Best California Vacation Spots for Families

One of the highlights of Lake Tahoe, Emerald Bay State Park. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

As a top vacation destination for families, travelers flock to California. With a wide array of acitivites, both outdoor and indoor, families can splash at the beach, stand under towering trees or see world-class museums during their visit. Kids can learn to surf, take a hike or stare at dinosaurs.  From the largest trees to the lowest point in the U.S. there’s lots to see in California. Here are the best California Vacation Spots for Families.

Best National Park Trips 

Load up, especially if you are in Southern California for a National Parks Road Trip. Find a diverse landscape from the driest deserts to the lushest forests in the National Parks of California. In Northern California, visitors will find volcanoes and the towering redwood trees.

Read More National Parks Road Trips in California

Best Beaches in California

California Beaches have sprouted a whole culture. With an immense shoreline, there is a beach for all, from shelling to surfing to castle making. And some of the best beaches are state parks.

Read More Best Beaches in California
Take a hike. What to do in Lassen National Park with kids.
Take a hike when visiting Lassen Volcanic National Park to enjoy the mountain scenery. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Top Places to Explore in Northern California 

Lassen Volcanic National Park

Find all the beauty of the Sierra Nevada mountains of Southern California with the power of volcanoes. With less visitors than other national parks in California, it’s worth the trek.

Read More about What to do in Lassen National Park 

Lake Tahoe

It’s equally a summer and winter destination. Lake Tahoe offers mulitudes of outdoor recreation from hiking, mountain biking, boating, kayaking and more.

Read More about Lake Tahoe in the Summer


It’s the California state capitol and a hub of historical sites dedicated to Gold Rush history. Find museums along with capitol grounds to explore.

Read More about Top Things to do in Sacramento
Hike a trail as one of the things to do in the Redwoods with kids.
The redwood groves offer family-friendly hikes. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Redwood National and State Parks

See the magestic wonder that is the Coastal Redwoods of California, a different species of redwoods than Sequoias. This park offers hiking trails, biking along with stretchs of beach to explore.

Read More about the Redwood National and State Parks

Alcatraz Island

It’s one of the top destinations in San Francisco and tickets sell out months in advance. Get all the details on what you see on the tours of the infamous prison.

Read More about Touring Alcatraz

Top Places to Explore in Southern California

Cabrillo National Monument. Where to go in San Diego with kids.
Learn about the explorer Cabrillo and when he landed in San Diego. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

San Diego

It’s a top family travel destination with amusement parks, beaches and one of the top zoos in the U.S. Also find whale watching, tide pools and a National Park site.

Read More Top Things to do in San Diego with Kids

Joshua Tree National Park

Learn about the desert in Southern California along with the Joshua Trees. This park offers interesting rock formations along with hiking and camping.

Read More Joshua Tree National Park Planning Guide

Death Valley National Park

It’s home to the lowest place on earth. Find a luxury hotel, golf course along with spring-fed pools along with star-gazing, hiking and more.

Read More Death Valley National Park
A trip to see the redwoods of California is a must for the family. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks

See the Sequoia trees, a type of redwood,  in the Sierra Nevada mountain range. It’s also a great area to escape the heat of Southern California.

Read More about Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks

Santa Barbara

With several straw-colored beaches to explore, Santa Barbara is one of the best California vacation spots for families. In addtion to beach time, find a children’s museum and a zoo.

Read More about Top Things to do in Santa Barbara with Kids 

What to do in Solvang with kids.
Escape to a Danish hamlet in Central California, a train ride from LA. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker


Originally setted by Danes escaping the cold winters of the Midwest, stroll the quaint streets of Solvang with thatched roofs and replicas of Danish landmarks. Since it’s California, find lots of tasting rooms and European-inspired bakeries along with boutique hotels.

Read More about Solvang

Mojave Desert

The deserts of Southern California are more diverse than most realize. The Mojave Desert offers Joshua Trees along with some unique rock formations including a lava tube. It’s also a top off-roading destination.

Read More about Mojave National Preserve

Palm Springs

As a destination for mid-century modern architecture along with some top spas, Palm Springs is also a top destination for families. Find deserts to explore and even a forest to hike.

Read More about Palm Springs

California is a top vacation destination for families with good reason. It offers a diverse array of attractions and scenery to explore. From the lowest point in the U.S. to the largest trees there's lots to see in California. With miles of beaches in its urban hubs, you can enjoy both on the same day. Here's the best California Vacation Spots for Families. Best Desinations in California for Families | Where to go with Kids in California | Best California Vacation Spots for kids #California #FamilyTravel


Catherine Parker has a passion for travel and seen all 50 U.S. States. As a former flight attendant with one of the largest airlines, there isn't a North American airport that she hasn't landed in at least once. Since clipping her professional wings after 9/11, she combines her love of the open road with visiting architectural and cultural icons. She is based out of Central Texas dividing her time between writing and restoring a pair of 100-year-old houses. She shares her life with her three kids and her husband.

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