Counting down the days until summer is over and the kids go back to school? We hear you. Or maybe you’re starting to feel some separation anxiety as the summer comes to a close and the kids replace lazy days at home with the hunt for the perfect first-day-of-school outfit. We hear that, too.
Hey, it’s ok to be conflicted. But you know what we all have in common? The desire for one last sunshiny getaway before the first bell rings. We’ve got a rundown of some great last-minute getaways to give you a parting shot at summer fun for the whole family.
IN THE WINE COUNTRY
With 400+ acres and animals such as giraffes, zebras, buffalo, and gazelles, Safari West gives the kids the full African safari experience without leaving the continent. Take a riding and walking tour, and then stay overnight in a luxury tent (with private bathroom, of course!). It’s glamping like nothing else.
There are also tons of family activities nearby, from Santa Rosa’s Pacific Coast Air Museum, to Sebastopol’s House Farm, where you can ride the horses and feed the sheep, to Calistoga’s Petrified Forest, where you can walk the trails and view the fossilized redwoods.
IN THE MOUNTAINS
You can hang out on the beach in Santa Cruz or Asilomar, but why not head north for a true getaway and get a combination of water and mountains?
The Ritz-Carlton is a good bet in any location, but when it comes to Lake Tahoe, it really can’t be beat. From the location right on the shores of the lake, to the gorgeous mountain views, to the unmatched customer service, your last few days before school starts will be filled with luxury and lavishness.
Not to mention fun. If you haven’t experienced Lake Tahoe in the summer, get ready to hike, golf, mountain bike, fish, lounge by the lake, and luxuriate in the spa. The kids’ club will keep the little ones engaged, and the nightly Marshmology at the fire pit ups the ante on the typical s’mores experience.
The great thing about Big Bear is that you can get there in just about two hours from L.A., Orange County, or San Diego, making it an easy getaway that feels like a world away once you arrive. In the summer, a slew of water activities bring people down to the lake, but the woods are just as big of a draw, and they’re just steps from this five-bedroom, five-bath, 5,500-square-foot luxury log cabin. When you tire of the pool table, foosball table, sauna, media room, and custom deck with hot tub, head outside to explore the National Forest’s huge pine trees and hiking trails.
ON THE BEACH
We all know Bacara Resort & Spa as one of the most exclusive and romantic resorts in California, but what you may not know is what a great spot it is for families. In addition to amenities like the legendary Spa at Bacara, the wellness classes, and ocean-view saline pools, Bacara also has a great kids’ club with multiple activities, junior clinics in their tennis center, and a children’s menu in the Bistro restaurant.
Cambria is another beautiful spot to enjoy for two that also suits family vacays. The Sea Otter Inn has a great location right on Moonstone Beach with a pool on the property, and is also convenient if you’re planning to tour Hearst Castle and Big Sur, and watch the sea lions play along the coast. It’s also a great choice for those who want to bring their furry friend along since the hotel allows pets.
Rancho Palos Verdes
Terranea Resort is a perennial favorite of all ages. The views are stunning, the location is ideal, with all the best of L.A. within easy reach, plus an easy drive to Disneyland, and the resort amenities for kids are second-to-none. Think a pool with waterslide, a kids’ club with crafts and games, and a special teen program with watersports and themed evening events.
The Travel Channel loves the Newport Beachside Hotel and Resort, calling it, “a lot like a cruise on land, with organized kids’ activities all day long, entertainment at night, and tykes dominating the landscape. Plus, the hotel has two video-game rooms, a make-your-own-album CD creator, and family-appropriate movie nights.”
Beach resorts are great—for the service alone! But sometimes you want a home away from home—with the ocean as your neighbor. San Diego is one of those towns, and a simple search uncovers tons of beachfront and beach-close gems in which you’ll want to steal away to for a few days. This oceanfront house in La Jolla is yearning for a few days with your family playing in the sand. Plus, the six-bedroom pad sleeps 16 in case you want to bring a dozen or so friends.
IN THE DESERT
Rather breathe in that desert air and enjoy an arid climate? Head to Palm Springs, where the La Quinta Resort & Club Waldorf Astoria Resort awaits. What makes it so ideal for the whole brood, you ask? How about the 41 pools on property. Yes, 41. There are also 23 tennis courts, nine championships golf courses, and five restaurants, plus the award-winning spa, while we’re counting.
What last-minute vacations are you planning out this year? Let us know in the comments below.