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Southern California, San Diego, Los Angeles

Relaxing SoCal family holiday this Spring

I will be travelling to California for 10 days with my wife and two young kids (5 and 7 years old).  We'll be arriving in LA in June but have absolutely no plans after that!

I generally find LA it too busy to be relaxing, and relaxation is the goal here :)  We'll have a car so any destination within 4 hours drive would be fine.

We like beaches so ideally we're looking for a coastal town which is not too busy.  I don't know if the ocean is warm enough for kids in spring, but it would be nice to have somewhere we can all play in the water and the waves are not too overwhelming for the young ones.

Initially we thought that San Diego would be nice, but we've never stayed there before.  I'd love to hear any recommendations of areas which might be suitable, either parts of San Diego or anywhere else within a few hours drive of LA.

Thanks heaps!

5 Answers

answered by
John from Carlsbad (California)

Check out Carlsbad (California), my home town.It's about two hours south of Los Angeles International Airport, and about 40 minutes north of San Diego.  We have great beaches, good restaurants, good recreational activites, and  Legoland for the kids.Disneyland and Knott's Berry Farm are also about an hour or so away.

In addition to hotels, there are quite a few short-term rental properties available on or near the beach.  Just google vacation rentals Carlsbad, CA and you will see various rental possibilities.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Carlsbad (California) (city)
  2. Los Angeles International Airport (attraction)
  3. Legoland (attraction)
  4. Disneyland (attraction)
  5. Knott's Berry Farm (attraction)
2 thanks

answered first by
Kristal from San Francisco

Hi Andrew,

Manhattan Beach tends to be a little less hectic and they have a play area for kids. There are also lots of families that go there. 

Zuma Beach in Malibu has lots of parking, lifeguards, and places to eat. This is a good option for a family. 

Malibu, in general, is more laid back than some other places in LA. 

Abalone Cove Shoreline Park is a great place to take kids. They have a lot of nature to explore. There are short hikes and tide pools with small sea life. 

Catalina Island is also very relaxing. It's fun to take the boat ride over there (45 minutes) and you can make it a day thing or stay the night. They have zip lining, tours, small beaches, ice cream shops. It's a small town, but it's much more laid back. You can rent golf carts and ride around the island. 

I don't know San Diego as well, but there's La Jolla and Del Mar, both beautiful coastal areas. 

Have fun!


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Manhattan Beach (city)
  2. Zuma Beach (attraction)
  3. Abalone Cove Shoreline Park (attraction)
  4. Catalina Island (attraction)
  5. La Jolla (attraction)
  6. Del Mar (attraction)
2 thanks

answered by
Megan from Reston, Virginia

The ocean water will be cold anywhere in California in Spring. It's cold all year, but late summer is the warmest. Kids usually don't mind when it's cold, but it's not relaxing for adults. If you want to do any water sports with a wet suit then you should be fine. I love LA and think Main St in Santa Monica & Venice Beach can be pretty relaxed, even though they are both full of people. If you are in LA, check out the beach at the end of Temescal Canyon Park. It's more local, there's parking, or you can bike up the Strand to get there. Or drive up to Malibu to Zuma Beach or Point Dume State Beach.

For a more relaxed town, try Santa Barbara. It's the kind of town most outsiders are expecting when they think of California. It's relaxed, there are lots of places to walk to in the city center, the food is great, the beach is nice, and there's wine nearby.

San Diego seems nice but I don't know it very well. I think the suburbs on the north side are laid back and beachy. La Jolla is pretty posh, but nice. Between San Diego & LA Newport Beach and Laguna Beach are nice.

June can be surprisingly chilly and cloudy on the coast. If you want somewhere hot you could check out Palm Springs. There are lots of well-priced homes for rent, many with private pools, also resorts that can be kid-friendly. 

Speaking of kid-friendly resorts, The La Costa Resort & Spa is incredibly kid-friendly with huge pools, water slides, and a kids club. It's north of San Diego, so the zoo and wild animal park are easy day trips.

Have fun!

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Santa Monica (city)
  2. Venice Beach (attraction)
  3. Temescal Canyon Park (attraction)
  4. Malibu (city)
  5. Zuma Beach (attraction)
  6. Point Dume State Beach (attraction)
  7. Santa Barbara (city)
  8. San Diego (city)
  9. La Jolla (attraction)
  10. Newport Beach (city)
  11. Laguna Beach (city)
  12. Palm Springs (city)
  13. La Costa Resort & Spa (restaurant)
1 thanks

answered by
Phil from Arcadia

San Diego is definitely a good plan with family friendly beach areas like La Jolla (beach and cove) and Carlsbad (California).  Further up the coast from LA is Santa Barbara (smaller) and then San Luis Obispo (even smaller) which are great for relaxing.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. San Diego (city)
  2. Carlsbad (California) (city)
  3. Santa Barbara (city)
  4. San Luis Obispo (city)

answered by
Chelsey from Los Angeles

Santa Barbara is gorgeous. 
A short stay at Terranea Resort or Lunch / Sunset Happy Hour / Dinner at Nelson's is an easy beautiful view and a welcome city escape. 

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Santa Barbara (city)
  2. Terranea Resort (hotel)
  3. Nelson's (restaurant)

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