Want to take a vacation but only have a few days to spare and don’t want to blow all your money on plane tickets? We know how stressful planning vacations can be, especially if you have toddlers with lots of enthusiasm, and teens with little to none. But we’ve got you covered with some amazing travel spots all here in our lovely state of California. There are so many things to see and do, and the best part is they’re easy to get to. Whether you’re looking to be in the mountains or on the beach, read below and find your perfect California getaway.
Chill on the Coast
Whether you’re in NorCal or SoCal, there are plenty of coastal getaways for families who love being by the water. For those looking to travel up north, the city of Fort Bragg is home to some of the Mendocino Coast’s greatest treasures including Glass Beach and the beloved Skunk Train! This year the Skunk Train is offering a variety of events, including Cinema in the Redwoods, a night of cinema classics under the stars and the trees, and Music in the Redwoods, a collection of live bands that perform on the platform as you ride the train. All of these amazing experiences are just a train ride away, and you can check out more on their website.
For families who want to stay near L.A. for a day trip to the beach, the beaches in Ventura have it all. You can watch a beautiful sunset out on the Ventura Beach Pier, catch some waves and take a surf lesson or two, and even check out the Ventura County Fair happening Aug. 3 – 14. Ventura is also home to many dog-friendly beaches for those who want to bring a furry friend on vacation, too. The Board of Port Commissioners announced that lifeguards will be back and present daily at Ventura Harbor beaches, so families can fully relax and enjoy the sun knowing their safety is a priority.
Make the Most of the Mountains
We southern Californians know how important it is to beat the heat in the scorching summer, but how about we up the elevation rather than the air conditioning. Big Bear Lake is a quick and easy drive from L.A., and this year they aren’t just offering fun in the winter. If you’re heading up the mountain, be sure to check out Alpine Slide Big Bear, a cool family-fun spot that’s home to water rides and various track coasters. The variety of activities offered — from the higher speed Mineshaft Coaster to the easy going mini-golf course — is sure to suit families with kids of all ages. You could also round out your trip to Big Bear Lake with a visit to the Big Bear Alpine Zoo (one of only two alpine zoos in the U.S.), or on a hike on one of the many trails with amazing lookout points.
Want to extend your mountain travels? Well, right down the road from Big Bear Lake there is more fun to be had at Lake Arrowhead, home to the Lake Arrowhead Village, which is hosting tons of events all summer long. Their summer concert series runs every weekend until Labor Day and offers both standing room and picnic table seating all with great views of center stage. The Village is also home to the docking point of the Lake Arrowhead Queen, a small river boat that offers hourly tours of the lake and the beautiful houses surrounding it. You’ll get to see the lake from a whole different perspective and get a chance to learn about the town’s history on this one of a kind narrated tour on the water.
Apples and Cider and Wine… Oh My!
Whether you’re looking for a romantic parents’ getaway to one of over 400 of the county’s wineries, or a festive family visit to a local small town, Sonoma County is the perfect in-state vacation spot. This year the town of Sebastopol, CA, is bringing back the Gravenstein Apple Fair at Ragle Ranch Regional Park on Aug. 13 and 14. This year’s theme for the fair is “Cultivating Community” and will be the anchor for the 24 live musical acts, hundreds of family-friendly activities and of course some of the most delicious fair food and locally sourced wines. The fair will also feature “Life on the Farm” attractions, complete with farming discussion panels, jam and cider-making demos and an animal meet and greet area for the kids.
Summer in San Diego
Just a two hour drive from L.A., San Diego has plenty of opportunities for family fun. For those looking to enjoy live music this summer, the San Diego Symphony is the oldest orchestra and is hosting quite the lineup of special guests, including Boyz II Men, Jennifer Hudson, and Elvis Costello. The symphony will hold their concerts at The Rady Shell at Jacobs Park, a state-of-the-art outdoor concert venue right on the waterfront. Another great and unique attraction is the Del Mar Racetrack, the nation’s only seaside racetrack with a beachy vibe all its own. The racetrack has something for everyone, whether it’s a premium view of the ocean, the thrill of 100 mph racers or cocktails to sip while you sit. Racing season runs from July 22 to Sept. 11, so better get a trip planned and buy your tickets now.
You can also bring a little nostalgia and a lot of fun to your summer with a trip to Sesame Place San Diego, a theme park dedicated to the iconic show, “Sesame Street,” packed with rides, water slides, parades and more. Families of all ages, but especially little ones, can enjoy everything from a ride on Elmo’s Rockin Rockets to the “Welcome To Our Street!” show. Also nearby Sesame Place, adventure awaits at SeaWorld San Diego. This year, SeaWorld is celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Wild Arctic exhibit, home to Chou Chou the walrus, Klondike the beluga whale and other amazing animals. Want to get up close and personal with these one-of-a-kind creatures? SeaWorld is offering a summer special price of $55 a ticket on weekdays, and they’ve also joined forces with Sesame Place to offer two-day park packages at special discounted prices.
We know this isn’t an exhaustive list, but we hope it’ll kickstart some of your vacation imagination. Read this article, decided to take a trip to one of the mentioned destinations, and posted about it on social media? Go ahead and tag us or use our #LAParentTravels to share your family fun!