The great thing about Los Angeles is that you can drive only for a few hours, and find yourself in another great city with so much to do for families. Take a look at this awesome list of best family trip destinations from Los Angeles for your labor's day weekend getaway!
San Diego overflows with fun for families. There is plenty for all ages to enjoy in this sunny Southern California town. San Diego is known for its beaches, parks and warm climate. Things to do with kids include exploring Balboa Park, Sea World, San Diego Zoo, San Diego Zoo Safari Park, Aquatica San Diego Water Park, Old Town San Diego, The Gaslamp Quarter, Little Italy, as well as numerous art galleries, museums and gardens.
In addition to plenty of beaches and parks, Santa Barbara has loads of attractions and outdoor opportunities that will satisfy kids big and small.
Activities to do with kids include the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, which offers an exciting variety of family programs designed to encourage understanding and appreciation of the many facets of our natural world; Santa Barbara Zoo with more than 500 animals exhibited in open, naturalistic habitats; and MOXI: The Wolf Museum of Exploration & Innovation, filled with loads of interactive experiences, organized around seven themes that all relate to science, technology, engineering, arts and math.
Still want more activities? Discover the wonders of ocean life at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History Sea Center, and Channel Islands National Park, which encompasses five remarkable islands and their ocean environment, preserving and protecting a wealth of natural and cultural resources.
We highly recommend trying Shoreline Beach Café, where kids can run around, build sandcastles, or bury their feet in the sand, while you are visiting.
Catalina Island offers an impressive array of fun things to do year-round. From water sports and scenic hikes, to wildlife tours and submarine rides, the island caters to travelers of all ages. Things to do with kids include tours to view Bisons and the wildlife on the island, fishing, snorkeling, kayaking, scuba diving, zipline tours, ride in submarine, and more.
To get more information about all these activities, and even more, visit Catalina Island Chamber of Commerce's website.
One of our favorite places to eat is Avalon Grille, which offers fine dining with a relaxed upscale atmosphere overlooking the Avalon Bay. Another one is Bluewater Grill, which is a must-visit located right on Avalon Bay, over the water in the historic waterfront terminal building.
There are several nice hotels to choose from at Catalina Island. Our favorites are Avalon Hotel with the breathtaking views from the Rooftop Getaway, Catalina Canyon Resort and Spa nestled in the foothills of Catalina Island, and Hotel Metropole located in the heart of Avalon, and just steps from the beach.
Named by Sunset magazine as one of the "10 Most Beautiful Small Towns in the Western United States," Solvang is another great destination for families. Must things to do in Solvang are exploring the shops and the beautiful European style streets, exploring Sunny Fields Park on Alamo Pintado Road, Hans Christian Andersen Park on Atterdag Road, and Solvang Park, where you can find Free Friday Night Movies during the summer time.
Popular restaurants among visitors are Solvang Restaurant, Fresco Valley Cafe, Copenhagen Sausage Garden. Also, don't forget to try Swedish Candy Factory, which is known to be the best candy shop in this Danish enclave.
Our favorite place to stay at Solvang is Alisal Guest Ranch & Resort located in the heart of Solvang. Set on a 10,000-acre private ranch, the Alisal is the epitome of a world-class resort, steeped in true western culture. Enjoy horseback riding, two 18-hole golf courses, tennis and fly-fishing on the resort's 100-acre spring-fed lake.
Among Monterey's notable attractions are the Monterey Bay Aquarium which is one of the largest aquariums in North America, Cannery Row, Monterey Zoo, Fisherman's Wharf, MY Museum with exhibits like "My Day at the Beach" and "My Creation Station, Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History, and The Dennis the Menace playground.
Monterey is well known for the abundance and diversity of its marine life, which includes sea lions, sea otters, harbor seals, bat rays, kelp forests, pelicans and dolphins and several species of whales. The coast from Monterey to Carmel is spectacularly rich with colorful flowers, cypress trees, moss, and craggy rocks just begging to be climbed on.
Located on the waterfront of world famous Cannery Row and just steps from the aquarium, Bubba Gump Shrimp is a favorite among both children and adults. Cindy's Waterfront is another popular restaurant near the aquarium. Everything in the kitchen is sourced from within 25 miles of the restaurant, from the green-farmed shrimp in the popcorn shrimp lettuce wraps to the salt sprinkled over the smoked trout pate.
Two blocks from the Monterey Bay Aquarium on historic beachfront property above the crashing surf of the Pacific, Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa is a perfect option for families. Located close to El Estero Park with large playground, Hotel Abrego is another convenient hotel just beyond the shops, boutiques and restaurants of downtown.
Situated between rugged seashore and pine-clad hills, Cambria is a beautiful Oceanside city located half-way between San Francisco and Los Angeles on the Central Coast of California just four miles south of the famous historic landmark Hearst Castle. Cambria is about 4 hours drive from Los Angeles, and has so much to offer for families. For all the fun things to do with kids in Cambria, click here.
Big Bear Lake
If you want to get inspired with a passion for the great outdoors, visit Big Bear to experience the natural beauty of the pristine alpine lake surrounded by cool pine forests and clear blue skies. There are so many things to do in Big Bear Lake. For the adventurous spirit, lots of Big Bear off-roading trails are open year-round. Horseback riding on trails is a fun activity to do with the kids, and fishing in Big Bear is popular with anglers all year round.
Other activities to enjoy with the family are Action Zipline Tours, Big Bear Alpine Zoo, Big Bear Discovery Center, Big Bear Pirate Ship Tours, Bowling Bar, and more. For more activities in Big Bear, visit Big Bear's official site. While you are there, don't forget to take a walk through Big Bear Lake Village located at Pine Knot Avenue and Village Drive, which is a charming entertainment and shopping district, and offers plenty to eat and see.
For the list of featured restaurants, take a look at this wonderful list of best places to eat in Big Bear.
Laguna Beach is Southern California's premier coastal destination located midway between Los Angeles and San Diego and along the southern coast of Orange County. With more than 30 coves, beaches and parks, Laguna Beach is the ideal spot for coastal fun.
Diver’s Cove in Laguna is very popular with families, and the water is usually crowded with children and waders. The famed Laguna Beach tide pools offer a glimpse into a whole new world under the sea, during low tide, which is the best and safest time to experience the tide pools. To find out more about marine mammals, schedule a visit to the Pacific Marine Mammal Center to observe rescued sea lions and seals.
If your family prefers to stay on land, the Nix Nature Center, located in the Laguna Coast Wilderness Park, features an easy trail that loops around the visitors center as well as access to other walking paths suitable for children. Another popular family activity in Laguna is a Whale Watching Tour.
For a perfect cup of coffee try Laguna Coffee Company. Among good eats are Andree's Patisserie, Zinc Café & Market, and the Orange Inn. For other family friendly restaurants in Laguna Beach, take a look at this wonderful list.
One of our favorite places to stay in Laguna with kids is Surf & Sand Resort, which is literally on the beach. When you need a break from the beach, one of the best playgrounds in the area, Bluebird Canyon Park, is just five minute stroll from the hotel.
Another favorite is The Ranch at Laguna Beach Resort. This hotel and spa is situated on an iconic piece of land where canyon and sea meet.If you are looking for a lavish experience, then try Montage Laguna Beach Resort, which offers 30 acres of seaside luxury at the heart of Laguna Beach. Each of the 250 guestrooms feature sprawling views of the ocean, and you will have exclusive access to a wide selection of amenities, including rejuvenating wellness options at the 20,000-square-foot Spa Montage and gourmet dining.
Temecula is well known for its climate perfect for serene and beautiful hot-air ballooning adventures, and award-winning wineries. The Old Town district blends historic buildings with over 640 antique dealers, unique shopping, and restaurants.
You can take a jaunt in a horse-drawn carriage or stroll along the wooden boardwalks, take the family for a hike on the Santa Rosa Plateau Wildlife Preserve, or delight in a day of boating and fishing at Lake Skinner. Get Air is an amazing trampoline park for kids and adults.
At Green Acres Ranch, you can go horseback riding the western style and tour the 50 acre working horse ranch at a beautiful winery. Go Bowling at Brunswick Zone and enjoy 40 all-star lanes, interactive arcade games, billiard tables, and an on-site pro shop where you can get all the latest gear. Or visit Harveston Lake Park, which is a picturesque lakeside park where you can rent pedal boats off the dock or enjoy a relaxing lakeside picnic.
To find the best food in Temecula, we recommend visiting this wonderful website, where you can search restaurants by locations and categories. You can also find great places to eat with the kiddos in the old town district.
Balboa Island may be small, though people who vacation here know what a wonderful place it is for a family getaway. There are several public docks where kids can fish for free. Riding the Balboa Ferris Wheel is a must do when visiting. The Fun Zone at Balboa Village is another must do at the Island. With no admission costs, you can stroll the bayside boardwalk and play as you like.
Other fun activities are Balboa Parasail, $15 Sunset Cruises, and fishing trips by Davey’s Locker Sportfishing. Another popular activity among families is Whale Watching & Dolphin Cruise. And don't forget to get your Ferry Ride while visiting the Island.
Great family eats at Babloa Island include CIAO Restaurant, a New York-style Italian eatery offering pasta, pizza, seafood in a family-friendly setting; Ruby’s Diner, which is located on the Balboa Pier and is a ’40s-style chain diner serving breakfast & American comfort fare, salads & shakes; and Wilma’s Patio, which is a relaxing, family-friendly eatery and offers hearty portions of American comfort food in a casual atmosphere.
To find a place to stay, visit Balboa Island Vacation Rental website.
Ojai is a tourism destination known for its boutique hotels, hiking, spiritual retreats and farmers' market of local organic agriculture. But there are so much more to do in Ojai other than relaxing and enjoying organic produce.
Mount up for a one or two hour horseback riding through the Ventura River valley or up into the Enchanted Forest; Take a hike in Los Padres National Forest; Get a Tour at California's oldest olive oil ranch; Experience cool water rides at Lake Casitas Water Adventure; Visit the Ojai Valley Museum; Stroll through Sunday's Farmers' Market; Or explore the Nature Center at the Ojai Ranger Station.
Libbey Park, right in the middle of downtown is also a great place to hang out with the kids.
Among kid friendly restaurants are Boccali’s Pizza and Pasta on the east end of town; Ojai Pizz near the park downtown, and Farmer and the Cook with outdoor patios and live music on the weekends. If you’re looking for a higher-end restaurant that is kid-friendly, try Nocciola.
One of our favorite hotels is Ojai Valley Inn, which is "the most kid-friendly lodging in Ojai", according to LA Parent Magazine. They have a children's program where kids can enjoy arts & crafts, science experiments, scavenger hunts, and a host of other activities, while you get to relax by the pool. Casa Ojai Inn is another family friendly hotel, where you can rent bikes and explore the city while biking with your family.