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12 Best Family Resorts in Northern California

With everything from a dramatic coastline, redwood forests, soaring mountains, and sparkling lakes, Northern California has lots to offer when it comes to family vacations. Your getaway can be as relaxed or as active as you’d like, with resorts offering everything from golfing, hiking, and biking to swimming, kayaking, and paddleboarding. These properties, in particular, are some of the best for families in the northern part of the state, from Monterey to Yosemite and Lake Tahoe.

The Sanctuary Beach Resort - Marina The Sanctuary Beach Resort
Credit: The Sanctuary Beach Resort by The Sanctuary Beach Resort

The Sanctuary Beach Resort - Marina

Located just north of Monterey, Sanctuary Beach Resort offers a classic family getaway on Monterey Bay, tucked along windswept dunes. While the water here may be too chilly for some to swim, kids often enjoy splashing around in the waves, and there’s an outdoor heated pool on-site. Gather around one of the fire pits at dusk to watch a glorious sunset and then enjoy dining at the Salt Wood Kitchen and Oysterette, popular among locals and guests alike. All rooms feature full or partial ocean views, private decks or patios, and a gas fireplace. Connecting rooms are available for families who need more space.

Key Amenities:

  • Beachfront with soft sands & fire pits

  • Outdoor heated pool

  • Outstanding on-site dining

Seascape Beach Resort - Aptos Seascape Beach Resort
Credit: Seascape Beach Resort by Seascape Beach Resort

Seascape Beach Resort - Aptos

Seascape Beach Resort offers a tranquil setting in a secluded location, set atop a dramatic coastal bluff overlooking Monterey Bay. It’s just minutes from Santa Cruz with its famous beach boardwalk and amusement rides. You’ll enjoy the full-service resort experience, complete with golf carts that provide shuttle service to the sandy beach and three outdoor heated pools available year-round. Enjoy relaxing in the hot tubs, playing a round or two of golf on the golf course, and working out in the fitness center too. The on-site restaurant offers outstanding dining with a fantastic view from its patio and beach bonfires with S’mores can be arranged through the concierge.

Key Amenities:

  • Golf cart shuttle service to the beach

  • Three outdoor heated pools + hot tubs

  • Golf course

Chaminade Resort & Spa - Santa Cruz Chaminade Resort & Spa
Credit: Chaminade Resort & Spa by Chaminade Resort & Spa

Chaminade Resort & Spa - Santa Cruz

An upscale resort in the Santa Cruz Mountains, just a 15-minute drive from the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk near the famous Mystery Spot, the Chaminade Resort & Spa is ideal for families, complete with units that can accommodate up to five guests. All come with coffeemakers, flat-screen TVs, and bathrobes. Some have balconies with forest views too. Among the many facilities at this top-rated Santa Cruz resort include an outdoor pool and whirlpool, four lighted tennis courts, a spa, and a fitness center. The View Restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner overlooking Santa Cruz.

Key Amenities:

  • Outdoor pool and whirlpool

  • Luxurious spa and fitness center

  • The View Restaurant

Monterey Plaza Hotel and Spa - Monterey Monterey Plaza Hotel and Spa
Credit: Monterey Plaza Hotel and Spa by Monterey Plaza Hotel and Spa

Monterey Plaza Hotel and Spa - Monterey

Located right along the famous Cannery Row in the heart of Monterey, the Monterey Plaza Hotel and Spa will put you close to many popular family-friendly attractions, from beaches to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. It sits on the water, rising from the waves on dozens of pylons, providing stunning ocean views from nearly every vantage point. The rooms come with binoculars so you can watch for passing dolphins, whales, sea otters, and seals. There’s a rooftop spa and sundeck, an exercise room, and a seafood eatery with an outdoor patio too.

Key Amenities:

  • Rooftop spa and sundeck

  • Exercise room

  • Seafood restaurant with alfresco dining available

Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay
Credit: The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay by ritzcarlton.com

Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay

One of the most luxurious properties in Northern California, While the Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay is ideal for a romantic couple’s retreat, it’s also perfect for families with a long list of activities and facilities available. It boasts a dramatic clifftop location overlooking the Pacific just a short drive south of San Francisco. Adults bikes are available and children’s bikes can be provided with advance notice, ideal for a pedal on the hotel’s walking path, which also connects to a longer coastal trail. The Ritz Kids program offers supervised child care for ages five through 12, making it easy for parents to enjoy alone time at one of two on-site golf courses or the luxurious spa. There are two main restaurants, plus 24-hour room service is available too.

Key Amenities:

Carneros Resort and Spa - Napa Carneros Resort and Spa
Credit: Carneros Resort and Spa by carnerosresort.com

Carneros Resort and Spa - Napa

Located just an hour’s drive from San Francisco, Carneros Resort and Spa is ideal for families traveling with tweens and teens who can enjoy many fun activities, including horseback riding tours. The game room and the scenic backdrop for Instagram shots are sure to be a big hit too. There are two pools with hot tubs, including a family pool and an adults-only pool. Those with tiny tots can take advantage of babysitting services to enjoy unwinding at the spa, which offers a wide range of healing treatments and relaxation therapies utilizing natural local ingredients. There’s a fitness center and classes available like Fitness Fusion, Vineyard Walks, and yoga, while the multiple dining venues include the upscale FARM serving dishes based on local ingredients.

Key Amenities:

  • Babysitting services, a game room, and activities like horseback riding

  • Family pool + adults-only pool

  • Luxurious spa

Tenaya Lodge - Fish Camp/Yosemite National Park Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite
Credit: Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite by visittenaya.com

Tenaya Lodge - Fish Camp/Yosemite National Park

Tenaya Lodge promises a memorable family getaway just two miles from the south entrance to Yosemite National Park. It offers a long list of fun activities depending on the season, including guided hiking tours, golf, archery, ice skating, and sledding. There are indoor and outdoor pools so you can swim during the chilly winter months too, perfect after a day on the slopes at Badger Pass Ski Resort, just 45 minutes away. The fitness center has Peloton bikes, and the full-service spa offers a menu of massages, facials, and more. Enjoy multiple dining venues, including a deli, pizzeria, and an upscale family-friendly restaurant, while accommodation is available in rooms, family suites, and cottages.

Key Amenities:

  • Indoor and outdoor pools

  • Many activities, including guided hiking tours

  • Full-service spa and multiple dining venues

Everline Resort and Spa - Olympic Valley/Tahoe Everline Resort and Spa
Credit: Everline Resort and Spa by Everline Resort and Spa

Everline Resort and Spa - Olympic Valley/Tahoe

Formerly known as the Resort at Squaw Creek, Everline Resort and Spa is just five miles from Lake Tahoe, ideal for skiers and non-skiers alike. There’s a ski lift right outside some of the rooms, a cross-country ski center, an ice skating rink, a championship golf course, a fly fishing center, heated swimming pools, a waterslide, and picturesque trails for hiking and biking. The spa is the perfect place to unwind, offering soothing facial treatments, pampering massages, and more, while dining includes Asian-inspired fare at the Iron Road Noodle House and a contemporary steakhouse overlooking Olympic Valley. 

Key Amenities:

  • Heated swimming pools and a spa

  • Ski-in/ski-out access

  • Ice skating rink, golf course, and fly fishing center

The Landing Tahoe Resort & Spa - South Lake Tahoe The Landing Lake Tahoe Resort & Spa
Credit: The Landing Lake Tahoe Resort & Spa by The Landing Lake Tahoe Resort & Spa

The Landing Tahoe Resort & Spa - South Lake Tahoe

Set right along the lakefront in South Lake Tahoe, The Landing Tahoe Resort & Spa is a luxurious property offering magnificent views of the water with multi-bedroom suites available that can accommodate up to six. All come with fireplaces, minifridges, flat-screen TVs, and private patios or balconies. Look forward to swimming in the outdoor pool, biking, fishing, and water sports at the lake too. There’s an award-winning spa on-site, everything from olive oil wraps to hot stone massage and reflexology, while the acclaimed Jimmy’s Restaurant serves contemporary California and Greek fare.

Key Amenities:

  • Outdoor pool

  • Award-winning spa

  • On-site restaurant serving California and Greek fare

Sea Ranch Lodge - Sea Ranch The Sea Ranch Lodge
Credit: The Sea Ranch Lodge by The Sea Ranch Lodge

Sea Ranch Lodge - Sea Ranch

Sea Ranch Lodge is a secluded property that sits along the Sonoma Coast overlooking the Pacific. It’s the perfect place to disconnect from electronics and reconnect with each while enjoying activities like beachcombing, searching through tide pools, hiking, and biking. Wildlife watching is stellar, with everything from whales and seals to foxes and deer spotted from here, while facilities include a playground and picnic area, pools, saunas, and tennis courts. The Dining Room offers dishes featuring locally sourced ingredients, and there’s also a cafe, lounge, bar, and general store. Nearly all rooms boast ocean views and were designed to allow guests to “consciously absorb the sounds and prospects of the misty ocean bluffs.”

Key Amenities:

  • Pools, saunas, and a playground

  • Activities like hiking and biking

  • On-site dining and drinking venues

Great Wolf Lodge Water Park - Manteca Great Wolf Lodge - San Francisco / Manteca, CA
Credit: Great Wolf Lodge - San Francisco / Manteca, CA by greatwolf.com

Great Wolf Lodge Water Park - Manteca

Only about 90 minutes east of San Francisco, Great Wolf Lodge hosts a 95,000-square-foot indoor water park with waterslides, raft rides, pools, and splash grounds, along with a 1,000-gallon tipping bucket. The large outdoor pool complex is ideal for sun worshippers, while the adventurous can enjoy a multi-level ropes course. Mini-golf, a bowling alley, and an arcade are included. You won’t go hungry here either, with nine different dining options, including an elevated experience at Barnwood and an ice cream parlor. Accommodation includes options with cabin-themed sleeping areas for the kids.

Key Amenities:

  • Water park with waterslides, raft rides, splash grounds, and pools

  • Mini-golf, bowling, an arcade, and a ropes course

  • Nine dining outlets

  • One of the only California hotels with a water park

The Pines Resort - Bass Lake The Pines Resort in Bass Lake, California
Credit: The Pines Resort in Bass Lake, California by basslake.com

The Pines Resort - Bass Lake

The only all-season lakeside resort in the Yosemite area, The Pines is located 17 miles south of the national park at Bass Lake, where a wide range of activities can be enjoyed. Ski boats, pontoon boats, jet skis, paddleboards, kayaks, and more are all available for rent, with the water typically hovering right around 80 degrees. If you want a break from the lake, there’s an outdoor pool too. Dining is available lakeside at Ducey’s Bar and Grill, while accommodation is offered in everything from mountain chalets and lakefront suites to two fully-furnished, private homes. All are nestled among the fragrant pines and include free Wi-Fi, kitchens or kitchenettes, and cable TV. Some have fireplaces and spa baths.

.Key Amenities:

  • Boat, kayak, paddleboard, and jet ski rentals

  • Outdoor pool and gym

  • Lakeside bar and grill

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