7) Palm Springs
Palm Springs, about an hour drive from Los Angeles (LA), is a desert oasis vacation destination returning to its glory days as a Hollywood playground. Visit Wet ‘n Wild, a family oriented water park. It offers a giant wave pool, an interactive four-story family fun house, relaxing on the lazy river, and riding giant water tubes. Palm Springs also boasts world-class boutique hotels and some of the best discount shopping in the area. One of California’s ideal spring break destinations!
6) Yosemite National Park
For the outdoor enthusiast, Yosemite National Park remains one of the best choices in Northern California. Yosemite’s spring time snow melt creates more luscious waterfalls and lakes without the summertime crowds. I would recommend staying at a hotel right in the park instead of driving in everyday. Hotels in the park sell out quickly in high season. During our family’s last visit we stayed at The Majestic Yosemite Ahwahnee, largely because it’s probably the most comfortable hotel in the valley to relax after a day of hiking, backpacking, kayaking and other outdoor activities. For those who enjoy a more rustic experience, there are lots of camping and outdoor lodging options available right in the park.
5) Santa Cruz and Monterey
Adventurers can whale watch, hike through forests and kayak, or keep their adrenaline pumping on roller coasters and other thrill rides at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. Santa Cruz tends to have lots of boutique style hotels/motels closer to the beach. Our last visit, we stayed at the Hotel Paradox. It’s a 10 minute drive from the beach but we enjoyed its more modern sleek designs and urban forest aesthetic. Go whale watching at Monterey Bay and check out the Monterey Bay Aquarium while you’re at it. For a taste of luxury, a romantic getaway or for golf enthusiasts, the Ritz Carlton at Half Moon Bay with its breathtaking ocean views, just 20 miles from San Francisco International Airport, is a great hideaway for Silicon Valley and San Francisco locals who need a weekend getaway close to home.
4) San Diego
San Diego, about an hour’s drive south of LA offers beautiful coastline beaches at a slower pace. Carlsbad, a coastline borough of San Diego offers The Flower Fields, Legoland California Resort and the Carlsbad Premium Outlets for a great discounted shopping experience. Voted the #1 zoo in the world by TripAdvisor, load the kids up and take them on an urban safari at the San Diego Zoo. Check out the dolphin shows at Sea World San Diego and visit SeaWorld’s Aquatica San Diego Waterpark afterwards for its over 20 fun-filled water rides. Last time we visited San Diego we stayed at the Hotel del Coronado, one of the oldest hotels in San Diego offering lots of resort-style amenities in a family friendly atmosphere.
3) San Francisco Bay Area
San Francisco’s amazing choice of activities more than make up for its sweater weather. If you like people-watching, Fisherman’s wharf offers lots of waterfront shops and restaurants for the family. Take a short cruise for a bay view of the Golden Gate bridge and Alcatraz. Visit Lombard street, the “most crooked street in the world”. For the theme park junkie visit Great America, in the heart of the Silicon Valley or Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in Vallejo. Check out 25 free things to do in San Francisco with kids.
2) Orange County (OC)
Just a 30-minute drive from Los Angeles, Orange County offers many family friendly spring break options. Disneyland Resort and Knott’s Berry Farm theme parks alone can take up one’s entire spring break vacation. Both have hotels on-site and are not too far away from each other. Take a short ferry ride to Catalina Island, a local island paradise. There find scuba diving, snorkeling, hiking, live music, helicopter and boat tours among other fun activities. Newport beach, Newport Coast and Laguna Beach are all affluent beach towns in Orange County that also offer a tremendous array of family friendly spring break activities. Don’t forget your OC shopping options at Fashion Island in Newport beach and luxury shopping at South Coast plaza, Costa Mesa before catching a show at Segerstrom Center for the Arts.