TOGETHER WITH ANOTHER COLLEAGUE, I WILL ESCORT 20 SCHOOLCHILDREN AGED 15 TO 17 TO CALIFORNIA NEXT JANUARY. WE WILL BE BASED IN SACRAMENTO FOR 10 DAYS, HOSTED BY FAMILIES. CAN YOU SUGGEST DAY TRIPS FROM SACRAMENTO, PLACES OF INTEREST AND OTHER OPTIONS THAT MAY BE SUITABLE FOR THESE STUDENTS AND OURSELVES? D. RUSSELL, CAMDEN
San Francisco is one of the most likeable of all the US cities, just a 90-minute drive away, and a visit that includes the California Academy of Sciences (calacademy.org) and the Exploratorium (exploratorium.edu) along with sights such as the Golden Gate Bridge, a ride on a cable car, the stairway on Telegraph Hill – all 400 steps – and perhaps a look at the Haight-Ashbury district, crucible of America's counter-culture movement of the late 1960s, should make for a memorable day out.
Your charges might not be too familiar with the name "Silicon Valley", but as members of the millennial generation their lives have been shaped by what goes on there. Intel Museum, the Computer History Museum, Stanford University, the Apple company store, NASA's Ames Research Center and the Google campus – although only viewable from the outside - are just some of the highlights of this frontier world.
For a change of pace, Eldorado National Forest (fs.usda.gov/eldorado), just an hour's drive east of Sacramento, has forests, lakes and plenty of recreational activities. Although these will be rather limited in January the region's natural beauty should impress even teenagers.