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where to spend 50th birthday with family in late december?

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we are a family of 5 with 3 kids ages 12 - 17 from nyc area and are trying to plan a get-away to celebrate a 50th birthday that falls in december. the kids are off from school over christmas and new years so were hoping to go 3-7 days over that time period.

a few places we have mulled over = turks and caicos (beaches resort booked or extremely expensive during that holiday week so doesn't really work), san diego and san francisco (to see monarch butterflies and whales), and new orleans (for great food, city lit up at christmas etc), but are still feeling stuck on what is the best place to go.

we can go either way = relaxation at beach resort or a place with culture, sights and/or activities. overall, we are looking for a fun and memorable time that is low stress as far as getting there. i do not think anything super adventurous or super far would work.

please share your opinion and input - we want to get this planned in advance to avoid hotels and/or airlines booking up. thank you so much for your help in this big decision!

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