Southern California resorts and hotels that families love! Looking for a family getaway where there’s relaxation for adults and fun for the kids? These SoCal resorts offer plenty of amenities for families -- guaranteed to make memories that last a lifetime.
El Capitan Canyon
About five hours north of San Diego, El Capitan Canyon offers the best of glamping in Santa Barbara. Choose from furnished cedar cabins or adventure yurts, surrounded by the tranquility of nature in a camp-like setting. Enjoy sycamore and oak trees, the Santa Ynez Mountains, a llama farm with stunning ocean views, and the beach is just a bike ride or two-minute drive away. Plenty of family activities and amenities are offered for guests, including a children’s playground, swimming pool, on-site restaurant, hiking trails, a summer concert series, and for adults—wine tasting and free use of beach cruisers. Bonus: Solvang is only half an hour away.
Zachari Dunes on Mandalay Beach
This newly renovated, all-suite, beachfront property is just a few hours north of San Diego. If a beach getaway without crowds is what you're looking for, this is the secret spot "hidden" in plain sight. Every suite offers two full bathrooms, making the accommodations perfect for families. Enjoy a huge pool, oversized jacuzzi, firepits (roasting s'mores is encouraged), on-site dining, and Henry's Gear Rentals, which offers everything from boogie boards, board games and sand toys to Go Pros, Xbox and Instamax cameras for rental during your stay. You can even rent a record player and have a family dance party in your suite! Two hours of "adventure gear" rental is included in the daily (nominal) resort fee. The best part, of course, is the fabulous location and notable lack of crowds, truly making it a relaxing break from the usual hustle and bustle. Read more about visiting Oxnard and Zachari Dunes in Family Fun in Oxnard.
Hotel del Coronado
Coronado (San Diego)
The storied halls. The sparkling beach. The legendary playground by the sea. The Del has witnessed the wonder of children growing up and then returning with little ones of their own. It's been the backdrop of happy holidays and celebrations for more than 128 years and inspired generations of family traditions that bring you closer to the ones you love.
The holidays are a magical time at Hotel del Coronado. From its enormous lobby tree decorated with seaside accents to strolling Victorian carolers and more than 100,000 twinkling white lights strung throughout, The Del is pure holiday enchantment. Whether you’re there for a few days or just a few hours, there are plenty of family-friendly activities to get you into the holiday spirit.
The iconic Del is an adventurous world all its own, where beach-loving families from near and far write their fondest stories on its glittering sands. From surf camps and boogie boarding to sandcastles and coastal bike rides, the best memories begin at The Del.
Sun Outdoors San Diego Bay
Chula Vista (San Diego)
Sun Outdoors offers RV camping and comfortable furnished cottages (they call vacation rentals; I call it glamping) with front and back patios (each with its own gas barbecue and firepit), an on-site café and bar, playground, pool and splash pad, pickleball court and scheduled activities for families. You really never have to leave the property. But if you do, consider visiting the Living Coast Discovery Center right next door.
Great Wolf Lodge
Garden Grove (near Anaheim)
Looking for an awesome one-of-a-kind getaway for your family? Great Wolf Lodge is the only indoor waterpark and resort of it’s kind in California. The waterpark—available to lodge guests only—features a variety of attractions that satisfy everyone from toddlers to teenage thrill-seekers, making it perfect for families. Some highlights include River Canyon Run (raft ride), a lazy river, children’s activity pool, tube slides, a 40-foot drop slide and Fort Mackenzie, a multi-level structure with suspension bridges, spray stations and a giant bucket that dumps water on people below. The resort also features numerous attractions on “Main Street”: glow-in-the-dark mini golf, an arcade, Build-A-Bear Workshop, and Ten Paw Alley (pint-sized bowling balls!).
Don’t miss the Forest Friends animatronics show and evening story time, where families are invited to attend in pajamas. “My son and nephew loved story time,” says mom, Jennifer, “and they loved the dance parties!” Great Wolf is located just 90 minutes north of San Diego and down the street from Anaheim. Ask about shuttle service for Great Wolf Lodge guests to Disneyland.
So, why does SoCal need an indoor waterpark? Here are some of the benefits:
- It’s an all-weather destination. Great Wolf Lodge keeps the air and water at 84 degrees at all times.
- No need for sun protection.
- No fear of sunburn, tan lines or losing sunglasses.
- No wind means you don’t freeze when you’re wet and standing in line for the next waterslide.
- No birds to steal your food.
- It’s not like any other experience in SoCal.
Escondido (San Diego)
Mario Kart tournaments. Free kids golf clinics. Family puzzle challenges. Mini-golf madness. Toddler finger painting. Build-a-Sundae Night. This is a sampling of the regularly scheduled activities you’ll find at Welk Resort in Escondido. Surprised? Perhaps you thought Welk Resort was a timeshare property for seniors. It’s true that Welk is mostly a timeshare community (for all ages), but a number of renovated villas are available for the public to reserve, making their family-friendly awesomeness accessible to anyone. Although it’s just 40 miles north of downtown San Diego, the beautiful grounds and surrounding mountains will separate you from the demands of daily life.
Local mother of four, Rachel Hensley, has taken six one-week trips to Welk Resort with her family. “Being so close, Welk is ideal because we just pack up our food and go,” says Hensley. “We love the waterslides, organized crafts and pool games, candy sushi-making, game room with pool tables and foosball, catch-and-release fishing, ice cream socials and on-site pizza delivery. It’s relaxing for everyone and a good place to spend family time together.”
Paradise Point Hotel
1404 Vacation Rd., Mission Bay
This 44-acre tropical island resort offers a number of holiday events for families, including a Kids Kandy Kane Race, Afternoon Cookie & Cocoa Break and the Jingle Shells Bay Sail. Finish your evening with s’mores at a beachside fire pit.
Omni La Costa Resort & Spa
Carlsbad (San Diego)
Omni features several beautiful pools, waterslides and a splash landing activity pool, the Omni Kids Crew program, Kidtopia Kids Club, teen fun in the Vibz Game Lounge or sport court, and family activities such as s’more roasting and dive-in movies.
LEGOLAND Hotel or Castle Hotel
A LEGO-lovers dream come true! Choose a pirate-, adventure- or kingdom-themed hotel room featuring a separate kids sleeping area with bunk bed and trundle. Your stay includes nightly kids entertainment, kid-friendly breakfast buffet and early access to LEGOLAND.
The Mission Inn Hotel & Spa
Whether you stay overnight or go for the day, The Mission Inn Festival of Lights is not to be missed, featuring more than 4 million lights, animatronic characters, nightly carolers, horse drawn carriage rides, visits from Santa and more.
Is this list missing one of your favorite southern California family resorts? Email your suggestions to
Lisa Gipson is the managing editor at San Diego Family.