Child Centric Vacation ideas in Southern California
California is calling all kids! The golden state is well known for a lot of reasons: Hollywood, Beverly Hills, The Beaches in Laguna, the Pacific Coast Highway. But you know what else California should be known for? Being an amazing location for a vacation with kids. Southern California is a dream when traveling with little people. This beautiful spot on our country’s west side has everything you need for a great family vacation. The location is fabulous, the accommodations are family friendly, and the fun never stops. In fact, California has so many options for visiting families it is now being referred to as Kidifornia! Kidifornia is all about offering you the trip of a lifetime with your entire family. We’ve got the details you need to take a trip to Kidifornia with your kiddos!
Location, Location, Location
Southern California is a mecca for kids. You can get here easily. You will be very comfortable and there is more family friendly fun that you can take in during single trip. Families can visit here more than once and have a totally unique experience every time. So you can literally put together a perfect vacation using the following suggestions, because everything is so close by and so child and family oriented.
If you are not within driving distance, there is more than one option for flying into Kidifornia. It is even easy for international travelers to come to this area. Choose from the San Diego, Los Angeles, or Orange County airports. You can rent a car and be on your way to check into your hotel and get the party started with your entire family.
Family Friendly Accommodations
Catamaran Resort Hotel and Spa
This is an upscale, Polynesian style resort available at an affordable house that is located on the bay in San Diego. Get a room overlooking the water and your family will watch the catamarans constantly sailing in the distance. The beach is public, but is always quiet. Rooms open up to a large lawn which is awesome for kids to run around and burn off their energy. You can sit on your patio with a glass of wine and watch your kids run around and play on the beach. It’s very lush and beautiful all around the grounds. They have parrots in the main area that do tricks and you can talk to the handlers and ask questions. At a certain time, they do a little “show” for the kids. There is a world class spa and lots of activities. Book one of their rooms or suites and fly into the San Diego airport. It is only 8 miles away!
EXPLORE AND CONNECT
Knott’s Berry Farm
This hotel is located on the property at the Knott’s Berry Farm amusement park. Talk about a location convenient to child friendly activities. You can see a rollercoaster from the hotel! The accommodations here are nice and comfortable. They offer packages that include dining and tickets to the Knott’s Theme Park. That is a very simple way to travel with kids. Get it all in one place and just enjoy yourselves. There is a pool with a children’s activity area, restaurants, room service, and other amenities. If you have a Peanuts fan with you, stay in the Snoopy themed wing of the hotel!
Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort and Spa
This hotel is a gem. Like all Regency hotels, it is beautiful and expansive. Everything is contemporary but in a classic style. Book a room with a view of the Pacific. There is no better way to wake up than to the sounds and sights of the ocean. The rooms are simply wonderful and will feel like your own little piece of paradise.
Breakfast is amazing in their restaurant. Dine by the sea! For activities, they have a rental shop on property called Toes on the nose) where you can get bikes. Rent bikes for everyone and explore Huntington beach. You can also get surf lessons there. Disneyland®, LEGOLAND, Knott’s Berry Farm, and Aquarium of the Pacific are all close by.
The back of the resort has a pool with slides and cabanas, and that’s where the nightly s’mores grilling happens, as well as daily activities for kids. Your kids will enjoy their time at the Kid’s Club, Camp Hyatt, if you need a little adult time. The staff is very friendly and professional. They lead the kids through fun activities every day. Check the kids in there and then check yourself into the spa.
EXPLORE AND CONNECT
Fun, Fun, Fun
San Diego Zoo
This is absolutely one of the best zoos in the country and well worth a visit even if you’re tired of zoos. It feels more like an amusement park with how large it is. Everything is very updated and coherent. There is a bus tour running around the clock that allows you to see the zoo in a shorter time, because it is so big. Your kids will love taking a high flying ride on the Skyfari Air Tram. Seeing the animals from above is a totally different experience. Allow a whole day to explore so you don’t feel like you have to rush while seeing all kinds of animals in very well taken care of and authentic habitats. We loved the flamingoes, monkeys, bears, and giraffes!
This is a famous arcade park next to the beach, in San Diego. Belmont Park is a great way to introduce kids to places that you enjoyed as a child. You really feel like you’ve stepped back in time here and it is so cool. Admission to the arcade is free. Just pay for what you want to play. There are arcade classics you expect like Pac Man and new games as well. Even if you have a seriously advanced gamer in your family, you will all enjoy going old school with the games here for a fun afternoon or evening.
This California Amusement park is full of fun options for a day with kids. The ride options here ensure everyone will have a blast. There are thrill rides, family rides, and kids rides. The rollercoasters are crazy! In fact, they have a new coaster opening soon that is the first Dive coaster on the West coast. The park is made up of 4 themed areas and you have to check it all out. There are shows and plenty of options for dining as well. If you stay at the Knott’s Berry Farm Hotel you are that much closer to all the action.
Sea World is another world famous attraction here. If you want to teach your children about sea life and wildlife conservation, this is a must for your Kidifornia itinerary. Sea World’s rescue and conservatory efforts are inspiring. The park is just as fun as any amusement park but so much more enriching. There are new exhibits like the Kids Realm, family friendly shows and exhibitions, and you can even ride amusement park rides. They have everything from kiddy rides to a rollercoaster! You will love how Sea World blends silly fun with education and hands on experiences.
This is classic California kid fun! Everyone should visit here at least once in their life. We found that Disneyland is easier to manage with young kids than Disney World because it is smaller. You can meet the Princesses and Mickey without feeling so harried. They have all the magic you would expect from Disney and then some. What’s a kid friendly trip without making at least one dream come true?
For an unforgettable dining experience that will entertain you beyond belief, you have to check out Pirate’s Dinner Adventure. From the moment you go “aboard” you will see that this experience is managed, performed and presented in an excellent way. The actors are so professional, the food is delicious, and the performance was interactive and kept childrens’ attention. The set is so realistic. You feel like you are really looking at a pirate ship. Everyone loved it.
This area is world renowned for being the birth place of the laid back, southern California lifestyle. This beach is popular for surfing and volleyball. The conditions for surfing are so ideal that Huntington Beach is actually known as Surf City USA. Convenient to so many destinations in southern California, this is central stop on your Kidifornia dream vacation. It has a massive bike/skateboard/run lane going alongside the beach. You can have a bonfire on the beach ( have to book ahead), rent surf boards and bikes, nice shopping and restaurants. If you stay at the Hyatt Regency you can easily explore the area with your family. Rent a bike and ride down the boardwalk. The sights and sounds are not what you are probably used to at a beach. Experience something new at Huntington Beach!
Kidifornia is calling. You can take a once in a lifetime trip with your kids. They will experience all the excitement and enrichment that southern California has to offer and you, as their parents get to soak it all in through their eyes.
If you are traveling with toddlers, check out How Young is Too Young for a Visit to Disney?
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Elena is the managing editor for Daily Mom. She enjoys traveling, spending time with her daughter, running several businesses, working on Daily Mom, playing volleyball, going to the gym, photographing and reading. You can contact her via email.