Visiting the Golden State with kids? These resorts and hotels roll out the red carpet for families with special amenities, such as fabulous pools, kids' clubs, kids' menus, family activities, baby gear rental, and more.
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The AAA four-diamond Resort at Squaw Creek in Lake Tahoe is a ski resort in winter with its own chairlift accessing Squaw Valley ski area. Summer fun on Lake Tahoe includes biking, guided hikes, and fly-fishing. Activities include bocce ball, croquet, tie-dying t-shirts, s'more-roasting at outdoor fire pits, and a drive-in movie. The Mountain Buddies kids program runs year-round (fee).
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For families who like camping but don't love roughing it, glamping at El Capitan Canyon is the best of both worlds, delivering the sounds of nature, the smell of campfires and plenty of free-form fun by the beach—but in a hassle-free setting with comfy beds, running water, and easy access to meals.
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The original Disneyland located in Anaheim is, of course, a major vacation spot for families. There are three hotels on-property: the Disneyland Hotel, Paradise Pier, and the plush Grand Californian, which offers child care and kids' activities. All three resorts are within a short walk of both Disney theme parks.Continue to 5 of 11 below.
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Huntington Beach is a trendy beach town south of LA that bills itself as "Surf City USA." The Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort & Spa offers Camp Hyatt with daytime and evening sessions and a raft of activities including pool and beach games, s'mores roasts, storytelling, stargazing, koi fish feeding, sand crabbing, and more.
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Just across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco, picturesque Sausalito exudes an upscale European vibe, thanks to its yacht-dotted harbor, charming waterfront, tony restaurants and impressive homes that climb up the Bougainvillea-covered hillside. Set in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, the luxurious Cavallo Point commands a one-of-a-kind historic vantage on the grounds of Fort Baker, a former army post.
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The gorgeous landmark Hotel del Coronado in San Diego is a real treat, set on 26 beachfront acres and packed with family-friendly fun, from kids programs and a teen lounge to family s'mores night and drive-in movies in the summertime. There's also a Surf Camp, bike rentals, and more.
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Great Wolf Lodge Southern California's main draw is its 105,000-square foot indoor water park, which includes a wave pool, a lazy river, a surf simulator, a climbing structure and splash area with five small slides. The resort also offers plenty of dry fun and is impervious to the weather, offering either an appealing one-stop short getaway or a nice complement to a trip to Disneyland, just two miles away.Continue to 9 of 11 below.
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Not a resort or a hotel, but the Santa Barbara Family Vacation Center is an excellent, all-inclusive option for families on the campus of University of California at Santa Barbara. There are eight one-week sessions offered during July and August. Families stay for a week that includes many activities for kids and for the whole family. You can participate as little or as much as you like, or go off-campus and explore Santa Barbara with your family.
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Visiting San Francisco? The Fairmont San Francisco's downtown location is as good as it gets, right at the top of Nob Hill at the only spot where all three of the city's cable car lines meet. The hotel is within walking distance of many wonderful restaurants and shops, and close to Fisherman's Wharf and Union Square.
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The luxurious Terranea Resort is perched above the ocean, just 20 minutes south of LAX Airport. Highlights include a nine-hole golf course, children's center with kids programs, and scenic bluff-top trails. Guests can choose from guestrooms, suites, bungalows, and villas.
- Edited by Suzanne Rowan Kelleher