Generally speaking, spring break for families in the US and Canada means a ten-day school break in March or April. (College spring break is a different type of vacation altogether.) The Golden State has plenty of destinations to offer, though keep in mind that Northern California can have significantly cooler temperatures than in sunny SoCal.
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El Capitan Canyon
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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A great idea for spring break with younger schoolkids: LEGOLAND California -- south of Anaheim/Disneyland, and north of San Diego-- has 128 acres, and much of what's in it is made of LEGO blocks. Designed for ages two to twelve, LEGOLAND has a coaster, "dark ride", and other rides, mini-lands such as Ancient Egypt (all made out of Lego, of course), and many more attractions.
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San Francisco offers a slew of fun sightseeing opportunities for families. Don't expect warm weather, but do bring a sense of adventure. Renting a car? There are many great destinations in the Bay Area.
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Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay
Ritz-Carlton is a luxury brand that welcomes families with features such as Ritz Kids clubs. The Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay is just 40 minutes from San Francisco and from the affluent Silicon Valley burbs of Palo Alto and Menlo Park, but the world away, with miles of the unspoiled scenic coast.Continue to 5 of 11 below.
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San Luis Obispo
Put together an affordable getaway on the coast halfway between LA and San Francisco: low-cost attractions include the Morro Bay Natural History Museum and San Luis Obispo Children's Museum; economy lodgings options are available too. Plus, free fun at beaches that have tide pools, or piers, or sand dunes... See seals, sea lions, sea otters, and even elephant seals (March to December) at one beach breeding ground. Also free is a weekly nighttime farmer’s market with live music, performances, bouncy houses for kids. Also in the area: Hearst Castle for sightseeing, and surfing beaches.
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Yosemite National Park
Yosemite is one of the most popular National Parks in the U.S., to the point that crowds are a serious issue in summer. About.com's Guide for California for Visitors highly recommends a visit during spring, when waterfalls cascade down the mountainsides. Springtime visitors won't have to contend with crowds and Yosemite weather is usually mild.
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Spring Break Skiing: Mammoth Mountain
Mammoth Mountain is, well, mammoth: over 11,000 feet high at the summit. Mammoth is a great destination for spring skiing: it's known as a top spot for late season snow, and sometimes stays open right through June.Continue to 9 of 11 below.
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Huntington Beach, California
The trendy Huntington Beach area, south of LA, bills itself as "Surf City USA", and offers beach hotels and surfing lessons, as well as reasonable proximity to Disneyland. Left: the Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach is one option for a family stay.
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Spring Break in San Diego
Southern California temperatures are lovely during spring break, and About.com's Guide for California Travel has a San Diego planner with highlights for families such as the San Diego Zoo and Wild Animal Park. Seeing animals in their natural habitat is even better, and spring is a fantastic time to go whale watching in San Diego.
– Edited by Suzanne Rowan Kelleher