I’m headed to Mom 2.0 in May and a dear friend of mine has promised to meet me in California after the conference in Pasadena so we can have an adventure like we used to in college pre-kids. For us from the Pacific Northwest, California means shopping, palm trees, beaches and yummy food. So now we’re deciding whether we want to recreate my recent Orange County trip and head to Costa Mesa for some shopping and spa-ing at Huntington Beach or do we hang out in Venice Beach at the funky Kinney hotel and shop a really cool shopping street studded with adorable cafes? With all the planning we’ve been doing, I couldn’t help but wonder what my blogging friends would do? Where would the experts go for a beach trip in California and where would they stay?
I was so thankful that Ranjana Armstrong from Nugget Travel weighed in on this one because she has some awesome tips on Venice Beach. If we don’t end up going there this time, this advice is so helpful for the future whether it’s with friends or with my family. Venice Beach is so easy to get to from Seattle and it is just sounds so gorgeous. Here’s what Ranjana says about Venice Beach:
Venice Beach, Los Angeles’s vibrant and family-friendly beach neighborhood is the perfect destination for a family vacation that combines relaxing beach time with great museums and fantastic food. There are plenty of delicious restaurants that parents will love and that are kid-friendly as well, from brunch at Gjusta to lunch at Crossroads Kitchen. The Rose Hotel is the perfect home base for your stay in Venice Beach. They offer both suites and a family room and are walking distance to almost everything. Stroll along Abbot Kinney Boulevard, people watch on the boardwalk and play with your children on the beach and the many oceanside playgrounds.
She also has a phenomenal instagram that you totally should check out if you need inspiration for travel with kids!
Amy Whitley who I met recently IN California, has some lovely things to say about Carpinteria so I hope I can visit there one day too! I love how hearing from others gives travel inspiration for places that we wouldn’t otherwise know about, so I’m thankful for Amy’s insight here too:
Carpinteria, CA is the funky, laid-back surf town you thought no longer existed along the California coast. You can still find actual beach bums hanging out on the wide, well-kept public beaches and the pedestrian-friendly town boasts local dining hot spots that are unpretentious but delicious.
Carlsbad and South Carlsbad State Beach
I’m also absolutely thankful that Mary from World is a Book messaged about Carlsbad. My kids are just a little younger than Mary’s so I really look up to how she travels with her kids. Carlsbad seems like such a great destination for both families and solo travelers and the family and I are actually heading here soon (I need to see the flower fields again and the guys want to head to Legoland!) so I’m now totally excited about Carlsbad State Beach. This is what Mary has to say about Carlsbad and she also has some awesome tips about more things to do in San Diego too:
Located in northern San Diego, Carlsbad State Beach and its adjacent southern portion are flanked by coastal bluffs and palm trees.
We love going here often since it’s close to home. It’s a wonderful place for beachcombing, sand castle building and strolls especially during low tide. The beaches are family-friendly and also great for swimming, surfing, boogie boarding and scuba diving. There are plenty of lifeguards during the summer.
Locals and visitors always enjoy the pathways for strolling, jogging and dog walking. There is one by the coastal highway and one below by the sand. The ocean views are beautiful and this is one of the best places in San Diego to watch the sunset.
I asked her for a hotel near the beach in Carlsbad and the Cape Rey Carlsbad sounds amazing!
We love their spacious rooms with microwaves and mini-refrigerators, spacious pool overlooking the ocean, fire pits. Beach butler service and beach packs are available.This beach is also only a few miles from Legoland California Resort which is surrounded by numerous family-friendly hotels and restaurants
Pacific Beach – San Diego, California
Another San Diego beach that sounds lovely is Pacific Beach sent in by Lyn Mettler who writes the Go To Travel Gal. She also has a ton of great tips for exploring the area. Here’s what she has to say about Pacific Beach.
My family loves Pacific Beach, which sits on the north side of San Diego, and makes a great respite from the city. This family-friendly beach offers a wide stretch of sand, big waves great for surfing and boogie boarding, plenty of restaurants and numerous hotels along the water. We enjoyed the Blue Sea Beach Hotel, which offered guests loaner beach chairs and boogie boards, and had fun 80’s video games in the lobby for kids to play. Pacific Beach has great people watching, too, with skate-boarders and roller-bladers along its busy boardwalk for miles. Don’t miss an opportunity to walk south along the boardwalk to Misson Beach and its boardwalk amusement park, Belmont Park.
We love La Jolla Shores in San Diego, CA. It’s always 70 and sunny year round and this beach has it all for families. Splash in the waves, build san castles, jog down the boardwalk, take a surfing lesson, run around the playground, and people watch to your hearts content. The coastal vibe is warm, friendly, and one of the most popular beaches to visit in the city!
And I’ve never stayed in Huntington Beach but I love the shops and restaurants and pier so it was really awesome that Kimberley Blaine from The Go To Mom sent me some amazing tips about the Hyatt Huntington Beach. I’ve been to their spa and gorgeous restaurant but hearing how family-friendly the resort is too, makes me feel like it might be the perfect place to visit again. Here’s what Kimberley has to say about Huntington Beach:
You can’t go wrong choosing sunny southern California as a family vacation spot. We choose the Hyatt Huntington Beach Resort and Spa because of their spacious rooms, access to the beach and a killer pool for the kids. And for us parents, we enjoyed the gym and spa as part as the experience as well. The resort is just steps across a bridge to a beach where beach chairs and umbrellas await for you to relax and enjoy the shimmering views of the Pacific. Innovative, Spanish-inspired architecture sets the scene for an awesome family getaway, complete with pampering spa treatments, high-end restaurants, ocean adventures and amazing service …and a fun place to enjoy surfing, a trip to Catalina Island or indulge in arts and entertainment. You may want to come when it’s not summer, as the hotel is very popular and gets very crowded!
A fellow Trekaroo writer, Kristine Dworkin also talked up Huntington Beach so this place feels like a can’t miss in California for sure! Kristine says:
Surfers, pristine coastline, sandy beaches, and balmy weather are the hallmarks of the classic Southern California experience. And there’s no need to look further than the home of the Surfer’s Hall of Fame in order to find them at Huntington Beach, the location of the U.S. Open of Surfing. If you’re planning a getaway here, be sure to check into The Waterfront Beach Resort, a Hilton Hotel.
Kimberley also makes me want to go to Laguna Beach with what she has to say about this lovely hotel. Even without kids, the Montage Laguna Beach looks absolutely perfect:
Montage Laguna Beach is an ideal retreat for families. You get what you pay for – five star service and a luxurious experience. The hotel is not cheap, but if you’re a hotel junkie like me, you’ll stash your cash and come back for sure… My family LOVES the beach and most of our family trips are beach getaways…Besides sun, sand and sea, the Montage has a realm of fun family activities and programs, right at the resort. We never want to venture out!
There is truly not a more beautiful stretch of beaches in all of Southern California than in Laguna Beach. Small coves bookended with rocks and tide pools dot the coast and provide beautiful stretches to enjoy the soft sand and fun waves. Although all the beaches are beautiful, there are a few that stand out to families as being the perfect spot to enjoy a beach day with clean restrooms, easy access, and good waves. Find the best beaches for families here:
Farther north, there are a few more California beaches that I’m adding to my dream list. Kristine also sent me these lovely tips about Half Moon Bay and I can’t help but put it on my California beach bucket list. I know I’ll end up in this area one day.
Half Moon Bay, CA
Half Moon Bay boasts an active outdoor lifestyle that includes surfing (this is the home of the Mavericks Invitational after all), horseback riding, and cycling. Its famous annual pumpkin festival is worthy of an autumn visit. The Oceano Hotel & Spa or the Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay make for great home bases for those looking to take leave of the urban sprawl of Silicon Valley and San Francisco to enjoy the slower pace of the coastal community, for a weekend getaway.
Del Mar, CA
For families who travel with pets, Dog Beach in Del Mar is a great spot that’s totally kid-friendly! Nearby Hotel Indigo doesn’t charge a pet fee, and offers free WiFi, kitchenettes and casual on-site dining. There are a ton of activities in the area for the whole family, from stroller-friendly trails to hot air balloon rides.
And a few years ago I met Kara MIller from Kara in the Kitchen at another blogging conference where we stayed at the Rancho Bernardo inn in near San Diego,a place I never would have heard of if we didn’t have a conference there. I think the best part of going to conferences are the people you meet and Kara messaged me about Avila Beach in Northern California as a California Beach I needed to visit one day too. I know we won’t be visiting Northern California this time, but I love that conferences, or family events sometimes make a great excuse for travel to places you never think of going to without this excuse. I’m thankful for my blogging friends who have helped me dream of warmer places and given me some awesome hotel suggestions just in case you’re dreaming about California too.
If you’re headed to Mom 2.0 this year or if you’ve been before please say hello and please let me know what to expect. It’s my first time at this conference and I’m so excited to learn and see what it’s all about and when my friend and I decide where we take our California adventure, I’ll definitely let you know too!