by algae growths like many other California lakes. Clear Lake also has designated areas for swimming. Lake Pillsbury is another popular spot for swimming. This man-made lake is located in Mendocino National Forest, so you can spend half the day hiking and then take a quick dip to refresh yourself before heading back to your vacation rental.

8. Explore Africa Without Leaving California

If you want a more exotic adventure, book a day trip to Safari West. Nicknamed the Sonoma Serengeti, this wildlife preserve is home to more than 80 species of exotic animals. Knowledgeable guides drive you through the enclosures in an open-air Jeep to create the feel of a real African safari and let you see the animals up close. Reservations are required, so plan this one in advance.

9. Learn To Ride a Horse

A visit to the west isn’t complete without a horseback ride to give you that authentic cowboy experience. Thunderbird Ranch and Owens Ranch are two particularly popular options for families, but horseback riding is such a popular activity that most towns have stables offering rentals and lessons. If your vacation rental is in the Clear Lake area, consider Cole Creek Equestrian Center, which offers more than 85 acres and borders the lake.

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