Explore new destinations with your brood this winter without paying for a plane ticket. Hop in the car and give your kids a thrill as you visit fresh places that are within driving distance of your home. Here are three of our favorite getaways that are just a quick road trip away.

road trips
Palm Springs
Just 120 miles northeast of San Diego awaits a warm destination stocked with swimming pools and palm trees. Don’t worry swimming isn’t the only fun thing to do. Palm Springs has an IMAX movie theater, a water park and even an aerial tramway to view all the sights from above.

There is shopping, golfing and tons of eateries to indulge in. The best kid-friendly (and fun) spots are Pinocchio in the Desert, Maracas Mexican Cantina & Grill (the Flauton is a must try) and Kaiser Grill. Be sure to walk down Palm Springs Village Fest, a popular street fair with arts, crafts and food every Thursday night.

Staying near downtown Palm Springs is your best bet with the kiddos. You can easily walk from store to store and right back to your hotel room within minutes.

palm springs hotel

The kiddos will love the giant statue of Marilyn. The mountain views and nonstop sunshine make Palm Springs a go to spot for a nearby road trip.

palm springs

Big Bear
145 miles northeast of San Diego is our closest mountain resort with awesome sunny temps in the summer and snow in the winter. The altitude peaks up to 9,000 feet. The mountains are great for skiers and snowboarders but even better for toddler tubing.

Stop in the Log Cabin Restaurant with your kiddos and pups for some traditional German or American food. Check out B’s Backyard Barbecue for another fun spot to take the whole family — Fido is even welcome to take a dip in the lake while you sip on your favorite beverage.

big bear menu
Aside from the typical recreational activities like hiking, fishing and biking, the mountain town hosts The Big Bear Alpine Zoo, the Discovery Center and the historic Big Bear Lake Village shopping center. Make sure you have plenty of time when you go out to eat though, you are now on “mountain time”. But don’t worry, once you adjust to the more laid back atmosphere you will have more time to enjoy the views.

tubing with the kids
Take a sweet stop at North Pole Fudge for ice cream, toffee covered candy apples and all sorts of chocolates. The Copper Q is your best bet for a fresh cup of coffee and even cooking classes if your feeling it. The kiddos will love walking through the village and most weekends they even have carriage rides.

santee lakes
Santee Lakes
Just a short 20 minute drive east you will run into a 190 acre park with 7 lakes made of recycled water. Santee Lakes is a great spot to pitch a tent, park your trailer or rent a lakeside cabin. This is ideal for a first camping trip with the fam. It is so close to home and filled with a ton of fun things to do.

Aside from fishing, camping and making s’mores the campground even hosts 7 playgrounds including a splash pad for the little ones. Santee lakes puts on fun events like movies by the lake and rents out tandem bikes, canoes and paddle boats. If you are in the need for some exercise the park’s open space has over 5 miles of trails, bike paths and a swimming pool. They even have a clubhouse you can rent out for all your camping friends to get together.

Do you have an easy road trip idea? Tell us all about it in the comments section.

— Brianne Grajkowski