Best family vacation spots in California

Best family vacation spots in California 

California’s theme parks, recognizable monuments, and expansive landscapes make it an ideal destination for family getaways. The variety of cities, cultures, outdoor pursuits, and fantastic weather throughout the Golden State provides many experiences for parents and children, regardless of where in the state you choose to vacation. Let’s talk about the best family vacation spot in California. Let’s talk about Best family vacation spots in California .

Consider what kind of travel would be most beneficial for your family before you begin: For example, you may explore history in Gold Country, spend days on the beach, ride roller coasters at theme parks, study science in the Bay Area, or hit the slopes in the Sierra Nevada. Alternately, you could pack a few—or all—into one enormous excursion.

Now go off and begin creating memories: these seven cities serve as excellent springboards for a California family holiday.

Every suggestion on this page, ranging from sunny beaches to snowy slopes to an unexpected safari and island getaway, connects to a companion piece offering advice and information on arranging a fantastic family holiday in California. (Save this to your Pinterest boards for upcoming California family vacation ideas!)

Best family vacation spot in California:  

The Family Vacation to Catalina Island

A family vacation of car-free paradise awaits parents who find their days to be an endless shuffle of getting in the car and out again to drive to school, soccer, dance lessons, sports camps, play dates, and the like. Catalina offers the ideal relief.

Cars are prohibited on Catalina Island unless they are “grandfathered in” or are used as taxis to transport you from the ferry terminal to your hotel’s port cochère. Once you’re there, Avalon’s walking is charming and will take you to whatever location your contented feet could desire, be it a restaurant, a bakery, or the beach. However, there’s no reason to stray.  

A Family Winter Vacation at South Lake Tahoe

When the first snow-covered Sierra pines appeared, the children let out shrieks of delight and yelled, “Oh my gosh! “Oh my God!” and “Guys, look over there!” We heard them say, “It’s like…like…giant mushrooms!” more and more as we crossed the mountain to our favorite playground from summer, which was now a winter wonderland they had only seen on Christmas cards.

In the wake of years of drought and living in the San Francisco Bay Area, my kids will tell you there’s one thing they can’t get enough of.  However, with Tahoe experiencing an incredible “snowpocalypse” with record-breaking snowfall, it is evident that this is the year that families should head outside and enjoy the snow.

An Urban Family Adventure in San Francisco

An Urban Family Adventure in San Francisco

Enjoying clam chowder in a sourdough bowl, exploring Chinatown’s gift shops, taking a family photo opportunity with the Golden Gate Bridge, trying Ghirardelli chocolates, and riding cable cars? To put it mildly, the traveler’s bucket list for San Francisco is extensive.

Not to mention all the fantastic neighborhoods you should discover across the city, each with its unique bakeries, cafes, tiny eateries, and unique boutiques.

However, if your family travels as much as mine, you’ll need to squeeze all the pleasure you can have in San Francisco into a short few days. You will thus be pleased to use our trip guide, which includes information and advice on our best picks of things to do.  

A family safari vacation in California where they camp in authentic African tents!

“Who gets to ride on top?” is perhaps the first question that any youngster, whether they are three years old or seventy-five, will ask. To be sure, each of the ten safari visitors in our group would have preferred to take in the scenery from the top deck of the jeep.

Particularly after we discovered some intriguing—and eventually, possibly lethal—residents of the “Sonoma Serengeti.” However, only individuals at least 45 inches tall are eligible for this privilege.

We entered the safari jeep and took our seats in its three-tiered lower bench row and single upper bench after ensuring that everyone who needed to use the facilities one more time had done so and that these requirements had been verified where required. 

A Family Trip to Carlsbad

The alluring aroma of vintage books and the enticing sheen of salvaged treasures fill antique store entrances as guests take in this distinctly “European” city center on the stunning Southern California coast.

Carlsbad, only 35 miles north of San Diego and 87 miles south of Los Angeles, has found its inner glam and is eager isn’t to show it. Its welcoming, small-town charm and top-notch cuisine, shopping, and cultural activities delight visitors.

Another name for Carlsbad is the Village By the Sea. Fortunate guests can discover 50 miles of biking and hiking trails and over 7 miles of immaculate beachfront. 

A Family Vacation in Sequoia National Park

Do you want to show your kids some giant trees this year? After that, prepare your belongings and head for southern California’s Sequoia National Park. Sequoia harbors some of the most significant living things on the planet and is also home to “the world’s largest tree” in volume.

However, Sequoia offers more than simply breathtaking trees. Check out our guide to learn why Sequoia National Park is one of California’s most popular family holiday destinations and how to make the most out of your trip there.  

A Central Coast Family Vacation in Morro Bay, California

On California’s picturesque Central Coast, where the land meets Morro Bay, harbor seals, sea otters, and egrets abound. This formerly isolated fishing community provides families with the perfect balance of outdoor activities and environment. Even better (ish), you may enjoy Morro Bay without the hordes of people and outrageous prices accompanying many California beach towns.

Of course, there are plenty of dock-to-dish dining alternatives, and the vista takes a lot of work to beat. However, Morro Bay also scores highly for family-friendliness for a few beneficial reasons. These include public toilets, free street parking, and excellent walkability.

A Family Urban Vacation in Los Angeles

A Family Urban Vacation in Los Angeles

Sip from a refreshing fruit smoothie while your feet are immersed in the warm, golden sand. Your mind alights with plans for the afternoon as you watch your kids build sandcastles. Bygone Hollywood? Rome in antiquity? Natural history? When you organize a family holiday in Los Angeles, all this is achievable.

It is indeed expansive. Despite the drive, families will still discover that Los Angeles is well worth the trip. The secret is to schedule up to one major event per day. Enjoy the remainder of the day at your own pace, in that easygoing Californian manner you honed on the shore. 

The To-Do List Family Vacation in Yosemite National Park

With good reason: Yosemite is one of California’s most well-liked tourist spots for families. This is one of the most well-known and cherished national parks in the United States, featuring granite domes, high cliffs, waterfalls, gigantic, ancient trees, alpine meadows, and a verdant river valley.

Given that Yosemite is only a few hours’ drive from the Bay Area, it could be tempting to extend your stay in San Francisco by a few days to visit the park (or, if you’re already there, to make a side trip to San Francisco). 

A Santa Barbara County Family Horseback Riding Vacation

Located in Solvang, CA, just north of Santa Barbara, the Alisal Guest Ranch & Resort puts a colorful, western twist on classic California family resorts. In addition to the many enjoyable outdoor activities, swimming pool, and activities club, this location offers excellent riding experiences for novice and experienced riders.

Are you sick of family vacations that are nose-to-tail, no-trot trail rides? Our riding experiences throughout our visit turned out to be anything but ordinary, providing a fun family holiday for all three generations of our family and all skill levels of riders and horseback enthusiasts. 


California’s best family vacation destinations are worth visiting alone, but this is only a partial list. Other parts of the state, such as the Inland Empire, Palm Springs, and Sonoma County, are also well worth visiting with your family. Plan your holiday by thinking ahead to these fantastic science-focused destinations and kid-friendly amusements. Look at these family road excursions featuring themes such as Cool Ghost Towns, Theme Park Thrills, and Family Learning Adventures.

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