3 Great Southern California Escapes that are NOT Theme Parks


Going on vacation doesn't always have to include flights, infinite packing, and loads of suitcases. There are so many great, local escapes where you can pack your car as full as you want and be at your destination in an hour or two! I put together a list of some of my favorite Southern California non-theme park resorts (I've written about theme park resorts before) that are local to me. Hopefully you get to enjoy our California weather year-round and these are also local to you - but either way - these make great vacation destinations! See which one sounds perfect for you, and let's talk and plan your perfect vacation!


Omni La Costa – Carlsbad, Ca

Omni La Costa, in Carlsbad, is a great spot for a family friendly vacation. There are a ton of pools, lots of greenery, beautiful rooms, and tons of space for adventure.

Omni La Costa offers some of my favorite family amenities and activities. Upon check-in, children can request a backpack filled with toys and books to borrow during their stay. The resort has a sandy beach family pool with a beach entry, sand, and private cabanas. If you want to skip the sandy beach, head over to the Splash Landing Pools where you can slide down the waterslides or run though the water play area. Both pools have the Splash Café nearby for all day snacks and drinks. La Costa also offers amazing family activities including nighttime s’mores, dive in movies, surf camp, a reptile show, ceramics, and a kids’ fitness program.

Omni La Costa guests can sign their children up for Kidtopia, a kid’s club that offers both day and night programs. Kidtopia offers arts & crafts, slides and climbing toys, books, games, a movie lounge, high tech entertainment stations, a 600-gallon saltwater aquarium, and a pressure-sensitive light floor for dancing! Kidtopia is designed for children ages 3 and older, but also offers a nursery program for children ages 6 months to 3 years old.

Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach, Huntington Beach, CA

This southern California resort is a perfect, gorgeous beach retreat with lots of family amenities. It is located just past a pedestrian bridge from the beach, making a beach day so easy and accessible, even with a full load of beach gear to tote back and forth. The resort also has numerous restaurants and bars, a full service spa and salon, tons of pools, and great family and kids activities. We took my son here for his first birthday, and he absolutely loved sitting by the pool relaxing. We loved how easy it was to keep busy at the resort and how accessible the beach was without having to pack up the car.

The resort has over 500 rooms, including oversized rooms and suites. I love the extra large bathrooms – big enough to play cards with a small table and chairs while the baby falls asleep in the crib (available to borrow from the hotel)

Slyders water playground has 3 water slides, two splash pools, a main pool, a wading pool, private cabanas, a hot tub, and fire pits. If you’re planning to spend the day at the pool area, there’s also Shubee’s poolside café where you can get lunch, snacks, and smoothies and even includes a full bar for adults!

Camp Hyatt, for ages 3-12, has a different theme each day and lets campers spend their days playing at the beach or in the pool, exploring the resort, or doing arts & crafts projects. Camp Hyatt is open year-round and offers a half-day, full day, or evening session.

Paradise Point, San Diego, CA

If you have ever looked for a beach resort ON the beach – this is it. You can open your bungalow door on to the sand and play at the beach only steps away from your door. It’s not the most luxurious Southern California resort – but it is on a 44 acre island, and has five great swimming pools, bonfire pits on the beach, five dining options, an award-winning spa, and tons of adventure options for the whole family. Paradise Point holds a special spot in our family since it was the first place that we went on vacation after my son was in PICU and we thought we’d never leave the house again. We had such a special vacation there that we’ve been back already and are planning to go again.

Paradise Point Resort offers 462 bungalow-style rooms, including 73 suites. Every room is ground-floor, has a private patio with Adirondack chair (my son calls them “cation chairs”) and offers garden, lagoon, or bay views.

The island is a little tropical resort on its own and has basketball, croquet, ping pong (otherwise known as table tennis for the serious players like my husband), bike rentals, bonfires, dive-in outdoor movies, and a mini golf course. We love following the ducks around, playing at the beach, climbing the tower by the lobby, and solving the treasure hunt for kids.

There is a main pool with tons of room to splash and play with Tropics Cantina to delivery drinks and fresh food to your lounge chair. There are four more pools located throughout the resort including an adult pool and a waterfall pool. There is also a mile of sandy beach on Mission Bay, and a full-service marina where you can take a water-taxi to Sea World.

Paradise Point has a Paradise Surf Academy to help kids learn to surf in San Diego, and Island Adventure Club (seasonal) for guests ages 4-12 to have fun, explore, and give parents a break. If you want a date night with a babysitter, the resort can help with that too. The spa even has special options for both children and teens including manicures and pedicures.

Let's plan a great vacation escape! Start your FREE vacation planning session now!


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