Family travel from L.A. by car.

Road Trips

l.a. factories

Go On Tour with Kids in L.A. Factories

Got a golden ticket? You’d need one to enter Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. But if you want to peek inside some of Southern California’s most interesting factories, usually all you have to do is ask. Local factories – which make everything from fresh marmalade to olive oil and, yes, chocolate – gladly open their doors to families looking to see the inner workings of their production process. Factory tours give...

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family travel

Staycation Inspiration: Laguna’s Coastal Canyon Escape

We cruised down Pacific Coast Highway, catching glimpses of coastal cliffs, waves dotted with surfers and rows of eclectic galleries that recall Laguna Beach’s early art colony days. For this quick “staycation” just an hour and a half south of L.A., our car was packed with two eager 5-year-olds and their mamas, keen on getting ever-so-slightly off the grid and surrounded by nature for the weekend – comfortably. OK, very...

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Water Play, Safety and Summer Fun at Great Wolf Lodge

My son loves to cajole me and my husband into having in-home campouts. As the clock ticks past his bedtime, he’ll run to his room, grab his blanket and pillow, then run back into the living room or our bedroom and sing: “We’re camping out!” For his birthday last weekend, we decided to take him and one of his best buddies for a little in-door “camping” fun beyond the confines...

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The Drawbridge is Down at the New Legoland Castle Hotel

Legoland’s new Castle Hotel will immerse you in an enchanting world of royal princesses, magic wizards and dragons. Inspired by the popularity of the kingdom-themed rooms at the original resort next door, the hotel is a few short steps from the park entrance – though you’ll probably be hard-pressed to get your kids to leave the lodgings. In fact, good luck getting past the lobby. While you check in, your...

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family travel

Family Travel: Ojai Rising

There’s something in the air in Ojai for family travel. Or, perhaps, in the earth. Whether it’s the sedative effect of spring’s sweet citrus harvest wafting over the breeze, the breathless awe of sunset’s famed “pink moment” against the Topa Topa Mountains, or the unseen pull of an actual electromagnetic vortex, Ojai has long drawn artists, spiritual seekers and those of us looking to escape L.A. for a spell. “When...

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Quick Getaways: Adventure is just 2 Hours Away

Roar & Snore in San Diego If you’ve dreamed of getting snooze-close to elephants, giraffes, gazelles and antelopes but can’t swing a 22-hour flight to Africa, head down to the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park. The park’s Roar & Snore Safari features some exciting programs, including the Safari Sampler Sleepover and Happy Hoppers Sleepover. Happy Hoppers comes with a wild egg hunt, and Safari Sampler finds you on an...

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After the Wildfires, Show Ojai Some Love

Many SoCal residents who view it as a great nearby getaway breathed a sigh of relief when Ojai was saved from the Thomas fire. While the quaint downtown was spared, many locals lost their homes and businesses in blazes that scorched nearly 282,000 acres in Ojai and beyond. The community continues to welcome visitors back to their beautiful valley, and the hotels of Ojai have banded together to raise funds...

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fall camping los angeles

Fall Camping at El Capitan

For Angelenos, camping in the fall is an opportunity to cozy up to nature after the crowds have gone back to their grind. November is our family favorite and this year, Park Rangers Tony Annia and Rick Humphrey from El Capitan State Beach, or “El Cap” as locals refer to it, gave us some advice on how to make the most of our annual trip there. Keep things simple during...

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kid-friendly beaches

Best Kid Friendly Beaches Along the Highway 1 Discovery Route

In our land of endless summer, fall is a great time to hit the beach with the family. Pack up the sunscreen and head to one of these beaches along the North Coast of the CA Highway 1 Discovery Route, (H1DR). Each beach community has something unique to offer. Ragged Point Beach:  Ragged Point Beach is a remote beach that is just waiting to be discovered. The steep but short...

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kid-friendly winter sports

10 Winter Sports for California Families

Most of us think of our SoCal home as an oasis of beaches, palm trees and sunshine. But there are plenty of winter sports available in the L.A. area – or not too far afield. From the time my three kids were tots, we went sledding in Frasier Park and skiing in Big Bear and Mammoth Mountain. As my kids got older, mountain resorts became our winter playgrounds for snowshoeing,...

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Progressive Santa Barbara Family Travel With Kids In Tow

I’ve always been a traveler, and before my kids were born my trips were often to exotic destinations such as Argentina and Peru. I valued the challenges of those kind of trips: Figuring out the transit system, running the exchange rate in my head and picking up key expressions in the native language. To do any of those things successfully felt like its own reward. But having two small children...

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Budget Beach Getaways Near L.A.

If you’re like a lot of L.A. parents, the idea of a vacation with the family sounds amazing. The idea of going into debt to do it? Not so much. Maybe those dreams of a two-week stay in Hawaii have to be dashed, but don’t hit the snooze alarm. How about waking up to the idea of an inexpensive beach getaway? Here are five options, all within two hours of...

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california farms

Find Big Family Fun on California Farms

When Erin Mahoney Harris became a mom 10 years ago, she found herself becoming more and more interested in where her family’s food came from. That led to a passion for gardening – a challenge in her urban L.A. environment. She and her growing family moved to Santa Monica, where Harris built up an extensive vegetable garden in containers and pots. And she began taking her family to visit local...

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girlfriend getaways

Girlfriend Getaways: Moms’ Time Out

This Sonoma girlfriends’ getaway is perfect for pals with a personality. Repeat after me: “I deserve a break from my momly duties. My girlfriends deserve a break. We are awesome, therefore we should do awesome things on our break.” Of course, escaping your family’s hectic schedule is not easy, nor is coordinating a getaway with busy friends. And finding a location not too far from home with activities that appeal...

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los angeles attractions

Great Wolf Lodge: A Den Away From Home

Our family got a chance to stay at one of the newest Los Angeles attractions, Great Wolf Lodge Resort and Indoor Water Park in Garden Grove this spring. This is the 13th GWL in the U.S., but the first in California. I had never heard of this family resort, but friends on the East Coast love having the option of an indoor water park in the middle of winter and let...

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Put A Little Adventure Into Your 2016

It's still early enough in the year to make plans for 2016. This month offers a couple of family-friendly Los Angeles events that could help you figure out what exciting things you could make happen this year. Looking for an interesting place to visit? The Los Angeles Travel & Adventure Show on Feb. 27-28 (10 a.m.-5 p.m. Long Beach Convention Center, 300 E. Ocean Blvd., Long Beach; www.travelshows.com/shows/los-angeles, $11-$16; free for...

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5 Baby Sleep Challenges During Holiday Travel

Traveling and parenting during the holidays can be strenuous enough without a baby. Add a little one to the mix and you have a recipe for disaster! Trying to get from one family get-together to the next can wreak havoc on your baby’s sleep schedule, leading to less sleep for everyone in the family. Read on to learn how to tackle the most common travel-related baby sleep challenges including plane...

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Great Weekend Getaways for Families

School is back in session, but the days are still long and sunny. With tourist season winding down, now is a great time to take a study break and enjoy a weekend family getaway. Wide-Open Spaces Drive just a couple hours east from Los Angeles to Joshua Tree National Park, where you can escape the city lights and hike, bike and climb your way around almost 800,000 acres of unique...

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Make a Point of Visiting Dana Point

Dana Point was a popular port for trading in the1800s. Today, the harbor is the hub for recreational activities, marine research and festivals. Family-friendly luxury resorts and close proximity to L.A. make Dana Point a relaxing weekend getaway. Eat The harbor-side Coffee Importers Scoop Deck & Deli (34531 Golden Lantern St.; 949-493-7773; www.coffeeimporters.com) has an extensive breakfast, lunch, snacks and smoothie menu for less than $10 per person. House-made granola,...

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Beyond the Beach In Carpinteria

While beautiful silky-sand beaches may be the primary reason for visiting Carpinteria, it’s also fun to explore the laid-back city’s parks, unpretentious downtown and seaside neighborhoods. The electric Seaside Shuttle costs 50 cents per ride, and makes a loop around town and to the Amtrak platform, offering a car-free option for your visit. Eat Show up at The Spot (389 Linden Ave.; 805-684-6311) in your bathing suit and flip-flops (or...

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Julian Is the Apple Of Our Eye

Autumn is prime time to visit Julian, an historic gold-mining town an hour east of San Diego that is home to numerous apple orchards. A handful of these are open to the public for apple and pumpkin picking. Eat Housed in a 1920s cottage, the family-owned and operated Julian Grille (2224 Main St.; 760-765-0036; www.juliangrille.com) has extensive lunch and dinner menus. Try the Reuben sandwich or the pecan-breaded chicken topped...

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Full-Time Fun In Half Moon Bay

Located along scenic Route 1 between the Santa Cruz Mountains and the Pacific Ocean, Half Moon Bay is a small coastal community set amidst redwood forests and agricultural fields, and also the oldest settlement in San Mateo. Eat No need to fork over big bucks for an amazing meal with ocean views. Open for lunch and dinner, Sam’s Chowder House (4210 N. Cabrillo Hwy.; 650-712-0245; www.samschowderhouse.com) is a great place...

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Skiing and Splashing at Lake Arrowhead

Lake Arrowhead is a privately owned lake with limited public access, but don’t let that stop you from visiting this beautiful hamlet in the San Bernardino National Forest. Plenty of family-friendly activities, an upscale, lakeside village and close proximity to L.A. make it a delightful weekend getaway with the kids. Eat Enjoy lake views while dining at the dockside Belgian Waffle Works (28200 CA Hwy. 189, Suite 150; 909-337-5222; www.belgianwaffle.com),...

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Rustic Mountain Fun at June Lake

By Mimi Slawoff June Lake is small and rustic compared to posh neighbor Mammoth Mountain, but star-filled night skies, towering granite domes and four sparkling alpine lakes make this eastern Sierra town a gem. Eat In the Jones family since 1977, the homey Silver Lake Lodge and Cafe (6957 Highway 158; 760-648-7525; www.silverlakeresort.net) overlooks Silver Lake, a popular trout-fishing hole. The cozy diner, open for breakfast and lunch, serves big...

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Let's Go Flying, Fishing

Flying, Fishing and Disc Golf in Wrightwood

Who needs snow? This year-round destination offers plenty of family adventures. by Mimi Slawoff Although best known for the skiing and snowboarding at Mountain High (www.mthigh.com), Wrightwood is a year-round destination with a variety of family-friendly adventures. Hiking, biking, fishing, kayaking, ziplining and disc golf are among the fun things to do with kids in this small mountain town about a 90-minute drive from L.A. It doesn’t have a single...

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Quiet Ojai

Quiet Ojai Offers Laid-Back Fun Kids Will Love

Let's Go columnist Mimi Slawoff offers a guide to this quaint town that's just a short-and-pleasant drive away. by Mimi Slawoff Tucked away in a valley 65 miles northwest of Los Angeles, Ojai is easy to miss unless you know about it. With its farms, mom-and-pop boutiques, restaurants and inns – no two alike – this laid-back, picturesque town (population about 7,500) is well worth the pleasant drive. Downtown consists...

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Star Gaze

Star Gaze and Off Road In Borrego Springs

Enjoy desert excursions, karaoke, comfort food and other family fun just a three-hour drive away. by Mimi Slawoff Borrego Springs, in east San Diego County, is a quiet little town surrounded by the 600,000-acre Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. In place of fast food chains and big resorts, the main drag, Palm Canyon Drive, boasts mom-and-pop boutiques, art galleries and diners. Streetlight-free for miles, it is a Certified International Dark Sky...

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Desert and Hollywood Fun

Desert – and Hollywood – Fun In Palm Springs

Time travel to celebrity getaways, take a jeep into the desert and meet the local wildlife on this family getaway. by Mimi Slawoff In the desert about 110 miles east of Los Angeles, Palm Springs is the ancestral home to the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, and its serenity was first discovered by Hollywood in the 1920s. It served as a rendezvous spot for Clark Gable and Carole Lombard....

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Escape the City in Big Bear

Escape the City In Big Bear Lake

There’s plenty of off-season family fun to be had at this snow and ski resort. It’s a rejuvenating retreat. by Mimi Slawoff On a drive to Big Bear Lake shortly after your ascent to the resort begins, the landscape changes dramatically from clogged freeways to mountain vistas, with whiff s of pine drifting in through open car windows. Fresh mountain air, year-round recreation and diverse culinary options are about a...

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Go Danish or Western

Go Danish or Western in the Santa Ynez Valley

From the quaint town of Solvang to the rustic trails near Alisal Guest Ranch, your family can have a world of fun. by Mimi Slawoff Located in northern Santa Barbara County, the Santa Ynez Valley contains six distinctive, rural communities with a total population of about 20,000. The most unique and picturesque is Solvang (Danish for “sunny field”), a Danish community. Only about 125 miles from L.A., it feels worlds...

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Hidden Beaches

Hidden Beaches, History and Family Fun in Oxnard and Ventura

Plan a day trip or weekend getaway filled with beaches, music, museums and sports the kids will love. Published: 08/05/2013 by Mimi Slawoff Situated between sultry Malibu and posh Santa Barbara, Ventura County is a rather underrated coastal and cultural destination. But sandy beaches, a plethora of recreational activities, year-round festivals and historic districts make Oxnard and Ventura an ideal family day trip or weekend getaway. Ventura is also the...

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Kayaking

Feeding Family Ties In San Diego

This nearby getaway destination offers the perfect combo of relaxation and family fun By Ron Epstein By the time our girls were each around 4 years old, we realized that they were pretty self-sufficient travelers – and that they enjoyed going places. So we bought them their own luggage, showed them how and what to pack, and let them choose things to do on long car drives or plane rides....

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