Family-Friendly San Francisco to Yosemite Road Trip

Ride a cable car, tour the home of Jelly Belly, and visit Yosemite’s big trees on a quintessential family tour.

Trip length: 5 days
Total distance: 308mi/496km

SAN FRANCISCO. Climb halfway to the stars on the Hyde Street cable car . Visit the new waterfront setting of the Exploratorium hands-on science museum. Walk to the souvenir shops and Aquarium of the Bay at PIER 39 (stop by the California Welcome Center for more ideas), then enjoy fresh crab and sourdough bread at Fisherman’s Wharf. INFO San Francisco Travel Association ; 415/ 391-2000

OAKLAND (12mi/19km; 21min). Dive into Oakland Museum of California’s dazzling Under the Sea exhibit, new in summer 2013. See where the wild things are at the Oakland Zoo , then embark on a scenic evening gondola ride at nearby Lake Merritt. INFO Oakland Convention & Visitors Bureau ; 510/839-9000

VALLEJO (30mi/49km; 35min). Visit Six Flags Discovery Kingdom for mega-thrill rides. Consider joining a special adventure, like shadowing a marine mammal trainer for a day or swimming with a dolphin, and experience Cirque Dreams Splashtastic, co-starring the park’s marine wildlife and acrobats and aerialists. INFO Six Flags Discovery Kingdom ; 707/643-6722

FAIRFIELD (14mi/22km; 19min). Beat your kids at their own game with gross-out jelly bean flavors on a Jelly Belly factory tour. Head over to Rockville Hills Regional Park for pretty hiking, great views, and shade in summer. INFO Fairfield Conference and Visitors Bureau ; 707/399-2445

VACAVILLE (14mi/22km; 18min). Pull into the Nut Tree complex, where kid- and teen-friendly brands like Old Navy and Tilly’s share the lineup with family restaurants (don’t miss giant sundaes at Fenton’s), a carousel, kiddie train, and other kids’ rides. INFO Vacaville Convention & Visitors Bureau ; 707/450-0500

STOCKTON (76mi/123km; 1hr12min). Give the kids a dose of culture at the Haggin Museum , 19th and early 20th century fine art. Picnic at the museum’s lush Victory Park, and play in a miniature city at Children’s Museum of Stockton . INFO Central Valley Tourism Association ; 800/514-5539

MERCED (51mi/82km; 51min). Learn how milk becomes cheddar and more at the Hilmar Cheese Company . Summertime tours include a chance to make (and eat) your own ice cream. Stop by the">California Welcome Center for more places to visit in the area. INFO Merced Visitor Services ; 209-724-8104

YOSEMITE (111mi/179km; 2hr20min). On the park’s south end, see some of the world’s oldest, largest trees at Mariposa Grove . Let the kids scramble on granite boulders at Glacier Point. On your way out of the park, enjoy lunch or dinner at the rustic but stately Wawona Hotel . INFO Yosemite National Park ; 801/559-4884