California

Top 10 Christmas Towns and Villages That Absolutely Sparkle

When it comes to the best places to visit for Christmas as a family, there are plenty of holiday travel options. You can head to Rome and Vatican City to soak in the religion of it all. Vienna, beautifully drenched in festive lights, boasts first-rate Christmas markets and concerts. Head north to Lapland, Finland, to visit Santa’s official hometown. Or, if you want to lie beneath Christmas-lit palm trees, a Caribbean vacation might do the trick.

Yet, some of the best Christmas towns and bedecked Christmas villages are actually right here in the US, offering those traveling with small kids a way to save on money and time. These local destinations go all out for Christmas with unique holiday light shows, special performances, and plenty of opportunities to meet with Santa Claus.

Read on for some of our favorite Christmas vacation ideas for those looking to get into the holiday spirit in a big way, from New York City to Williamsburg, Virginia, to Newport Beach, California. Find even more ideas in our Family Travel Guide.

7 Best Train Ride Day Trips To Take from Los Angeles

One of the best parts about living in Los Angeles is getting out of Los Angeles. With an unending supply of beaches, mountains, deserts, and historic highways just a short distance away from the city, there’s always an excuse for a day trip. But what are the options if you’re looking to leave cars out of the equation and travel by train to your favorite SoCal destination? Here are a few of the best spots Angelenos can get to by rail and still be home by bedtime.

Is Your Family Ready for a Ghost Town Vacation at this Popular SoCal Tourist Spot?

If you thought vacations in ghost towns were only for sitcom families, think again! Just a short drive from LA is the Calico Ghost Town, an old mining town that boomed in the 1880s but was abandoned not long after. Walter Knott, of Knott's Berry Farm fame, restored the town in the 1950s into a Wild West locale perfect for a family vacation. And while Calico may or may not have actual haunted houses, it can be a wonderful Halloween month outing all the same.

Best Kid-Friendly Hotels for a San Diego Family Vacation

Whether you're driving down from Los Angeles or flying in from afar, a weekend in San Diego is the perfect getaway to find rest and relaxation all year long. The SoCal destination offers a wide array of family activities to keep everyone entertained, in between the requisite visits to Seaworld, Legoland, and the Safari Park. Here, we round up eight of our favorite spots to kick back and unwind in this picturesque beach town.

Kids Free October in San Diego: Deals at the Zoo, Legoland, Seaworld, and More

The lazy days of summer may be over, but that's no reason to trade adventurous family outings for a never-ending cycle of school drop-offs, pick-ups, and algebra homework. Instead, pack up and head for San Diego during San Diego Tourism Authority's annual Kids Free promotion.

The citywide campaign kicks off October 1, enticing families to visit San Diego's big-ticket attractions like Legoland, San Diego Zoo, San Diego Wildlife Park, and Seaworld. Children can eat, stay, and play for free at more than 100 participating hotels, restaurants, museums, and parks until October 31.

We've selected 10 offers that we think are particularly good deals; put two or three together, and you've definitely got savings worth traveling for. Scroll down for a link to all 100+ free opportunities for kids in October.

25 Fun Things to do in San Francisco with Kids

With its famously steep hills, iconic sights, and many kid-friendly attractions, San Francisco is chock full of family fun. Unique thrills like a ride on the clanging cable cars, a ferry trip across the bay to visit a fabled island prison, amazing experiential food spots are some of the only-in-San Francisco experiences that kids and adults will love. Hands-on museums, a bayside aquarium, and enormous parks round out the family fun.

Read on to discover our best bets for family fun on a trip to San Francisco. And for more Bay Area fun, check out our list of things to do in Silicon Valley with kids

26 Things To Do in Santa Barbara with Kids

There is more to SoCal than just Los Angeles; only slightly farther afield families can explore Ojai, play in Palm Springs, and indulge in Santa Barbara. A 150-mile jaunt up the coast from LA, Santa Barbara is chock full of fun and educational things to delight kids and adults. Day-trippers can make it an extra-special jaunt (or maybe just avoid traffic and parking) by taking Amtrak from any of the LA or OC stations then spending the day or weekend riding Santa Barbara's downtown and waterfront shuttles—or the water taxi—to enjoy the 26 local attractions below.

9 Must-See Dinosaur Theme Parks and Attractions for Kids

If your kid is fascinated by dinosaurs, chances are everything in your home revolves around the prehistoric creatures, including your family vacations. Your nearby natural history or kids' science museum is a great bet for a quick trip to study major fossil displays. For an even bigger thrill, families might want to check out one of the many outdoor dinosaur parks, from full amusement parks to nature walks and mini fossil digs.

We've rounded up a list of 10 great places for dinosaur lovers across the country. These dinosaur-themed attractions offer up-close encounters with lifelike creatures, thrilling rides, impressive fossils, and more fun things to do and see for kids, including dino-theater.

For more family vacation ideas—that may, or may not, involve dinosaurs—check out our United States Family Travel Guide.

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