Southern California has great weather year-round, allowing visitors to take full advantage of the many family-friendly activities and attractions throughout the area,” boasts SoCal resident Ed Mady. “And there’s something for everyone to enjoy.” Mady should know, given his position as the regional director and general manager of the Beverly Hills Hotel & Bungalows, just one of the area hotels we’ve highlighted where families can stay and soak up the sunshine, scenery and sights that have made Southern California a North American favorite decade after decade. Following are insights from Mady and other locals on how to make the most of your next Golden State vacation.
If it’s good enough for Oprah—who purchased a lavish 42-acre estate here in 2001—you know there has to be something special about this scenic seaside community. Often referred to as the American Riviera, Santa Barbara sits in an enviable spot surrounded by the Santa Ynez Mountains on one side and the Pacific on the other, making it an idyllic destination no matter what your pleasure.
The Inside Scoop courtesy of Gena Downey, director of public relations, Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore
PEDAL POWER: “Families can rent bicycles from the hotel’s spa and ride along the coastal bike route to the Santa Barbara Harbor and State Street, or to nearby Coast Village Road. If you go the harbor, stop by Brophy Bros., where the locals go for seafood.”
LOCAL FLAVOR: “Santa Barbara County is recognized as a world-class wine region. Guests can enjoy wine-tasting either in town or in the Santa Ynez Valley.”
TOP SPOTS: “State Street in downtown Santa Barbara is ideal for shopping or strolling. While there, stop in McConnell’s for ice cream. Just a bit north is the Old Mission Santa Barbara, whose rose garden makes a great spot for a picnic.”
SCREEN TIME: “The resort offers seasonal events like Dive-In Movie Night, in which a family-friendly movie— immediately followed by a late show tailored for adults—is shown on a large screen out by the pool.”
COOKING UP FUN: “Our Kids For All Seasons complimentary children’s program often has special activities such as Summer in the Garden, where youngsters join the executive chef in the resort’s herb garden to learn about gardening and bottle their own herb-infused olive oils to take home.”
From the Hollywood sign to the Griffith Observatory, Zuma Beach to Rodeo Drive, Los Angeles is a melting pot of sights and sensations that your family won’t soon forget. The city boasts 105 museums, 225 theaters, more than 9,000 restaurants, 75 miles of coastline and an inimitable cultural atmosphere, explaining why the Los Angeles area attracts more than 41 million visitors each year.
The Inside Scoop courtesy of Rob Roche, director of marketing, The Peninsula Beverly Hills
MAKING WAVES: “Santa Monica Beach is eight miles away, and the hotel can provide a variety of tools for a perfect outing, including beach towels and a gourmet picnic lunch. Additionally, the concierge can arrange private surf and stand up paddleboard instruction.”
SNACK TIME: “The Ice Cream Lab on Santa Monica Boulevard offers a unique science-infused approach to creating delicious ice cream. Stop by on a warm afternoon, select your favorite ingredients and watch the ‘liquid nitrogen ice cream’ come to life before your eyes.”
CULTURAL ICONS: “Through the experiential Peninsula Academy program, guests can enjoy curated experiences that provide an insider’s look at the culture of Los Angeles. The current collection includes everything from a private behind-the-scenes tour at the Warner Bros. studio lot to a tour of the city’s most iconic buildings with an architectural historian.”
TEA TIME: “The Peninsula’s afternoon tea is extremely popular. It’s a refined experience set to the accompaniment of a classical harpist.”
HIDE AND SEEK: “A special Peninsula treasure hunt can be created upon request. It begins at check-in and takes young guests behind the scenes to enjoy special treats while they learn what makes the Peninsula so special. Along the way, they meet the hotel’s staff, from the pastry chef to the managing director.”
SPLASH DOWN: “Our 60-foot rooftop lap pool is surrounded by 12 private cabanas and a Jacuzzi with city views of Beverly Hills, Century City and downtown L.A.”
PET PROJECT: “Furry family members at the Peninsula enjoy Ultrasuede beds, personalized towels, Fiji water and a gourmet room service menu that includes fun offerings such as the ‘Tail Shakin’ not Stirred Martini’ and, since this is health-conscious Beverly Hills, the low-cal Lorenzo’s Turkey Burger.”
The Inside Scoop courtesy of Ed Mady, regional director and general manager, Beverly Hills Hotel & Bungalows
GET FIT: “Hiking trails and jogging routes are located just minutes from the hotel. The concierge can arrange for personalized trainers and private yoga instruction.”
STAR POWER: “Our landmark hotel’s storied heritage and more than 100-year history with Hollywood royalty continues to provide endless appeal to hotel guests.”
JUNIOR V.I.P.S: “The VIP Pink Card, distributed to all young guests upon check-in, enables them to enjoy complimentary juice and soda refills throughout the hotel’s dining outlets.”
THEIR HOLLYWOOD MOMENT: “With the hotel’s popular Family Time package, children under 12 receive their very own ‘photo op’ on the hotel’s iconic red carpet.”
POOL PARTY: “The Kabana Kids package offered in the pool’s cabanas is a great option for families. From pink and green sunglasses and logo baseball hats to refreshing snacks and drinks offered throughout the day, there’s no better way for families to enjoy a day at the pool together. And the pool’s underwater speakers play popular movie tunes.”
"Warm, sunny days year-round make Los Angeles an idyllic outdoor playground, with endless opportunities for kids and adults alike to explore and have fun."
The Inside Scoop courtesy of Carrie Mitchell, director of public relations, Beverly Wilshire, a Four Seasons Hotel
LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION: “Beverly Hills is a very central and walkable locale. Of course, L.A.’s famous beaches, theme parks and museums are all just a short drive away. Santa Monica’s beach is the closest, located roughly eight miles west of Beverly Hills.”
THE GREAT OUTDOORS: “Warm, sunny days year-round make Los Angeles an idyllic outdoor playground, with endless opportunities for kids and adults alike to explore and have fun. But if a day of rest is in order, lounge by our Mediterranean-style pool in a private cabana or indulge in an adult’s or child’s treatment at our spa.”
WHAT ’S COOKING: “For grown-ups, we feature bi-monthly Dish & Dine cooking classes featuring our talented team of chefs.”
RUNNING AROUND: “Our concierge desk can direct runners to paths in the neighborhood, and yoga classes are offered in the summer.”
Active families flock to this shorefront community about an hour south of Los Angeles for any number of reasons. For many, it’s the fact it boasts the largest recreational harbor on the West Coast. For others, it may be the three-mile-long boardwalk that runs along the beach, the renowned surfing spots, the birding on Back Bay or the long list of boating competitions, concerts and other events that take place throughout the summer.
The Inside Scoop courtesy of Giuseppe Lama, managing director, The Resort at Pelican Hill
TWO-WHEELING IT: “Biking Orange County’s beaches, trails and open spaces is a family favorite. Some like the relaxed pace of a beach cruiser on the Newport Beach boardwalk or around the quaint village of Balboa Island, while others prefer action-packed trail-biking in coastal canyons like El Moro, near the resort. For endless ocean views, rent a bike from Pelican Hill and explore the paved bluff-top trails of Crystal Cove. Stop at the Shake Shack along Pacific Coast Highway for refreshments and spot dolphins swimming off the coast.”
AQUATIC ADVENTURES: “Newport Harbor offers great family activities, such as kayaking, paddleboarding and sailing. Renting an electric Duffy boat is also a fun way for families to experience Orange County’s coastal waterways.”
SAVOR THE SAND: “Guests enjoy complimentary daily coach service to the beaches at Crystal Cove, complete with pre-packed beach bags and umbrellas set up just for them on the sand. Families can even pack their own picnic basket to take along, with specialty items from the resort’s café.”
HIT THE LINKS: “Golf is a year-round activity in Orange County. The resort’s two Tom Fazio–designed courses are a must-play, and the resort even makes it family-friendly for our junior golfers.”
SPA DAY: “One of only 19 Forbes five-star spas in the country, Pelican Hill’s spa offers a variety of complimentary wellness classes and activities, such as daily beach hikes and a sunrise boot camp overlooking the ocean.”
ART APPRECIATION: “Every Wednesday afternoon, take a stroll around Pelican Hill with a glass of prosecco in hand and join the Art and Architecture Tour for a closer look at the timeless beauty of this iconic resort.”
The second-largest city in California is second to none when it comes to vacation appeal. From its miles of coastline to its myriad cultural sights, it features a little something for everyone. Balboa Park covers 1,200 acres and is home to 85 attractions, including the world-famous San Diego Zoo.
The Inside Scoop courtesy of Jim Croghan, director of spa and recreation, The Grand Del Mar
BACK TO NATURE: “The resort’s onsite naturalist offers excursions—including bird-watching, hiking, nature walks and mountain-biking—into the adjacent Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve. Additional opportunities to indulge in Southern California’s active lifestyle abound. The resort is in close proximity to miles of beaches and opportunities for everything from fishing and diving to horseback riding and hot-air ballooning. We can arrange sandcastle building and private surf lessons at Del Mar Beach, a guided Segway tour and even a unique ‘Kayak the Seven Caves of La Jolla’ experience.”
TEE TIME: “One of the most unique amenities offered at the resort’s 18-hole, Tom Fazio–designed Grand Golf Club is the forecaddie program. For golfers, it’s great to know an experienced forecaddie can assist them around the course for the first time.”
LUNCH TO GO: “Guests can enjoy a picnic on the grounds or take it with them to the beach. An example picnic basket might include a cheese and charcuterie board, cranberry-walnut bread, a French baguette and crackers, along with two bottles of San Pellegrino.”
The Inside Scoop courtesy of Nicole Sharp, director of marketing, Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa, Rancho Santa Fe (30 minutes north of San Diego)
GET ADVENTUROUS: “Torrey Pines State Reserve, where families can enjoy hiking along the cliffs, is only 15 minutes from the resort. There’s also surfing, golfing and horseback riding. In La Jolla, families can partake in snorkeling, scuba diving and surfing.”
SHOP TILL YOU DROP: “Cedros Avenue in Solana Beach offers a nice opportunity to discover all the wonderful boutiques.”
SUMMER FUN: “Don’t-miss summertime area activities include the Del Mar horse races, San Diego County Fair, Padres baseball, Balboa Park, San Diego Zoo and SeaWorld.”
OUT FOR A SPIN: “We offer bicycles to our guests free of charge. We have 45 acres of land, so there are a lot of places to go cycling on the property. Guests can also take the bikes off property if they’d like to venture farther out around Rancho Santa Fe.”
NET GAME: “We have 18 tennis courts on property, with pros ready to play and provide private or semi-private lessons. We also assist in setting up matches with our member base if you’re seeking some friendly competition. And we provide junior sessions for children staying at the resort.”
CHILD’S PLAY: “Our summer kids’ camp features arts and crafts, basketball, badminton, board games, paddle ball, Ping-Pong and more.