Nothing beats a weekend escape to Tahoe or a family getaway in Santa Barbara. But for the those days you want to get out of town (or see a new part of town) without much planning turn to these 15 easy day trips that promise big time family fun. From a town that offers roller coasters and sea lions to hikes along the coast even your toddler will love, we’ve come up with stress-free mini-vacations that’ll help you rediscover the wonders and adventures right in your own backyard.

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: Children's Discovery Museum of San Jose

Do You Know the Way to San Jose?

The South Bay city of San Jose is packed with kid adventures. Check out the new LeRoy Neiman Art Studio at the Children's Discovery Museum of San Jose and then run around in the rose garden chasing the butterflies. 

Loads of our favorite San Jose activities can be found here

photo: Kate Loweth

Cool Off in Concord

This East Bay town is the perfect spot for a summer visit with gorgeous hiking and loads of family fun around every corner. Little ones will love the rides at Pixieland and you can don your swimsuits for a day of fun at Hurricane Harbor. Spend some time parked by the play structure at The Veranda and then eat your hearts out at Puesto. Todos Santos Plaza is a fun place to run around—there are family-friendly breweries, restaurants and even an arcade in the blocks surrounding the park. 

For all our Concord tips, 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: UC Botanical Garden

Berkeley is the Best

The super-chill East Bay city of Berkeley offers college town charm and loads of funky stores to explore. You can spend all day meandering down Fourth Street or catch a show just for kids at Bay Area Children's Theatre. If you visit the UC Berkeley campus, head to the Campanile (clock tower) where you can go to the top for an epic view. 

photo: Kate Loweth

Zip on Over to Quarry Park in Rocklin

This massive ziplining park is worth a visit and is the perfect day trip from the Bay Area. While you must be at least 70 lbs. to take on the zipline course, little ones will have a blast on the Quarry Kidz Kove, a huge net, swing and climbing structure. 

Read all about it here:

photo: Kate Loweth

Retro Fun in Santa Cruz

A trip to the Boardwalk is a summer tradition so if you haven't made your way there yet this summer, get on it. There are sea lions to be seen, clam chowder to be eaten and tie dye shirts for everyone. 

Read all our Santa Cruz recs 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.

photo: Charity Vargas

Play in the Presidio

Whether you are there for the Presidio Picnic or to spend time checking out views of the Bay, the Presidio has tons to offer families who want a day in the city. There are old military batteries to explore and a brand-new Storywalk for the summer. Kids events like free bike riding lessons are offered all summer long so plan you day and head over!

Full scoop on Presidio happenings can be found here

Burlingame for the Win

This pretty Peninsula town enjoys mild weather, proximity to the waterfront and an attractive, trendy downtown. Most visitors gravitate to its vibrant main street, Burlingame Avenue, which is conveniently located right off the Burlingame Caltrain station. Don't miss the Pez museum! 

Find all our Burlingame faves here

photo: Kate Loweth

Santa Rosa Beckons

Santa Rosa is home to an awesome children's museum and also one totally dedicated to all things Charlie Brown. A day trip brings outdoor adventure, delicious eats and maybe even some wine tasting time for the parents. You can also devote a whole day just to visiting Safari West. 

Get the full scoop on all things Santa Rosa 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. 

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

Half Moon Bay

This coastside Bay Area town is a great spot for a beach day. Spend some time at the tidepools at Fitzgerald Marine Reserve and then grab lunch downtown at our favorite sandwich shop at the San Benito House. Oddysea has loads of outdoor activities for kids like panning for gold and creating a message in a bottle. 

More area

photo: Daiso

Travel to Japan via Japantown

Spend your day exploring a new culture in Japantown. Start your day at Peace Plaza, shop for Hello Kitty gear at the Japantown Mall and then lunch on ramen at Marufuku Ramen. Summer brings loads of cultural events to the area so check to see what's coming up before you visit.

All our Japantown recs can be found here

—Kate Loweth


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