Best Kid-Friendly Places To Travel On The West Coast In Winter

There’s a reason why people say that the west coast is the best coast! In a single day, you can swim at the beach and climb a snowcapped mountain. From California theme park staples to dreamy coastal towns in Washington, families have so much to choose from when it comes to kid-friendly places to travel on the West Coast during winter.

Stay In Yosemite National Park

Located in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains, Yosemite National Park, known for its giant, ancient sequoia trees, showcases some of the most spectacular natural beauty the U.S. has to offer. Heading to Yosemite during the winter months makes for a less tourist-filled visit. However, be warned that some of the park may be closed, and trails may be snowy or icy, so pack snow gear!

For those families who don’t really “do” camping, especially when it’s nippy, Yosemite has a host of resorts like Rush Creek Lodge which boasts a kid-friendly vibe, and the sprawling Tenaya Lodge which features a family game room with air hockey, foosball, and Skee-Ball, plus a pool table, Pac-Man arcade game, and ball pit.

Explore Small Town Washington State

Christmas fans are not ready for Leavenworth, Washington. Picture your favorite Hallmark Christmas movie setting and that’s an ounce of what Leavenworth has to offer during the holiday season. The town has annual European Christkindlmarkt, as well as over-the-top Christmas decor, all emphasizing the German theme of the town.

Kids will love the almost-guarantee of seeing a snow-covered landscape, hoping Santa Claus himself will pop around the corner. Families can ski, snowboard, or take a sleigh ride with real reindeer.

Roadtrip the Lower Pacific Coast Highway

If you can swing it, a multi-day road trip on the PCH with kids can be filled with gorgeous views and fun activities. Your kids will be saying, “Are we there yet?!” but only because they’re so excited to get to the next place.

Starting in San Francisco, take in the legendary views of the Golden Gate Bridge and Painted Ladies before getting south to your first stop in Half Moon Bay, Monterey, or Big Sur. Take in the quaint vibes of small beachy towns before moving on to Laguna Beach. Kids can collect seashells from each new beach you stop at or try surfing lessons in San Diego.

Wander 3,000 Acres Of Parks In Bend, Oregon

The lively city of Bend, OR offers so much for families looking for a different kind of winter vacation. Kids have access to 84 parks and designated open play spaces maintained by the Bend Park & Recreation District. Plus, the neighboring Pilot Butte State Park and Tumalo State Park also offer an impressive array of recreational opportunities.

During the winter, when weather permits, kids can romp in snow, go snowshoeing, and even cross-country ski right in town. Drake Park downtown is a great option for free sledding.

Also, fun fact: Bend is home to the the very last Blockbuster on earth! Take your kids there to show them what your childhood was like!

Take A Trip To The Happiest Place On Earth

Disneyland had to be somewhere on this list, right? Families could spend an entire week or just a weekend exploring Walt Disney’s brainchild.

December, January, and February are also some of the best months to head to the parks due to low crowds and cheaper hotel rates. If you’re brave enough, take in the magic that is Disneyland during the Christmas season and catch the Christmas Fantasy Parade while nomming on some delicious seasonal treats like a Mickey Ornament Macaron or Snowman Cinnamon Roll Cheesecake.

Warm Up In Death Valley National Park

For those looking to really avoid the cold winter by heading west, then be sure to put Death Valley National Park on your travel list. Now, Death Valley is a true desert, with some of the highest temperatures ever recorded, but in the winter months, the temperatures dip just low enough to really be enjoyed.

If your kids are big hikers, head to Mosaic Canyon — a moderate 3.5-mile trail with spectacular views. For night owls, do not miss out on some major star-gazing opportunities. Wait for the amazing colors of the sunset and then prepare for the literal millions of stars peppering the night sky. If the weather is right, the sky gets so dark in Death Valley at night that you can see the Milky Way with your bare eyes.

Whether you’re a West Coast native looking for a quick weekend getaway or located elsewhere and desperate to escape the bitter cold of winter, California, Oregon, and Washington have so much to offer for families.

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