Get to know the Golden State and try something a little different for your next family holiday on an epic family road trip in California! Take a jaunt along California’s scenic Central Coast, cruise past surfy beach towns, fairytale redwood forests and wildlife havens, all within breezy view of the Pacific. Coast to coast, there’s endless fun for all the family. We’ve put together an awesome route, tried and tested by our California expert extraordinaires Lizzie and Suzy, that is guaranteed to keep everyone entertained along the way…
After an action-packed few days in San Francisco (think cycling over the Golden Gate Bridge, riding the renowned cable cars, exploring infamous Alcatraz, catching a ballgame at the home of the San Fran Giants, eating clam chowder and ice cream with the seals at Fisherman’s Wharf) you’ll be ready to drive an hour north to the picturesque valleys of Napa and Sonoma in the heart of California’s wine country for some downtime on your epic family road trip…
Now, you might not think wine and kids mix well, but as with all things in this fabulously sunny state, it works perfectly! Head straight to the utterly sublime Carneros Inn, just inside the border of notorious Napa Valley yet a stone’s throw from the boutique wineries in lesser known Sonoma. Check into your two-bedroom white-washed Family Cottage Suite, complete with oodles of wine country charm, neutral tones, cosy throws, rocking chairs and a large deck area for the kids to play in safely and securely.
If you can drag yourselves away from your idyllic family hideaway, the resort has plenty to keep parents and kids thoroughly entertained… splash about in the family-friendly pool- there’s also an adults-only pool with incredible views across the surrounding vineyards and hills if mum or dad fancy getting away for some grown-up ‘me’ time.
Grab bikes from the rack, pick up a picnic from the Market Store with its wonderful array of local fare, pluck some figs from the resort’s trees and explore the many local vineyards along the myriad of off-road trails leading straight from the resort.
If you feel you’ve indulged a little too much, join one of the complimentary yoga or boot-camp classes and feel a little less guilty when your hand reaches for another tasty treat in the Market Store!
At the heart of the resort, the contemporary and elegant FARM restaurant offers locally sourced fine dining in the evenings and a delicious brunch on Sundays, served in the fabulous dining room or in the relaxed outside seating areas with open fireplaces. The kitchen garden provides fresh ingredients, and the creative team are visible to diners in the open kitchen as they passionately prepare imaginative dishes.
Boon Fly Café is the resort’s vibrant roadhouse-style dining hotspot where guests and locals enjoy fresh, enticing dishes from morning til night. Exclusively for guests, the Hilltop Dining Room is the perfect spot for breakfast and lunch at weekends only, with far-reaching views across the vineyards to the distant mountains. Summer evenings can be spent watching an open-air movie on the resort’s pretty grass courtyard before dad puts the kids to bed whilst mum retreats to the blissful spa for a heavenly treatment.
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After Napa, head into the Sierra Nevada mountain range and discover the wonders of Yosemite National Park – a magnificent experience for all the family.
The grand dame of San Diego, this iconic red-tiled beachfront hotel has been wowing its guests for almost 130 years. Known affectionately as ‘The Del’, this timeless classic has entertained many of Hollywood’s elite over the years as well as a number of US presidents, and shot to even higher fame when the movie ‘Some Like It Hot’ was filmed here. Located on the peaceful residential island of Coronado, just a short drive or ferry ride from downtown San Diego, The Del blends relaxed ‘SoCal’ (southern California) lifestyle with sophisticated charm.
Located right on a huge stretch of sandy beach, you’ll feel a million miles from California’s second largest city, yet you’re near enough to be in the heart of downtown San Diego in less than 15 minutes. Coronado locals are carefree and it’s such a safe neighbourhood that they don’t even lock their doors here! The Ocean View rooms get our vote, and The Del loves families, so there’s always something going on to entertain young kids and pre-teens at the Kidtopia club with everything from ocean discovery, treasure hunts, dinosaur digs, cooking classes and more – plus, you can even have a family photo shoot to hang above your fireplace back home!
Experience the Californian obsession with ‘S’mores’ – toasted marshmallows sandwiched between two crackers and a hunk of chocolate, delicious!), watch a movie on the beach, explore Coronado Islands by bike, grab a boogie board, rent a boat or simply play in the pool.
With the kids in safe hands at Kidtopia, parents can try a number of unusual and fun activities themselves, including Mermaid Fitness (don a mermaid tail for a pool class with a difference), reveal your inner artist at the beachside painting classes, burn off the holiday calories at a beach spin class or yoga session, or maybe you’d prefer to make the most of your kid-free time and head to the spa.
If you can tear yourselves away from the resort, San Diego is famous for SeaWorld and its zoo, as well as Legoland so the kids will be on cloud nine here. For mums and dads, there are also a number of world-class golf courses and over 120 craft breweries. And did we mention the almost year-round sunshine? SoCal life is good!
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Drive north to Los Angeles to end your family road trip in California on the sunny shores of Santa Monica – with a detour via Disneyland, Universal Studios, and Knott’s Berry Farm – or all three!
Take a look at some of our alternative California itineraries for your next family holiday and get inspired by some of California’s most bucket-list worthy locations!