More than a block of hotel rooms, the ideal family reunion location is one where everyone really can be in the same place for quality time and reconnection. The reunion you’ll want to repeat is not the one where impractical numbers of you spent time awkwardly gathered in hotel rooms or where you ate meals at multiple tables spread throughout a restaurant. Rather, you’re going to remember the event where you had an exclusive little resort all to yourselves with comfortable rooms and more-than-generous amenities and personal service—where your primary responsibilities were simply to be present with the family and to let loose as you climbed through the redwoods, splashed around in your private pool, or screened a family photo slideshow under the stars with a campfire and s’mores. Those are always the most memorable moments for the families we’ve hosted.

How to Find the Ideal Bay Area Venue for Your Family’s Best Reunion

The extensive San Francisco Bay Area offers venues on extreme ends of the spectrum: hotel rooms tucked into the dense urban landscape, as well as all-inclusive retreat centers surrounded by beautiful breathing room, and many venues in between. The closer you are to the city of San Francisco, the more crowded and expensive venues will be. But as you get farther from the center, you can expect more bang for your buck, and things start to spread out, making more room for your creative family reunion planning. Up in the Santa Cruz Mountains, we have so much space that it sometimes seems we’re the only ones in our peaceful little world. Because all families are looking for their unique and special place, we’ve scouted out some beyond-hotel options for family reunions throughout the Bay Area’s subregions with a handful of family-friendly features in mind.

Click here to jump right down to the venues that check out best in terms of comprehensive features and activities for all ages for the best value.

Considerations for an Ideal Family Reunion:

  • Good Value: When you’re bringing together people from different income and family situations, it’s good right out of the gate to plan a reunion based on a good package value. You’ll want to know what’s included up front and what you should expect to pay along the way, so no one heads into the experience with high hopes and walks away disappointed by an unexpected total cost.
  • A Beautiful Escape You Can Sink into: Family reunions come around only once in awhile, and you want to be able to retreat fully from your regular concerns and pace of life to focus your love and attention on quality family time. Uncommon locations inspire that kind of escape and focus.
  • Plenty of Space to Stretch Out and Be Together: Your family reunion can be whatever you make of it—as long as you have the space and the resources to bring your plans about. Indoors or outdoors, you’re going to want open spaces where you can bring the whole big group together comfortably. Hotel options are limited in this way; even if you reserve a conference or hall space, your time is limited.
  • Access to Multi-Generational Activities: When you’re bringing the kids, parents, grandparents, maybe even great-grandparents together, you want to be able to include everyone in the fun—whether all at once or through different activities. Some locations are better suited to accommodate these kinds of activities for all ages. Some venues even offer all the opportunities you need right on site.
  • Convenience and Comprehensive Amenities:The more services and amenities that are taken care of for you, the more the whole family can focus on being together. It’s even possible to find a venue that will help coordinate the event and activities.

How do the Bay Area’s Different Regions Shake Out for Family Reunion Events?

San Fran North Bay East Bay South Bay & the Peninsula Santa Cruz & Extended Bay Area
Good Value
Beautiful Escape
Spacious
Fun for All Ages
Convenient, All-Inclusive

San Francisco for Family Reunions

Rating: 2/5

The city is loaded with activities the generations can share, from museums to Fisherman’s Wharf to the Golden Gate Park’s many attractions—but for a per-person price at each stop. The hassle of transporting everyone and parking may overshadow your together time. San Francisco is one of the most expensive cities in the US, so your lodging, food, and activities will certainly be at the top of or beyond your family’s price range. Even spacious hotel accommodations that are designed for families may limit your quality time when you’re segmented in highrises.


The North Bay for Family Reunions

Rating: 3/5

In and around the North Bay’s bigger cities, you will find undeveloped spaces and gorgeous views. The North Bay can offer your family room to breathe and stretch and gather together in more private spaces—from the wild coast to redwood rainforests to rolling vineyards. But while there are some great activities for the whole family in Marin and Sonoma Counties, the North Bay’s big draw is the wine industry, so kids and adults who are not so inclined may be left out of the popular touring and tasting activities. Plus, as one of the most popular wine tourism destinations in the world, Sonoma and Napa Valleys, are expensive.


The East Bay for Family Reunions

Rating: 0/5

The East Bay just isn’t geared toward family tourism and a scenic getaway; it’s largely developed and still on the pricier side for lodging and amenities. You will find some opportunities for family fun and sights around the Berkeley Marina, the Children’s Fairyland in Oakland if you have a lot of kids in the group, and “Central Park” in Fremont, but don’t expect much private space to gather or the types breathtaking natural views other regions boast that help you feel like you really have gotten a break from life’s usual pace.


The South Bay and the Peninsula for Family Reunions

Rating: 1/5

On the outskirts of Silicon Valley and the South Bay’s bigger cities, you’ll start to find more space and some better values, but there still aren’t too many options here that offer more than hotel accommodations. There are some great farms you can visit if the family is into that, as well as museums and parks, but you’ll have to travel around quite a bit from your home base to keep the family interested, and all that transportation time may not go over well if your group has a lot of children.


The Santa Cruz and Extended Bay Area for Family Reunions

Rating: 5/5

Your possibilities change dramatically when you get into the Santa Cruz area, which carries a more laid-back vibe than San Francisco and its nearer neighbors. Here, you’re looking at more comprehensive features and amenities designed just for events like your family reunion—and with all-inclusive venue options, your value goes way up. With a lot of these places, you can expect that you won’t have to pay anything after the initial package cost; you can just relax and take advantage of everything offered to you—even meals, in some cases. And if you scope out the right venue, you’ve got all the private space and activities you need right on-site.

Consider Some Venue Options and Packages for Your Family Reunion

 

All Meals Included

 

Parking Included

 

Event Coordinator Included

 

Family Activities Included

Expect Extra Costs
Enjoy What’s Already Included

+ + +
Wyndham’s Family-Friendly Resorts

San Francisco, CA
Inn at the Opera, the Suites at Fisherman’s Wharf, and the Donatello offer more spacious rooms and suites than the typical San Francisco hotel. You may even be able to reserve spaces with kitchenettes. For the price, you’ll definitely be getting beautiful accommodations in choice locations—but remember that that’s about as far as your investment will go.

You’ll be tied to the high costs of restaurant meals for the whole group, parking and transportation costs, as well as activity fees. You may even need to rent a conference or banquet space in order to bring everyone together in the same place for an all-family meal, games, or story and photo sharing.


+ + +
Cavallo Point Lodge

Sausalito, CA, just north of SF
Just outside of San Fran, you have fairly easy access to all of the offerings, especially with the lodge’s shuttle service (for an additional fee)—but you have a bit more room to breathe than if you were right in the middle of it. Plus, you’re not far from downtown Sausalito, which is a gorgeous tourist-friendly town right on the bay.

You won’t find too many all-family activities right on-site because the spa and the pool are reserved for adults, but you are a convenient distance from the Bay Area Discovery Museum and Muir Woods. Don’t expect too many built-in amenities; parking and WiFi, for example, come with an additional fee per room.


+ +



Dawn Ranch

Guerneville, CA, in the North Bay
This is a cozy resort venue on the Russian River surrounded by beautiful redwoods, apple orchards, and wide-open spaces. Lodging is spread throughout older cabins with newer bedding and amenities—though, don’t expect TVs or phones. They understand that quality time happens away from the devices and by the river beach front, the pool, or the campfire.

Meals are not included, but there is a well-reviewed restaurant on-site, and it’s possible to find Dine & Stay promotions that offer credits for the restaurant. You can ask about reserving the Boathouse Meeting Room for indoor gatherings all together.


+ +



Petaluma KOA Campgrounds

Petaluma, CA, in the North Bay
If you’re on the lookout for a truly rustic option, the campgrounds in Petaluma are popular among families—which, in and of itself, brings pros and cons. On the plus side, it’s fairly well equipped with some lodges and cabins, electricity and water hookups for RVs, a pool and hot tub, and BBQ area. But on the other side, it can get pretty crowded and hectic, especially in the summer. Be ready for the Sonoma County summer dirt and allergies, especially if you’re not already familiar with this particular area.

Of course, you’ll be providing your own meals—ideally in one of the lodge’s full kitchens—or you can partake in some of the great local restaurant options. Even in the great outdoors, you may feel a bit cramped by the other campers and feel the need to get off-site. There is a great tour service (at additional cost) that leaves right from the campground and heads into San Francisco, where the local guide offers unique stories and perspective.


+ +


Maybe



Maybe
Airbnb

In the East Bay
As an alternative to hotel accommodations in the East Bay, you can look into lodging through Airbnb and other vacation home rentals. You can enter your guest count for up to 16 individuals. Each house will have its particular charms and limitations. When you go this route, it can make way for true quality time, cooking and eating together all in one place. Ideally, the home has spaces large enough for everyone to gather comfortably, both inside and outside.

Depending on how many people you have coming to gather and whether the house is located in an urban area, parking for all the separate cars may or may not be possible nearby. You’ll find a wide range of prices and features—and you’ll be on your own in terms of coordinating all the daily basics, so get planning, get creative, and get help from the rest of the family!


+





Laurel Mill Lodge

Los Gatos, CA, in the South Bay
This small resort-style venue used to be a lumber mill, and it still offers that rustic vibe with a variety of lodging options from tent camping to “cushy” cabins. It’s built into the redwood forest with plenty of wildlife and wildflowers, so your family can enjoy hiking or games in the open spaces. You may or may not have the lodge’s 27 acres all to yourselves, but chances are good you’ll have a quiet, peaceful retreat here.

You will be responsible for feeding your group, either cooking in the on-site kitchen or visiting restaurants nearby. One great thing is that you’ll have access to an indoor hall with a fireplace and a big TV, so you can plan some indoor as well as outdoor activities right on-site. There are also a hot tub and sauna, and the proprietors are willing to help with some of your event planning.








Kennolyn

Soquel, CA, in the Santa Cruz Mountains
Built on 300 largely undeveloped acres in the Santa Cruz Mountains, this venue was originally designed as a summer camp but has also been fitted to accommodate large family groups in comfortable cabin cottages and suites. Kennolyn offers the rare guarantee that you will have private use of the Stone Creek Village during your stay, with total access to the Lodge for your big indoor gatherings and lots of space outdoors to get creative or to make use of the volleyball, tennis, and basketball courts; the putting green; ping-pong tables; horseshoe pit; and hiking trails. You could even plan swimming, campfires, rock wall climbing, or ropes course activities.

Meals come as part of the group deal—either working from the executive chef’s existing menus, like the Taco Bar or the Fresh Catch 3-course buffet dinner, or based on your preferences and menus designed just for your event. Plus, the event coordinators will be available to assist with planning leading up to, and set up and coordination during, the event. Chances are, you won’t even feel the need to venture off-site when there are so many things to do and beautiful spaces to explore and be together, but Santa Cruz and the beach are still just a short drive away.

Don’t let a venue’s features limit your plans for the upcoming family reunion when there are other alternatives that could open your options up even more. If you had your mind set on a certain Bay Area region, be sure to spread your search out and explore beyond. And, if you think Kennolyn might be a good fit for your family, get in touch with us and we can start planning right away.

Leave a Reply