San Diego, CA

Local Landmarks

image: Getty/Samuel Antonio

Best time of year to go: at 70°F and sunny year round, you can’t go wrong, but opt for March through May and September through November for fewer crowds.

Where to stay: Embassy Suites San Diego Bay – Downtown

Why kids love it: the San Diego Zoo and SeaWorld are a must! Save a day for each. Aviation fans will enjoy a visit to the USS Midway Aircraft Carrier too.

Why parents love it: shops, dining, and art in the Gaslamp Quarter; dozens of museums, attractions, and gardens in Balboa Park.

Don’t miss: a visit to Coronado Island for beach time, a boardwalk stroll and ice cream at the MooTime Creamery, a vintage 1950s ice cream parlor.

Insider’s tip: save money on visiting multiple San Diego attractions with discount cards like the Balboa Park Pass, San Diego 3-for-1 Pass, or Go San Diego Card.


San Luis Obispo, CA

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image: Getty/Geri Lavrov

Best time of year to go: visit in the late summer and fall for the best temps; late fall through spring if you want to give your kids a taste of the college town when students are in session.

Where to stay: Hampton Inn & Suites San Luis Obispo

Why kids love it: learn & play at San Luis Obispo Children’s Museum or see over 250 exotic animals like water buffalo, peacocks, and zonkies (a mix of a zebra and donkey) at Lazy Arrow Outdoor Adventures.

Why parents love it: explore the SLO Mission, visit Hearst Castle, visit Caly Poly, and taste at over forty area wineries.

Don’t miss: Thursday night farmer’s market with dozens of vendors, food stalls, bands, and street performers. Come hungry!

Insider’s tip: save a free evening to see a flick at the family-friendly Sunset Drive-In that shows two feature films a night. Bring a car picnic or buy dinner at the affordable concession stand.


Redwood National Park

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image: Getty/Jordan Siemens

Best time of year to go: visit in the fall for the nicest weather or November through March if you like your redwood hikes cool and damp.

Where to stay: Hampton Inn & Suites, Arcata

Why kids love it: visit one of the five visitor centers for ranger talks, interactive exhibits, and to pick up your Junior Ranger booklet where you can earn a Redwood Park ranger badge. Also visit the nearby Mad River Hatchery to watch the salmon jump the ladder or the Sequoia Park Zoo for red pandas.

Why parents love it: turn off the family’s tech devices and watch everyone get lost in the grandeur of the world’s tallest trees. After your hike, warm up with a visit to the Finnish Country Sauna & Tubs (with kids or without) for a latte and a soak.

Don’t miss: unique organic ice cream flavors at Arcata Scoop and the annual Kinetic Sculpture Race over Memorial Day weekend.

Insider’s tip: check Humbolt State University’s calendar to avoid visiting the first weekend before school starts or graduation weekend when hotels fill up.


San Francisco, CA

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image: Getty/Rick Gerharter

Best time of year to go: visit in fall for the best weather or December to experience the city decorated for the holidays.

Where to stay: Hilton San Francisco Union Square

Why kids love it: cable car rides, Exploratorium, taste-testing at the Ghirardelli Chocolate flagship store.

Why parents love it: shopping at the Ferry Building, art at SFMOMA, hiking at Muir Woods.

Don’t miss: a walk across the Golden Gate Bridge and dim sum in Chinatown.

Insider’s tip: skip the ticket line for your cable car ride and just pay six dollars cash to the driver when you get on (per person, one way).


Santa Monica Pier

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image: Getty/WIN-initiative

Best time of year to go: though the Santa Monica Pier stays open year round, some of the shops close up in the winter. Aim for weekdays in the late summer through fall.

Where to stay: Hotel MdR Marina del Rey – a DoubleTree by Hilton 

Why kids love it: roller coasters, carousels, street performers, and carnival games at the Santa Monica Pier.

Why parents love it: gorgeous sunsets, family fun, and easy driving distance to Los Angeles International Airport, Third Street Promenade, Hollywood, and downtown Los Angeles.

Don’t miss: a sunset ride on the Pacific Wheel Ferris wheel.

Insider’s tip: skip the parking hassle and reserve a spot near the Santa Monica Pier in advance on ParkMe.

This post was sponsored by Hilton