Oxnard is easily reached from Burbank or LAX airports.  Or, if you have the time, consider a leisurely ride aboard Amtrak (keep in mind that this route consistently experiences delays).  Infants (2 years and under) travel free with one paid adult fare; and on most Amtrak routes, children 2 to 15 years of age ride for half-price when accompanied by an adult.  The train arrives at Oxnard’s Transit Center, which includes onsite car rentals.  For schedules and fares, visit Amtrak.com.

For parents looking for the complete family escape with all the requisite amenities, the Embassy Suites Mandalay Beach Resort is conveniently located in Oxnard, near Channel Islands Harbor.  All-suite rooms offer the luxury and comforts of home:  living room, two televisions, two full baths, one king or two queen beds, and sleeper sofas, a refrigerator, microwave oven, coffee maker, and a well-lit dining table.  Translation:  plenty of room for everyone to spread out and relax.  A deep blue swimming pool, Jacuzzis, pingpong, nonmotorized bikes of all kinds to ride along the beach promenade and miles of the most pristine beach all indicate a family-friendly environment.

Besides an over-the-top expanded continental breakfast featuring fresh fruits and yogurts, full-cooked breakfasts include eggs, bacon, sausage, omelets, waffles, pancakes and more.  And Embassy Suites may have the happiest “hour” on the planet.  The two-hour afternoon soiree includes a variety of munchies from chips and salsa and trail mix to fresh vegetables and dip plus a full bar for parents.  The Surf Room at Mandalay Bay features a kid- and adult-friendly game area with pool table, foosball and big screen TV, or you can simply relax on the patio:  The swaying palm trees and blue lagoons will keep you and the kids dreaming of paradise.

If mom and dad need a night off, Embassy Suites also provides babysitting services.  Off season, the Embassy Suites is much quieter if you’re looking for an adults-only getaway.  And for those of us without kids, it was still a fabulous retreat.

Whale watching season begins Dec. 26 and runs through mid-April, as Pacific gray whales make their annual  journey through the Channel Islands National Park. Visitors can  take half-day excursions with Island Packers (805-642-1393) or Channel Islands Sportfishing (805-382-1612).

For more information, visit the Oxnard Convention & Visitors Bureau Web site at VisitOxnard.com