What are the Best Places to Visit in California with kids on Weekends?

places to visit in California with kids

California offers diverse family vacation options, from coastal beauty to desert landscapes. With kid-friendly attractions across the state, including mountains and national parks, planning a getaway is stress-free. Many activities suit a long weekend, making it ideal for summer and fall travels. Check out these 8 best places to visit in California with kids for your next family adventure.

8 Weekend Family Getaways in California

1. Lake Hughes

Lake Hughes

Tucked within the embrace of the Angeles National Forest, Lake Hughes presents a peaceful haven for nature lovers. Serene lakes, verdant valleys, and the Sierra Pelona Mountains as a picturesque backdrop create an escape from urban tumult. Despite its small size, Lake Hughes offers quality education and diverse cultural experiences.

Real estate prices, though higher due to tourism, remain reasonable compared to neighboring areas. From horseback riding to encountering wolves at Shadowlands Foundation, Lake Hughes offers diverse activities for all ages. Whether for a summer getaway or permanent residence, this lake embodies the essence of home in nature.

2. A Morro Bay on California’s Central Coast

Morro Bay in California

Morro Bay on California’s Central Coast beckons with harbor seals, sea otters, and scenic beauty. Once a remote fishing village, it offers an ideal blend of nature and recreation minus the crowds and high costs of other California beach towns. Family-friendly perks include free street parking, ample public restrooms, and excellent walkability.

Its Central Coast location makes it a perfect weekend getaway for families from the north or south, just under 4 hours from San Francisco or Los Angeles. Enjoy activities like hiking, kayaking, and sea otter viewing upon arrival.

3. California National Parks

National Parks in California

Known for its fame, Yosemite isn’t the sole Californian national park worth exploring. With many national parks and monuments, seashores, historic trails, and more, California is a haven for outdoor getaways. Accommodations vary from budget-friendly campgrounds to pricier iconic lodges, requiring advance planning, particularly at popular parks. For the best options, dates, and rates in a California national park—whether camping, glamping, or lodging—booking a year ahead ensures a seamless vacation experience.

4. Disneyland California

Disneyland in California

For a budget-friendly family trip in California, Disneyland Resort is a top pick. While Disneyland can be pricey, there are ways to save. Stay at one of the three on-property hotels for perks like early admission, or choose from nearby budget-friendly options.

Many hotels offer shuttles, reducing the need for daily parking fees. Opt for Value dates and multi-day passes to save on tickets, but be sure to use them to avoid overspending. Food costs can add up, so consider bringing your own breakfast or lunch. With some planning, a Disneyland vacation can be enjoyable without breaking the bank.

5. Catalina Island

Catalina Island in California

Experience a Mediterranean vibe without enduring a lengthy flight! Catalina Island stands out as a California family vacation paradise. Ferry access from Long Beach eliminates the need for a car, with everything conveniently walkable around the port area. Whether exploring in golf carts or snorkeling in pristine waters, both kids and adults will relish the island’s tropical charm.

6. San Francisco

San Francisco

San Francisco, California offers timeless family vacation experiences, including Golden Gate Park, cable car rides, and Ghirardelli chocolate. Kids will love the San Francisco Zoo and the city’s diverse food scene. Historic monuments and streets provide entertainment for all ages.

For panoramic views, visit Tunnel Tops in the Presidio. Consider a San Francisco CityPASS for multiple attractions. Stay at 1 Hotel San Francisco, Kimpton Alton Hotel – Fisherman’s Wharf, or Palace Hotel for family-friendly accommodations.

7. Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara, nestled on the central coast, offers diverse attractions. The Santa Barbara Zoo provides an intimate encounter with giraffes. Enjoy beach time at historic Stearns Wharf for candy treats. Older kids can indulge in water sports. For family stays, consider Hotel Californian, lauded for its overall charm, or indulge in luxury at The Ritz-Carlton Bacara.

8. A Carlsbad Family Vacation


In the heart of Southern California’s stunning coast, antique shops exude European charm, drawing visitors with treasures and the scent of old books. Carlsbad, just south of LA and north of San Diego, flaunts its newfound allure, offering top-notch dining, shopping, and cultural experiences with small-town warmth. Dubbed the “Village By the Sea,” it boasts 7 miles of pristine coastline and 50 miles of trails, all under a perfect year-round climate for outdoor enjoyment.

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Shanzaib Haider is a passionate lifestyle blogger dedicated to inspiring others to live their best lives. With a keen eye for detail and a love for all things beautiful, Shanzaib creates content that encourages readers to embrace their passions and find joy in the little things. Through his engaging writing style and infectious enthusiasm, he aims to empower individuals to create a life they truly love.