6 Best Family Resorts in Northern California

Cooking classes, outdoor camping experiences, pet amenities — these resorts have everything your family needs.

A family on vacation in San Francisco

5min read

Published 24 November 2023

Flight Centre Author


Kaitlyn Funk



Cooking classes, outdoor camping experiences, pet amenities — these resorts have everything your family needs.

Is there anything Northern California doesn’t have? With its impressive collection of national parks, sandy beach areas (you can thank the Pacific Ocean for those crashing waves), golf courses and wineries, it’s practically begging to be part of your next family vacation.

So, what’s stopping you? Whether you’re considering a visit to San Francisco or Sonoma, keep on reading to discover six of the best family resorts in California

Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa, Monterey

At first glance, the Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa looks far too luxurious for kids. But don’t let the ocean views, fitness centre, private balconies or super-soft bedlinens fool you! This hotel is perfectly situated near all of Monterey’s top family attractions, including Monterey Bay Aquarium, San Carlos Beach, Fisherman’s Wharf and Cannery Row. 

Kickstart your family vacation by roaming through the cannery buildings (many have been refurbished as shops and artists’ studios) before making your way to the aquarium. Here, you can view and learn about hammerhead sharks, sea otters, penguins, sea lions and other marine species. 

If your family prefers to be active, try cycling or sea kayaking along the California coast at some point during your stay — there are a lot of local boat and bike rentals in the area. A bowl of seafood chowder at Fisherman’s Wharf will taste even better once you’ve worked up an appetite. 

Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa, Sonoma

There’s something for everyone at this family-friendly Fairmont hotel in Sonoma wine country — including your furry friends! Not only are bowls, beds and biodegradable waste pick-up bags available, but the on-site restaurant also caters to pets with homemade biscuits and other healthy dishes.

Of course, there’s plenty for humans to enjoy as well. Younger kids (and guests who are young at heart) will love splashing in the outdoor pool and making s’mores at the outdoor fire pits, while teens and parents can enjoy some of the more high-end amenities. True to its name, this resort boasts a full-service spa complete with geothermal pools, a fitness centre, and pickleball and tennis courts. You’ll have access to a championship golf course at the neighbouring Sonoma Golf Club, too.

There are also a ton of family activities to be enjoyed in the surrounding area. Attend a local candle-making class, watch a live symphony performance or go for a scenic walk on one of the Sonoma Valley’s many hiking trails.

Timber Cove Resort, Jenner

Timber Cove Resort, located on the beautiful Sonoma Coast, is one of the most uniquely designed family resorts Northern California has to offer. Despite being recently renovated, the property (which was originally built in the 1960s) has a vintage feel to it. 

The communal areas and suites have been decked out with mid-century modern furniture, fireplaces, record players, a ping pong table, board games and free WiFi. In other words, you’ll have just as much fun on the property as you do off of it. 

Speaking of leaving the resort… make sure to visit some of the nearby parks and beaches. Kids will love splashing in the tide pools at Black Point Beach, staring up at giant trees at Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve and learning about local history at Fort Ross State Park. With so much natural beauty in the vicinity, this is an ideal spot for families of outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers. 

Hotel Zoe Fisherman’s Wharf, San Franciso

The first thing that makes the Hotel Zoe Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco a great choice for family vacations is its large selection of rooms and suites. The Deluxe Two Queen guest rooms are big and comfortable enough to fit a family of four (assuming siblings are okay with sharing a bed) — but you also have the choice of spreading out in King/Queen One-Bedroom suites, which have separate living rooms with pull-out sofas and a small dining table. Plus, you can request connecting rooms.

The second thing that makes this one of the best family resorts in Northern California is its proximity to the Golden Gate Bridge; you can even choose to bike across San Francisco’s famous landmark, since Hotel Zoe offers complimentary cruiser bikes to guests. Madame Tussauds wax museum, Alcatraz, Pier 39 and the picture-perfect Haight-Ashbury neighbourhood are close by as well. With so many things to do, this really is an ideal spot for a memorable family vacation.

The Ritz-Carlton Lake Tahoe, Truckee

If you and your kids love being in the mountains, set your sights on the Ritz-Carlton. While most families travelling to this area choose to stay in South Lake Tahoe (where there’s a huge collection of lodges and inns), this ski resort on the north side of the lake is our top pick. 

In addition to providing families with access to a huge outdoor playground (there are beaches, golf courses, and ski and snowboarding amenities nearby), it has the incredible Ritz Kids® program. From cooking classing and indoor “camping” experiences to crafts and scavenger hunts, there are endless activities for your little ones to enjoy. 

Not to mention, the resort has an outdoor pool — just in case you happen to be checking in during the summer months. No wonder it has a reputation for being one of the best family resorts in Northern California. 

Carneros Resort & Spa, Napa Valley

When you think about vacationing in Napa Valley, what comes to mind? We’re willing to bet you imagine a peaceful retreat that involves eating at fine dining restaurants, sipping world-class wines and relaxing at an award-winning spa. You’re not wrong, but that’s certainly not the only way to experience the region. It’s also a great place for a family getaway — especially if you stay at Carneros Resort & Spa.

First and foremost, the resort takes the concept of “family suites” to a whole new level with its charming cottages and residences. It’ll feel like a home away from home… assuming your home has a couple of outdoor pools (a family pool and an adults-only pool). 

You also have the option of enhancing your stay with Carneros’s Cozy Cottage Nights add-ons: transform your cottage into a game room or movie theatre, go stargazing in the backyard or set the kids up outside with a tent and sleeping bag. It’s all part of the adventure! 


Ready to plan your next family vacation? Check out our latest deals or chat with a travel consultant to discuss the room rates and available dates at these kid-friendly hotels in Northern California.

Flight Centre Author


Kaitlyn Funk



Flight Centre

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