Winter Staycation Spots with Amazing Kid Perks

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The holidays are here and the winter is a perfect time to book a family staycation in the Bay Area. There are tons of hotels with amazing kid perks like whole floors decked out for Christmas, amazing indoor pools and packages that include ice skating and hot chocolate. Book your staycay today!

photo: Westin St. Francis

Book at Holiday Hideaway at the Westin St. Francis—San Francisco

The holidays are the perfect opportunity to enjoy a family vacation and with the brand new “Holiday Hideaway” Kids and their parents can enjoy a festive hotel floor and fun surprises designed just for them. At check-in, kids will be welcomed with candy canes, holiday coloring books and crayons, plus a golden ticket redeemable for in-room delivery of sweet and savory goodies and a “Letter to Santa Kit.” Upon entering the Holiday Hideaway floor in the historic Landmark Building, families will be greeted by two life-size toy soldiers and festive décor, along with their very own in-room miniature Christmas tree. Later that evening, magical elves will secretly bring special surprise treats for everyone. Children will awaken the next morning to a delivery from the North Pole of San Francisco-inspired gifts. We especially love the two sugar castles in the lobby here! 

Dates: Available Dec. 19, 2019-Jan. 4, 2020. 

photo: Stanford Inn

Get Cooking at the Stanford Inn by the Sea—Mendocino

Nestled atop a meadow that overlooks Mendocino Bay, The Stanford Inn and Resort is a luxurious and sustainable destination providing recreation opportunities from nature tours to yoga, and canoeing and kayaking to massage. The Resort is unique and a great base for exploring the Mendocino Coast with the resort offering an indoor saltwater pool, full bar, magnificent gardens, award-winning restaurant, and extensive wellness experiences.

Families can book the Vibrant Families package that is available as an add-on to a three-night minimum stay any time of year. The package includes a family cooking class, art and creativity class, healthy living class and more, all taught at the resort over the course of the three days with plenty of down-time to play and explore the breathtaking Mendocino coast, wander the resort’s vast property and educational farm, or head out on one of the resort’s redwood outrigger canoes with the entire family!


photo: Tilden Hotel

It's Family Game Night at the Tilden Hotel—San Francisco

Steps from Union Square, Tilden Hotel is a 118-room boutique hotel with thoughtful amenities for kids. Complimentary hot cocoa or orange juice is offered at Tilden Café and complimentary snacks and juice can be found at the front desk during the day. Kick back and relax with life-sized Connect4 and Jenga with smores at the outdoor firepit in the hotel’s Backyard space. Channel your inner artist in the hotel’s hidden muraled hallway, complete with 3D painted designs that can be viewed using 3D glasses found at the front desk.


photo: Palace Hotel

Swim under the Stars at the Palace Hotel—San Francisco

The Palace Hotel is a clear choice for a winter staycation spot if for one reason only—it has the pool with the best view in the city. This gorgeous indoor pool is covered by windows so that you can see all the nearby skyscrapers and twinkling holiday lights. Families will enjoy the hotel's excellent service and massive suites that offer plenty of room to spread out with the whole crew. Dine at the Garden Court Restaurant at their ample breakfast buffet or the signature tea that is offered on Saturday afternoons. 

During the winter, you can book the Holiday Memories package that includes two passes for the Holiday Ice Rink at Embarcadero Center, two one-way Cable Car tickets and free in-room WiFi. 


photo: Stanford Court

Dive into a Book at Stanford Court—San Francisco

The 400-room hotel atop Nob Hill makes it easy for kids to relax and have fun with Google Chromecast equipped room for watching favorite shows, or Macbook rentals through the tech loaner program. During check-in, kids can rummage through a toy chest and pick an item to bring to their room, or visit the library wall on the lobby level in search of an interesting story. Commons Café, the hotel’s deluxe continental breakfast, serves delicious offerings and made-to-order omelets, and kids under 12 eat free with accompanying paying adults.


photo: Cavallo Point Lodge

There are Views for Days at Cavallo Point Lodge—Sausalito

Cavallo Point Lodge is San Francisco’s award-winning national park lodge, set within Golden Gate National Parks at the foot of the famed Golden Gate Bridge. The lodge’s location, amenities, and family fun offerings attract families seeking adventures or a staycation during the hectic holiday season. Guests are encouraged to spend time together as a family through weekend guided hikes, outdoor watercolor classes, picnics, or even just running around on the property’s grassy ground lawn—all while enjoying stunning views of San Francisco. Parents enjoy daily morning yoga classes as well access to fitness suite and mediation pool. Make it a long weekend with the third night free package

Next door, sharing a secluded cove, is the popular Bay Area Discovery Museum. The property’s back yard is 80,000 acres of Golden Gate National Parks, with built-in kid fun like hiking and beachcombing. 


photo: Half Moon Bay Lodge

Cozy Up at the Half Moon Bay Lodge—Half Moon Bay

Book a suite with a fireplace and enjoy a long weekend at the Half Moon Bay Lodge. We love this coastal retreat for families because it includes free breakfast every morning and has a heated outdoor pool and hot tub. Winter stays will get you 25% off through the end of March

Book a session of horseback riding on the beach and then head to downtown Half Moon Bay for some shopping at our favorite store for kids of all ages, Oddyssea. Oddyssea has an awesome outdoor area with a bunch of hands-on activities for kids and adults like leather working, terrarium building and a scavenger hunt in the garden. Don't miss the killer sandwiches and live music down the street at the San Benito House.


photo: Kate Loweth

Shop, Skate and Play at Parc 55—San Francisco

Union Square hails all kinds of tourists from around the world, so why not join them for a couple of days and take part in all the fun activities? Parc 55 offers the winter Shop, Skate and Play package that includes three passes to the Safeway Ice Rink at Union Square, a complimentary gift from Bloomingdale’s, plus a 15% savings certificate, personal shopping appointment & beauty consultation, as well as free breakfast for the kids.

Take a morning after breakfast and hit up Union Square for a stroll. When it’s time for lunch, head over to Chinatown for some highly rated Chinese food or visit the Fortune Cookie Factory if the kiddos haven’t seen it yet!


photo: Kate Loweth

Explore the Embarcadero at Hotel Vitale—San Francisco

We love the Hotel Vitale for it's perfect location right across the street from the Ferry Building and the Embarcadero Center Holiday Ice Rink. You'll get Bay views from the roof decks and loads of activities for families right around the corner. Parents can relax with massages at the on-site spa. Kids will especially love the Embarcadero Explorers Package that comes with four tickets to the Exploratorium, kids binoculars to scope out the Bay Bridge and a fun gift bag that includes a kids' Giants hat, SF puzzle, color-changing sunglasses and more.

The hotel is conveniently located in the same building as the SF Railway Museum (a fun and free spot to learn about San Francisco railway history) and right down the block from Sue Bierman Park and the Vaillancourt Fountain. Head across the street for ice cream at Humphry Slocombe, among dozens of other dining spots in the Ferry Building. The Exploratorium is just a 10-minute walk away—grab a pedicab ride back to the hotel when your legs are tired! 


photo: Carmel Valley Ranch

Make Some Family Time at Carmel Valley Ranch—Carmel

If you’re up for a bit of a drive, Carmel Ranch Valley is a great vacation spot to really be out in the open air. The hotel is dedicated to the idea of play, so you can be sure to have a great time with the kiddos. With their Ranch Hands Family Package, you’ll score a spacious suite for a family of four, daily breakfast and a half-day pass to either Little Ranchers Camp for the 2-5 set or Kids Camps for the 6 and older. With access to hiking trails, golf, swimming pools, organic gardens and chickens, it’s enough to make you want to stay another day. 

Holiday events on the ranch include a Nutcracker tea, and family-friendly New Year's Eve countdown celebration at 9 p.m. to coincide with East Coast New Year's. 


photo: Santa Cruz Monterey Bay KOA Holiday

Kids Stay Free in December at Santa Cruz/Monterey Bay KOA Holiday—Watsonville

If you have never brought the kids to a KOA for camping then you are in for a real treat. This spot near Manresa State Beach and the Santa Cruz Boardwalk offers Deluxe Cabins with bunk beds or a sleeping loft for the kids and brand-new Glamping Cabins that are perfect for a romantic getaway. Kids stay free for the month of December and their activity schedule is packed with fun to keep the kids busy. Ride the KOA Express Fun Train around the property, get strapped in to climb the coconut palm trees, jump on the massive jumping pillow and enjoy s'mores without the cleanup! 

There's so much to do on site that you really could spend your whole weekend here without anyone getting bored. You can head over to Watsonville for free apple cider tasting at the Martinelli's Company Store. And naturally, the beach is super close if that's your jam. Check out all our Santa Cruz recs here.


photo: Kate Loweth

Take in the Fisherman's Wharf Festivities at Hotel Zephyr—San Francisco

Kids will love the funky Hotel Zephyr, complete with giant games and fire pits. The playful hotel is all about a fun experience while being right across the street from all that Fisherman’s Wharf has to offer. The rooms are designed to look like captain’s rooms, so little ones will love the porthole window in each room. With walking distance to PIER 39, Ghirardelli Square and the Alcatraz Ferry landing, the activities are endless. Spend an afternoon in the hotel’s pretty awesome indoor/outdoor lobby. With colorful seating and jumbo games like Connect 4, it’s a great way to get some quality family time in.


photo: Kate Loweth

It's a Winter Beach Day at the Dream Inn—Santa Cruz

Avoid the summer crowds and head to Santa Cruz this winter. The Dream Inn Hotel is right on the beach, so all you have to do is step outside with some sand toys and sunblock for a day of fun. If you feel like staying an extra day, the hotel has a Third Night Free offer until the end of May. With so many things to do and explore including the Beach Boardwalk, Nickelodeon Theater and Big Basin State Park, you will definitely want to book that extra night. Make it a festive stay with a ride on the Santa Cruz Holiday Lights Train


—Kate Loweth


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