Best Hotels in Southern California: Luxury, Beachfront Bliss & Adventure

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Exterior of Peacock Suites in Anaheim California
The charming Peacock Suites in Anaheim. Photo credit: Extra Holidays

Families flock to Southern California for vacations because of the nearly perfect year-round weather, gorgeous Pacific Ocean beaches and tons of kid-friendly attractions. You’ll need a home base for your trip so we’ve curated a list of SoCal’s top places to stay with littles. Included are resorts with all the bells and whistles, comfy beachfront hotels and properties with tons of family-friendly amenities to help you plan your Southern California getaway.

A city view from the balcony of a room at the Club Wyndham Harbour Lights in San Diego
A city view from the balcony of a room at the Club Wyndham Harbour Lights in San Diego. Photo credit: Extra Holiday

This section is sponsored by Extra Holidays, which specializes in offering condo vacations at hotel prices in destinations around the world.

Read More: Is Extra Holidays Legit? We Take a Deep Dive Into this Vacation Rental Site

Club Wyndham Harbour Lights

911 Fifth Ave.
San Diego, CA

Want to stay in the heart of San Diego? The Club Wyndham location in the city’s Gaslamp Quarter is ideal for exploring downtown restaurants, shops and catching a Padres game at Petco Park. A short drive away are many of the area’s top kid-friendly attractions, including the world-famous San Diego Zoo in Balboa Park, Old Town San Diego and the USS Midway Museum.

Accommodations at the Club Wyndham Harbour Lights are studio and one-bedroom suites ranging in size from 495-960 square feet with king beds and queen-sized sleep sofas. They’re ideal for groups of up to four. The studio suites have partial kitchens; the one-bedroom units have full kitchens, private balconies, separate living and dining areas and oversized soaking tubs.

Property amenities include a state-of-the-art fitness center with sauna and steam room, laundry facilities, concierge assistance and complimentary wifi. On-site valet parking with in/out privileges is $40 per day.

Why the Club Wyndham Harbour Lights Works for Families

  • Families up to four can stay in one suite instead of booking multiple hotel rooms
  • In-suite kitchen facilities are handy for saving money on meals
  • On-property valet parking eliminates the hassle of searching for a place to leave your car
  • Great downtown location in San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter
best hotels southern California: LEGOLAND Castle Hotel
The LEGOLAND Castle Hotel has LEGO theming throughout, including fun surprises like talking portraits and musical seats. Photo credit: LEGOLAND California Resort.

LEGOLAND Castle Hotel

1 Legoland Drive
Carlsbad, CA

The LEGO Royal fun begins as soon as you arrive at the LEGOLAND Castle Hotel. A LEGO Queen and Wizard with a magic chandelier greet guests as they arrive in the Grand Hall at the LEGOLAND Castle Hotel. Kids can explore a secret dungeon, build with LEGO bricks and slide down into the lobby as their parents check in. You will also find a LEGO throne, a knock-knock joke door and costumed character meet-and-greet encounters.

There are 230 premium-themed LEGO Castle Hotel rooms and 20 themed suites. Each room includes a king bed and separate kids’ area with bunk beds with trundle to accommodate up to 5 people. When one SheBuysTravel writer stayed here with her preschooler, she appreciated the step stool and training toilet seat in the bathroom.

Why LEGOLAND Castle Hotel Works for Families

  • LEGO theming throughout, including fun surprises like talking portraits and musical seats
  • Nightly themed kids’ entertainment
  • Free breakfast daily
  • Zero-entry swimming pool featuring interactive water play features with cabanas available to rent
  • All rooms sleep up to 5 with separate kids’ areas with bunk beds and a trundle
  • Courtyard play zones for kids of all ages including a DUPLO tot spot, slides, an outdoor stage and cinema with seating

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best hotels southern California: LEGOLAND Resort Hotel
LEGOLAND Resort Hotel is located right at the main entrance of LEGOLAND California. Photo credit: LEGOLAND California Resort

LEGOLAND Resort Hotel

1 Legoland Drive
Carlsbad, CA

Ranked #6 for TripAdvisor’s Best Hotels for Families in the US, the LEGOLAND Resort Hotel also offers tons of fun LEGO theming and easy access to LEGOLAND. It starts with the welcome treasure hunt that lets kids search for clues throughout the hotel to find the secret combination that will unlock the treasure chest in their hotel room to reveal a LEGO surprise.

Rooms sleep up to 5, with a king bed and a separate kid’s area with bunk beds and a trundle.

Why the LEGOLAND Resort Hotel Works for Families

  • A variety of LEGO-themed rooms – Pirate, Kingdom, Adventure, LEGO NINJAGO or LEGO Friends – sleep up to 5 with separate kid’s area with bunk beds and a trundle
  • Free breakfast
  • Located right at the main entrance of LEGOLAND California
  • Nightly children’s entertainment
  • Zero-entry, heated pool with LEGO soft bricks to build with while you swim, pool-side food and beverage service. Cabanas are available for rent seasonally
  • Every room includes a bucket of LEGO bricks

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Read More: The best hotels near Disneyland.

best hotels southern California:Omni Rancho Las Palmas
The Omni Rancho Las Palmas includes Splashtopia, an extensive water playground. Photo credit: OMNI HOTELS & RESORTS

Omni Rancho Las Palmas

41000 Bob Hope Drive
Rancho Mirage, CA

Set against a stunning backdrop of mountains, palm trees and a golf course, the Omni Rancho Las Palmas Resort & Spa is a luxurious oasis in the California desert. Endless sunshine, sparkling pools and a water playground with two 100-foot water slides and a 425-foot lazy river make it a family-friendly SoCal getaway.

Located on 240 lush acres, the resort began life in the 1950s as the Desert Air Hotel & Resort, a coveted retreat for Hollywood stars, political figures and tourists alike. Cary Grant, Roy Rogers, Dale Evans and Bob Hope all appeared at the 1977 groundbreaking for the new Rancho Las Palmas.

Today, the Omni Rancho Las Palmas has been updated and re-imagined for the 21st century, including the addition of Splashtopia, an extensive water playground for both kids and adults.

Why Omni Rancho Las Palmas Works for Families

  • Splashtopia water playground
  • Three pools
  • Large, comfortable rooms
  • Free wifi
  • Paid and free kids’ activities throughout the day
  • Free family movies in the evening
  • Lots of dining options
  • Coachella Valley location is less than two hours from Los Angeles, San Diego and Disneyland, and only 10 minutes from the Palm Springs International Airport

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Montage Laguna Beach
The Mosaic pool includes an adjacent children’s pool and play area. Photo credit: Montage Laguna Beach

Montage Laguna Beach

30801 South Coast Highway
Laguna Beach, CA

Getting the resort treatment in Laguna Beach is as easy as making a reservation at Montage Laguna Beach. Spanning 30 acres on a coastal bluff above the Pacific Ocean, this beachfront sanctuary features two outdoor pool decks, a 20,000-square-foot spa and three signature restaurants with spectacular views of the California coast.

The newly renovated guestrooms blend coastal influences with vibrant, modern design and sweeping views of the coastline. Rooms range from standard 500-square-foot guestrooms with one king or two queen beds to larger two-bedroom suites and accommodations with fully-equipped gourmet kitchens.

If a full stay isn’t something you’re interested in, then make a day trip to the luxurious spa and take a day to yourself.

Why the Montage Laguna Beach Works for Families

  • The Mosaic pool includes an adjacent children’s pool and play area
  • Poolside cabanas are available for rent
  • Larger suites include a second bedroom and a fully equipped gourmet kitchen
  • The hotel offers easy access to stand-up paddleboarding excursions, snorkeling, whale watching, golfing, hiking and more
  • The spa offers the ultimate in kid-free fun for parents

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best hotels southern California: The Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel
The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel, offers a welcoming nature that caters to kids and pets. Photo credit: The Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel

The Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel

1 Ritz-Carlton Drive
Dana Point, CA

The Laguna area is known for is its beach lifestyle. Take that same fun and playful beach lifestyle and add luxury and style at one of our favorite places in Orange County, the Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel.

Perched atop a seaside bluff and surrounded by panoramic views of the Pacific and the sandy shores of Salt Creek Beach, The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel, offers a welcoming nature that caters to kids and pets.

Why The Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel Works for Families

  • Large suites with two king beds are available
  • Cribs and rollaway beds are available upon request
  • Eco-Adventure Center offers the opportunity to experience whale-watching excursions, surf lessons, oceanfront golf, beaches, artist studio tours, cooking classes and other activities designed for adults, kids and families
  • The Dana Point Spa for parents

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best hotels southern California: Waldorf Astoria Monarch Beach Resort & Club
The Waldorf Astoria Monarch Beach Resort & Club has three pools, including a family pool with graduated entry and cabanas and a sprayground. Photo credit: Waldorf Astoria Monarch Beach Resort & Club

Waldorf Astoria Monarch Beach Resort & Club

1 Monarch Beach Resort Drive
Dana Point, CA

This luxury SoCal hotel formerly known as Monarch Beach Resort offers one experience that is hard to hate: Enjoying the ocean breeze from your own private balcony.

Perched on 175 acres atop a 150-foot seaside bluff and featuring a private beach club, this elegant AAA Five-Diamond retreat offers oceanfront culinary experiences, unique coastal activities and a good night’s sleep in plush bedding.

Head to the private Monarch Bay Beach Club the next day for a beach experience available only to guests and members. All the equipment your family needs to surf, paddleboard, SUP and more is available, along with expert instruction and chair, umbrella and towel service on the sand.

Why the Waldorf Astoria Monarch Beach Resort & Club Works for Families

  • The private Monarch Bay Beach Club is open only to hotel guests and members.
  • Instructors from EXPERT ACTIVE offer instruction plus equipment rentals ranging from boogie boards to snorkel gear
  • Three pools, including a family pool with graduated entry and cabanas and a sprayground
  • Complimentary beach cruisers are available for biking around the resort
  • Walking trails, featuring beautiful views and fluttering Monarch butterflies, meander throughout the grounds

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best hotels southern California: Surf & Sand Laguna Beach Hotel
Guestroom options include a king bed and pull-out sofa or two queens and suites can sleep up to 6. Photo credit: Surf & Sand Laguna Beach Hotel

Surf & Sand Laguna Beach Hotel

1555 South Coast Highway
Laguna Beach, CA

This luxury beachfront resort is located on 500 feet of California’s pristine Laguna Beach. All 167 rooms offer stunning views of the Pacific Ocean and private balconies. It’s easy to see why it was named one of the top 25 resorts in Southern California by Conde Nast Traveler readers in 2019.

Family accommodations include king rooms with pullout sofa and rooms with two queen beds. The 13 Laguna Beach hotel suites sleep up to 6. And the Aquaterra Spa includes an ocean view couple’s treatment room!

Why Surf & Sand Laguna Beach Hotel Works for Families

  • Beachfront pool with cabanas and a poolside bar
  • Guestroom options include a king bed and pull-out sofa or two queens and suites can sleep up to 6
  • Microwave available upon request
  • Cribs and rollaway beds are available upon request

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best hotels southern California: Laguna Cliffs Marriott Resort and Spa
Photo credit: Laguna Cliffs Marriott Resort and Spa

Laguna Cliffs Marriott Resort & Spa

25135 Park Lantern
Dana Point, CA

The 368 newly renovated guestrooms at Laguna Cliffs Marriott offer a laid-back “beach chic” style and beautiful views of the California sunset. Standard guestrooms offer one king or two double beds while the suites offer a king and sofa bed.

A bustling harbor with restaurants and shops and a myriad of water sports is within walking distance of the hotel.

Why Laguna Cliffs Marriott Resort & Spa Works for Families

  • Two outdoor heated pools and whirlpools and children’s splash zone
  • On-site bicycle, boogie board and surfboard rentals
  • Walking and jogging trails
  • Ping pong, bocce ball and putting green
  • Board games, footballs, soccer balls and picnicking

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best hotels southern California: L’Auberge Del Mar
L’Auberge Del Mar’s 114 guest rooms and seven luxury suites all feature balconies with views in a luxurious beach setting. Photo credit: L’Auberge Del Mar

L’Auberge Del Mar

1540 Camino Del Mar
Del Mar, CA

This family-friendly upscale beach resort near San Diego overlooks an exquisite span of sandy California beachfront along the Pacific Ocean. The hotel has 121 guest rooms and suites, each featuring elegant furnishings, marble bathrooms, and private balconies or patios with garden, village or coastal views.

With a focus on healthy living, the hotel also features the 5,000-square-foot Spa L’Auberge, a fitness center, two tennis courts, and a pool. The beach is just a short walk away, down a beautifully landscaped path that weaves down the cliffs from the resort to the sand.

The hotel’s 114 guest rooms and seven luxury suites all feature balconies with views in a luxurious beach estate setting. Some rooms feature a fireplace.

Why L’Auberge Del Mar Works For Families

  • Easy beach access
  • Use of complimentary beach bikes
  • A nice-sized pool and hot tub
  • Spacious, comfortable rooms
  • Large bathrooms
  • A short walk to shops and restaurants in the picturesque coastal village of Del Mar

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best hotels southern California: Margaritaville Resorts Palm Springs
Splash in one of the two resort pools or take the complimentary bikes for the short ride into Palm Springs. Photo credit: Margaritaville Resorts Palm Springs

Margaritaville Resorts Palm Springs

1600 North Indian Canyon Drive
Palm Springs, CA

The first Margaritaville resort on the West Coast, this hotel has 398 rooms, island-inspired drinks and dining options, the largest resort spa in Palm Springs and family-friendly programming.

Formerly the Riviera Palm Springs, this was the choice hotel of the Hollywood elite, where Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley and Dean Martin stayed and played. Today, the hotel combines the chic, mid-century Palm Springs aesthetic with Margaritaville’s casual-luxe island feel.

Splash in one of the two resort pools or take the complimentary bikes for the short ride into Palm Springs.

Why the Margaritaville Palm Springs Works for Families

  • Two resort pools
  • Cabana rentals
  • Complimentary beach cruisers are available for bike rides into town
  • Mini fridge in the room
  • Free wifi
  • Suites options include two king beds or one king and a sofa bed and the 2-story, 2-bedroom Jimmy Buffet suite can sleep 6

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best hotels southern California: Hilton Santa Barbara Beachfront Resort
The 24-acre Hilton Santa Barbara Beachfront Resort offers lots of family-friendly activities around the resort, including checkers, chess, giant Jenga, ping pong, corn hole and croquet. Photo credit: Hilton Santa Barbara Beachfront Resort

Hilton Santa Barbara Beachfront Resort

633 East Cabrillo Boulevard
Santa Barbara, CA

Formerly the Fess Parker Hotel developed by the actor who played Daniel Boone on Disney’s 1960s TV show, the pet-friendly Hilton Santa Barbara is one of the few hotels located just steps from a beach in Santa Barbara.

The 24-acre resort offers lots of family-friendly activities around the resort, including checkers, chess, giant Jenga, ping pong, corn hole and croquet. Take a bike for a two-hour ride around the area or rent beach chairs and towels for a day on the beach. In the summer, you can even get a picnic basket to go.

SheBuysTravel Tip: Join the free Hilton Honors program before you book to get access to perks and earn points for future stays.

Why the Hilton Santa Barbara Beachfront Resort Works for Families

  • It’s pet friendly, including pet water stations at the main entrance, tennis balls & treats at check-in and a dog-friendly gourmet menu at the Set restaurant
  • Firepits for making s’mores
  • The location makes it easy to get active, from hiking in the San Ynez Mountains to horseback riding on the beach to a sunset sail
  • Standard rooms include two queen beds and suites have king beds and a sofa bed in a separate living area
  • Free wifi
  • In-room mini-fridge

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best hotels southern California: Bahia Resort Hotel
Board, paddleboard and bike rentals on-site at the Bahia Resort Hotel. Photo credit: Bahia Resort Hotel

Bahia Resort Hotel

998 W. Millions Bay Drive
San Diego, CA

Located on a picturesque 14-acre peninsula on Mission Bay, the Bahia Resort Hotel offers an array of family-friendly activities, fabulous dining options, spacious rooms and all the amenities you need to enjoy a sun-splashed beach getaway.

Named a “Best Value Hotel” by TripAdvisor, this resort has a ton of fun things to do, from boat rides on the Bahia Belle to bonfires on the beach. Play in the pool or stroll through the tropical gardens to the on-site playground.

Why the Bahia Resort Hotel Works For Families

  • Easy access to the secluded beach
  • Board, paddleboard and bike rentals on-site
  • Spacious, comfortable rooms
  • Just a short drive to San Diego’s world-famous attractions
  • A wealth of onsite activities keeps kids happy and busy
  • Complimentary beach chairs for hotel guests
  • “Zero noise” policy after 10 pm

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Scripps Inn La Jolla Cove
Each room in this charming boutique hotel is unique — some have two bedrooms, some have kitchenettes, some have fireplaces. Photo credit: Scripps Inn La Jolla Cove

Scripps Inn La Jolla Cove

555 Coast Boulevard South
La Jolla, CA

This charming boutique hotel has just 14 guest rooms. Each is unique — some have two bedrooms, some have kitchenettes, some have fireplaces — and all have outdoor spaces where you can enjoy the fresh sea air and priceless views while you listen to the crashing surf below. Bring your binoculars: the Whale Watch Point location makes it a perfect vantage point to watch for migrating whales during the winter season.

Why the Scripps Inn La Jolla Cove Works for Families

  • The location. It’s just a short walk to La Jolla Cove’s snorkeling and tide pools. Gray whales migrate past each winter and dolphins, seals and sea lions frolic year-round. And it’s a short drive to some of Southern California’s best kid-friendly attractions, including LEGOLAND, SeaWorld and the San Diego Zoo.
  • While this spot feels more like a romantic-leave-the-kids-with-grandma SoCal hotel, there are two-bedroom units available.

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Terranea Resort
Four pools include a 140-foot water slide, splash pad, private cabanas, fire pits and poolside games. Photo credit: Terranea Resort

Terranea Resort

100 Terranea Way
Rancho Palos Verdes, CA

The Terranea Resort gives families a ton of choices when it comes to room style by offering not only guestrooms and suites with a separate living room, but also spacious bungalows, casitas, and villas.

Beyond the accommodations, guests will find award-winning golf, four swimming pools, plus plenty of opportunities for added adventure. If you’re looking for an incredible spa treatment or full-service salon during your vacation, The Spa at Terranea was named one of the “World’s Best Spas – Top 5 Hotel Spas in the United States” by Travel + Leisure!

Why the Terranea Resort Works for Families

  • Kids can book with the Kids Club Discovery Garden and spend two hours focusing on educational art while exploring the area and nature around them.
  • Four pools include a 140-foot water slide, splash pad, private cabanas, fire pits and poolside games
  • Complimentary activities such as yoga, nature walks and a Lexus Drive Opportunity for guests
  • Experience Concierge can help you book additional activities during your stay such as archery, kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding

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best hotels southern California: Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort and Spa
Two resort pools are available, including Mankota’s lagoon-style pool and Slyders Water Playground slide pool. Photo credit: Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort and Spa

Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort and Spa

21500 Pacific Coast Hwy
Huntington Beach, CA

The Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort and Spa delight guests with both Spanish-inspired architecture and incredible views of the Pacific Ocean. Families will feel right at home with oversized guest rooms and family suites. Plus, this beautiful California resort is only a five-minute walk to 10-Mile Beach, Huntington Beach Pier and Pacific City.

Why the Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort Works for Families

  • Rooms offer plenty of space for families with two and three-bedroom suites, some with furnished patios with private firepits
  • Two resort pools, Mankota’s lagoon-style pool and Slyders Water Playground slide pool
  • On-site dining with kids menus available
  • Pet-friendly

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best hotels southern California: Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles At Beverly Hills
Resort-style pool and kid-friendly amenities such as kids’ menus are available. Photo credit: Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles At Beverly Hills

Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles At Beverly Hills

300 S Doheny Dr.
Los Angeles, CA

The Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills is a 5-star hotel that’s perfect for families ready to experience a luxury California vacation. Even the kids will feel pampered at this hotel when they receive a special welcome gift, child-sized robes, children’s menus just for them and complimentary coloring book and crayons.

Why the Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles At Beverly Hills Works for Families

  • Kid-friendly amenities such as kids menus, welcome gift and child-sized robes
  • Concierge available to book family dinner reservations or babysitting services.
  • Resort-style pool
  • Both rooms and suites are available, some offering soaking tubs
  • On-site dining options include both American cuisine and Italian culinary experiences

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best hotels southern California: Shutters on the Beach
The beach concierge can arrange bikes, surfboards and boogie boards for you to enjoy on the beach. Photo credit: ETC Hotels

Shutters on the Beach

1 Pico Blvd.
Santa Monica, CA

Inspired by Cape Cod design, Shutters on the Beach is a beachy California escape complete with bike paths, miles of coastline and plenty to discover. Choose between ocean-inspired guestrooms or suites, all with luxury touches and imported linens. For a Mediterranean-inspired getaway, check out the nearby sister site, Hotel Casa del Mar.

Why Shutters on the Beach Works for Families

  • The beach concierge can arrange bikes, surfboards and boogie boards for you to enjoy on the beach
  • Outdoor heated pool with whirlpool spa and private cabanas
  • Cribs, rollaway beds and connecting rooms available
  • Walking distance to historic Santa Monica Pier, Third Street Promenade and Santa Monica Place

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Mary Moore is the retro ­loving mother of two young children who enjoys the freedom of driving the open road in search of adventure. She and her family are working their way through the backroads and cities of America in their seafoam green 1950s Bel Air. You can read more about their lifestyle and adventures on the blog Raising Dick and Jane.
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