Easy family friendly last minute trip?
December 12, 2016 11:17 PM   Subscribe

Any suggestions for an easy family friendly trip over the holidays? 2 tired adults, 2 very active children between 3-5. California based departure, no passport for the youngest child.

One adult is headed into back surgery the 2nd week of Jan, so has limited mobility and isn't really up for exploring a city or an amusement park, etc. I don't think we can resolve the passport issue at this point, we're far enough from an expedited station that it would be hard to do an in person interview. A cruise or Mexico or Hawaii would have been perfect this year if we had planned ahead, but we thought the back surgery was going to happen right before the holidays.

Ideal vacation would be someplace the kids could safely run around and play, i.e. warm beach or pool, etc. Snow could work if there were also easy to supervise indoor activities like a pool, etc. A bunch of credit on Southwest we'd like to apply although that's not a requirement. We can travel sometime between 12/24 - 1/6 for about a week give or take. We're based in CA and usually travel either out of the bay area or LA. Specific recs for hotels, activities, etc. are very much appreciated as we're a bit overwhelmed trying to figure something out.

(Yes, we can just do a stay-cation, but when we do that we always seem to try and accomplish things instead of just relaxing, doing nothing and focusing on our family, which is what we really need right now.) Thanks!
posted by snowymorninblues to Travel & Transportation (6 answers total)
Do you have a Costco membership? They do flight/hotel/car packages in Hawaii that may save you some money over organizing it all yourself. Here's their Hawaii-specific page.
posted by mdonley at 12:32 AM on December 13, 2016

This is the absolute randomest, but fly to Chicago Midway, rent a car, and go to Starved Rock State Park. They have a nice 1930s CCC-built lodge, a heated indoor pool, well-maintained hiking trails with winter interest (ice falls and/or bald eagles), artisanal ice cream ... we had just a great time with our 6 and 4 year olds, and I was pregnant and not super mobile. Dad took them on tiring long hikes in the mornings and we had lots to do around the lodge in the afternoons. There are nearby attractions: a lock and dam with visitors center, an indoor water park, a furniture emporium, historic downtowns, etc. (In the summer there is a mule-pulled tug boat on the canal ... one day I'll get there!)

You could combine Starved Rock with Galena (historic town, home of US Grant, good shops); Springfield (all the Lincolniana); and Chicago proper with its kid-friendly museums. Or smaller sites like Wildlife Prairie Park, which has free roaming bison.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 12:47 AM on December 13, 2016 [1 favorite]

How about Joshua Tree? You can Airbnb a house, I've stayed in an awesome one that has a game room (bean bags, pool, video games) and an outdoor fire pit and outdoor lawn games. There's tons of kid friendly romps, and a google search even pulled up Joshua Tree itineraries for families with young kids. There's also Pioneertown and Palm Springs nearby.
posted by inevitability at 5:40 AM on December 13, 2016 [1 favorite]

This may not be quite as glamorous as Hawaii or whatever, but it really sounds like you might like Great Wolf Lodge and its ilk - it's an indoor water park resort - lots of pools, water features, non-swimming options like bowling, and kids programming - and couldn't be easier to plan. They have a southern California location in Garden Grove, or I suppose you could travel elsewhere if you wanted to combine it with more destination-specific exploration.
posted by R a c h e l at 8:35 AM on December 13, 2016 [2 favorites]

There is an all-inclusive "camp" in Santa Barbara with childcare. I haven't been, but it looks like it could be awesome: http://www.familyvacationcenter.com/
posted by Threeve at 11:10 AM on December 13, 2016

Eyebrows, I yield to none in my admiration for your awesomeness and civic pride, but I LOLed when I saw the rec for Starved Rock. I'm also from Chicagoland and have to say that while Starved Rock is great even in January, it's not worth a four-hour flight with a bad back and two active small children.

OP, I'm currently in CA, and when I had to find a last-minute vacation with a small child and a huge pregnancy last year, I went with Carlsbad. There are several very nice resorts with pools, the beach is clean and tranquil, Legoland is right in town (I know, an amusement park, but relatively low-key), & San Diego Zoo, Scripps Aquarium, and various other kid-friendly places are a short drive. Or maybe Palm Springs - I'd like to try a VRBO at this complex, which gives you access to a great kid pool plus many, many hammocks.

I've heard good things from other parents about Costanoa and Tenaya Lodge, although those might be pretty expensive/booked-up around the holidays.
posted by scyllary at 3:46 PM on December 13, 2016 [1 favorite]

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