Thrill-Seeking Adventures in the Bay Area

Often doing something outside your comfort zone can be a wonderful growing experience – especially when it turns out to be fun. It can also be a great way to bond with your kids. Fortunately, there are plenty of opportunities in and around the Bay Area for families seeking a safe adrenaline rush.

Rock Climbing – Offering instruction for all levels, Adventure Out ( has camps for kids and regular programs at Castle Rock State Park in the Santa Cruz Mountains and Pinnacles National Park on the Central Coast. Castle Rock Climbing School offers classes for all levels, as well as youth climbing camps. With locations throughout the Bay Area, Outback Adventures ( features rock climbing classes for beginner to more advanced climbers. It also has kids’ summer rock climbing camps as well as backpacking, kayaking, hiking and mountaineering classes. 

If you want to practice indoors first, the Bay Area has some great indoor climbing gyms: Berkeley Ironworks, Bladium Sports and Fitness Gym in Alameda,  Dogpatch Boulders in San Francisco, Mission Cliffs in San Francisco and Planet Granite  in Belmont, San Francisco, Santa Clara and Sunnyvale.

Zip Lining – Soar over valleys, mountainsides and vineyards along the central coast with Margarita Adventures. At Moaning Cavern Adventure Park, all it takes is one step off the platform and you are zooming across Gold Country foothills at speeds of 35 miles an hour. Experience the regular zip or tandem zipping. At Mount Hermon Adventures in Felton, enjoy zip lining through the redwoods or traversing on swinging logs, bridges, ropes and cargo nets. Nestled off the coast of Northern California, Sonoma Canopy Tours offers tree top tours, forest flight tours and night flight tours. 

River Rafting – While it may require an hour or two road trip, there are some river rafting tours not far from the Bay Area. The American River in Gold Country is one of the prime spots for river rafting near the Bay Area. All-Outdoors offers whitewater river rafting for ages 5 and up. Its "Tom Sawyer" day trips, which take place on the calm section of the American River’s south fork, can include young kids between ages 5-7. It also has trips for older kids and adult beginners willing to try something a more difficult, as well as those more experienced with river rafting. Tributary Whitewater Tours  also offers a variety of tours on the American River for different levels and ages.

Teresa Mills-Faraudo is an associate editor at Bay Area Parent.