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California's 11 Best Spring Break Destinations for Families

California's 11 Best Spring Break Destinations for Families

By California.com
March 20, 2021

As California mitigates health risks during the COVID-19 pandemic, some travel restrictions may remain in certain communities. Call the local and regional tourism offices to learn more about the restrictions in your intended destination. Thank you for reading, and stay safe.

There is no better time than spring for a family getaway. With natural wonders blooming and glimmers of green dotting the Golden State, it’s time for the whole clan to get together for spring break. Before you begin brainstorming spring break vacation ideas with your family, be sure to check out our list below. 

Unusual Spring Break Destinations for Adventurous Families 

If your family loves exploring the great outdoors, you definitely need to go to Lava Beds National Monument this spring break.

Lava Beds National Monument

Desert wilderness dots 800 beautiful caves at Lava Beds National Monument—a must-see for your next spring break family vacation. Explore the strange molten landscape of this geological marvel by going on a spring road trip to northeastern California.

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Hardened lava rocks are imbued with incredible shades of mountain mahogany, sagebrush, and junipers. While wandering, keep an eye out for mule deer, rabbits, antelope, and various bird species including bald eagles. 

While the Lava Beds area is no stranger to scorching summers, remember to pack a light jacket—the insides of the lava tubes are icy year-round.

Reenact a scene from your favorite Clint Eastwood movie with your kids at Bodie State Historic Park.

Bodie State Historic Park

Silent streets, weathered homes, and 1800s newspaper clippings—these are a few of Bodie State Historic Park’s wondrous hallmarks. This spring break, take your family on an unforgettable trip to a former boomtown reminiscent of Western movies.

Located an hour north of Mammoth Lakes, the tattered remnants of this ghost town are best explored on a self-guided tour. Walk through abandoned buildings, old-timey trucks, gas pumps, and wooden churches. Watch the desert winds blow through this once flourishing town and pay a visit to the museum. 

The Best Spring Break Destinations for Families Of All Types 

Take off with your family this spring break and head over to Palm Springs for non-stop fun.

Palm Springs 

Soaring palm trees and posh resorts welcome you to Palm Springs—the city of everlasting summer. Located a mere 100 miles from Los Angeles, this desert resort city has been turning heads for over a century. Filled to the brim with vintage boutiques, eateries, and golf courses, Palm Springs bends to every vacationer’s whim. 

Soar through the air on the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, then head over to the Moorten Botanical Garden to learn about desert plants. Pay a visit to the Indian Canyons to explore the ancestral home of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians. This desert oasis is a primo spring break destination for families, so start packing now.

When on spring break, make sure to head to Lake Tahoe. Admire the gorgeous views as you hike around the glimmering waters.

Lake Tahoe

A visit to Lake Tahoe is a surefire way to make spring break with your family the best vacation ever. From picturesque overlooks to gorgeous hiking trails, this bucket-list-topper truly has everything. This spring break destination for families captivates travelers from all over the world.

Take part in leisurely fun around the gorgeous waters—the beaches surrounding Lake Tahoe make for a great place for a picnic on a warm spring day. Depending on snow fall levels during the typical ski season, vacationers may also get one last chance to hit the slopes for a day of skiing or snowboarding.

The wildlife-viewing opportunities at Channel Islands National Park are unlike any other.

Channel Islands National Park 

Santa Cruz, Anacapa, Santa Rosa, Santa Barbara, and San Miguel are a breathtaking chain of five pristine islands. With unique fauna and vibrant scenery, Channel Islands is coastal California at its very best. If you have kids and you’re looking for places to go for spring break, Channel Islands National Park is a must. 

The jaw-dropping pathways and winding trails are home to over 2,000 plant and animal species—living up to their name as North America’s Galapagos. As you’re exploring the sea cliffs, keep an eye out for majestic whales and dolphins. If you’re a watersports-loving kind of family, pack your wet shoes and paddle a kayak through the most beautiful sea caves you’ll ever see.

Luxurious Spring Break Ideas for Families on a Budget

Nature and comfort meet at El Capitan Canyon, one of the best spring break destinations for family-friendly fun. Photo courtesy of El Capitan Canyon.

El Capitan Canyon Campground

The enchanting hills of north-west Santa Barbara are home to El Capitan Canyon—a must-visit family-friendly spring break destination. The campground rests in leafy tranquility surrounded by the roaring shorelines of El Capitan State Beach.

Here, you’ll find wildlife milling around the hiking trails and sandy beaches with inviting swimming holes. You won’t be able to get enough of this cheap spring break destination for friends and families alike.

In El Capitan Canyon, sweeping shoreline views are always the golden ticket. Take a laid-back llama trek for field views, stroll the magnificent coastline by bike, take surf lessons, or kayak. 

Big Bear Lake 

Scenic beauty drapes Big Bear’s rugged landscape with endless outdoorsy activities. Fishing, hiking, and ziplining are all possible here without breaking the bank.

The area’s completely covered in trails that capture the essence of Big Bear, dotted with picnic tables ideal for an open-air lunch. The Pine Knot Trail takes you through oak and pine forests surrounded by wildlife and dazzling foliage.

If you’re in search of low-cost adventures, add the Big Bear Valley Historical Museum to your itinerary. The San Bernardino Mountains have long been a place where history is made—the museum preserves its bits and pieces in pristine condition.

When all the trekking and exploration catches up with you, make your way to Nottinghams Restaurant. Delicious meals are accompanied by a delightful rustic ambiance—both indoors and alfresco. If you’re looking for inexpensive spring break ideas for families, this is it. 

Spring Break Family Vacations in Southern California

You know you're having fun in the sun when you're going to the iconic Santa Monica Pier.

Santa Monica Pier 

Bewitching seaside views and vibrant restaurants await you at the iconic Santa Monica Pier—a go-to spring break destination to visit with your kids. Drive through the Ocean Avenue neighborhood and you’ll find an area packed with family-friendly activities.

With amazing street performers, a historic hippodrome, and endless supplies of cotton candy, the Santa Monica Pier invites you to revel in its glory. If you like fishing, then walk down the boardwalk overflowing with anglers showcasing their skill. But if you’ve come empty-handed, don’t worry—there’s a shop nearby that rents out tackle and bait.

Everyone knows the best part of spring break is indulging in good food. Find the best dishes in the Anaheim Packing District.

Anaheim 

Vibrant colors and highly regarded eateries make Anaheim a must-see stop on your family road-trip. Nested in northwest Orange County, this booming gem is home to Disneyland, Angel Stadium, and the Honda Center.

A perfect mix of ethnic cuisine and American comfort food awaits you at spots all around the city—earning it the nickname of Orange County’s hub for foodies. 

While visiting the “Happiest Place on Earth” is a must, there are so many other things to do in Anaheim. Have one of the best spring break vacations with your family and visit the historic Anaheim Packing District—one of the best gourmet food courts in California. Whatever you do, don’t leave without shopping at Center Street.

Family-friendly Spring Break Destinations in Northern California 

Spring break is not enough time to fully soak in the glory of Yosemite, but spending a little time is much better than no time.

Yosemite 

Towering sequoias, cascading waterfalls, and colorful trees greet you at Yosemite National Park—a picture-perfect outdoor playground. Each season brings about a different appeal. Springtime is perfect for hikes along the mesmerizing waterfalls.

At a height of 2,400 feet, Yosemite Falls stands proud as the tallest waterfall in the national park. Though a year-round attraction, the waterfall’s peak is in May, when melting snow supplies the streams with a beautiful flow. Granite cliffs, wildflowers, and enchanting wildlife await you at one of the best places to go for spring break with your family.

Redwood National Park 

Home to the world’s tallest redwood—the Hyperion Tree—this lush hideaway stretches 37 miles along the Pacific coastline. Cliff-marked shorelines, vibrant prairies, and redwood giants welcome you to Redwood National Park. This verdant landscape is the perfect place to go for spring break with your kids.

The park overflows with picturesque trails and gorgeous scenery. Get lost among the soaring trees, dramatic canyons, and the Trees of Mystery—a wonderfully strange collection of fallen redwoods. While checking out the best California attractions, keep an eye out for the Hyperion Tree. Its exact location is kept a secret to protect it from damage. 

Whenever you visit, layered attire will serve you best, with autumn jackets among your backpack essentials.

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