A Fun 3-Day California Family Vacation

A lot of people travel during the summer season since the kiddos are out of school, but it can be a tough transition for everyone when suddenly you are thrust back into the carpool, soccer mom, lunch making role. Let’s be honest, you need a vacation. And, since the holidays are fast approaching, why not take a quick vaca before the extended family arrives? For all the mini-vaction/stay-cation lovers, I have come up with a fun weekend getaway for the whole family that will be easy, relaxing, and memorable. This is a trip our family took recently. We left from San Diego and drove north to explore parts of California that we hadn’t seen before.

The Travel Itinerary

Head to Knott’s Berry Farm and get there close to when it opens (around 10:00 a.m.). This is a fun place to stop and is much more affordable than Disneyland or Six Flags.  (Look for discounts online, including SoCal resident discounts). I suggest staying until it closes, then spending the night at a hotel nearby. There is fun for the whole family at this awesome place! And if you have time in the evening and you want dinner and a show, head over to the Medieval Times Dinner Theater for a live jousting tournament and sword fights between six knights. Trust me, your family will love this show!

What to do:

– Roller coaster rides, (of course)
– Take an old-fashioned family photo
– Check out Independence Hall – Make this adventure part of your American History learning by touring an exact replica of the original Independence Hall
– Visit the stable to meet the horse and donkey (for the animal lovers) – in Ghost town
– Buy an all-day food pass – it’s ~$32 for the day, you can eat at almost all of the dining locations, and you can eat every 90 minutes. Killer deal if you didn’t pack food (and they have gluten free and dairy free options as well). The cheapest thing to do is pack sandwiches and fruit in your backpacks.

When to go:

Any time of the year is fun, but if you want to get festive and into the Christmas season, I definitely think you should visit when they are showcasing their holiday-themed shows, live entertainment, carolers, Christmas crafts village, and nightly freshly made snow in Ghost town. You can experience their “Merry Farm” from ~Nov. 16- Jan. 6.

Where to stay:

We love the Mariott hotels, for their comfy beds, and delicious breakfast buffets.


Sleep in, eat at the free buffet at your hotel, and then take a scenic drive to the quaint town of Solvang. Solvang is a beautifully kept secret of a city, located in Santa Barbara County, and you will just adore how the city maintains its Danish heritage and architecture. There are wonderful bakeries, as you would imagine in a Danish community, and, I actually found a place that sells yummy gluten-free desserts! When you visit, check out Mortensen’s Danish Bakery, you won’t regret it.

What to do:

We love strolling or scootering up and down the main strip. There are often local outdoor concerts and dancing held in the park (usually on Sundays). One of my favorite parts is seeing the town lighted at night, with rows and rows of lighted trees and buildings. Both times we visited, we were so exhausted from other travel, that we rejoiced in the slower pace of this community, and I encourage you to try this type of vacation too. It’s good for resetting the whole family. Go for a night walk to see the lighted tree lane. Visit the local stores, maybe buy a Danish souvenir. After dinner, watch a movie, play board games with your kids,  read a book as a family, go for a swim, or take a dip in the hot tub at the hotel.

When we travel locally, we always bring a DVD player and HDMI & sound cables, so we can watch dvd’s while laying in our hotel beds. For some reason, that is always so much fun for us; it was actually the same for me when I was a little girl. We typically rent a movie from a local redbox on our way up to Solvang.

– I really wanted to see a show at the Solvang Festival Theater, but we missed the shows when we visited. They are showcasing the Solvang Nativity Pageant on December 15, 2018, if you are in the area. It is an outdoor theater, so dress warmly, and bring blankets and hot cocoa.
– For more cool things to do in Solvang, check out Trip Advisor’s list of the Top 15 Things to Do in Solvang here.

Where to stay:

We loved our two visits at the Solvang Inn & Cottages, talk about a cute little Danish village. The bedrooms won’t wow you, but the buildings are adorable. There are more expensive units nearby, with fancier bed linens, but less kid-friendly (from what I researched). The Solvang Inn also has a heated pool, hot tub, outdoor covered patio, outdoor chess, outdoor ping-pong table, bike rentals, and a free breakfast. And some units are equipped with a kitchenette.


Where to eat:

– Mortensens’s Danish Bakery, they have yummy gluten-free options, and just one glance at their desserts and I am sure you will want to visit!
(photo cred for the amazing pastries: @mortensensbakery)
– The Little Mermaid Restaurant (on Mission Dr.). They have delicious nachos and other authentic Mexican food, and it’s family-owned and operated. Side note, their family owns a few other restaurants in town (including an ice cream shop), so be sure to ask the owner where else to eat, I think they give you a discount if you do. 🙂 Sorry for not including photos; we were starving and I forgot to take photos before we ate. LOL.


Eat breakfast at the hotel breakfast buffet, enjoy a short stroll through the park, maybe check out a couple stores that you didn’t have time to see on Saturday, then pack and head home so you don’t hit crazy Sunday traffic.

I hope this relaxing vacation blesses your family like it is has mine. Let me know where you go, and happy traveling.

**By the way, can I just say that my hubby is such a hunk! Gosh, I am so lucky!

Much Love,
Lindsey Graves