Hiking in Santa Maria Valley
Do more for less

Affordable Family Trip in California

In Santa Maria Valley you can enjoy fun with your kids without breaking the bank.
With kid-friendly restaurants, hiking trails for all skill levels, sand dunes, and museums to excite and engage your whole crew, Santa Maria Valley is a great destination for family getaways in California.

Enjoy picking strawberries in Santa Maria Valley on your next family trip in California
Pro Tips

For Your Trip

  • If you're here for strawberry season, head out for a day of berry-picking (and leave with plenty to snack on!)
  • Check the event schedule to see what’s going on when you’re in town.
  • Pack some kites to fly at the park or the beach!

Your Trip At A Glance

Enjoy Kay's Kitchen during your weekend getaway in Santa Maria Valley
You can even enjoy parental pit stops at wineries during your family trips in California

Day One Itinerary

If you’re planning your family getaway in California's Santa Maria Valley between March and June, start your day at U-Pick Blueberries where you can grab a bucket and get your fill of blueberries, strawberries and other seasonal fruit. Santa Maria Valley is known for its strawberries and produces 20 million trays annually that are shipped to grocery stores across the U.S. Every April, local produce is celebrated at the Santa Maria Valley Strawberry Festival.Visiting U-pick Blueberries is a great option for an affordable family vacation in California

With your berry haul in tow, head to Los Flores Ranch Park for a family walk and picnic. Los Flores Ranch is a 1,778-acre open space area in Santa Maria Valley with 15 miles of hiking trails, guided tours and nature walks, plus donkeys and goats to greet as you stroll by. Look for the Dinosaur Loop for an easy hike the whole family can enjoy.You can enjoy hikes and sunsets with your family in Santa Maria Valley

On the way back into town, make a quick parental-pitstop at Cottonwood Canyon Winery, a perfect place to continue enjoying your family getaway in California’s Santa Maria Valley. Cottonwood Canyon has a great outdoor space with a large lawn for kids to play while you taste handcrafted wines. Like many Santa Maria Valley wineries, Cottonwood Canyon specializes in Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Syrah.

Next, head to the Santa Maria Valley Discovery Museum, where kids and parents alike can play and learn together. The museum has more than 20 exhibits, including Vandenberg Launch Experience which gives families a chance to launch rockets and experience aerospace in an entirely new way. The Vandenberg Launch Experience features a Discovery Space Shuttle with a full simulation dashboard. After all, family trips in California aren’t complete until you have a blast on a mock mission in a space shuttle. One of the newest exhibits, the Central Coast Makerspace, allows children to build and play while focusing on STEM learning.Santa Maria Valley Discovery Museum for kids

Finish your night around the corner at The Swiss. Get your fill of some traditional Santa Maria Style barbecue, which consists of tri-tip seasoned with salt, pepper, and garlic and served with a green salad, grilled garlic bread and pinquito beans. Children can select from the kid’s menu, which has something for even the pickiest eaters.

Day Two Itinerary

If you’re visiting the Santa Maria Valley from October through February, don’t miss the monarch butterflies at the Monarch Dunes Butterfly Grove in Nipomo. Thousands of monarch butterflies spend the colder months among the eucalyptus trees in groves along the Central Coast. This grove is a scenic half hour drive from Santa Maria Valley and a beautiful place to see native plants and wildlife, making it the perfect stop on your family getaway in California.Experience the beauty of monarch butterflies during family getaways in California

Then, head over to Oso Flaco Lake for a hike out to the ocean, as we believe that the beauty of nature can make an affordable family vacation much more luxurious and enjoyable. Oso Flaco Lake is just a short, 1.7 mile trail that is mostly on a boardwalk, making it a smooth and enjoyable walk for people of all ages. This California State Park gives hikers the opportunity to view and learn about native plant life, birds and other animals along the path. If you’re lucky, you may spot a rare Western Snowy Plover. Plovers often make their nests along the beach. The trail eventually leads right to the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes. You and the kids can walk along the beach, hunt for shells and dip your feet in the water, chasing the tide along the shore.

Enjoy beautiful views at Oso Flaco Lake on your family trips in CaliforniaOso Flaco Lake is part of the Oceano Dunes SVRA. If your kids are older, you can rent dune buggies to ride on miles of sandy coastline for an enjoyable experience on your family getaway in California. The Oceano Dunes are the only place in California where you can ride dune buggies right on the beach.

For lunch, check out Guadalupe Cafe which serves gourmet tri-tip sandwiches, burritos, salads, and more. If you’re a fan of authentic tamales, you can order 6 or a dozen to take home.

Then, treat yourselves to dessert at Nite Creamery. This locally made, fresh, premium ice cream is made with a twist. All ice cream is made with liquid nitrogen, making it smoother and more enjoyable in a cup or cone, and comes in various flavors. Nite Creamery is definitely the perfect, fun way to end your family weekend getaway in California's Santa Maria Valley!

Enjoy a relaxing afternoon at Waller Park with your familyAfter dessert, let the kids burn off their ice cream energy at Santa Maria’s Waller Park, which boasts two lakes with fountains and more than 150 acres of grass, picnic areas, playgrounds, basketball and volleyball courts, and a frisbee golf course. There are even pony rides on the weekends.

Stay in Santa Maria Valley

We can’t wait to host you on your next family trip in California, in the heart of Santa Maria Valley. Plan your trip today, and rest assured we understand that traveling with the whole family can get expensive. You'll find that you can do much more for less on the Central Coast. You can also check out the Holiday Inn & Suites where kids can stay and eat free! Stay with us, and know that you can save your money for more experiences and memory-making.

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