Where to Wed in California When Kids Count
June 6, 2023
Photos courtesy of
Your wedding is all about the two of you, as it first and foremost should be. So many decisions to be made! The trickiest ones may involve who to invite, especially when it comes to families with young children. Determining whether or not to host a child-friendly wedding is a personal conversation. If you do opt to include little ones on your big day, determine ahead of time what boundaries you wish to set, from immediate family at the ceremony to a bounce house and babysitters for all. For the moment let’s assume you’ve agreed to wed with children present. For the parent-guests traveling to the party, you’ll want to make it as easy on them and as fun for the kids as it can be. This starts with your location. A kid-friendly destination wedding property is a great way to ensure everyone is entertained, with all of the necessary resources on hand. If you’re planning a destination wedding in California, here are a few of our favorite family-friendly wedding hotels and resorts.
Photos courtesy of Balboa Bay Resort
This waterfront resort in Newport Beach can host 300 of your nearest and dearest on the grass overlooking the harbor. You could also dance the night away in the elegantly appointed grand ballroom, or for groups of 100 or less, head upstairs for the best views in town in the Bay View Room, complete with built-in bar and windows wall-to-wall. The Balboa Bay Resort has luxury amenities for groups just as a large resort would, but better yet, it boasts an intimate feel for your wedding day. The location affords a playground for the whole family, from downtime at the pool to water sports on the bay, with welcome drinks on the terrace. When you’ve dried off, the nearby Balboa Fun Zone calls. Take your car right onto the Balboa Island Ferry for a five-minute water taxi docking directly in front of the amusement park. This may be the most fun ride of all! The Balboa Bay Resort feels fresh and new with a vintage entertainment vibe, a great place for adults and kids alike to celebrate, and less work for the bride and groom. For the morning after or welcome drink, book Duffy Boats and break into small groups for an easy self-driven ride out on the bay. This is one activity everyone in your party is sure to love.
Photos courtesy of Hyatt Regency Indian Wells Resort & Spa
What child (or adult?!) wouldn’t love a waterpark at your wedding? Well, maybe not at the wedding, but consider the weekend! Waterslides for big and small, a lazy river (adult beverage approved) for the whole family, and a safely contained space (plus splashpad) for families and friends to informally celebrate pre or post wedding. But the Hyatt Regency Indian Wells Resort & Spa is not all about the water. Located in the heart of the Coachella Valley on 45-acres, you’ll love the breathtaking desert wedding views and twelve indoor and outdoor venues to choose from. Saying “I do” to selecting a favorite space may be a challenge, so why not choose several? Exchange vows on the golf course at the 18th lawn overlooking a water feature and the majestic views of the valley, or consider the more private Verbena Terrace for smaller ceremonies of 50 guests or less. The options are so versatile that you can host several days of events, never leave the property, and have a uniquely different experience at each celebration. The Grove is a fantastic place to party under Edison lights, or consider taking over some of the 43 villas for mid-day BBQs (great for family stays) and late night jacuzzi chats under the stars.
From the kid-friendly lobby café and snack bar to the adult-friendly penthouse suites in a sleek modern style, this home away from home is the best of both worlds. And no matter where you wed at the Hyatt Regency Indian Wells, your guests will love the fun in the sun and the magical wedding aura all around. After all, that’s what it’s really all about.
Photos courtesy of The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe
Whether sun or snow is your style, The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe can be home to your active, outdoors, and all-family member-friendly fete. Perched mid-mountain where you can ski in/ski out at the Northstar Resort, it brags picture-perfect snowfalls and summer flower blooms. Guest rooms include gas fireplaces and floor-to-ceiling windows, with a spa steps away to unwind in. For a dual vacation experience, take a short shuttle drive down to the Lake Club where families can gather for complimentary kayaking and standup paddle-boarding. Rent a boat for the day with your immediate family and make more memories on the water before the festivities kick into high gear.
When it comes time for the big day, the choices are made to fit. The Lake Club is idyllic for smaller ceremonies (75 people max). For groups up to 200, opt for The Woods, a forest-like setting in the Sierra Nevadas. And to accommodate even larger groups (up to 400) or for your reception following a ceremony in The Woods, The Meadows features an awe-inspiring summer setting, complete with chairlifts woven among the trees. In the snowy months, celebrate fireside in the ballroom. Inside or out, the scenery is breathtaking.
If your wedding is one where kids head home after dinner, consider the perks of staying at a Ritz-Carlton property. Unexpected surprises await in-room allow for more late-night adult wedding fun. Think camping with tents, pizza-making, fuzzy forest friends (a local program to learn about the Tahoe area animals), and movie nights. The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe isn’t just kid-friendly, it’s pet-friendly too. Your four-legged fur person could also be included in the wedding portraits if you choose.
Photos courtesy of Ojai Valley Inn
When seeking a destination wedding venue that supports children attending, consider the space, the outdoors, and of course, the activities. The Ojai Valley Inn has all of these in spades. Ride bikes for a “picnic and pedal,” play tennis, take a dip or guided hike, horseback ride, even learn how to make artisan soaps. Complimentary family-friendly crafts are available daily in the Artist Cottage and activity planners are on site for even more ideas. While the adults hit the world-famous spa, kids can make wind chimes and learn about beekeeping at Camp Oak. Arts and crafts, science and scavenger hunts, and learning about the nature they’re residing in will all make for unforgettable experiences. At night, gather as a group for s’mores-roasting and games.
Come wedding day, welcome guests to a ceremony under a massive oak tree in the Hacienda Courtyard or head to the famed Farmhouse for indoor and outdoor entertaining. With a beautifully modern yet rustic design, the high beam ceilings and ironwork create a backdrop for a unique celebration unlike anywhere else on property. For an ultra-private event, consider Casa Elar, a five-bedroom estate complete with pool that can host your family and your big day (or perhaps a welcome celebration too). The 220-acre property has it all – seven dining options, legendary golf, and spaces to accommodate just the right celebratory tone you want. Adults will love the tranquility of the property where the kids can live their own best lives too.
Photos courtesy of The Hotel Del Coronado
The Hotel Del Coronado might be the most well-known resort in California, but what you may not know is how it’s getting more family-friendly each year. With five different vacation experiences, there’s something for everyone in the group. For those wanting that classic Hotel Del experience, The Victorian is the original iconic structure you know from Some Like It Hot. The Cabanas, in the heart of it all, is a great stay for social couples and wedding guests. The Views sits closest to the adventure hub for active guests who want to rent bikes or take a surf lesson (the Del Surf Academy is great for the older kids). Families love the Shore House and Beach Village because of the residential-style accommodations.
Roast marshmallows on the beach, reserve a fire pit and arrange a food, wine, and cocktail menus ahead of time – complete with s’mores. History tours are fun for Hollywood and local-history buffs alike. And of course, with its famous expansive beach, there’s plenty of sand and sun to soak up. Around the holidays you’ll find an ice skating rink and made-to-order snowfall, and in summer watch movies on the beach. Take in a snorkeling experience, virtual reality-style from the comfort of the Cabana Pool, or send your little ones off to be Ocean Explorers where they’ll learn about the underwater world in sunny San Diego.
Come wedding day, private sections of the Del Coronado Beach can give you a quintessential California surfside wedding where you can host fireworks, food, and cocktails on the sand. Windsor Lawn is another crowd favorite for large groups up to 700 overlooking the Pacific Ocean, with lush landscaping designed to frame a celebration. And for a more traditional, elegant venue, look to the famous Crown Room, a circular ballroom that oozes old Hollywood glamour. Its 30-foot sugar pine wood-domed ceiling drips with formal chandeliers designed by L. Frank Baum, author of The Wizard of Oz.
Photos courtesy of The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay
The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay offers the best of both worlds—the finest city amenities and attention to detail with the relaxed luxury of disconnecting from it all and finding yourself in a world of calm and beauty. The ability to engage with loved ones runs deep here, a perfect backdrop for a destination group with or without kids. Enjoy locally made beer and wine, fresh-caught seafood, a round of golf, a sunset beach walk, and for those more adventurous, the beautiful local trails for your hike or biking experience. Spend the morning in a sea kayak, on a surfboard, or stand-up paddle-board along with the local seals. Kids will love the property-wide scavenger hunt, indoor pool, cupcake and cookie decorating, and educational coastal trail walks to learn about the local flora and fauna.
For children and adults alike, the property’s Club Lounge is a great stop. With views of the cliffs that rival the iconic cliffs of Ireland, the lounge welcomes every age. Scoop up sweets at the candy bar, play a friendly board game, and snack throughout the day without having to stop at a restaurant (and get the kids to sit still).
If you think the kids’ amenities are a treat, the wedding options will take your breath away. The expansive blufftop Ocean Lawn hosts seaside weddings for larger groups, but the terrace, ballroom, and alternative lawns are equally as elegant, so it might be difficult to choose. Whatever you decide, getting married here feels as if you’ve transported your guests to a land far away (with the ease of the SFO Airport just a car ride away).
If the little loved ones in your life join you, consider a wedding venue suited for every guest’s needs and they’ll be all smiles when it’s time to say cheese.