Day Trips

Top Ten Day Trips for Northern California Scouts

These places are great for one-day outings.  Make sure you contact them ahead of time for current information and reservations – and then verify your reservation on the day of the outing.  Many require parents to sign waivers and some can be expensive.  Most have a Scout program with special pricing – but you have to ask.

1.    Moaning Cavern (Read an Account of Scouts in Action)

This experience is for the bravest Scouts only! Start with a 165 ft rappel to the cave floor, then cave crawl through the “pancake” and end up in “Godzilla’s nostril.”  The cost is lower after Labor Day.  There is a small undeveloped campsite if you want to stay overnight (with prior permission from the owners).  End the day with a walk through the old Columbia gold mining town.

2.    Go Karts (Read an Account of Scouts in Action)

There are lots of places to drive a go kart, but Umigo in Livermore is the most exciting track for Scouts.  The driver experience is two hours including 30 minutes of safety and 90 minutes of track time (that will wear out even the strongest Scout).  This is not your father’s go-kart experience and is not for Scouts who are afraid of speed.  Umigo has a number of restrictions, so call ahead.  Their website is

3.    Indoor Sky Diving (Read an Account of Scouts in Action)

IFly in Union City is the closest thing to sky diving allowed in the Guide to Safe Scouting, and not nearly as scary or dangerous.  After a short training session, participants don a sky diving suit and crawl into the wind tunnel.  The rest is pure fun.  They will also make a video of your experience if you bring a large enough group.

4.    Surfing and Board Sports

With so many beaches in Northern California, it’s a surprise that so few units have regular surfing outings.  All it takes is a quick lesson, a good coach, and a sunny day.  (Remember your sunscreen.)  To get started, contact BOARDSPORTS School.  They have three locations.

5.    Indoor Rock Climbing (Read an Account of Scouts in Action)

There are tons of good rock climbing gyms in Northern California.  One of the largest is Touchstone Climbing (six locations and miles of routes – for every skill level) offering.  Merit Badge instruction, overnight programs (sleeping optional), even help with Webelos. 

6.    Midnight Broomball

Rent an ice rink. Put two teams on the ice with brooms (actually more like deformed sticks), drop a ball, and then try to knock the ball into the net.  Like ice hockey without the skates! It’s a lot of fun to run around on the ice in tennis shoes and the games do get very exciting. But all players should wear helmets (bike helmets work fine) because there is nothing fun about hitting your head on the ice if you get knocked down. The Dublin Ice Rink charges $250 for an hour starting at midnight.    

7.     Downhill Skiing (Read a report of Scouts on an overnight ski trip)

From most areas, it’s only a three hour drive to a good ski resort.  There is nothing better than a good day on the mountain without all the hassle of renting (and cleaning) a cabin.  Bear Valley on Hwy 4 is a little less expensive than many Tahoe resorts and they have a good Scout program.  Its big enough for most boys, but it won’t satisfy the Black Diamond skiers in your unit.

8.  Monterrey Bay Kayaking (Read an account of Scouts o Action)

Glide along the Elkhorn Slough or brave the Monterrey Bay, but lower yourself into a kayak and paddle around to get a good look at sea otters and all kinds of aquatic birds and animals while taking in the sights and sounds of  an incredibly beautiful sanctuary.  The Slough is tame, but enough for most first-time kayakers.  The Bay is more exciting, but also more difficult.  Local camping at Sunset or Manressa Beach makes this a great weekend outing or drive down just for the day.

9.  White Water Rafting

Exciting and unpredictable, white water rafting has long been Spring-time tradition for many Troops.  When the snows melt and the Dams open their gates, thousands of excited boys don PFDs, grab their paddles, and hop into rafts of all shapes and sizes.   Rapids, water fights, and cold-water swimming are all part of the experience.  The American River is a popular destination, but you can find rafts on many Northern California waterways.

10.  Shotgun Shooting

Shooting sports are gaining in popularity among local Troops, and there are many good places for Scouts to learn how to shoot.  (If asked, many police departments will dispatch an officer to your Troop meeting to educate Scouts about gun safety.)  Bird’s Landing is a Northern California institution for shotgun shooting.  They will prove your unit with free NRA safety training, a full day of shooting (different size shotguns for different boys), ammunition, and even lunch.  (They do ask for a donation to cover their costs.)  And the facilities are incredible.

Nominate your favorite places.

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