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Rollercoasters are awesome and who doesn’t like frolicking at the beach, but family trips to California can bolster young minds too. Hands-on museums are huge, including San Francisco’s Exploratorium; the Tech Interactive in San Jose; MOXI, the Wolf Museum of Science + Exploration in Santa Barbara; and the Fleet Science Center in San Diego. The state’s zoos and aquariums are particularly adept at mixing flat-out fun with info-rich attractions and experiences that engage young minds. Also, junior ranger programs at many state and national parks can help kids learn about conservation.

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