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My family and recently had a 7-day California Family Vacation. The first half of our trip was spent in Northern California exposing ourselves to crisp breezes while taking in beautiful views of the Pacific Coast. And in Southern California, we enjoyed fun in the sun. Keep reading to see just how our time was spent in each location during our 7-Day California Family Vacation.

Northern California (Monterey County)

Northern California has some of the best scenic drives. To ensure we got the best of it during our 7-Day California Family Vacation, my husband took the 1.5-hour drive along the coast to our first destination, Carmel-by-the-Sea in Monterey County.

While in Carmel-by-the-Sea, the quaint family-owned boutique inn, Hofsas House (read about it here) served as our “home base”. Allowing us easy access to noted tourist spots like the 7-Mile Drive, Fisherman’s Wharf, Monterey Bay Aquarium, and Big Sur.

7-Mile Drive is a great family activity to do during a California Family Vacation

There are plenty of dining options in Monterey County, but traveling with a kid who is a picky eater makes choosing the right place to dine a bit difficult. So we stuck to the basics, like In-and-Out Burger, which we had two days in a row. We had dinner at Big Fish Grill on Fisherman’s Wharf. For lunch, we stopped by 5th Avenue Deli & Catering.

Southern California (San Diego)

San Diego was our destination for the last leg of our 7-Day California Family Vacation. Instead of taking the nearly 8-hour drive to San Diego, we flew Southwest Airlines, which was great by the way, and affordable ($160 for the three of us). If we had not had our daughter, my husband and I probably would have taken the drive South, but we can always reserve that for a return visit, right?

The Welk Resort Escondido was where we stayed for the duration of our trip. It is about a 30-minute drive from the San Diego city-center, which meant we had to drive to get access to many of the main attractions, our friends, and some of our favorite haunts. That didn’t stop us from enjoying our time there.

Welk Resort Escondido California Family Vacation

While in Southern California, we took a day trip to Carlsbad to visit LEGOLAND California and the SEA LIFE Aquarium. Another day was spent at the San Diego Zoo, which is just as amazing as the Safari Park. The rest of our time was spent either with our local friends and their kids or by the pool.

San Diego is home to some of our favorite breweries and eateries (read here), so we didn’t pass up the chance to dine and enjoy some of our favorite brews while there. Immediately after leaving the airport, we headed over to Lucha Libre to pick up burritos.

A full day at LEGOLAND California worked up an appetite for us, and Stone Brewing & World Bistro Gardens in Escondido was perfect for curing our hunger pangs. Listen, their Impossible Burger is one of the best I’ve had like ever! We also loved our waitress, Kim, not just because she is my namesake but she was great with our moody daughter cheering her up with a drink that she created.

Impossible Burger

We also visited Ballast Point right before heading to the beach to catch the July 4th fireworks display.

The point of us traveling is for us to experience new places and things. We found two new eateries that we liked. Pizza Port in Carlsbad is great for decent pizza and craft beer.

Another place we found and liked is Swami’s Cafe in Oceanside where we dined for breakfast. The three of us had French Toast, my daughter had hot chocolate, and I loved the variety of coffee they have in their self-serve coffee station.

Since we dined at In-and-Out Burger while in Monterey, we found a Fat Burger not too far from our hotel. I know that everyone loves In-and-Out, but Fat Burger won as our favorite West Coast fast food joint.

Overall, our 7-Day California Family Vacation was fun and relaxing. Splitting our time between Northern and Southern California was perfect for us because it allowed us to visit some of our favorite places, see our friends, and experience new things. My daughter even made a friend at the resort where we were staying with whom she still keeps in touch. That is probably one of the most rewarding things we’ve gotten out of the trip for her because making new friends is always a good thing, especially when traveling.

We will definitely do this again, but next time it will hopefully be in an RV!

How would you spend a 7-Day California Family Vacation? Would you split up the time between the North and South or stay in one location?

We had a comped stay at Hofsas House Hotel to facilitate review. LEGOLAND California and San Diego Zoo provided complimentary passes. Affiliate Links.

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Kim S.
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Kim is the do-it-all mom (and wife) who not only works full-time and is a freelance makeup artist, but also blogs about her love of family, travel, beauty, and skincare. Now that she has a 2nd grader, Kim has added Class Parent Coordinator to her resume. These are all tough jobs, but somehow, she gets it all done while making it look easy.