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Explore California With This Family Summer Playlist

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 (Illustration featuring images from Devil's Slide Trail: From Treacherous Highway to Breathtaking Pathway; Before the Dodgers: The History of Dodger Stadium (Lost L.A.); Everything Comes from the Streets; 49 Mile Scenic Drive; Water Town; and The Maze. )

Summertime for Californians means road trips to see family, camping in national parks, beach days and visits to other state attractions. With varying restrictions on travel and leisure this summer, this playlist of videos featuring the golden state offers a wealth of exploratory learning opportunities for the whole family. From the coast to the incredible state history to the quirky folks that call this unique place home, here’s a binge worthy list of videos that will get your students and their families to explore California.

Check out the individual videos below or watch them all with this playlist.

Everything Comes from the Streets
This hour-long documentary packs a wealth of rare archival photography, custom vehicles and intimate chats with lowriders, some of whom have been at it since the 1950s. But it’s not just automobile eye candy. The origins and history of lowriding in San Diego and the borderlands are chronicled in Everything Comes from the Streets, including the creative men and women who pioneered and shaped the unique car customizing tradition among Chicano and Mexican communities.

The Maze
The MacArthur Maze freeway interchange in Oakland may connect roads, but does it separate people? In 30 minutes, The Maze explores the convergence of historical, environmental and cultural impact surrounding the maze, including the Ohlone shellmounds that are now a shopping center, the history of Port of Oakland, and the interchange’s role in segregating and stifling West Oakland.

49 Mile Scenic Drive
In 1954, celebrated graphic designer Rex May painted a seagull on a street sign and created a San Francisco icon. But now, a forgery threatens to take its place. Weaving together archival footage, Rex May’s illustrious screen prints and modern design critique, 49 Mile Scenic Drive can take your family on a whirlwind journey through the streets of San Francisco and begs the question: does one street sign really matter? With as many twists and turns as Lombard Street, this short film delivers history with humor. It exhibits cinema’s power to create change, no matter how small.


Devil’s Slide Trail: From Treacherous Highway to Breathtaking Pathway
Devil’s Slide was a treacherous section of Highway 1, plagued by countless accidents, casualties and road closures since it opened in 1936. Despite the risk of danger, astonishing views of the coastline were a welcome reward for those willing to navigate this narrow winding highway. When a landslide closed down the road for good in 1995, a group of citizen activists banded together and successfully proposed to turn this 1.2-mile section of road into a sensational segment of the California Coastal Trail. When it re-opened in 2015, the paved multi-use trail featured dedicated lanes for bicyclists, pedestrians and equestrians alike.

Water Town
For 100 years, the City of Weed, California, has piped pristine water from a spring on Mount Shasta directly to its homes. However, the spring is on land owned by a timber company, that claims the water rights – and says it will no longer provide water to the town. Meanwhile, the company sells water to Crystal Geyser for export to Japan.

Water Town follows the current and three former mayors on their quest to win the spring water back from the corporations they believe are stealing it from them. Offbeat humor sets the tone for a David and Goliath battle, challenging your family to consider whether water is a right or a commodity.

Lost L.A.
The Lost L.A. series explores the past through the region’s archives, where photos, documents and other rare artifacts unlock the untold history behind the fantasy of Southern California. Hosted by writer and public historian Nathan Masters of the USC Libraries, episodes of Lost L.A. bring the primary sources of history to the screen in surprising new ways. Much of Los Angeles’ past is lost to history, but through the region’s archives we can uncover the inspiring dreams and bitter realities that built the modern-day metropolis. Suggested activities for each Lost L.A. video are in the “Support Materials” section in PBS LearningMedia.

For more summer activity ideas check out East Bay bucket list from 510 Families, Bay Area Kid Fun list organized by region and KQED events.

Find more playlists and free resources for families and educators in our At-Home Learning collection.

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