California is home to many things you might enjoy on vacation: celebrities, sun, beaches, wine and more. However, there's more to this state than you might think. From the northern wooded area to the mountain ranges in the east, to the beaches in the west, the Golden State offers many destinations where you can find affordable family vacations in California.

california family vacation

Santa Cruz

In Santa Cruz, you'll find plenty of things to keep the kids, and yourself, busy. For a day of fun, head to the famous Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. Overlooking Monterey Bay, the area is not only beautiful, it's also packed with entertainment, like the Giant Dipper rollercoaster and a variety of other rides. Play mini golf, challenge your family to a game of bowling, or blast aliens in the arcade.

If your family enjoys outdoor activities, then Santa Cruz is a perfect spot for affordable family vacations in California. The area is home to 14 state parks, including Big Basin Redwoods State Park and Natural Bridges State Beach. Start your hike at the beach and end surrounded by towering old-growth redwoods.

Rancho Mirage

Surrounded by the desert, Rancho Mirage is an oasis for families, not to mention presidents, celebrities, and royalty. Activities you can enjoy during California affordable family vacations include golfing, hiking, dining, shopping, relaxing at spas, and more. Discover the wonderful playground a desert can be by joining a big-wheel tour or heading out for a hike.

Local attractions will keep you busy the entire time you're in Rancho Mirage. At the Living Desert, your family can see a variety of animals from around the globe enjoying the freedom of 1,200 acres. The Palm Springs Aerial Tram will take your family from the desert up to the top of the mountains, ascending 8,516 feet. The spinning tram will offer you a 360-degree view.

california lake vacation

Mammoth Lakes

Located in the Eastern Sierra Region of California, which is in the center of the state, you'll find the mountain destination of Mammoth Lakes. Unlike the more temperate climates in coastal areas, Mammoth Lakes enjoys four distinct seasons, and each one offers something for you to do during your family vacation. Take your kids on a real treasure hunt with geocaching, a treasure hunt using GPS to track down items.

If you want to save money, consider visiting the area in the fall, when retailers drop prices. Enjoy vibrant reds, yellows and oranges as the season changes. Winter activities include skiing, dog sledding, and snowmobiling, among others.

South Tahoe Lake

The West Coast beaches aren't the only California destination offering water fun. As the largest alpine lake in the U.S., Lake Tahoe attracts visitors from around the world. You'll find four golf courses, hiking and biking trails, a swinging nightlife, and more. Whether you want to hit the slopes at Sierra-at-Tahoe Snowsports Resort, or you prefer to enjoy water sports in the summer, Tahoe has it all. You might even sneak away from the kids to enjoy a night of gambling at the casinos.

Dana Point

Have you ever wondered where you can find the good life? Than look no further than Dana Point. From the Dana Point Harbor, which berths over 2,000 boats at two marinas, to the unique shopping district, hosting over 30 shops, you're sure to enjoy the seaside city of Dana Point. Watch for whales on their migratory paths or enjoy a day on the water with an ocean cruise. At the Ocean Institute, you and your family can see tallships and schooners (Think "Pirates of the Caribbean").

No matter where you go in the Golden State, expect to find the perfect location for affordable California family vacations.

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