Getting through security with two kids, a stroller, and the family laptop makes you want to fly off the handle. Spare yourself the hassle (and the airfare) and choose one of these minivan-accessible destinations according to your clan’s mileage threshold.
T-minus: Two hours
Take scenic highway 154 past Lake Cachuma to the Alisal Guest Ranch & Resort (1054 Alisal Road; 805-688-6411). Roping, egg gathering, horseback riding, and fishing are just a few diversions in store on the 10,000-acre working cattle ranch, spa, and golf course. Bonus: Babysitters keep young buckaroos busy while Mom and Dad enjoy campfire cuddles.
T-minus: Four hours
San Simeon Pines Seaside Resort (7200 Moonstone Beach Drive; 805-927-4648) is an ideal launch pad for visiting Hearst Castle (750 Hearst Castle Road, San Simeon; 805-927-2020). Work up an appetite hiking Fiscalini Ranch Preserve or exploring tide pools at Moonstone Beach, then head to The Hamlet at Moonstone Gardens (7432 Exotic Gardens Drive; 805-927-3535) for seafood and panoramic views. Take a picnic from Linn’s Easy as Pie Cafe (4251 Bridge Street; 805-924-1064) to Shamel Park (5455 Windsor Boulevard; 951-826-2000). Don’t forget a slice of olallieberry pie.
Mission: Santa Rosa
T-minus: Six-plus hours
Journey to Africa by way of Sonoma at Safari West (3115 Porter Creek Road; 707-579-2551). Book a luxury canvas tent or a cottage to hear the nightly chorus of monkeys, buffalo, zebras, and 80 other animal species on the impressive wildlife preserve. Classic jeep tours, in-room Swedish massage, and morning hikes around Lake Watusi complete the authentic Serengeti experience.
You’re ready for blastoff.
Time for Lunch Campaign
What: Send a message to legislators demanding healthy school lunches by making changes to the Child Nutrition Act.
Why: Current law allots $1 a day for ingredients per meal.
When: Now or never. Congress plans to vote this month.
Where: Find your local Slow Food chapter here.
China Film Block
What: The Fifteenth Annual International Family Film Festival kicks off with Chinese flicks featuring animation, drama, and traditional opera.
Why: Sheer pandemonium.
When: Wed.-Sun. Schedule online at iffamilyfilmfest.org.
Where: Raleigh Studios, 5300 Melrose Ave., at N. Van Ness Ave., Hollywood (323-466-3111).
What: Kiddos make origami coats, upcycle T-shirts, and participate in an all-ages clothing swap at this all-day apparel party.
Why: The gift of garb.
When: Sat., 11 a.m.-4 p.m.
Where: Japanese American National Museum, 369 E. First St., Little Tokyo (213-625-0414).
Photos: Courtesy of Alisal Guest Ranch & Resort; Courtesy of Safari West