Family holidays: Make memories in California

Family holidays in California
Home » Family holidays: Make memories in California

California has been making children’s dreams come true since 1955 when Walt Disney opened his first theme park in Anaheim, just outside Los Angeles, but Mickey and Minnie aren’t the only reason why the state is a great choice for a family holiday today.

Where else can you take the kids skiing in the morning and surfing in the afternoon (yes, this really is a thing), watch a Major League Baseball game with not one but two of the best players in MLB history, go hiking, mountain biking and fishing and…wait for it…attend a traditional Renaissance Fair dressed up in medieval costume?

In addition to being the home of Disneyland Resort, the Orange County city of Anaheim hosts a number of immensely popular fan conventions throughout the year, including VidCon US every June, which attracts YouTube celebs and their young fans in their thousands.

“This is a great base for a family holiday,” said Visit Anaheim President & CEO Jay Burress. “We’re close to Disney, Universal, LA and you can easily fly into San Diego or Los Angeles.”

Anaheim is also home to the Los Angeles Angels baseball team, so why not suggest your clients get tickets to this most iconic of family-friendly American experiences? It’s an exciting time to watch the LA Angels right now, given that they have two of the best players in MLB history, Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trouts.

Or, if ice hockey is more to your clients’ liking, tickets to see the Los Angeles Kings in action are easy to come by.

San Diego is another family-friendly Californian city, home to SeaWorld, a safari park and America’s largest urban cultural park, Balboa Park. Every October, more than 100 attractions, restaurants and hotels offer free or discounted places to children under 12 as part of the Kids Free San Diego programme, making it a great choice for an October half-term family holiday.

Torre Pines State National Park, San Diego

“We have 70 miles of beach, all of which is easily accessible,” said San Diego Tourism Authority President & CEO Julie Coker. “You can take a trolley [hop on, hop off bus] along the coast.”

Sesame Place is San Diego’s newest theme park, but you’ll also find LEGOLAND California just a 30-minute drive north.

Drive 70 miles from California’s Pacific coast and you’ll reach the Sierra Nevada mountains. Mammoth Lakes, in the Eastern Sierra, not far from Yosemite National Park, is a year-round adventure playground with acres of snow-sure pistes from early winter into late spring. When the snow melts and the ice thaws, it offers 85 miles of mountain bike trails plus hiking and fishing opportunities galore.

Mammoth Lakes

Mammoth Mountain is California’s highest lift-served four seasons resort, and while it’s probably not the best base from which to attempt the ‘California double’ (skiing and surfing on the same day), it has lots to keep the children entertained.

For families looking for a touch of luxury, check out the Limelight Hotel Mammoth & Residences, the region’s first five-star hotel, due to open in 2024 within easy distance of the slopes.

“We’re very family friendly and we attract a lot of well-off families too so it’s great that we’ll have our first five-star hotel, and other hotels are being refurbished too,” said Mammoth Lakes Executive Director John Urdi.

A fun detour on a drive between San Francisco and Monterey is Casa de Fruta, where the fruits you’ve seen growing in the local orchards are sold dried or covered in chocolate at huge stalls. For the grown-ups, there are local wines on sale.

Casa de Fruta

Something of a California institution, Casa de Fruta also has fairground rides for the little ones, a mini railroad, an inn and an RV camping site. Visit during the weekend from 16 September to 22 October and you’ll be able to take part in the Northern California Renaissance Fair for some jousting, swashbuckling sword fights, music and dancing.

“We’re a great stop for families travelling through the area,” said Casa de Fruta Parkway Partner Gene Zanger.

Meanwhile, the Happiest Place on Earth (aka Disneyland) has dialled up the fun this year as the Walt Disney Company is celebrating its 100th anniversary and Disneyland Resort is at the centre of the festivities with special décor, new character outfits, new night-time entertainment including a new fireworks show, and a new version of the World of Color fountain show.

Also, the Magic Happens parade has returned, and a new Mickey and Minnie’s Railway Ride opened in January.

All in all, you can see why California’s marketing slogan is Welcome to the Ultimate Playground!

For more information, go to,,,