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State Spotlight:
California State Parks - History close to Libraries!

California’s state parks aren’t just beaches, redwoods, and sand dunes. Many state parks are close to our public libraries and are bursting with socio-cultural relevance.

The California State Parks agency, a branch of California’s Resources Agency, oversees many sites sure to stir local library users’ imaginations. John Arnold in the State Parks Communications Office says that many dramatic “living history” programs at historic sites engage young people, particularly as the young people experience things they are studying in the library and in the classroom.

Back to school season is an ideal time to explore historic state parks, many boasting these “living history” or Park Interpretive Programs that include volunteers in period dress illustrating “a day in the life” of the California people who lived and worked at the site. Among the many scattered throughout California are: Fort Ross on the Mendocino coast; Sutter’s Fort in Sacramento; Hearst Castle (evening tours include docents dressed as movie stars!) on the central coast; old town San Diego; Fort Tehone in Grapevine Canyon; and the San Pasqual battlefield east of Escondido.

Exterior: Leland Stanford Mansion 
State Historical Park, Sacramento

Parlor: Leland Stanford Mansion 
State Historical Park, Sacramento
- Photos courtesy of California State Parks

Just one block away from the California State Library headquarters in Sacramento (and very close to the Sacramento Public Library!), the newly renovated Leland Stanford State Historic Park opened in September. A grand Victorian brimming with fine art, antiques and California history, the Stanford Mansion is sure to make people curious about 19th century California, architecture, art and more.

John Arnold suggests the easiest way to locate a state park in a specific California community is to go to Find a Park on the navigation bar on the State Parks home page. From there, users can define and narrow their search through “Top Adventures” and “Top Searches” or simply use the alphabetical drop down menu.

For general inquiries about all California’s State Parks please send an email to






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The California State Library
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