A highly unique and beautiful, saline lake amid arid environs, Mono Lake is less than 30-miles north of Mammoth Lakes. Because the lake has no outlet to the sea, the water has a high salt concentration. Birds abound around the lake, but the only creatures you’ll see within are alkali flies and brine shrimp. If short on time, go straight to the South Tufa Area. A one-mile loop trail will take you past cool tufa formations to the lake’s southern shore. Before setting off, ask the front-kiosk staff for a cup so that your kid(s) can catch (and then release) shrimp. The visitors’ center in Lee Vining shows an interesting 27-minute documentary, The Mono Lake Story, which older kids and adults may find inspiring.