You don’t have to jet off to Hawaii to make your spring break a memorable one. Spend some time exploring all that California has to offer just a short drive from SF. We’ve gathered up some of our faves for you—pick one and leave the planning to us!

photo: Kate Loweth

Make Your Way Down to Morro Bay

This quiet, seaside town is an easy three-hour drive south from San Jose and miles away from the hustle and bustle of Bay Area life. Book yourself on a whale watch tour or head out to explore the iconic Morro Rock. Fill up on seafood and saltwater taffy before you head home.

For tips on where to stay and how to spend your days in Morro Bay, click here


photo: Safari West

Kick Back in Wine Country

Wine Country may sound like a parents’ perfect spring break destination but it also has loads to offer families who want to bring the kids along. TrainTown in Sonoma and the Epicenter Sports and Entertainment Complex in Santa Rosa are two kid destinations to put on your list for your next trip to wine country. Sign up for a safari and stay the night at Safari West. Grab some delicious grub at The Fremont Diner in Sonoma or Boon Fly Café in Napa.

For kid-friendly winery options and other must-do activities, read here.

photo: Jeff Curtes/Squaw Valley

Take Off to Tahoe

This winter has all of the snow lovers jumping for joy as Tahoe is full of fresh powder just a few hours away. Pack up the snow gear and strap on the snow chains and you are ready for a road trip to this winter wonderland. The north shore is full of kid-friendly hotel options like the Timber Creek Lofts at Northstar and the Village at Squaw Valley – both close to restaurants, shops and all the skiing you could want. If the south shore is more your speed, check out the Lake Tahoe Resort Hotel. Just steps from the Heavenly gondola, it offers free breakfast, an indoor pool for warming up after a day on the slopes and a nightly happy hour with free drinks and snacks.

For more info on what to do and where to stay, click here.

photo: Kate Loweth

Pass Some Time in Pescadero

Between Half Moon Bay and Santa Cruz along highway 1 you will find the tiny town of Pescadero tucked in off the road. It offers beaches for sunbathing and wooded state parks for hiking. Stay for the night at the Pigeon Point Lighthouse Hostel and then swing by the town for some artichoke garlic bread from Arcangeli Grocery. On your way out of town, stop at Harley Goat Farm to sample their wares and meet the animals.

For more options on what to do in Pescadero, read here.

photo: Kathy Chouteau

Cozy up in Calistoga

Grab a burger at Gott's Roadside and learn all about the Tennessee fainting goats at the Old Faithful Geyser when you head to Calistoga this spring. There's a surprising amount of family-friendly activities to keep the busy by day, and lots of hot springs to enjoy when you need a relaxing break.

Read all our area recs here

Shack Up in Sea Ranch

Choose from more than 75 options for full-house rentals in Sea Ranch, the picturesque coastal community made up of iconic sea-worn wood homes. Spend the week hiking the cliff-side trails, biking the sleepy private roads or exploring the nearby towns of Bodega Bay and Jenner. Make sure to ask if your rental comes with access to the big pools in the main lodge, and remember to heat up the hot tub upon arrival.

For more info on what to do, where to stay and how to make the most of your drive to paradise (it’s a windy, three-hour cruise up Highway 1 from San Francisco), click here.

Go Back in Time in San Juan Bautista

Gather up your mini history buffs and road trip to California’s oldest city! Visitors to this cool little town are treated to up close views of stars, tasty treats as well as historic museums and a state park where the grounds include an early settler’s cabin, a jail and a blacksmith shop.

For more information on what to do and where to stay, click here.

Sweet Sacramento

If visiting the state capital was on your bucket list, now you have good reason to go. Sacramento offers lots of family friendly adventures for folks who’ve got train lovers, plane flyers and fairy catchers in the family. And the perfect way to end the day? At one of the many confectioner’s shops. Aww, sweet Sacramento.

For more information on what to do and where to stay, click here.

photo: Kate Loweth

Meander Down to Monterey

This summer destination is a great spot to head in the spring for a day of fun or even a long weekend. Sandy beaches, the Monterey Bay Aquarium and a quaint downtown with shopping and eating options for everyone are just a few of the draws. Grab a room at the Monterey Tides where you will be steps from the beach.

More details on what you can do and see in Monterey, Carmel and Pacific Grove can be found here.

photo: Sonia Gandiaga

Take a Drive Down the Highway 1 Discovery Route

Located between LA and SF, the Highway 1 Discovery Route is made up of ten diverse artisan towns and seaside villages starting just south of Big Sur. Meet the elephant seals in Cambria, visit Hearst Castle and grab a burger on the outdoor patio at Sebastian's.

Check out our recs here

Glorious Glamping

Spring weather is unpredictable, but come rain or shine, you and your crew will be happy campers inside your temperature-controlled hideaway. From the yurts at Treebones in Big Sur to the family-friendly hostel at Pigeon Point Lighthouse, there are plenty of nearby spots that offer wilderness and views without the whole sleeping on the ground part.

For more nearby glamping options, click here and cabin camping spots here

Get Going to Gilroy

Just a short road trip from San Jose, Gilroy boast several fun adventures for families. And none of them have to do with garlic. From theme park rides and a beautiful botanical garden to finding petroglyphs and other indian artifacts, there is something here for everyone.

For more information on what to do and where to stay, click here.

photo: Kate Loweth

Make a Run for Mendocino

The Mendocino coast, that glorious spot of white cragged cliffs, a legendary haven for artists and romantics is also a fantastic getaway spot for families. Enjoy a good old-fashioned road trip with a cruise up the coast. Then once you arrive, you can fill your days playing mini golf, visiting llama ranches, hiking in Pygmy forests and hunting out hidden beaches.

For more info on what to do and where to stay, click here

Working Farm Weekend

Full House Farm in Sonoma is like one big never-ending petting zoo. Kids can gather eggs, pet horses, milk cows and, if they’re lucky, see some baby animals come into the world (it is Spring, after all). Book the 2,000-square-foot guesthouse (which includes use of a private hot tub, an impressive movie selection, a fully equipped kitchen, and floor-to-ceiling picture windows looking out on redwood-covered hillsides) or get cozy in their studio cottage that has a hot tub of its own.

For more info, click here.

photo: Kate Loweth

Fly (or Drive) South for the Spring

If you are up for more of big trip this spring, Orange County has tons to offer just a short flight or half-day road trip away. Plan at day at Disney or nearby Knott’s Berry Farm, grab some Cuban eats at the newly-opened Porto’s Bakery in Buena Park and explore all of the soft sand of Huntington Beach and Laguna Beach. For a real kid-friendly treat, put on your pirate patch and practice your best “Arggggh!” as you are sworn in to join the pirate crew in Buena Park’s Pirate’s Dinner Adventure. Stay close to the Disneyland action at the Anaheim Majestic Garden Hotel, or get tucked in by Snoopy himself at the Knott’s Berry Farm Hotel.

More ideas of what to do in Orange County beyond Disneyland can be found here.

Where will you head this Spring Break? Tell us in the comments below.

—Kate Loweth, Heidi Oleman & Erin Feher



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