Family Travel: Little River

First stop: Van Damme, a state park distinguished by a flat, fern canyon trail with foliage so lush you feel like an explorer in the tropics. It includes the Pygmy Forest, a grove of full-grown trees only several feet tall in a century-old forest.

Van Damme is one of 17 state parks in the region, all so close that you can cover several in one day (

While you’re there, go to the west parking lot and sign up for a kayaking tour through sea caves with Kayak Mendocino ( No experience is necessary; the company provides wetsuits, life jackets and helmets. Rates begin at $50 per person.

Animal-loving families can go llama trekking in Mendocino ( Bring your own lunch and trek for $30. Kids from age 11 can experience hiking with a llama that will carry cameras, clothing or anything else you want it to tote.  

Park yourselves at the Cottages at Little River Cove (, an enclave of nine cottages and a vacation rental, all with ocean views. The updated cottages feature gourmet kitchens, wi-fi and flat screen televisions for $189 and up. The vacation rental sleeps up to six people and starts at $169 per night.

For food, head three miles north to Mendocino for a variety of eateries at different budgets. Pick up yummy sandwiches and gourmet entrees at the Harvest Market Deli (  

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