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

photo: Kate Loweth

Head South to the Santa Ynez Valley

This midway point on your drive to Los Angeles is the perfect spot for an easy spring break destination. There are wine tasting spots that are perfect for kids to run around and restaurants where everyone can join in a game of cornhole before your meal arrives. OstrichLand is a must-do activity and Solvang is the perfect glimpse of a far-away land. 

Read all about Santa Ynez here


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: Kate Loweth

Congregate in Concord

This East Bay town is the perfect spot for a Spring Break staycation with gorgeous hiking and loads of family fun around every corner. 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: 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.

Set Your Sights on Santa Maria

This valley just north of Santa Barbara offers beaches, scenic views and tons for families who want to be active or just relax during spring break. If you visit on April 14, you can enjoy the annual kite festival with food vendors, music and kites of every size and shape. Families especially love exploring the miles and miles of sand dunes in this area of the coast. 

Learn more about the Santa Maria Valley 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

Wander Over to Yosemite

This year's epic snowfall means you can spend your spring break in the snow when you head to Yosemite. We highly recommend Rush Creek Lodge as your home base. It's on-site restaurant and kids' activities make it a no brainer for your next family adventure. Snowshoe in the park and see this national park like you've never seen it before.

We've got loads of Yosemite recs and more info on Rush Creek Lodge 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

photo: Kate Loweth

Cruise on Down to the Central Coast

With epic beach towns like Pismo Beach, Avila Beach and Cambria all within a short drive from each other, the Central Coast is a great destination for spring break. Beach days, farm adventures and lots of delicious eats are guaranteed to be on the agenda. Bonus: it's the perfect time to check out the elephant seal pups sunning themselves on the sand. 

We've got the full scoop here

Working Farm Weekend

If going totally off-grid sounds like a welcomed respite, then plan some time at one of these working farms. Your hosts will get the kids to gather eggs while you enjoy the fresh air while swinging on a hammock. 

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.

—Kate Loweth, Heidi Oleman & Erin Feher



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