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Family Travel Files Ezine Family Vacations Resource

Best Paces for Family Reunions and Gatherings in California. The best places for a family reunion or gathering in California spas, lodges, guest ranches and resorts with activities, amenities and benefits for all ages.   

Here's the scoop. As the geographic distances grow between family members the need to schedule a reunion becomes more apparent. I have assembled a list that I know to be ideal for multiple generations. The suggestions may serve as a starting point for an interesting conversation about reuniting with your family. Meet at a resort; consider lodges, cabins or cottages; escape to a guest ranch; sail away together.

If your family needs a central location with easy access to organized activities then selecting a resort as your reunion destination is the solution. After all the idea is to enjoy time together without conflicts that occur when generations run at different speeds. 

Ojai: Ojai Valley Inn & Spa. Since 1923, vacationing guests have sought the tranquil pleasures of the historic Ojai Valley Inn & Spa, a AAA Five Diamond property located on 220 tree-shaded acres 35 miles south of Santa Barbara. It is full-service resort with endless activities for all ages and according to the LA Parent Magazine a most kid-friendly lodging. The Ojai Valley Inn Ranch & Stables offers a full range of activities including: guided trail rides, Western riding lessons, horseshoes, pony rides for children, and western hoe-downs and foot-stomping fun in the Big Red Barn. Reunion Bonus: Family activities include: guided lake fishing, a variety of beach activities such as sailing, deep-sea fishing and surfing lessons, guided bike tours complete with a snack stop, guided rock climbing, excursions to the dramatically beautiful Channel Islands National Park, kayaking on Lake Casitas, a Pacific coastline kayak tour and cruise dedicated to spotting and watching whales and dolphins. Bonus points for kids: Camp Ojai is an acclaimed children’s program which provides supervised fun and educational activities for children aged five to 12. Activities include daily trips to the ranch for pony rides and animal encounters at the petting farm as well as swimming, outdoor games, and craft projects that teach the traditions of the Chumash Indians. Camp Ojai is available for children to attend half- or full-day sessions 365 days a year. Discovery: The Resort was namedone of Parents Magazine's 10 Top-Rated Resorts for Families, and L.A. Parent says "the most kid-friendly lodgings are at the Ojai Valley Inn & Spa." (Ojai Valley Inn & Spa 905 Country Club Road Ojai, CA 93023 or

Lake Tahoe: The Resort Squaw Creek. Located on 195 hillside acres amid the dramatically beautiful Sierra Nevada Mountains, the resort offers guests gorgeous views of the forest and six peaks of Squaw Valley. The AAA Four-Diamond resort is ideally situated at the base of Squaw Valley USA, home of the 1960 Winter Olympics. Families will experience a mountain home atmosphere with four diamond luxury and full service attention to details. Bonus points: For flexibility there is a complimentary shuttle service to the village at Squaw Valley. For kids, Mountain Buddies™ is a year-round, fully supervised children's program for children ages four to 12 years. With careful supervision by an experienced, creative staff, children choose from a variety of fun activities. Mountain Buddies™ is available for both day and evening sessions and includes arts and crafts, games, indoor sports, books and movies, and a kid-approved meal. The counselors decide on activities such as swimming, hiking, biking, or tennis in the summer or sledding, snowshoeing, ice-skating, or snow-play in the winter. Reunion bonus: There a tons of activities to do at Squaw Creek all year round. In the summer activities range from swimming, championship golf, hiking and backpacking to all sorts of on-lake activities on beautiful Lake Tahoe. In the winter activities Squaw Creek is hot to a variety of outdoor activities: downhill skiing, snowboarding, cross-country skiing, ice skating, snow shoeing, sledding, tubing, snowmobiling, sleigh rides and dog sled tours. (Squaw Creek Road Olympic Valley (Lake Tahoe), CA 96146 or

Kings Canyon: Montecito Sequoia Lodge. Located in the southern Sierra Nevada near Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks, the Resort is open for guests year round. It is the ideal launch pad for a family reunion because they already have the facilities, staff and activities on site. That means for reunion planning little effort is needed. Just select a date and bring the family. Montecito Sequoia has 36 lodge rooms with private bathrooms and 13 wintered cabins. Reunion Benefit: Experienced staff members will assist in planning and taking care of the details needed to ensure a memorable family reunion. (8000 Generals Highway Kings Canyon National Park, California, 93633. Toll-free  1-800-227-9900, (650-967-8612 or

Palm Desert: Starry Safari Overnight Adventures. Grab your backpacks, roll up your sleeping bags and come join the Starry Safari, an incredible nighttime sleepover experience for the entire family at The Living Desert. Roomy tents easily fit up to four people, with sleeping pads to make the night more comfortable. Campers just need to bring sleeping bags or blankets, personal toiletries and clothes for the next morning. Each Starry Safari features a special WildLife Wonders presentation, a specially prepared delicious dinner and a nighttime guided hike through the park. After dinner, gather around the campfire to partake of tall tales while you enjoy s’more snacks you roast yourself. As the sun sets, the vast canopy of stars appears for some incredible stargazing. Sleep will come easily while listening to the howls of the coyotes in the Santa Rosa National Monument Mountains. Starry Safaris are for adults and children six years and older. Reunion Bonus:  Groups of 20 or more can enjoy all that a Starry Safari Adventure has to offer at a special pricing of only $156 per tent (includes 2 participants), and $78 per additional person. Call for more details. (47-900 Portola Avenue, Palm Desert 92260. (760)346-5694 or

Solvang: Alisal Guest Ranch and Resort. Located near Solvang, less than an hour from Santa Barbara the resort has bungalows with wood burning fireplaces and peaceful views. The arid rolling terrain of California’ horse and wine country once a favorite retreat for Clark Gable, today families are drawn to the area for golf as well as tennis. The ranch has an impressive stable of 100 horses for guests to ride. Fishing and boating are natural activities on the private 100 acre Lake Alisal. Reunion Bonus: The staff understands about families and intrinsically seems to know how to provide just the right amount of attention to make things run smoothly. They offer a Round-up Vacation Package (RUV) which includes all activities for 2 during certain times of the year. There is no extra charge for children when sleeping in parent’s room in an existing bed. (1054 Alisal Road, Solvang 93463. 1-800-425-4725, ext. 264, 1805) 688-6411 or

Researched and posted by Nancy Nelson-Duac, Curator of the Good Stufff for the Family Travel Files. Copyright updated 2015.

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