All Ages

5 Weekend Trips From Los Angeles With Kids

See recent posts by Lissa Poirot

There isn”t much reason to leave the Los Angeles and Orange County areas with sunny days and ample beaches year-round, but when you feel like escaping the daily routine and the traffic, weekend trips from Los Angeles with kids are plentiful. From island destinations to mountain vistas to quiet seaside villages to desert hot spots, families can enjoy weekends exploring new environments and seeing new sites. Here, we showcase a few itineraries perfect for families looking for weekend getaways from Los Angeles.

Written by Lissa Poirot


Lake Tahoe, Calif.

Crowds descend upon Lake Tahoe, along the California/Nevada border in the summer months, and again in the winter when the ski slopes are covered in snow, but fall is an ideal time to visit Lake Tahoe. Plan a weekend getaway near Los Angeles with kids to enjoy the lakes, beaches and mountains with a number of outdoor activities, including horseback riding, biking and boating.

Must-See Attractions and Activities
Tahoe Adventure Company
Line up kayaking, hiking, biking or rock climbing tours with the trusted guides at the Tahoe Adventure Company. Sunset and moonlight trips are available, too!

Heavenly Scenic Gondola Rides
Make the fast track to the top of Heavenly Mountain aboard this gondola for jaw-dropping views. Pack a picnic lunch and enjoy a family meal while taking in the picturesque landscape.

Vikingsholm Castle
Hike to the Vikingsholm Castle and take in its history and architecture. Kids will enjoy running and playing on the vast property while parents take in the beautiful views of Emerald Bay.

Kid-Approved Restaurants
Red Hut Café
Enjoy a traditional and delicious breakfast of omelets, waffles, pancakes, French toast and more at the Red Hut Café.

Lanza"s Restaurant
Build your own pasta meal at Lanza"s and let the kids pick their own, too! If pasta isn"t your child"s favorite, then have them build their own Sicilian pizza.

Fire + Ice Grill
Located in the Marriott Timber Lodge, the Fire + Ice Grill offers families and rather different dining experience, with its outdoor fire pits and large chairs, various buffets and interactive cooking areas.

Hotel Picks
Budget: Ferrari"s Crown Resort
Moderate: Marriott Grand Residence Club
Luxury: Resort at Squaw Creek


Santa Cruz, Calif.

Head north towards San Francisco along the gorgeous Pacific Coast Highway and drive to the small coastal town of Santa Cruz, located on the Monterey Peninsula. The city is eclectic and whimsical, with 29 miles of beaches, Redwood forests and nearby seaside towns of Monterey and Carmel. With 300 days of summer, your family will enjoy spending time outdoors during your weekend getaway from Los Angeles.

Must-See Attractions and Activities
Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk
This iconic boardwalk offers rides and amusements the entire family will enjoy. Ride the wooden roller coaster or the 1911 carousel and play classic games like darts, Skeeball and more.

West Cliff Drive
To see some of the sites, follow this drive for coastal views, beach pathways and the best sunset spots. It runs from Natural Bridges State Park to the boardwalk and includes breathtaking coastal views in between.

Monterey Bay Aquarium
On your way to Santa Cruz, in Monterey, is this must-see aquarium. Get close to marine and aquatic life with its large fish tanks, displays and exhibits.

Kid-Approved Restaurants
Riva Fish House
Located on the wharf, Riva Fish House offers families tasty seafood and pasta dishes, with a kids" menu and crayons and coloring books. Enjoy one of the many gelato selections for dessert.

Zachary"s Restaurant
Zachary"s is a Santa Cruz favorite, with its comfort food and unique dishes. Breakfast and lunch are served daily, with options like egg sandwiches, burgers and specialty dishes like Mike"s Mess (sourdough pancakes).

Crow"s Nest Restaurant
The extensive menu at the Crow"s Nest Restaurant is sure to please. A kids" menu offers pizza, fish and chips, grilled cheese and more. This place, with views of the water, often has live music, too.

Hotel Picks
Budget: Sea & Sand Inn
Moderate: Hampton Inn Santa Cruz
Luxury: Dream Inn, a Joie de Vivre Hotel


Santa Barbara, Calif.

Santa Barbara is less than two hours from Los Angeles, making it an ideal weekend trip from Los Angeles with kids. Like L.A., Santa Barbara is a coastal town, but its small city offers fewer crowds, less traffic and less tourists, as well as museums and outdoor adventures in the Santa Ynez Mountains (also making it a perfect fall escape).

Must-See Attractions and Activities
Casa del Herrero
Visit this 11-acre estate that was named a National Historic Landmark. The 1925 Spanish Colonial Revival home is part museum, part garden, and has antiques and artifacts dating back to the 15th and 16th centuries.

Nojoqui Falls County Park
Enjoy an easy hike that is less than 1 mile to visit the park"s 80-foot waterfalls. Picnic tables and BBQ pits are available for families looking to enjoy a picturesque picnic.

Santa Barbara Mission
The town is famous for its missions, and the Santa Barbara Mission one, built in 1786, is a must-see. Book a tour or just explore the grounds. Fountains and flowers help make this a stunning sight, and many stop for a picnic lunch.

Kid-Approved Restaurants
Longboard"s Grill
Located on Stearn"s Wharf, Longboard"s Grill is known for its seafood. The surf theme will entertain kids, as will the views and live music.

Something"s Fishy
Don"t miss a meal at Something"s Fishey in downtown Santa Barbara. Hibachi is served and kids will love watching the chefs flip and toss their food onto plates.

Santa Barbara Shellfish Company
Shrimp, crab, lobster, clams… it"s all here at the Santa Barbara Shellfish Company. Dine near the water and relax to the sound of the ocean while you dine.

Hotel Picks
Budget: Fess Parker by Doubletree
Moderate: Canary – A Kimpton Hotel
Luxury: Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara


Palm Springs, Calif.

Just under two hours from Los Angeles, Palm Springs is an easy weekend trip from Los Angeles with kids, made famous by celebrity visitors who descended upon the area in the 1920"s. Families can enjoy ample time outdoors with temperatures finally dropping from the 100"s into the 80"s and 90"s during the day, and the cool 50"s and 60"s in the evenings. They can enjoy spending time in the canyons with a number of tours and outdoor adventures during their weekend getaway from Los Angeles, too.

Must-See Attractions and Activities
Living Desert
Kids can learn about exotic animals with a visit to this zoo and rescue facility with wildcats, giraffes and camels. Be sure to save time for a camel ride!

Palm Springs Aerial Tramway
You can get views of the desert and canyons without the work on the tramway. When you reach the Mountain Station, enjoy a small museum and the onsite restaurant/café.

Tahquitz Canyon
The two-mile hike takes families to the Tahquitz Falls and a creek where kids can cool off. Ranger-led tours are available.

Kid-Approved Restaurants
Woody"s Burgers and Beer
Burgers and sliders will keep kids happy while beer please the parents at Woody"s. Create your own burger or choose from the large list.

The Cowboy Way Bar-B-Que
Classic southern fare in Palm Springs? That"s what you get at this BBQ joint. Cornbread, roasted chicken, baked beans and more are on the menu.

Las Casuelas Terraza
Located in the downtown area, enjoy quesadillas, burritos, tacos and more. A kids" menu is available with smaller portions of adult entrees, and also includes hamburgers for those not a fan of tacos and the like.

Hotel Picks
Budget: Hyatt Regency Suites Palm Springs
Moderate: Marriott"s Shadow Ridge
Luxury: The Ritz-Carlton Rancho Mirage


Mammoth Lakes, Calif.

Many may think of Mammoth Lakes as a ski destination, a hint of snow to break up the monotony of sunny days spent at the beach. But Mammoth is also a great destination for weekend getaways from Los Angeles in the fall, with hiking trails, kayaking on the lakes, horseback riding and other outdoor activities. The village center is also a charming place to spend time shopping and dining with the family. Yosemite National Park is also near Mammoth, for an extra bonus.

Must-See Attractions and Activities
There are a number of different lakes to enjoy by boat, kayak and canoe, including June Lake, Lake Mary, Lake George, Horseshoe Lake and Mono Lake.

Top of the Sierra Interpretive Center
Ride the scenic gondola to the summit of Mammoth Mountain for fantastic views from 11,000-plus feet. Grab lunch at the onsite café while taking in the vistas at Top of the Sierra Interpretive Center.

Adventure Center at Mammoth Mountain
The mountain offers summer and fall fun, from zip lining, rock climbing, geocache scavenger hunts and more.

Kid-Approved Restaurants
Schat"s Bakery
Enjoy croissants, bread and pastries, all baked fresh at Schat"s. A deli counter also serves sandwiches for families looking to prepare for a picnic.

Burgers Restaurant
Burgers and fries are served here, along with sandwiches, soups and salads. Portions are large, so plan to share.

Yodler"s Restaurant
Located near the Mammoth ski resort"s main lodge, Yodler"s offers classic restaurant entrees, like ribs, wraps, pasta, salads and the like, and a kids" menu with cheese pizza and burgers.

Hotel Picks
Budget: Sierra Nevada Lodge
Moderate: Westin Monache Resort Mammoth
Luxury: The Village Lodge

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