4 Essential Summer Adventures in Northern California
The Tahoe Via Ferrata isn't as dangerous as rock climbing, it just feels that way. (Courtesy of Alpenglow Expeditions)

4 Essential Summer Adventures in Northern California


We’re so close to summer, you can almost taste it, and that can only mean one thing: It’s just about time for an adventure!

Whether you’re a daredevil or a kid at heart, the out-of-the-ordinary is waiting for you this season. From spending half a day in total darkness underground to a culinary adventure fit for an eco-warrior, here are four essential adventures to take this summer in Northern California.

The Underground Adventure: Expedition Tour at Moaning Caverns

(Courtesy of @moaningcaverns)

Most caves that are open for tourism have candy-coated the experience with lights, stairs, and other conveniences from above ground. Moaning Caverns plays that game, too; their guided Spiral Tour is a 45-minute walk through the cave requiring only the ability to go up and down stairs. But if it’s an adventure you seek, it’s the Expedition Tour you want. The half-day experience will have you belly crawling through claustrophobic tunnels and wriggling up steep rock walls with only a headlamp to light your way in the cave’s undeveloped portions. No experience is necessary and you’ll have a trained guide at your side but if the feeling of being buried alive is your own personal nightmare, you may want to stick with the family-friendly version.

// 5350 Moaning Cave Rd. (Vallecito), moaningcaverns.com

The Culinary Adventure: Mendocino Urchin Festival

(Courtesy of @sequoiasofthesea)

A massive uptick in purple sea urchins over the last several years has wreaked havoc on the underwater kelp forests off the Northern California coast. But while they’re destructive in the water, the chartreuse goop inside the spikey creatures is a divisive delicacy that uni-lovers can’t get enough of. So, Mendocino came up with the only logical solution: A festival that simultaneously educates people about the environmental issues purple sea urchins pose and transforms the marauders into culinary delights. Now in its 3rd year, the Mendocino Urchin Festival will be celebrated at events and restaurants around the county June 7 to 16, including seaweed walks and harbor tours, an open house at the urchin ranch, a Japanese whiskey pairing, and special lodging packages.

// June 7-16; Multiple locations around Mendocino County, urchinfest.com

The Daredevil Adventure: Tahoe Via Ferrata

(Courtesy of Alpenglow Expeditions)

You don’t have to have rock climbing experience to take on this dizzying adventure at Palisades Tahoe. On Alpenglow Expeditions’ Tahoe Via Ferrata—a mountaineering route made up of iron ladder rungs, steel steps, and suspended crossings that span the steep Sierra Nevada terrain—a harness attached to a steel cable keeps you safe at all times. The European sport is, nevertheless, an adventure not for the faint of heart. Over a two-, three- or four-hour tour, you’ll cling to vertical cliffs, cross impassable rock faces, and step onto bridges swaying hundreds of feet above the earth. It has none of the danger of rock climbing, but just try convincing your brain that there’s nothing to fear.

// 1985 Olympic Valley Rd. #23 (Olympic Valley), tahoevia.com

The Throwback Adventure: CaliBunga Waterpark San Jose

(Courtesy of CaliBunga Waterpark San Jose)

Unless you have kiddos in your life (and even if you do), it’s probably been awhile since you’ve gone balls-to-the-wall at a waterpark. But what’s more fun than zipping feet first down a waterslide or being shot out of a tube into a pool a dozen feet below? This summer, make up for lost time at the new CaliBunga Waterpark, a new 23-acre adventure park opening in June with 15 slides, a lazy river, and wave pools. There’s even a wine garden that will host special events, tastings, and live entertainment alongside food trucks and plenty of local wine and craft beer. So go ahead, be a kid again; it might just be the best adventure you have all summer long.

// 2333 S. White Rd. (San Jose), calibunga.com

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