Skip to main content

The 9 Best West Coast Family Vacations

The 9 Best West Coast Family Vacations

These West Coast family vacation ideas will get you packing in no time.

Roubina Al Abashian


5 min read

December 02, 2021

With the kids growing up, family vacations start having a different meaning every year. Their likes and dislikes change regularly, making it hard to plan something the whole gang will like. Fortunately, the West Coast is home to some of the best vacation spots, where your family will have so much fun that organizing it will be a piece of cake. And guess what? These West Coast family vacation ideas will get you packing in no time.

Spend the Best Family Vacation on the West Coast At These Destinations

Nature lovers flock to Sonoma County’s countryside for decades on well-deserved respites from the hustle and bustle of the city.

1. Sonoma, California

Sonoma is the ultimate NorCal vacation spot for non-stop fun family adventures. The atmosphere is breathtaking; the food is delicious; the nature is mind-blowing; the activities are countless. A Sonoma County activity you can’t do without is kayaking or canoeing through the Russian River—the kids will absolutely enjoy their time splashing around.  Another can’t-miss with the fam is visiting the Sonoma Traintown Railroad. The ride takes you through tunnels, over bridges, and stops at the miniature town of Lakeview and the petting zoo. Can you think of a better West Coast vacation idea for families?

2. San Diego, California

Your little ones deserve to enjoy the best family vacations on the West Coast. So, here’s the drill: you pack your things, get in the car, and drive to San Diego—the city is home to tons of fun activities. A must-stop on your family road trip is the famous Balboa Park, with its museums, picnic spots, and world-renowned zoo. Considered one of the best in California, the San Diego Zoo has a large collection of exotic and rare animals you won’t find anywhere else in the world. A day at Balboa Park is essential, but Legoland in Carlsbad is even more exciting. This amusement park is what every child’s dreams are made of.

Don’t let the cloudy skies deceive you: setting a sunnier schedule of things to do in Seattle is easy to do.

3. Seattle, Washington

Gray skies and rainy weather never stopped anyone from enjoying Seattle. Home to unique attractions and recreational spots, Seattle is where you and your kids can go sightseeing, play, and learn together. One of the best learning opportunities in the city is at the Seattle Aquarium. The Museum of Pop Culture is another interesting stop—it’s dedicated to everything pop culture, from music to film and television. It’s hard to pack all the fun in Seattle into a week. 

Mendocino is famous for its quaint saltbox houses, charming bed and breakfast inns, and eateries that serve up fresh seafood-forward fare.

4. Mendocino, California

Mendocino is home to the beautiful, quirky, and fun. The quaint coastal village offers unmatching views of the Pacific, rich Northern California wildlife, and a lot of history. Spending the day in Russian Gulch State Park is a beautiful experience to share with the family. A hike through the kid-friendly trails leads to beautiful waterfalls boasting exceptionally gorgeous views. Glass Beach in Fort Bragg is a few minutes away and one of California’s most unique beaches. There’s no better place we can think of for your next Northern California vacay

Bordered by both the Columbia River and Pacific Ocean, Astoria exudes its own unique slice of Pacific Northwest allure in Oregon.

5. Astoria, Oregon

For anyone looking to escape the big city and find a quieter spot for a family vacation, Astoria is the best answer. Despite being more than a thousand miles away from Hollywood, Astoria has a long and reputable history with the film industry. Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining and everyone’s favorite feel-good movie The Goonies were filmed here. That’s why checking out the Oregon Film Museum is pretty much mandatory in Astoria—your kids will love learning all about filmmaking. The town is also famous for the Columbia River. To enjoy riverside views of the city, take a stroll on the Astoria Riverwalk and breathe in the invigorating air of Astoria. 

There are also a plethora of shorelines to choose from in L.A. including Venice Beach, Zuma Beach and the Santa Monica Pier and Beach.

6. Los Angeles, California

Still searching for the best family vacations on the West Coast? The City of Angels boasts gorgeous architecture, beaches stretching for miles, mouthwatering cuisine, and entertainment that’ll keep the whole gang busy. Have your fair share of beach fun swimming, surfing, and playing beach volleyball, and once you're done, introduce the little ones to the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles to explore the dinosaur fossils inside. Later, head to the Santa Monica Pier—a ride on the famous Ferris wheel is a quintessential L.A. experience.

One of the best things about visiting San Francisco is that while the city is “big” in terms of attractions and amenities, it's geographically small.

7. San Francisco, California

The City by the Bay is all about family fun. With massive parks, countless museums, an unmatched art scene, and lots of sourdough bread, San Francisco never disappoints when it comes to vacationing here. As for where to start your adventures, you’ll cross out plenty of your bucket-list destinations at Golden  Gate Park. What Balboa Park is to San Diego, Golden Gate Park is to San Francisco—every inch of the park has fun written all over. Ride the famous carousel, boat at Stow Lake, and sail little model yachts at Spreckels Lake. Make sure to check out Pier 39, where you can walk through the Mirror Maze and enjoy a 7D ride for a memorable vacation.  

8. San Juan Islands, Washington

A trip to the San Juan Islands is unlike anything you’ve ever experienced. This gem is where the kids will fall in love with nature. Whale watching is a must on the island, so it's best if you plan your vacation during peak whale season. Kayaking to the Pacific from Snug Harbor is another activity to engage in with the family. Get a closer look at the sea lions and otters as you paddle through the calm waters. Make sure to visit Pelindaba Lavender Farm too—there’s nothing like frolicking in flower fields.  

Surrounded by pristine pine forests and snowcapped mountain peaks, the lake's brilliant topaz color is attributed to its depth of nearly 1,640 feet.

9. Lake Tahoe, California

Lake Tahoe is a great vacation destination every season of the year. If you’re one of those families searching for adventure at every turn, Lake Tahoe will never let you down. One of the most luxurious West Coast family resorts, The Ritz Carlton is located in Truckee on the north shore. But if you’d rather vacation at the south shore, your getaway will be just as exciting. Wherever you stay, your family will have a lot of outdoor adventures including scuba diving, hiking, horseback riding, and everything in between. There are just so many ways to spend the ultimate Lake Tahoe vacation.

Recomended businesses

Show me
Recommended Businesses near

Discover the best of California. Our recommended businesses are top-quality and are committed to their communities.

Need help with a home improvement project? Get a free quote today!

Enter Your Zip Code

Enter Your Zip Code

RELATED Articles

Discover More

fueled by the power of California love
We're committed to helping you discover the places, people and businesses that make our state Golden. Our online publication, updated daily, brings you all the content you need to live your California dreams. And that's just the beginning…
Purpose section
Purpose section