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JW Marriott Los Cabos

Credit: Courtesy of JW Marriott

Quick: What comes to mind if you hear spring break and Los Cabos? If the first things you picture are college students, nightclubs, and tequila shots, you probably haven’t been to Cabo in a while. With a slew of new boutique and luxury hotels, as well as sophisticated restaurants and bars, the scene has certainly changed. And along with a well-heeled crowd, more and more families are choosing this desert playground at the edge of the sea where plenty of activities on land and in the water await. From diving in “the aquarium of the world” to whale-watching excursions to desert tours on foot and on ATVs, there really is something for everyone. With that in mind, here’s how to do Los Cabos with the kids.

Where to Stay in Los Cabos With the Family

One&Only Palmilla

One & Only's beach aerial view with three children walking on the sand

Credit: Courtesy of One & Only

Old-world Mexican charm comes to life at One&Only Palmilla, a stunning resort set on a rocky outcrop at the tip of the Baja Peninsula. Popular with A-listers and jet setters, Palmilla continues to up the ante with a series of experiences and activities — on land and in the water — designed for adventurers of all ages. In between kayaking, paddleboarding, culinary classes, Spanish lessons, and golf clinics, children ages four to 11 can drop in at the KidsOnly Club for weekly arts and crafts programs like piñata making, shell hunts, and movie nights. But the surf clinics, which take place for beginners at Pelican Beach, are a must; those more experienced can join an instructor or visiting pro surfer to travel up and down the coast in the resort’s iconic Land Rover Defender, chasing waves at the best surf spots in Los Cabos. A highlight of visiting during whale-watching season (generally December to March) is being able to see the animals breach the waters right in front of the resort.

Zadún, A Ritz-Carlton Reserve

Property of Zadun in Cabo

Credit: Courtesy of Zadún, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve

A short drive from the town of San Jose and nestled into the sand dunes along the Sea of Cortez is Zadún, a gorgeous 115-room resort where suites and villas, which are decorated in an earthy palette that echoes the landscape, come with private patios and plunge pools. A Tosoani, or butler, takes care of every whim and desire, from booking a Cabo Pulmo snorkeling expedition to making spa and dinner reservations. The resort offers a kid-friendly pool and the Equis lounge and pool (for when you like adulting sin niños). Designed for guests of all ages, the Ambassadors of the Environment program offers immersive experiences — bird-watching, desert hikes, storytelling, gardening, and snorkeling — that highlight Mexico’s rich culture and Baja’s unique ecosystem. The idea behind the program is not only to engage, but also instill a desire to preserve the environment for future generations.

Grand Velas Los Cabos

Exterior view at golden hour of Grand Velas Los Cabos

Credit: Courtesy of Grand Velas

There are several all-inclusive resorts in Los Cabos, but arguably none that do quite as good a job of keeping adults and kids equally entertained as Grand Velas. Adjacent to the resort’s wading pool and splash pad area, there’s the 1,000-square-foot Kids’ Club with designated spaces for reading, arts and crafts, video games, and movies to complement outdoor activities like treasure hunts and soccer games. Meanwhile, the 2,700-square-foot Teens’ Club offers ping-pong and pool tables, foosball, karaoke with an illuminated dance floor, and individual cubicles for Xbox and PlayStation games. For adults, there are mixology workshops, beer pong tournaments, and excellent dining at seven distinct gourmet restaurants. But it’s outside the clubs’ doors where families can truly come together during dance lessons, beach volleyball, and pottery classes. A fun hands-on activity is the Molcajete Workshop, during which the chef grills up peppers, chiles, tomatoes, and other ingredients for guests to use in the salsas they make with a traditional mortar and pestle. The experience ends with a meal of tortillas, grilled meats, and the different sauces prepared.

JW Marriott Los Cabos Beach Resort & Spa

JW Marriott Los Cabos

Credit: Courtesy of JW Marriott

Located on the beach at the edge of San Jose, this JW Marriott offers something for everyone, thanks to its five pools (the adults-only option has a tiled swim-up bar), six restaurants, Greg Norman-designed golf course, and spa with a temazcal (a traditional sweat lodge). For $35 per day, you can drop off younger children at the kids’ club, where daily activities include necklace- and piñata-making sessions, bingo and jenga, video games, and movies. (Pool time and lunch are also part of the package.) If you’re traveling with extended family or a group of friends, it’s worth splurging for a Griffin Club room. The hotel within a hotel offers its own pool, lounge, kitchen, screening area, game room, and perks like daily breakfast as well as light snacks and free beverages (yes, wine and beer, too) all day until 11 p.m.

Eclectic Dining in Los Cabos

Can’t agree on what or where to eat? Head to El Merkado, where a variety of options coexist under the same warehouse roof. Or, check out La Carreta, which serves up delicious Oaxaca-style chilaquiles. Meanwhile, Bacan offers exceptional parrilla dishes, like the kind you might find in Argentina or Chile (think: grilled chorizo or octopus and chinchulines). Burgers, pizzas, pastas, and baked goods are other options at different stalls. Gather your entire family and share a meal around a long communal table.

For something entirely different, reserve a table at Flora Farms, which, as the name hints, offers not only a farm-to-table menu, but also a bucolic farm setting. There are a variety of spots to settle in, from cozy outdoor tables nestled near a field of sunflowers to colorful seats next to the wood-fired pizza oven. Set in the foothills of the Sierra de la Laguna mountain range, this 25-acre working farm grows a hundred varieties of vegetables and herbs, which they incorporate into the menu along with meats sourced from their nearby ranch. Dishes are generous in size and served in a family style, so you know everyone will be satisfied. If you go for dinner, expect live music around 6:30 p.m. and plenty of space for kids to dance and hang out while they wait for the meal to arrive.

Adventures on Land and at Sea in Los Cabos

You don’t have to go off the Tourist Corridor to find a great snorkeling spot in Los Cabos. The sheltered coves of Chileno Bay and Santa Maria Beach offer calm waters that are ideal for young snorkelers. A bigger thrill can be found in the waters of Cabo Pulmo, a 17,571-acre natural reef system that thousands of species of marine life call home. Scuba divers are practically guaranteed encounters with enormous groupers, large schools of jacks, manta rays, and sea turtles. The sea is a bit cooler from December through March, but the upside is the chance to see humpback and gray whales, as well as mobulas and lots of sea lion activity. It’s not for nothing that Jacques Cousteau dubbed the Sea of Cortez “the world’s aquarium.” During a whale-watching excursion, you can experience the excitement of seeing humpbacks shoot out of the water and return with a colossal splash. Cabo Adventures offers lots of different tours.

During your visit, a trip to the desert is also a must. There are many ways to explore the Sierra de la Laguna mountain range, home to cacti-splattered valleys, wide-spanning peaks, and endless vistas. Go off-roading in an ATV or UTV for an adrenaline-fueled ride across desert sand pits and washed-out arroyos. Zip lining at Wild Canyon adventure park offers a different type of rush as you careen hundreds of feet up in the air, hopping from one platform to the next, over cactus-lined canyons and riverbeds. For something that moves at a slower pace, opt for a guided hike or horseback ride in the rugged countryside to learn about the native flora and fauna. The Fox Canyon trail, a favorite among in-the-know travelers, meanders to a waterfall and swimming hole that’s perfect for a refreshing dip. Just don’t forget to bring a swimsuit and towel.

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