5 Southern California Resorts that Work for Kids—and Parents, Too

Yahoo TravelMay 12, 2014

Simone, at California’s Omni La Costa Resort. (Photo: The Guncles)

For six seasons, millions tuned into “Tori & Dean” and fell in love with the couple’s good friends Bill Horn and Scout Masterson, who became affectionately known as “The Guncles” (Gay + Uncles) to Tori and Dean’s four adorable children—Liam, Stella, Hattie, and Finn. Now Bill and Scout have their own family with their very own adventures, and when they hit the road they want to share the experience with Yahoo Travel.

Finding a resort where you can pack up and take the whole family is not always the easiest. Not surprisingly, the Zen retreats of pre-parenthood and the non-stop alcohol-infused party spots of our youth just don’t work anymore.

On the flip-side, so-called “kid-friendly” locales can be overwhelming for adults. By the time we’re done with our “vacation” it feels like we need another one.

Through our travels in our own backyard, Southern California, we’ve discovered five resorts that are fun for our daughter Simone—and for us. They offer the opportunity to spend quality time with your kids and some quality time with other grownups. Trust us: we’ve done the research, so that you don’t have to.  

Glamming out at the Omni La Costa. (Photo: The Guncles)

Omni La Costa Resort & Spa Carlsbad

Where: South of Los Angeles, closer to San Diego.

Why: One of our favorite spots in SoCal—La Costa—feels like its own little town. The resort is relaxed and easy to walk around. They have two pools, including a kid-friendly, beach-like pool with three waterslides—one for the little kids and two for big kids. The peaceful adult pool overlooks the resort’s golf course (and serves amazing cocktails).

Family Factor: The supervised Kidtopia club is the perfect place for the kids to play while the parents enjoy time at the luxurious spa (Kidtopia allows your child to stay for two-hour time windows). A highlight is  July 4th—crafting and fire pits, s’mores and fireworks.

Fur Babies: The grounds are filled with wild bunnies during the spring and summer season. Simone loves watching dozens of them hop all over the grass at dusk. Adorable!

Beyond the Resort:  Legoland and  Sea World are nearby.  San Diego Zoo is approximately 25 miles away.

Bill and Simone, toasting s’mores at La Costa. (Photo: Scout Masterson)

Hotel del Coronado

Where: A National Historic Landmark on a small island just off San Diego.

Why: Built in 1888, the Hotel del Coronado has lots of old-world charm—many will recognize it from the classic film, “Some Like It Hot.” The resort is even host to a resident ghost, Kate. Steps away from the property is its latest addition, Del Beach, a full-service luxury beach club. 

Family Factor: Like La Costa, the resort also has a kids’ club called Kidtopia. This beach-inspired activity center for ages 4-12 offers pint-sized photography lessons, birding, and relay races. In the summer, there are dive-in movies for the whole family. Say cheese: family portrait sessions are also available.

Fur Babies: The Del loves its four-legged guests, too. There’s a “Yappy Hour” every Sunday, with “yappatizers,” bowls of Evian, and pet-inspired drinks like the Hair of the Dog and the Greyhound.

Beyond the Resort: This is a Navy territory, and kids will love spotting military ships offshore and jets flying overhead. Another highlight: SEAL tours in amphibious vehicles in nearby San Diego. 

The Victorian-inspired rooftops of the oceanfront Hotel del Coronado. (Courtesy: Hotel del Coronado)

La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club

Where: Outside San Diego.

Why: On a luxurious and legendary beach, La Jolla has it all, including live music on Friday nights and a new bocce ball court (It’s all about bocce ball in 2014—we’re calling it here first).

Family Factor: The resort’s “Summer at the Club” is fantastic and perfect for families—BBQs on the sand, day camps, adult and kids tennis camps, and swimming lessons.

Beyond the Resort: Nearby attractions include  Birch Aquarium and plenty of biking, hiking, and surfing.

A pint-sized caddy at La Quinta. (Photo: The Guncles)

La Quinta Resort & Spa

Where: In the shadow of the Santa Rosa Mountains, near Palm Springs.

Why: La Quinta is a huge resort with something for everyone. The property has 41 pools, with about 10 rooms arranged around each one. This means “your” pool is never too crowded and you don’t need to fight for a lounge chair. Score!

Family Factor: There’s a Kids Club for children 4- to 12-years-old; all ages have access to the playground and kiddie pool. There are also bikes equipped with baby seats to ride around the 45-acre property.

Sports and More: If you love sports, La Quinta is the place to be. The hotel has 10 golf courses, 25 tennis courts, and seven restaurants—for those of us who count eating as a sport. One of our favorite spots at La Quinta is the Mexican restaurant.

Fur Babies: The resort has a new PAWS program, in case you want to bring your furry friends along. They even offer a unique experience: you can enjoy an in-room massage while your pet gets one, too.

Beyond the Resort: From mid-century shopping in Palm Springs to hiking in Joshua Tree, there’s much to do in the area.

Scout and Simone at La Quinta. (Photo: Scout Masterson)

Terranea Resort

Where: On a 102-acre peninsula in Rancho Palos Verdes, just 20 miles south of Los Angeles International Airport.

Why: This family-friendly Mediterranean-style resort has nearly 600 rooms and overlooks the Pacific Ocean. The resort features an award-winning golf course, three swimming pools, ecological enrichment programs—and bocce ball!

Family Factor: There’s a Tide Pool Adventure Camp for kids 2-12, with half-day programs that include star gazing, talent shows, science experiments, super-hero dress-up, treasure hunts—you name it. 

Fun Fact: If you’ve ever wondered about the breathtaking resort that was the backdrop for Judd Apatow’s “This is 40,” with Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann, this is it: the movie was filmed at Terranea. 

Beyond the Resort: Catalina is just across the channel and a boat ride away, while kid-friendly attractions like Disneyland and Universal Studios are within easy driving distance.

We’d love to hear other any other suggestions for great, family-friendly resorts. Message us at facebook.com/TheGuncles or on Twitter @TheBillHorn and @ScoutMasterson.