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  3. 5 Californian Cities that Make the Golden State The Ultimate Playground for Family Adventures

5 Californian Cities that Make the Golden State The Ultimate Playground for Family Adventures

04 Mar 2024

California has always captivated travelers, specifically drawing young adventurers and families from the Gulf States with its irresistible combination of pleasant weather, breathtaking scenery, and laid-back lifestyle where everyone is welcomed. From its sun-kissed beaches and iconic nature reserves, to its vibrant urban centers, theme parks and Edu-tourism offerings, California stands out as a timeless year-round destination for family exploration, discovery, and play! While the Golden State boasts plenty of mainstream hotel brands and shopping stores, it also offers hundreds of the finest luxury shops and high-end hotels and resorts, that are just perfect for family travelers from the Gulf States. As The Ultimate Playground, California offers something for all family members to thoroughly enjoy and revel in. Here are six iconic Californian cities that truly make the Golden State The Ultimate Playground for Family Adventures.

San Diego: For Families That Like - Beaches, Safari Parks, and Wildlife

San Diego: For Families That Like - Beaches, Safari Parks, and Wildlife

San Diego's year-round perfect weather and wealth of epic attractions make it a serious crowd-pleaser. After all, the town nicknamed “America's Finest City” has sandy beaches, famous attractions, Major League Baseball, and a plethora of kid-friendly experiences.

Certainly, any family can enjoy a day at the renowned San Diego Zoo or its sister property in Escondido, the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. Other great ways to spend a day in San Diego include catching a Padres game at Petco Park, or hopping the ferry to Coronado. If the family is craving some time at the beach, head to La Jolla Shores or North Pacific Beach. At the Children’s Pool area off La Jolla Cove, you can watch sea lions and seals romp on the sand.

There are plenty of family-friendly accommodations throughout the county. If you want to stay near both the water and big attractions, check out the San Diego Mission Bay Resort or Paradise Point Resort and Spa. For a lot of brand-name options and convenience, look at hotels in the Hotel Circle area north of downtown, home to the retro-style Town & Country Resort. For a luxury stay, consider the Fairmont Grand Del Mar and the Hotel Del Coronado, which both offer amenities for kids and families.

Los Angeles: For Families That Like - Movies, Hollywood, and Museums

Los Angeles: For Families That Like - Movies, Hollywood, and Museums

It’s the home of Hollywood, but Los Angeles County is such a big metropolitan area that you can create a family vacation out of almost any interest—including beaches, shopping, and museums, along with endless options for kid-friendly cuisine.

To soak up the local lore, start with a drive to see the Hollywood Sign or a stroll down the Walk of Fame. For educational fun, visit the space shuttle Endeavour at the California Science Center, check out the dinos on display at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles, and see archaeology in action at the La Brea Tar Pits. Other great family experiences await at Venice Beach, the Santa Monica Pier, and Malibu.

Hotel options abound, from mainstream brand hotels to luxury resorts. For a memorable splurge, book a stay in Beverly Hills at the Beverly Wilshire, A Four Seasons Hotel, which is both posh and kid-friendly. If you want to stay downtown, check out the Omni Los Angeles Hotel at California Plaza, and the Hilton Los Angeles/Universal City.

Santa Barbara: For Families That Like - Relaxed Luxury

Santa Barbara: For Families That Like - Relaxed Luxury

This Central Coast city has a relaxed and charming vibe that is perfect for families looking for a low-stress, high-fun vacation.

For starters, Santa Barbara has excellent city beaches—picturesque, with gentle waves perfect for little surfers and water sports enthusiasts. Be sure to take a family bike or surrey ride along the flat, paved bike path that traces the Santa Barbara waterfront. Pedal to the far end of the path and hop off at Stearns Wharf for a bite to eat and some shopping.

Head to the Santa Barbara Zoo for a relaxing afternoon with animals, check out the super-kid-friendly MOXI: The Wolf Museum of Exploration and Innovation for hands-on fun, or try to spot some humpback or blue whales on a tour of the Santa Barbara Channel. Make a full day of wildlife watching by taking a day trip from Santa Barbara Harbor to Channel Islands National Park.

For a high-end hotel experience, stay at the Hilton Beachfront Resort, Ritz-Carlton Bacara or the oceanfront Mar Monte. For a classic beachfront motel vibe, try the Brisas del Mar or the Castillo Inn at the Beach. To immerse yourself in nature, go glamping in the fully equipped yurts and cabins at El Capitan Canyon.

San Francisco: For Families That Like - Edu-tourism

San Francisco: For Families That Like - Edu-tourism

Rich with both history and culture, San Francisco is a great destination for families looking for education-themed fun. Indeed, the whole Bay Area is full of world-renowned art, science, history, and cultural institutions that offer hands-on experiences geared toward kids.

In San Francisco, don’t miss museums such as The Exploratorium, California Academy of Sciences, and the Walt Disney Family Museum. Farther afield, two don’t-miss museums are the Bay Area Discovery Museum in Sausalito and The Tech Interactive in San Jose. If aquariums are more your style, check out San Francisco’s Aquarium of the Bay at Pier 39, or take a day trip to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, a two-hour drive down the coast.

For outdoor fun, head to Golden Gate Park and get the wiggles out at the Koret Children's Quarter, which boasts of being the country's first public playground. Or take in the epic Golden Gate Bridge views from the Presidio and Crissy Field, where you and the little ones can explore the green spaces and food trucks of the Tunnel Tops. Of course, no San Francisco family trip is complete without a ride in a cable car, a walk along crooked Lombard Street, and a stroll along Fisherman's Wharf, topped off with a giant ice cream sundae at Ghirardelli Square.

For a classic, centrally located hotel, consider options such as The Palace Hotel, JW Marriott Union Square, and the Fairmont San Francisco–Nob Hill, which offer both family-friendly amenities and lots of personality, like the Pied Piper mural inside The Palace.

Sacramento: For Families That Like - Affordability and History

Sacramento: For Families That Like - Affordability and History

While California’s capital is not the state's biggest city, it is full of amazing family experiences that are both memorable and nicely affordable. Sacramento has also revitalized itself in recent years to become a Farm-to-Fork Capital, focusing on locally sourced cuisine.

Start with a stop at the State Capitol, where you can wander around the historic building and grounds for free. Afterward, head down the Capitol Mall to the Old Sacramento Waterfront, a National Historic Landmark where you can grab a bite to eat, shop, and pretend you are transported back to the Gold Rush era that began in 1849. Then, walk across the gilded Tower Bridge and check out restored train cars—or go for a ride on the Sacramento Southern Railroad scenic train—at the California State Railroad Museum.

While you're downtown, head south to Land Park, where you’ll find the Sacramento Zoo and family-friendly gems Fairytale Town and the Funderland Amusement Park. For an outdoor adventure, walk or cycle the nearby American River Parkway Trail.

You’ll find plenty of kid-friendly accommodations in downtown and Old Town, including the Embassy Suites Sacramento Riverfront Promenade, the Holiday Inn Sacramento Downtown-Arena, and Hawthorn Suites by Wyndham Sacramento.

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The Ultimate City Break: 48 Hours in Cardiff

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Boasting coastal views, extravagant castles, and an enclave of exciting experiences, Cardiff is undoubtedly the perfect city for your next adventure. The story of Cardiff features action and adventure, tales of the Romans, and strongholds fortified by William the Conqueror himself. Step through ancient history to discover the more modern side of the metropolitan capital of Wales. We’ve curated the ultimate city-break guide to Cardiff, including where to stay, where to dine, and most importantly, all the best adventures to spend your time!

California Welcomes Travelers to the Ultimate Playground with New Global Brand Platform

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California is inviting visitors around the world to escape to the Ultimate Playground, where an abundance of adventures and experiences give travelers permission to play their own way – on a hike, on a road trip or simply relaxing on a beach or tasting one's way throughout the state.

Launched today with the “Let’s Play” global campaign, the Ultimate Playground represents the first brand evolution for the state in more than a decade to inspire domestic and international travelers to visit California. As people yearn to escape modern-day stressors more than ever, consumers naturally gravitate to California’s fun and free-spiritedness as a vacation destination.

“California’s playful lifestyle, paired with our abundance of experiences, create something no other destination can claim – California is the Ultimate Playground,” said Caroline Beteta, president and CEO of Visit California. “The power of play is scientifically proven, and majorities of every generation aren’t satisfied with the amount of time they spend playing. It’s time for that to change.”

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