With so many great travel destinations in our golden state that are a road trip away, it’s not too late to book a holiday getaway. We’ve highlighted some family-friendly destinations that will get you in a festive mood.
Closer to L.A. than San Diego, but with the same, beautiful ocean views and laid-back vibe, Carlsbad can be a great last-minute family getaway for the holidays.
The Sheraton Carlsbad Resort & Spa is hosting Fireside Stories with Santa Dec. 9 and 16 at 6:30 p.m. Hotel guests and locals can cozy up in their PJs and sit next to the two fire pits for holiday stories from Santa himself. Grab a s’mores kit and some hot cocoa to complete the experience. Parents looking for some extra holiday cheer can choose the alcohol-infused s’mores and spiked hot cocoa.
For a special holiday dinner with the family, visit the Omni La Costa Resort & Spa on Dec. 8, 15 or 22. Holiday Series with Santa at Bob’s Steak & Chop inside the hotel will feature socially distanced, personalized visits with Santa as well as other surprises throughout the evening.
From Nov. 29 through Dec. 27 marvel at the whimsical Christmas display and gingerbread village at Park Hyatt Aviara. Sign up for the Gingerbread Classes to learn how to create your own gingerbread house from the resort’s expert pastry team. The hotel will also host a Teddy Bear Tea, where each child is asked to bring a teddy bear to be donated to the Ronald McDonald House,and High Tea at the Park, a high tea service featuring holiday themed items.
If you’re looking for a very California holiday experience, Beach Genie’s beachside picnics and bonfires is offering frosty s’mores and a visit from Santa with their luxury beach set up. The Beach Genie set up includes up to six chairs, a fire ring, table with tablecloth for the s’mores fixings, a cooler with non-alcoholic beverages, a paddle ball set and frisbee for up to two hours.
Half Moon Bay
Located about 30 miles south of San Francisco is the coastal city of Half Moon Bay. The Half moon Bay Coastside, a rural seaside community between the Santa Cruz Mountains and Pacific Ocean, is hosting holiday festivities from shopping to dining and more.
The 22nd annual Night of Lights features weekly Friday night festivities like a holiday market along Main St. on Dec. 10 and caroling and live music on Dec. 17.
Support local artisans and get your holiday shopping done at the Holiday Boutique at La Piazza Dec. 18-19. The two-day event will feature jewelry, clothing, original art and more.
If you’re visiting, you might not need to purchase a tree, but Half Moon Bay’s famous Christmas Tree farms are worth a trip, nonetheless. Watch families cut down their own Christmas tree at Santa’s Tree Farm. Stop by on the weekend to browse festive decorations at the Sleigh Bells Gift Shop and catch a ride on the Santa Express.
Catch “The Santaland Diaries” by David Sedaris at the Coastal Repertory Theatre, weekends through Dec. 19. Recommended for ages 16 and up. $24-$32. Get crafty and create your own hand-blown ornament at Half Moon Bay Art Glass. $45 for adults; $40 for ages 12 and under. Grab some holiday treats like Stollen, gingerbread house kits and freshly baked Panetone bread at Moonside Bakery and Café.
About 150 miles north of San Francisco lies the stunning coastal community of Mendocino. Featuring seaside villages, sweet Bed & Breakfasts, beaches, wine tasting and more, the Mendocino coast makes a great addition to your family vacation if you already find yourself in NorCal for the holidays.
Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens hosts the annual Festival of Lights from Nov. 26 to Dec. 18. Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights the gardens transform into a glittering oasis with thousands of twinkling lights, a color-changing chameleon, a brilliant white rhino and more. $10 for adults; free for ages 16 and under.
Family-owned and operated historic resort, The Little River Inn, which features a chef-driven restaurant, a nine-hole golf course, tennis courts and ocean views, is offering winter deals like 25% off any room between now and Christmas with code “winter21.” The family-friendly and pet-friendly resort’s Festival of Lights Package for two includes two nights in an ocean view room, dinner for two at Little River Inn restaurant, admission for two to the Festival of Lights and breakfast for two delivered to the room, available through Dec. 19 with code “lights.” Leave the kids with the in-laws and enjoy a little couple’s getaway with The Wellness Package, which includes a two-night stay in an Ocean View Room, a 90-minute seaweed body scrub and massage for two, admission to the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens and more, available for the month of January.
For more winter travel ideas, check out our guide to Festive NorCal Towns to Visit this Winter.