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Outdoorsy Pacific Northwest to San Francisco with Kids

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Our family (2 parents and 2 kids, ages 11 and 8) need to be in San Francisco for Labor Day weekend, so we're planning a 12 day trip to get us there. We can fly into Seattle or Portland and road trip down to finish in San Francisco or fly in and out of San Francisco and travel around Northern California, so we're looking for suggestions. About us:

Good for up to 8 hours in a car in a day, but not every day.
Car camping will be the preferred lodging.
Must swim every day - we're ambitious swimmers and don't mind cold (have dunked in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the Irish Sea), but don't want to die in rough surf.
Love a good day in a city to see museums, history, bookstores, and enjoy good food.

Extra credit if the kids get to dress up in historical costumes somewhere along the way. (I'm thinking Gold Rush or Oregon Trail historic sites?)

Any thoughts on whether Seattle to SF is too ambitious or if Northern CA is more than enough?


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