Also known as the golden state, California has it all. Ranging from national parks to tourist & historical attraction sites, monuments, the Silicon Valley, Golden Gate Bridge and so much more. The list is endless.
Let’s not forget its warm Mediterranean climate and beautiful beaches along the Pacific. It is almost impossible to experience the whole of California in just one visit, and if you are a beach person, there are tons of places to explore.
Of course, you will need a place to stay, so below you will find the best beach resorts in California for families to stay whenever you visit your loved ones. If you’re not set on staying by the beach, check out our guides to the best family resorts in California and the best family resorts in Southern California.
- The Hilton Santa Barbara Beachfront Resort, Santa Barbara
- Carlsbad Seapointe Resort, Carlsbad
- Pantai Inn, La Jolla
- Catamaran Resort Hotel & Spa, San Diego
- Surf & Sand Resort on Laguna Beach, Laguna Beach
- The Waterfront Beach Resort, Huntington Beach
- Sanctuary Beach Resort, Monterey
- Terranea Resort, Palos Verdes
- Blue Sea Beach Hotel, San Diego
- Loews Coronado Bay Resort, Coronado
- Monarch Beach Resort at Dana Point, Dana Point
- Shutters on the Beach, Santa Monica
- The Seabird Resort, Oceanside
- Tamarack Beach Resort and Hotel, Carlsbad
The Hilton Santa Barbara Beachfront Resort, Santa Barbara
Even though The Hilton Beach Resort at Santa Barbara is literally across the street from East Beach and has incredible ocean views, one cannot miss noticing the beautiful and rugged mountains in the background. The hotel appreciates both features and has cozy rooms with either ocean or mountain views. Take your pick!
With 24 acres, the mission-style resort has almost all the amenities you need for a comfortable stay. There is a spa & fitness center to help you relax or work out as you begin your day, and you can dip into the outdoor pool as you soak up the sun.
You can also practice tennis with your family at one of the three courts, and when the tummies begin to rumble, there are several dining options on-site. They include a laid-back grill with a wine tasting room, a terrace restaurant with ocean views, a poolside bar, and room service.
For breakfast, you can get Starbucks coffee at the café or enjoy a meal at the Roundhouse, a plastic-free, ocean-friendly restaurant.
While at the resort, be sure to check out the Funk Zone district, which has world-class art galleries, or rent a bike to explore the area.
Carlsbad Seapointe Resort, Carlsbad
Carlsbad Seapointe Resort is at a convenient location with easy access from the Pacific Coast Highway. Located at 6400 Surfside Lane, the property is close to Carlsbad Village, where you can visit art galleries, cafes, pubs, boutique shops, and restaurants offering local cuisines.
Exploration is a big part of vacationing, and the resort is close to several theme parks, such as Legoland California, SeaWorld, Sealife Aquarium, and the San Diego Zoo.
The San Diego International Airport and McClellan-Palomar Airport are also a short drive away, so it won’t take long to get to your vacay destination.
On-site, you will find a full complement of lifestyle activities, such as two heated pools (one for adults only and the other for families), two Jacuzzis, a fully-equipped fitness center, and gas barbecue grills.
Your kids will find the children’s play area, putting green, daily movies, and arts & crafts activities particularly exciting.
Pantai Inn, La Jolla
Set in brick villas and wrapped around in lush greenery, Pantai Inn gives the traditional coastal getaway vibe/ experience. What’s more, it has a Polynesian charm, which completes its intimate design as a boutique hotel.
The resort overlooks the Pacific Ocean and Scripps Park from the La Jolla coastline, from where you can access the pristine beaches, relax by the lush gardens and soothing water features, or head to the firepit next to the inviting courtyard to arouse your senses.
Almost all rooms have sweeping ocean views plus unique Balinese-inspired decorations coupled with contemporary convenience and comfort features, such as flat-screen TVs with cable. The large 1 – 3-bedroom villas have additional fireplaces, designer linens, and full kitchens.
If you feel like heading out, the lively dining and shopping districts at La Jolla Village are only minutes away. Additionally, most of the world-class attractions in San Diego are about 20-minutes away, so there is a lot to check out.
Catamaran Resort Hotel & Spa, San Diego
As one of the best California beach resorts for families, the Catamaran Resort Hotel & Spa is somewhat similar to the Pantai Inn due to its Polynesian theme. If you like greenery, the lush vegetation, palm trees, waterfalls, torches, and water ponds will instantly excite you.
The hotel also has resident parrots that will strike up conversations with you as you get acquainted in the tropical bird room.
There is a pool on-site, as well as a hot tub overlooking Mission Bay. If you want to experience proper sunbathing, the hotel has a private beach nearby.
You can rent out watersport equipment to enjoy the wavy waters of the Pacific or get Bikes and Segways to ride on the boardwalk with your family.
The resort boasts of serving award-winning California cuisines that you enjoy while dining on the bay. Picture enjoying the delicious food and views simultaneously. Nice, isn’t it?
A few of San Diego’s attraction sites, like Legoland, the San Diego Zoo, and SeaWorld, are only a few miles away from the property, so exploration is an option too.
Surf & Sand Resort on Laguna Beach, Laguna Beach
Perched above the sea, about 500 feet from the pristine Laguna Beach, Surf & Sand Resort gives breathtaking ocean views from all angles. Each of the 167 rooms has a private balcony that overlooks the waves and sunset.
If you get famished, grab a meal at the Splashes Restaurant, which serves Mediterranean and Southern California cuisines, and sometimes blends the flavors to excite your taste buds.
Whether you sit by the open windows or palm-shaded patios at the restaurant, the view of the waves washing ashore will always be in sight because the resort is 25 feet above the sea.
You can also take some time off the kids with your spouse to relax at the Aquaterra Spa. It has eight indulgent treatment rooms and passionate practitioners who provide skincare, couple’s rituals, customized massages, waxing, etc.
The resort is also perfect for hosting meetings, corporate events, and events like weddings, so you can bring your family with you if you are participating or attending such events.
The Waterfront Beach Resort, Huntington Beach
The Waterfront Beach Resort has several convenient amenities, such as pet-friendly rooms with extras like pet beds, feeding bowls, waste bags, and yummy treats.
There are also dedicated workspaces that give you access to comfortable loungers in private patios, and they can accommodate your pets so that you can keep your furry friend nearby.
After work, you can take a ride around Surf City for free using the eco-friendly rideshare service. If you have a car, using this service eliminates the task of searching for parking spaces at the beach or paying for parking.
As a guest, you will also have access to waterfront adventures, pools & cabanas, and a Serafin gallery that hosts paintings inspired by the beach culture.
Huntington beach is a few feet from the resort, and you can extend the fun by going to the beach for watersports.
Apart from the sun, sand, and sea, one other thing you will get in plenty is the dining options. There is a dock bar, wine bar, Surf Hero Market for breakfast, The Boardwalk Restaurant for all-day meals, a rooftop lounge with stunning sweeping views of the ocean, and a pizza place.
Sanctuary Beach Resort, Monterey
Set on 19 acres of land right next to Marine Sanctuary, this resort has some incredible natural features around it. Of course, there is the beach and ocean, but there are beach dunes, and the property is between the Carmel Valley rolling hills.
If the waves from the Pacific are not warm enough for you, the hotel has a heated swimming pool set at 82ºF all year. After swimming, you can go for a coastal hike to explore the dunes and get a general feel of the area.
If you are an oenophilia, there are wine and cheese tastings every night, as well as bonfires to keep you warm as you catch up and enjoy the breeze.
Some activities you can enjoy with the family include: playing volleyball, bocce ball, croquet, and bike riding. Weekends are usually busy due to the beach yoga and guided nature walks.
Terranea Resort, Palos Verdes
Terranea Resort is one of the best California beach resorts for families because it has a dramatic oceanfront 9-hole golf course. The grounds offer spectacular views of the Pacific and Catalina Island, allowing you to enjoy the championship course the intended way.
As you enjoy your game of golf, the resort has other activities to keep your little ones busy. Every weekend, the Kids Club Discovery Garden comes alive, giving children the opportunity to express their art based on the local surroundings.
Also, there is archery and private experiences with the resort’s working birds of prey (falcons, Eurasian Eagle Owls, and Harris Hawks).
The Terr-Escape Room brings in some uniqueness as well. With teams of up to five people, the goal is to crack the puzzle in a specially outfitted suite. Solving the puzzle will enable you to escape the room. There is a lot more to explore, so you will probably spend most of your time on-site.
Blue Sea Beach Hotel, San Diego
Located right on the sands of the Pacific Beach, the Blue Sea Beach Hotel features 126 modern rooms that give guests beautiful views of the ocean. Each has a decorative beach-style theme and a comfortable sleeper bed.
Some of the 126 rooms are private oceanfront suites, offering more space, a private balcony, a sofa bed, and two TVs. Wi-Fi is complimentary, and all rooms have wet bars.
With such proximity to the sea, this resort hosts the only beachfront pool in the area. In addition, the deck around it features outdoor fire pits to create torches for the night and complement the waters.
Rental beach cruisers are available for riding along the boardwalk, but you can also take a walk along the beach to the crystal pier nearby.
Loews Coronado Bay Resort, Coronado
Located on a 15-acre peninsula, Loews Coronado Bay Resort is a secluded waterfront oasis having a Southern-Californian style. With 440 luxury guestrooms, there is more than enough space to accommodate many people for weddings, meetings, and events.
Forty of the rooms are plush suites, with each having a private balcony either viewing the Pacific Ocean or the beautiful Coronado Bay.
There are three heated pools on-site with poolside cabanas, but if this does not work for you, take the daily complimentary shuttle to the Silver Strand Beach to swim in the sea.
While at the beach, try out watersports or go for sailboat excursions, which are part of the activities offered by the hotel. The shuttle also goes to downtown Coronado Village, where you can explore restaurants and shops in the city.
For a relaxing time, there is the Sea Spa with indoor and outdoor treatments rooms. Couple this with licensed massage therapists, aestheticians, nail technicians, etc., and you will get the best professional treatment to relax, feel good, and look good.
Guests can enjoy meals at either of the four restaurants, but you can order room service if you like eating in private.
Monarch Beach Resort at Dana Point, Dana Point
Monarch Beach Resort is currently known as the Waldorf Astoria Monarch Beach Resort & Club. It offers the iconic Waldorf service culture blended with the laid-back luxury of Southern California. The result is a superb quality of service, which made the hotel AAA Five-Diamond.
Sitting on 150 acres and above a 150-foot seaside bluff, the property is very expansive. A big chunk of the land has an oceanfront golf course designed by Robert Trent Jones, Jr. It features firm greens on tight fairways that present a good challenge even to experienced golfers.
The resort has a private beach exclusive to guests and members only, so you can enjoy the waves, soak up the sun, or enjoy dining at the oceanfront restaurant with fewer crowds filling up the space.
You will also get to enjoy a shopping experience within the resort because it hosts a boutique, spa shop, and golf pro shop.
We cannot end this without mentioning the three unique sparkling pools at the resort. The Monarch pool has views of the ocean as the backdrop and offers infinity edge spas. Next to it is the family pool with its spray ground, and the final one is the spa pool.
Among the California beach resorts for families, this hotel is a gem.
Shutters on the Beach, Santa Monica
Set along the Santa Monica State Beach, Shutters on the Beach resort is a seaside haven whose luxury and comfort resemble that in the cottages at Cape Cod. True to its name, the hotel features shuttered doors that open into airy balconies and a sunny pool terrace.
Most of the rooms have balconies for viewing the beauty outside and marble bathrooms with whirlpool tubs. Room service is available 24/7, but you should consider dining in one of the three restaurants due to the views.
But if you still prefer eating in private, the hotel’s executive chef Vittorio Lucariello prepared an in-room dining menu containing all the favorite dishes from the restaurants.
The neighborhood around the resort has attractive features that are worth exploring. For example, you can ride the Ferris wheel at the Santa Monica pier or shop at Santa Monica Place.
Looking to find great beaches in Southern California for you and the kids? We’ve created this amazing guide to the best family beaches in Southern California to inspire your next trip!
The Seabird Resort, Oceanside
Compared to the classic Southern Californian beach resort experience, The Seabird Resort offers more refinement. It has breezier rooms with private patios and spectacular views of the ocean. Topping it off is grand coastal architecture, which matches the stature of the hotel.
The food quality is also high as all three restaurants prepare fresh California cuisines from produce sourced from local farms and purveyors. You can grab breakfast, lunch, or dinner at the Piper, and it has a bar, an open kitchen, and a sidewalk patio.
For cocktails with a view, The Shore Room is the place to be. You can also stop by The Shelter Club to grab drinks and bites, especially after swimming since it is right next to the pool.
Tamarack Beach Resort and Hotel, Carlsbad
Located right in the heart of Carlsbad, Tamarack Beach Resort and Hotel has a casual, Mediterranean theme, with the room design inspiration coming from the Pacific.
All the rooms are on the first floor, and they either have panoramic or partial views of the ocean, plus large pieces of art that detail some aspect of the sea.
Once you check in, you will have access to a recreation room with board games, a ping pong table, and a pool table, which are fun activities to enjoy with the family.
Want to take the party outdoors? The courtyard has an adult-only spa and a heated pool. Kids can go to the children’s spa, which has a fountain area. When your little ones get hungry, Dini’s Bistro serves delicious meals and beverages.
The resort is only a 4-minute walk away from the beach, so you should not leave without trying out a few watersports or building sandcastles with your kids.
Since many hotels qualify as the best beach resorts in California for families, you can pick your best based on the style and amenities. For instance, if you prefer greenery, a Polynesian-themed hotel is best. For golf lovers, ensure the resort has at least a 9-hole course. If you’re a beach lover, make sure you get a resort nearby one of the best beaches in California for families to truly make the most of your stay!
More about our TFVG Author
Karly is a The Family Vacation Guide guest travel contributor.