Family Reunions and Multi-Family Vacations
Archived Q&A and Reviews
My 80 year old mother would like to take myself, partner and son(16) along with my sister and her family ( 2 kids - 19 and 22yo) away. We are open to ideas but are thinkng of no more than a week. We are thinking of going in early summer. Does anyone have any ideas of places that would have things to do for varying ages. Some ideas were going to Cape Cod for a long weekend, renting a house in Tuscany ( might be too long a trip), Victoria?, etc. Has anyone been away with extended family with teens and young adults. Any suggestions? anonymous
Hi-- We had a lovely family gathering in Carmel. There are many rentals available. It's a nice quiet town if you like natural beauty, walking on the beach, shopping, eating, and art galleries. Sometimes there's theater.
We are also looking into a family reunion week in Santa Cruz. At www.beachhousesantacruz.com (sleeps 8) there's a rental house across the street from a small beach (view from deck, plenty of parking, fairly quiet neighborhood). Santa Cruz has a great bus system, a hopping downtown, the university, and might be a great place for teens to go around on their own a little. In the summer the Boardwalk is open late, which has world-class roller coasters. There is music every night, often headliners and festivals. There are surfing camps every week.
We have also vacationed in Oceanside (northern San Diego county) in the summer. It was formerly a grungy military town with a great beach, a pier, and great waves for boogie boarding. Now it's gone all chi-chi: there's a Starbucks, a chocolate store, a multiplex, restaurants. There are still Marines, T shirt shops & surf shops all over. Two good malls in nearby Carlsbad. Lots of rental houses, some with views. About 30 minutes south to San Diego (Zoo, Marine World, Wild Animal Park, Old Town, Balboa Island with its roller coaster, La Jolla with its excellent snorkeling) or 60 minutes north to Disneyland and Knotts Berry Farm/Waterslides. (LA and Hollywood are about 2 hours north.) There is a lot of activity on the beach at night-- family parties, bonfires-- but it still feels safe and we let our teens go out at night (with a curfew). In Southern California the ocean is warm enough that you don't need a wetsuit have fun
A friend at work came in raving about her extended family vacation in Yosemite. The family included all ages. She said that the shuttles enabled all ages to have some freedom. I think they stayed at Yosemite Village. It may not be exotic but they all had a great time teen mom
I know a wonderful family travel specialist who can put together a fabulous vacation for your family and insure that all age groups will be happy. She is in Florida and works extremely well via email and the telephone. she is extremely reliable and attentive. Her name is Lauren Goldenberg of The Family Traveler. She can be reached at: thefamilytraveler[at]lslink.com or 904-819-9711 and 866-326-8728. She is my cousin. If you chose to check out her services, tell her Martha sent you! Good luck martha
My brother and his family live in Seattle. We live in San Mateo. We thought it would be a great idea to find a fun vacation in between the 2, to limit traveling time and cost for each family. Camping would be great, or a family resort type of place. Another factor would be low-cost. Our kids range in age from 2 - 7. Does anyone know anything that would be sort of in the middle? Thanks! Katie
Replies received (click to see full review)
- Bend Oregon is a nice spot between Seattle and SF ...
- The Oregon Coast offers tons of great places to vacation!
- We find plenty to do in Eugene ...
My sister and her boyfriend have just moved to Oakland, so my mother and stepfather want to come out here for the Christmas break. Neither of us have places big enough to accommodate the holiday, and we thought it would be nice to get out of town. We would like to rent a house or condo within driving distance of Oakland, for 6 adults and 1 toddler, preferably with hiking, walking, shopping and a pool, if at all possible. I want to go to Carmel or Big Sur, but my husband is worried about fog and rain that time of year. He wants to go skiing but no one else does(except my sister's boyfriend, who doesn't get a vote yet, since it's his first Christmas with this crew). Any recommendations? Thanks. Andrea andrea
We've done extended family rentals for long weekends in Santa Cruz and in the Russian River area. The Russian River is great... not too long a drive to the coast which is even pretty in the rain, plus lots of great wine tasting.
Fog is an issue at Carmel & Big Sur only during the summertime. Rain will be an issue during December. If you want hiking & a pool, then it sounds like you want someplace that would have some decent weather. Try Palm Springs, San Diego, or places in Southern California.
My mother-in-law is turning 70 this November and we are talking about having a family gathering to celebrate. The issue is logistics and where to go for a celebration. We (my husband, our daughter, who will be 7 at the time) live in the Bay Area, my in-laws live in NY, my brother-in-law and sister-in-law and nieces live in NY, and my other brother-in-law lives in Miami. My husband and I would ideally like to be able to come up with a location that would make traveling easy on everyone. The gathering will be just for a long weekend (e.g., Friday, Saturday, Sunday) due to school/work for my husband, me, and our daughter. We would so appreciate any suggestions. We're looking at the first weekend in November. Resorts, national park areas, and any other type of place that would be able to accommodate both the adults and our then 7 year old would be great. Thanks! Lori
My family and friends and I face this problem often being very spread out. Because you are all spread out to where nearly anyone or all would have to get on a plane, I suggest traveling to a hub area so that everyone at least has direct flights. For example, you can fly from Oakland to NY on Jet Blue and I believe from NY to Miami directly. So, you could do something in the NY area at a resort somewhere. Other hubs would be Chicago, Dallas, Atlanta. Personally, I think Chicago might be too cold. Dallas and Atlanta would probably offer some cheaper options, but they are located in red states, which might be a problem for you.
Also, given that it's your mother-in-law's birthday, maybe you should ask where she'd like to go.
That said, you could rent a nice, large place on the beach in New Jersey or Cape May in Delaware or Rehoboth, DE. I used to live in DC and my friends and I used to rent houses for Thanksgiving on the beach out there. Great location and cheap off season rents and all not too far from NY. long distance weekender
My extended family is looking for a place to spend the holidays; between 3 couples our children range from 1-3 yrs old. We'd love a place that has a range of activities, wholesome food, and perhaps even some childcare. Either in or close to California is preferable. Southwest and Mexico might also work. We all like organic and healthy food. we're physically active; like to swim, run, hike. No Disney land type of place/something more restive and nature oriented geared towards families and offering food and group activities on site. rachel Replies received: (click for full review)
- I highly recommend the Club Med at Ixtapa ...
- Alisal Ranch near Santa Barbara is a beautiful and restful place ...
My parents are turning 60 next year and to celebrate, they want to take a vacation with their children and grandchildren. Since they are on the east coast, they have suggested we rent a house together for a week at the Jersey shore. I\x92m not sure my oldest brother can handle being in the same house with my folks for a week but he\x92s willing to consider it. Being in the same house may prove impossible as there are 4 siblings with spouses and 7 grandchildren ranging from newborn to age 17. I\x92d like to come up with a few other options for my parents to consider. Can anyone recommend a good place to have a small family reunion? It can be anywhere in the country (including the Jersey shore) as we live on both coasts. We don\x92t all have to stay in the same house (although we can \x96 my bro can try growing up a bit) \x96 cottages would be fine. A resort would be less preferable unless it was really unusual \x96 like Mohonk in upstate NY (which is my first choice). On or very near an ocean or lake necessary. Relatively easy access from a major airport (2-3 hours drive max) preferred. Someplace the adults and kids will love to stay for 5 days I\x92ve reviewed the archives but couldn\x92t find what I was looking for. What do you suggest? shari
- Kapoho, Big Island, Hawaii
- Russian River
Consider Atlantic City. We had a similar family get-together there a few years ago, and everyone had a great time. We stayed in hotel suites on the boardwalk (jogging, biking, strolling, pedi-cabs); we were steps from the beach and everything else Atlantic City has to offer (casinos, arcades, amusement parks and junk food galore). The hotel included breakfast, and it had a pool. It's relatively convenient to the Philadelphia airport (and possibly New York airports as well). robin
Check out Travel & Leisure Family magazine's Top 25 Places for Family Reunions. It's from 2001 but looks like a good place to start. Find it at http://www.wheretogonext.com/best_travel.php Rachel
Why not think about a cruise? My family does a trip every other year, and the cruise was by far the best. I was surprised at how well it worked for our 15 family members, aged 7 months to 70. The kids had the run of the ship (and kids club) and stayed in touch with walkie talkies. Princess cruises had a great kids program. We could all do our own thing during the day, but yet got back together for meals, to play chess, shuffleboard, or enjoy the onboard entertainment. The space was confined enough that we constantly ran into each other. We went to Alaska, but lots of options exist. Cruises can be expensive, but they are currently a great value because of overcapacity in the industry. Susan
My family is having a family reunion this summer (or there abouts) and the first step for me is to find the location. Maybe I am not thinking about this fully, but I have no idea on where to start or where to look for. If you have an ideal place or criteria I should be looking for, please let me know. Some items that may be helpful: Many live in Woodland, CA Number of attendees will reach 80-100 I think we would like to bring our own food/drinks Obviously, there will be many kids Thank you- Paul
We had one at UC Davis. They have a good swimming pool for the kids, and other stuff for them to do. We ate their food, but you may be able to bring in your own. We all stayed in one dorm, with a big common room with a piano in it. anon
Can anyone recommend a summer getaway destination for a trip with extended family? We'd like to be in a beautiful natural setting like the ocean or the mountains, with something of appeal for ages (we'll be 11 adults and 4 kids, ages 3-80). We've generally gone to Tuolumne Family Camp and Asilomar in Monterey, but we want to try something new. We'd need be able to get there in a car from N. and So. California, and we're okay with cooking ourselves or eating in a dining hall; solely eating out is not an option. (I checked the family reunions section of the web site, but I'm looking for any other suggestions folks have enjoyed.) Thank you for your suggestions. Melissa
- Manchester Beach KOA near Mendocino
- Sea Ranch
I am looking for vacation ideas for an extended family that includes four children ages 2 through 8. Ideally, it would be an resort within driving distance to the Bay Area that has a child care/camp as part of the program so that the adults can do some adult things some of the time. My mother-in-law vetoes cruises, beaches, or camping. We\x92ve thought about renting a house, but we really don\x92t want to do dishes or make the beds. Are there any high-end family camps out there? Club Med-type resorts in California? Helena
Try Montecito-Sequoia which is in Kings Canyon Nat'l Park - they bill themselves as ''Club Med in the Mountains.'' It's totally gorgeous, and there are activities for babies through grandparents. There are literally a dozen things to choose from every day. You can either stay in a rustic cabin or a more hotelish lodge room. The food is excellent. You need to book early though - many families rebook every year as they leave. www.montecitosequoia.com 4-time Veterans
The Hyatt Resort in Lake Tahoe has a kids camp during busier vacation times in the year. It can be a pricey place to stay but it is very gorgeous with it's own beach (with food and drink service), a few restaurants and a casino. I hire a nanny service when I go there for an evening out (Neta's Nannies). We bought a timeshare at the Hyatt a few years ago and have found it very enjoyable with our 2 girls (2.5 & 5). You can rent out the timeshare condos, but it doesn't include the hotel services, they will accomodate 8 people. The hotel has had a major renovation the past few years and will have an oasis type pool with a spa overlook this spring. Look the Hyatt up on their website (Hyatt.com), it might be what you are looking for. Kerri Langbehn
You could look into the Montecito Sequoia family vacation camp. Part of my family went there for a reunion a few years ago, and had a great time. It's a beautiful area. I would not call it high-end, but you sleep indoors (motel-style rooms), they provide meals (in a large dining room), and they have activities for kids (divided into age groups). http://www.montecitosequoia.com/ Lisa
We're planning a big family reunion for my partner's family next summer in California. There may be as many as 13 adults and 4 kids. I guess we'll need 2-3 houses or one very large place, for a week. Any recommendations? We're open to coastal, woodland or wine country...Money is an issue, so no fancy recommendations needed. We just want a clean, comfortable place nearby walks, water, a couple of restaurants, etc... any suggestions? corey
Try Sea Ranch. There are a lot of rental houses up there within walking distance of the beach. Great trails. It's close to the town of Gualala. About an hour from Bodega Bay and an hour from Mendocino. Beach Rentals in Gualala handles a lot of the rental properties. Sara
My husband's family has a really fun cabin in the Northstar resort area between Truckee and Lake Tahoe. We often go up for the weekend and our son (3years) LOVES it. It holds a lot of people which can make a stay there very resonable. Here is the ad they placed with the Sierra club:
Family-friendly Northstar-at-Tahoe home: 4 bdrms/ 2 bath, sleeps up to 14, hot tub, deck. Free shuttle to ski hill, Rec Center, village shops/restaurants. Across the street from hiking/X-country trails. $250/night, plus cleaning fee. Email: Laurenhp AT earthlink.net
I have been asked by my family (almost all of whom are outside California) to plan a family reunion for my grandmother's 80th birthday, somewhere in the greater Bay Area, most likely in Marin or Sonoma counties (but anywhere within driving distance would be fine). We would need about 20 - 30 sleeping rooms, somewhere for people to gather during the day, and access to a restaurant or catering for large group dinners. The room rate is going to need to be under about $135/night. I'm open to a wide range of kinds of venues, from hotels to bungalows or cabins to resorts. Rustic is okay as long as the rooms are accessible for elderly guests and it's reasonably tasteful. Something on a town square in Napa or Sonoma would be perfect. Does anyone have any recommendations? I have read the recommendations on the website but these are either booked already or don't work for our dates. Thanks so much. jen
Look into Mountain Home Ranch in the hills/mtns. above Calistoga off the road to Santa Rosa (Petrified Forest Road?). The family owned and run collection of cabins has two swimming pools, a small lawn area, hiking, and a communal dining area outside. It's rustic, they provide breakfast only, you'd have to bring in caterers. It's a FABULOUS place for families, provided they are not expecting treatment of a Four Seasons'. Triple J ranch is right there also. Have fun- christina
white sulpher springs resort in st. helena! we got married there. they have cottages (which might be above your cost - havn't been in a few years) but also a variety of bunkhouses etc. that are more affordable. there is a swimming pool and hot tub, as well as hot springs and a spa with massages etc. also a meadow for lawn games, etc. and a redwood grove. continental breakfast in the morning, etc. sara
Try Westerbeke Conference Center in Sonoma. I just went to a lovely wedding there. They have little cottages you can stay in on a pretty wooded hillside. They have catering staff there and the food was wonderful. There is also a pool and some nice gathering areas. roxanne
The location isn't where you were thinking but it might be just as fun. Have you heard of costanao in pescadero? www.costanoa.com they have a lodge, nice pitched tents and pitch your sites so there is a room for all kinds of budgets. Check it out Juliette
Can you help me? I looked in the archives but didn't really find what I need. I'm trying to plan a family reunion/vacation for February, within easy drive or flight from LA. There will be 5 kids under the age of 9 so we want sand and/or pools, plus my sister who doesn't have children who wants charm/antiques/art. Plus we want the best chances of warm sunny weather. I know, it's a big wish list. Any suggestions? My current thoughts are Santa Catalina Island or Laguna Beach or Oceanside. We would like to stay in a big house (6 bedrooms!) or 2 condos that are in the same complex. Any ideas on these (or other) towns, and house/condo rentals? Thanks so much! Judy
I don't know of specific places with great condos, but Catalina Island and Laguna Beach are very nices places to visit. I don't know Ocean side very well. Have you considered Santa Barbara? Thats a wonderful place for families with or without kids. Antique stores too! And the weather will probably be very similar.
Being that I'm from L.A. I can tell you that even though the weather is warmer, sunnier and drier in southern California, February is the rainy season down there. Of course some years have had very light to non exisistent rain. Last season they had a drought. But a few seasons before that, they were drenched in rain from El Nino. The temperatures along the coast will most likely be pleasant to very cool with sunny or cloudy days. And be prepared for a little bit of rain.The weather in all of California can be unpredictable. February might be really cold. And then there could be quite a few days of hot weather. But in general, Southern Cal is drier than North Cal during the winter, with Feb being the rainiest month for both. Laurey
Have you considered Santa Monica? It has lots of shops, antiques, art, and a big long beach including the Santa Monica Pier and old Carousel. Right next to that is Venice Beach which has some really nice stores near by on Main street as well as a fun beach with lots of interesting street activities and people watching along the walkway. These would be your closest options. Another option would be Ventura and the surrounding beach. It is a smaller town but has some of the architectural feel of Santa Barbara and has some nice little shops with antiques. Look it up on the web. Laurey
Palm Springs is a great vacation in February. Warm pool weather and in town you can walk every where well into the evening with the kids - including ice cream, kid friendly restaurants and the like. You can also take a day trip to Joshua Tree. anon
I'm a member of a group of 5 families (9 adults and 9 kids) who are planning a weekend away together in early October. We want to rent either one very large house or a group of smaller houses adjacent to one another somewhere within 2-3 hours of the East Bay, e.g., somewhere between Monterey County and Sonoma County or Mendocino County. We would like to be near water--either the beach or other natural body of water. Does anyone have any recommendations for places to stay that can house this many people? (A youth hostel won't work b/c they close up during the day and a couple of the families have young children who need to nap during the day.) Thanks for any ideas. Cathy
Try Sea Ranch, just over the Mendocino border right on the Pacific ocean... (see Recommendations for Sea ranch )
We spent some time in the Ft Ross/Jenner area which is about 2 hours from Oakland. (See Jenner & Ft. Ross for the rest of this review.)
In July we took at group of 4 families total 15 people between the ages 6 months and 70 years to Pajaro Dunes .... (See Pajaro Dunes for this review.)
You should check out White Sulphur Springs Resort in St. Helena. Beautiful spot. Could be perfect for you. Sarah
My husband's family has an annual family reunion. The past 3 years have been held in SunRiver Resort, Oregon. The house can hold 25-30 people, has 7 rooms (one room has 5 twin beds!), 4 bathrooms, pool table, large deck, bicycles, and spa. Usually, three homes are rented for the reunion, but the main house can accommodate everyone for dinner.
Other years we've stayed at NorthStar, Lake Tahoe. Again, there is always a main house where everyone can sit down for dinner. Number of additional houses rented all depends on how many people can make it to the reunion. Both these places are located in a resort area, so people can make use of the community pool and/or rec area included in the price of the rental. Also, the resorts chosen are somewhat centrally located, so people can have an opportunity to do other things, like shop or hike, etc.
To find out more about this type of accommodations, you will need to go through a realtor in that area to find just what you are looking for. Book early if you can. Mitzi
We recently had a family reunion (10 adults & 7 kids) at Berkeley Toulumne Camp, just 7 miles from Yosemite and right on the Toulumne River. Although it is quite expensive when you add up the tab for so many people, meals are provided so it's very nice that you never have to cook and your family can still all sit together at meals (at 2 tables). Also there are plenty of activities for the kids (and some for adults too) including periods of free childcare (depending on the kids' ages). You do stay in tent cabins, so it may not be the level of comfort you're looking for, but each family has their own cabin and we were able to get them close to each other. The camp is administered by the City of Berkeley Rec Dept. Randi