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Kid-Friendly Resorts in California

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There’s really no one right answer to which kid-friendly resorts in California are best. You’ll have to consider what your family wants to prioritize during your vacation—are you looking for the best kid-friendly hotels with waterparks, or are you more focused on convenience, amenities, and location? Are you all about the shuttle life, or would you rather stay on the premise for all-inclusive activities?


Many of the best family vacation spots in California offer several of the above and more. Think anything from private surfing lessons to organized on-site scavenger hunts for smaller kids. But how do you find the right one for you? One of our favorite tools is the Southwest Hotels search engine, where you can narrow things down with options like family-friendly hotels in Los Angeles and beachfront access.


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What Are The Best Kid-Friendly Resorts And Hotels In California?


When searching for the best kid-friendly resorts in California, our criteria go beyond a decent pool and kiddie menu. We’re looking for the works, while still being somewhat affordable. Here are our top picks for family-friendly resorts in California!


Omni La Costa Resort & Spa, fly into San Diego

Complete with nursery, kids club, splash pad, water slides, sandy family beach pool, gaming lounge, and an activities program that includes everything from lizards to s’mores. Plus, adults can enjoy fitness classes, the sports lounge, golf, fine dining, on-site boutique shopping, and spa amenities. What more do kid-friendly resorts in California need?


Alisal Guest Ranch & Resort, fly into Burbank or Los Angeles 

A little bit of a trek outside the big city, but it’ll be well worth it when you experience the authentic Western experience of this family-friendly California resort. Alisal is replete with horseback riding, BBQ boot camp, lake swimming and fishing, zip lining, cycling, and more—perfect for families with kids of all ages. The resort offers kids programming and you’re just minutes away from excellent wine country for the adults.


Langham Huntington Pasadena, fly into Burbank or Los Angeles 

If your family is looking for the royal treatment, look no further than one of our favorite kid-friendly resorts in California, near Los Angeles. While it may not be a run-and-jump kind of place, kids can participate in fun activities to earn a special gift, have a whimsical and delicious Imagine Tea, and enjoy the hotel’s exclusive children’s library and a vast collection of yard games. All while mom and dad relax at the Chinese-inspired spa and fitness+yoga center.


Hotel Zephyr, fly into San Francisco

While it’s not an all-inclusive resort, this family-friendly California hotel is perfectly located near Fisherman’s Wharf, Ghirardelli Square, and Lombard Street—which means that after a fun day of site seeing in San Francisco, you can retreat to this modern and funky sanctuary to play pool, hang by the outdoor fire pits, or grab a bite from the on-site food truck camper.


What Are The Best All Inclusive Family Resorts In California?


Again, it’s all about what you think your family will enjoy most, what your budget may be, and whether you’re looking for a northern or southern California family vacation. A few fan favorites include:


Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort & Spa, fly into Long Beach

A private playground for guests only, a children’s pool complete with waterslides, a game room, spa, and private paddle boarding lessons—just a few reasons this is one of the best beach resorts in California for families. Aside from easy beach access, it’s also about 20 miles from Disneyland and even provides a seasonal shuttle for families to get to and from Magic Kingdom.


Disney’s Grand Californian Resort & Spa, fly into Los Angeles 

Who are we to deny the reality that Disney may do it best when it comes to kid-friendly resorts in California? It’s housed on the grounds of Disney California Adventure Park, so you can participate in essential Disney fun (like breakfast with Mickey), but the family-oriented resort also has private kid-fun programming like outdoor movies and scavenger hunts. Plus, parents have access to the spa and fine dining, making this one of the top all-inclusive, kid-friendly resorts in California.


Smoke Tree Ranch in Palm Springs, fly into Los Angeles 

Stay in one of the 49  cottages and enjoy a long list of recreational activities including biking, golf, hiking, swimming, horseback riding, tennis, and on weekends and holidays—Kamp Kawea—a full schedule of kid-friendly games and activities. This private location is only minutes from the Village of Palm Springs so you can also venture out for shopping and entertainment. 


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Which Beach In California Is The Best For Family?


Again, it depends on what you’re looking for. Location, distance from your hotel or resort, lifeguards, fun and games...they’ll all play a role when searching for the best beach in California for your family.


There are tons of California beaches that are perfect for a family getaway; however, here are a few of our favorites!


Santa Monica, fly into Los Angeles 

Iconic and perfect for families with a pretty chill beach scene right below the historic Pier offering carnival rides, games, street music, and an amazing fish taco.


Fort Funston, fly into San Francisco

Less about fun in the sun and more about exploring the beautiful cliffs and power of the Pacific. Bonus—this beach is canine-friendly so every member of the family is welcome.


La Jolla, fly into San Diego

This is an all-inclusive family beach of California complete with playgrounds, kayaking, snorkeling with leopard sharks, the Children’s Pool beach, seals, an aquarium…the list could go on.


Leo Carrillo, fly into Los Angeles 

Complete with low tide pools, cool rock formations, and an array of sea creatures to discover; this beach is perfect for a family of ocean explorers.


Victoria Beach in Laguna, fly into Orange County

Home of the “pirate tower”—a sweet spot for families, along with the cutest lighthouse and tide pools, volleyball court, and a pool that’s not overcrowded. This one is a hit for kids of all ages. 


Strands Beach in Dana Point, fly into Orange County

The waves break out far enough that the beach itself is really approachable for little kids, the best skim boarding around, and great body surfing for the bigger kids. 


What Is The Safest Beach In California?


Manhattan Beach, fly into Los Angeles 

  • Notoriously clean
  • Low crime in the city
  • Relaxing


Crystal Cove State Park,fly into Orange County/Santa Ana

  • Less crowded
  • Geared toward outdoor enthusiasts
  • Great hiking and views


Seal beach, fly into Orange County

  • Small town feel
  • Less crowded
  • Right by a police station


Coronado Beach, fly into San Diego

  • Quiet
  • Kid-friendly
  • Lifeguards


What Is There To Do In Southern California With A Toddler?


For those of us whose idea of a magical California vacation does not include a theme park of any kind, we may be left wondering what else California has to offer for families with smaller kids? Look no further than this quick list of some of the best family vacation spots in California—from toddler to teen!


The Living Desert, fly into Ontario

If you plan on heading outside the city, The Living Desert is worth the short road trip (just long enough for a toddler nap!). And when they awake to the safari-like adventure, they’ll joy in the up-close wildlife encounters while you rejoice in the park’s shuttle service.


Amir’s Garden, fly into Los Angeles 

Need a break from the energy of Los Angeles? Take the family to a quiet and relaxing picnic in Griffith Park. Beautiful, lush, and shady, this is the perfect relaxing timeout for families with toddlers on California vacation.


La Jolla, fly into San Diego

Explore the underwater park (rent paddle boards to get up close and personal with leopard sharks, rays, etc. with the littles), enjoy the noisy sea lions at La Jolla Cove, and even take Insta-worthy family photos under the famous Scripps Pier.


San Diego Zoo, fly into San Diego

Alright, this one is kind of a given, but discovering more than 650 different species over 100 acres (bring the stroller!) is an absolute must for your next family vacation in San Diego.


No matter if you’re looking for a quick getaway at one of the family-friendly resorts in San Diego or a more extended stay at an all-inclusive kid-friendly resort, you’re sure to find what you’re looking for at one of these awesome vacation spots!


Tips for Flying with Kids


“Hit up Target before the flight and buy some inexpensive coloring books, crayons, and cheap headphones. When they are done with coloring, pull out the iPad (make sure you download your kid's favorite movies), plug in the cheap headphones and pray for the best. Parents also need an adult cocktail to calm their nerves too.” @Passenger1C Southwest Rapid Rewards Member


“Think ahead! We have a checklist of things we know we need for every trip...things that need to be packed and things that need to be with us on the plane! Southwest makes traveling with kids easy, and we make it a big deal every time we fly with our girls even though they get to fly often. Our oldest is fascinated by the whole process, and we let her be a ‘helper.’ It is easy to get stressed while traveling with kids. Keep them occupied and make the journey fun, and you’ll do just fine!” @elijahbrantley Southwest Rapid Rewards Member


Tell us! What is your favorite kid-friendly California destination? Leave a comment below. 


Looking for more ideas and advice for traveling with kids? Check out this section of our Discussion Forum—it’s packed with advice and answers about vacationing with little ones (and not-so-little ones!)


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