21 Fun Things to Do in California with Kids

California, also known as the Golden State, is a haven for family-friendly fun and adventure. With its diverse landscapes, beautiful beaches, and vibrant cities, California offers a wide range of activities and attractions that will create lasting memories for kids of all ages. From exploring world-renowned theme parks to marveling at stunning natural wonders, there is something for everyone in this exciting state. In this blog, we will explore 21 fun things to do in California with kids, along with pictures to give you a glimpse of the excitement that awaits.

1. San Diego Zoo: Get Up Close and Personal with Amazing Animals

San Diego Zoo

If you’re traveling with kids, a visit to the San Diego Zoo is a must. Known as one of the best zoos in the world, this zoo is home to over 3,500 animals, including rare species. Located in Balboa Park, the zoo offers a unique opportunity to get up close and personal with amazing creatures from around the globe.

One of the highlights of the San Diego Zoo is the guided bus tour, which takes visitors on a journey through the various animal habitats. Kids will have the chance to see animals like lions, tigers, elephants, and giraffes up close while learning about their natural habitats and behaviors. For older kids, the zoo also offers special behind-the-scenes experiences, where they can meet zookeepers and learn more about animal care and conservation efforts.

In addition to the guided bus tour, there are plenty of interactive experiences available at the San Diego Zoo. Kids can feed giraffes, watch penguins swim, and even meet pandas at the Giant Panda Research Station. The zoo also has a Treetops Adventure, where kids can climb, play, and explore in a unique treehouse setting.

For a fun-filled day of family fun, the San Diego Zoo is an absolute must-visit. With its wide variety of animals, interactive exhibits, and educational experiences, this zoo is sure to be a hit with kids of all ages.

2. Learn How to Surf: Ride the Waves at Some of the Best Beaches in the World

Ride the Waves

California is famous for its beautiful beaches and world-class surf spots, making it the perfect destination for a family surf vacation. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced surfer, there are plenty of surf schools and rental shops along the coast that cater to families.

One of the best places to learn how to surf is in Huntington Beach, also known as Surf City USA. Located in Southern California, Huntington Beach offers consistent waves and a laid-back beachtown atmosphere. Many surf schools in the area offer lessons specifically for kids, providing them with a safe and fun environment to learn and ride their first waves.

If you’re looking for a more adventurous surf experience, head to La Jolla Cove in San Diego. This picturesque beach is known for its crystal-clear waters and breathtaking views. The surf here can be challenging, but with the guidance of experienced instructors, kids can learn the art of riding the waves in no time.

Other popular surf destinations in California include Santa Monica, Newport Beach, and San Onofre State Beach. Each beach has its unique characteristics and surf conditions, ensuring that there’s something for everyone in the family.

Surfing is not only a thrilling water sport, but it also teaches kids valuable skills such as balance, coordination, and perseverance. So, grab a surfboard, hit the waves, and create unforgettable family memories in the beautiful waters of California.

3. La Jolla Beaches and Tide Pools: Explore the Wonders of the Ocean

La Jolla Beaches and Tide Pools

Located along the coast of San Diego, La Jolla is a beach town known for its stunning beaches and vibrant marine life. One of the highlights of visiting La Jolla with kids is exploring its tide pools, which offer a unique opportunity to see fascinating ocean creatures up close.

La Jolla Cove, in particular, is a popular spot for tide pooling. This protected marine reserve is home to a variety of marine life, including sea anemones, hermit crabs, and colorful fish. Kids can spend hours exploring the tide pools, watching the ebb and flow of the ocean, and discovering hidden treasures in the water.

In addition to tide pooling, La Jolla is also known for its beautiful sandy beaches, perfect for building sandcastles and playing beach games. The calm and clear waters of La Jolla Shores make it an ideal spot for kids to swim, snorkel, and paddleboard.

Other family-friendly activities in La Jolla include kayaking, scuba diving, and exploring the nearby sea caves. From breathtaking ocean views to exciting underwater adventures, La Jolla offers endless opportunities for fun and exploration for the whole family.

4. Universal Studios Hollywood: Experience Movie Magic and Thrilling Rides

Universal Studios Hollywood

If you’re looking for a day of thrills, excitement, and movie magic, look no further than Universal Studios Hollywood. Located in Los Angeles, this world-renowned theme park offers a unique experience that combines rides, shows, and behind-the-scenes tours.

One of the highlights of Universal Studios Hollywood is the Studio Tour, which takes visitors on a tram ride through the actual working movie studio. Kids will have the opportunity to see iconic sets, props, and even catch a glimpse of their favorite movies and TV shows being filmed.

In addition to the Studio Tour, Universal Studios Hollywood offers a wide variety of rides and attractions for kids of all ages. From roller coasters like Jurassic World: The Ride to 3D experiences like Despicable Me Minion Mayhem, there’s something for everyone in the family.

For fans of the Harry Potter series, a visit to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is a must. Step into the enchanting world of Hogwarts, sip butterbeer and experience thrilling rides like Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey.

Universal Studios Hollywood also hosts character meet-and-greets, live shows, and special events throughout the year, ensuring that there’s always something new and exciting for families to enjoy.

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5. Huntington Beach (Surf City USA): Enjoy a Day of Sun, Sand, and Surfing

Huntington Beach (Surf City USA)

For a day of sun, sand, and surfing, head to Huntington Beach, also known as Surf City USA. Located in Orange County, this vibrant beach town offers a wide range of beach activities that the whole family can enjoy.

Huntington Beach is renowned for its long and sandy coastline, making it the perfect spot for a family beach day. With designated swimming areas, lifeguards on duty, and plenty of beach amenities, parents can relax while kids build sandcastles, play beach volleyball, or simply splash in the surf.

Surfing is a big part of the culture in Huntington Beach, and kids can take surf lessons or rent surfboards to ride the waves. Whether they’re beginners or experienced surfers, instructors are available to teach proper techniques and ensure a safe and fun surfing experience.

In addition to beach activities, Huntington Beach offers a wide range of family-friendly amenities. Take a bike ride along the scenic beach trail, explore the beachfront park, or grab a bite to eat at one of the many beachside restaurants.

Don’t forget to visit the iconic Huntington Beach Pier, which stretches over 1,800 feet into the ocean. It offers stunning views of the coastline, perfect for snapping family photos and watching the sunset.

6. Griffith Park Observatory: Discover the Wonders of Space and Science

Griffith Park Observatory

Located in Los Angeles, the Griffith Park Observatory is a must-visit for families interested in space and science. Situated on the slopes of Griffith Park, this iconic observatory offers a range of exhibits and activities that are both educational and entertaining for kids of all ages.

One of the highlights of the Griffith Park Observatory is the Samuel Oschin Planetarium, which features state-of-the-art technology and immersive shows about the wonders of the universe. Kids can embark on a journey through space, learn about the planets, stars, and galaxies, and even witness a simulated flight through the cosmos.

The observatory also offers telescopes for visitors to observe celestial objects, such as the moon, planets, and distant stars. Knowledgeable staff members are available to provide information and answer any questions, making it a great opportunity for kids to learn more about astronomy.

Aside from the planetarium and telescopes, the Griffith Park Observatory also has interactive exhibits that cover topics such as space exploration, the solar system, and the history of astronomy. Kids can participate in hands-on activities, learn about the history of the observatory, and even touch meteorites.

From learning about the vastness of the universe to experiencing the wonders of space, a visit to Griffith Park Observatory is sure to ignite curiosity and inspire young minds.

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7. Monterey Bay Aquarium

Monterey Bay Aquarium

Situated on the picturesque coast of Central California, the Monterey Bay Aquarium is a world-class destination for kids and families to explore the wonders of the ocean. With its diverse marine life and interactive exhibits, this aquarium offers a unique opportunity for kids to get up close and personal with fascinating sea creatures from around the world.

One of the highlights of the Monterey Bay Aquarium is the Open Sea exhibit, which showcases a variety of ocean habitats, including a kelp forest, a deep-sea trench, and a vibrant coral reef. Kids can marvel at colorful fish, and graceful sea turtles, and even watch as sharks glide through the water.

The aquarium also offers interactive experiences, such as touch pools, where kids can feel the texture of sea stars and other marine animals. They can also participate in feeding shows, watch playful otters, and learn about sea otter conservation efforts.

In addition to the marine exhibits, the Monterey Bay Aquarium hosts educational programs, presentations, and hands-on activities designed to teach kids about ocean conservation and the importance of protecting marine ecosystems.

A visit to the Monterey Bay Aquarium is not only an entertaining day out, but it also provides valuable educational experiences that will foster a love and appreciation for the ocean and its inhabitants.

8. LEGOLAND California

LEGOLAND California

If your kids love LEGO, a trip to LEGOLAND California is a must. Located in Carlsbad, just north of San Diego, LEGOLAND California offers a world of fun, creativity, and adventure for kids and families.

At LEGOLAND California, kids can explore themed areas such as Pirate Shores, Castle Hill, and Ninjago World, each offering unique rides, interactive attractions, and LEGO creations. From roller coasters to water rides, there’s something for kids of all ages to enjoy.

In addition to the rides, LEGOLAND California is home to Miniland USA, a section of the park that features detailed LEGO models of famous landmarks from around the country. Kids can marvel at replicas of the Golden Gate Bridge, the Statue of Liberty, and even the Las Vegas Strip, all made entirely out of LEGO bricks.

The park also has its aquarium, SEA LIFE Aquarium, where kids can learn about marine life through interactive exhibits, touch pools, and feeding shows. They can even go on an underwater adventure in a submarine-themed ride.

For kids who love building with LEGO, there are plenty of opportunities to get creative at LEGOLAND California. The park hosts building workshops, where kids can learn new building techniques, participate in competitions, and take home their own LEGO creations.

A trip to LEGOLAND California is a chance for kids to immerse themselves in a world of imagination and creativity, where everything is awesome!

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9. Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe

Nestled in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, Lake Tahoe is a breathtakingly beautiful destination that offers endless outdoor adventure for families. Whether you’re looking to relax on the beach, try water sports, or explore nature, Lake Tahoe has it all.

During the summer months, families can enjoy a wide range of water activities, such as swimming, boating, kayaking, and paddleboarding. With its crystal-clear waters and stunning mountain backdrop, Lake Tahoe is the perfect place for kids to splash around and have fun in the sun.

If you’re visiting during the winter, Lake Tahoe transforms into a winter wonderland, with world-class ski resorts offering skiing, snowboarding, and tubing. Kids can take ski lessons, build snowmen, and go sledding, creating memories that will last a lifetime.

In addition to water sports and winter activities, Lake Tahoe also has numerous hiking and biking trails that are suitable for families. From strolls along the lake to challenging mountain hikes, there’s a trail for every level of adventurer.

For a unique family experience, take a ride on the MS Dixie II, a historic paddlewheel boat that offers scenic tours of Lake Tahoe. Kids can learn about the history of the lake while taking in the stunning views.

With its natural beauty and endless outdoor activities, Lake Tahoe is the perfect destination for a family vacation, no matter what time of year you visit.

10. Santa Monica Pier

Santa Monica Pier

Located in the vibrant city of Los Angeles, the Santa Monica Pier is an iconic landmark and a must-visit destination for families. With its thrilling rides, colorful games, and ocean views, the pier offers classic boardwalk fun for kids of all ages.

One of the highlights of the Santa Monica Pier is the Pacific Wheel, which is one of the world’s only solar-powered Ferris wheels. Kids can hop on one of the gondolas and enjoy breathtaking views of the coast, as well as the lively atmosphere of the pier.

The pier is also home to a variety of amusement park rides, including a roller coaster, a carousel, and bumper cars. Kids can experience the excitement of these classic rides while enjoying the ocean breeze.

In addition to the rides, the Santa Monica Pier has an arcade that features games, prizes, and even a miniature golf course. Kids can try their hand at the different games, win prizes, and create fun competitions between family members.

Don’t forget to grab a bite to eat at one of the pier’s many food vendors, offering everything from cotton candy to fresh seafood. From roller coasters to carnival games, the Santa Monica Pier is a hub of fun and entertainment, perfect for a family day out.

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11. Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park in the Golden State offers a diverse range of activities for families with kids of all ages. Take a hike through the park’s stunning natural beauty and learn about the local flora and fauna. For some adventure, try rock climbing or bouldering and explore the many waterfalls, including the famous Yosemite Falls. A scenic drive through the park with various overlooks offers breathtaking views.

Attend ranger-led programs to learn more about Yosemite’s history and ecology, making it a perfect place for a family vacation filled with outdoor fun and natural wonders.

12. Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park

Nestled amidst a unique desert landscape adorned with captivating rock formations and iconic Joshua trees, Joshua Tree National Park presents an ideal setting for families seeking adventure. The park boasts several well-equipped campgrounds where families can revel in the tranquility of the night sky. Additionally, an array of hiking trails, catering to varying difficulty levels, offer breathtaking vistas and memorable experiences.

Families can engage in enlightening ranger-led programs, delving into the park’s rich history and diverse wildlife. It’s crucial to carry ample water and sun protection owing to the desert’s intense heat and aridity.

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13. Knott’s Berry Farm

Knott's Berry Farm

Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park, Orange County, is an ideal destination for family fun in the Golden State. The amusement park offers a variety of rides and attractions suitable for kids of all ages, making it the perfect place for a day of excitement for the whole family.

Older kids can take a thrilling ride on the iconic GhostRider wooden roller coaster or the exhilarating HangTime coaster, while younger ones can enjoy the Camp Snoopy area, themed around the beloved Peanuts characters.

Visitors also shouldn’t miss the Wild West stunt show or the old-fashioned train ride, which adds a touch of old-fashioned charm to the experience at Knott’s Berry Farm. Additionally, the park offers delicious dining options, including its famous boysenberry treats, making it a perfect place for a day filled with amusement park fun and family memories.

14. Crystal Cove State Park

Crystal Cove State Park

Nestled on California’s picturesque coastline, Crystal Cove State Park offers a perfect place for the whole family to unwind and enjoy the golden state’s natural wonders. Older kids can indulge in mountain biking adventures or opt for a leisurely visit to the nearby Griffith Observatory and Balboa Park.

Home to idyllic beaches and charming water parks, Orange County is a hub for family fun and amusement parks like Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park. Whether it’s a coastal road trip or a laid-back day by the ocean, Crystal Cove is the ideal destination for a memorable family vacation.

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15. Lassen Volcanic National Park

Lassen Volcanic National Park

Nestled in Northern California, Lassen Volcanic National Park offers a one-of-a-kind geothermal experience for families with kids. The park boasts hot springs, mud pots, and gurgling fumaroles, providing a fascinating natural classroom for the whole family. Guided walks are available for visitors to explore the geothermal features, while hiking, camping, and wildlife viewing opportunities await the adventure enthusiasts.

Moreover, it’s an ideal place to delve into the area’s geological history and the volcanic activity that has sculpted the landscape, making it a perfect educational and recreational destination for older kids and the entire family.

16. Alcatraz Island in San Francisco

Alcatraz Island in San Francisco

Tour the infamous Alcatraz Island in San Francisco for an exhilarating history lesson. Experience the intriguing tales of this notorious prison that housed some of America’s most infamous criminals. Explore the cells, mess hall, and other penitentiary areas to get a glimpse of the harsh prison life on “The Rock.”

Discover the captivating history and chilling stories of escape attempts as you walk through the prison grounds. The audio tour offers a compelling narrative, adding depth to your visit and creating an immersive experience, perfect for older kids and the whole family. Capture stunning views of San Francisco Bay, making this an educational and thrilling adventure.

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17. Calico Ghost Town

Calico Ghost Town

Step back in time and immerse your family in the old west at Calico Ghost Town, a meticulously restored historic mining town nestled in San Bernardino County, California. Pan for gold, enjoy train and stagecoach rides and explore museums, shops, and restaurants.

The admission fees, tailored to different age groups and activities, make this the perfect place for family fun and an unforgettable experience for older kids. Calico Ghost Town offers a unique glimpse into the past, making it an ideal stop on your California vacation, capturing the allure of the state’s natural wonders and rich history.

18. Disneyland Resort

Disneyland Resort

No list of California attractions for kids would be complete without mentioning the iconic Disneyland Resort. Located in Anaheim, Disneyland is often referred to as “The Happiest Place on Earth” and is a place where dreams come true for kids and adults alike.

Divided into two main parks, Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park, this resort offers a magical experience that transports visitors into a world of fantasy, adventure, and imagination.

Disneyland Park is home to classic attractions like “It’s a Small World,” Pirates of the Caribbean, and Space Mountain. Kids can meet their favorite Disney characters, watch dazzling parades, and experience breathtaking fireworks displays.

Disney California Adventure Park offers a more modern and immersive experience, with attractions based on Pixar films, Marvel superheroes, and Disney princesses. From thrilling rides like the Incredicoaster to interactive shows and street performances, there’s something for every member of the family to enjoy.

In addition to the theme parks, Disneyland Resort has a variety of dining, shopping, and entertainment options, ensuring that families have a magical and unforgettable experience from the moment they arrive until the time they leave.

Whether it’s meeting Mickey Mouse, riding roller coasters, or watching enchanting shows, a visit to Disneyland Resort is a chance to relive childhood memories, create new ones, and immerse yourself in the magic of Disney.

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19. Create Lifelong Memories with Your Family in California

Conclusion

California, the Golden State, offers a wide range of activities and attractions for kids of all ages. Whether it’s visiting amusement parks, exploring natural wonders, or enjoying family fun at water parks, there’s something for everyone. Planning and involving the whole family in decision-making can enhance the vacation experience.

Don’t miss out on the opportunity to capture precious moments with your family, whether it’s witnessing the largest trees in North America at Sequoia National Park or enjoying carnival rides at Santa Monica Pier. California is the perfect place for a memorable family vacation.

20. Golden Gate Bridge

Golden Gate Bridge

Experience breathtaking views of the Golden Gate Bridge, an iconic symbol of the Golden State. Capture picture-perfect moments with the whole family against the backdrop of this architectural wonder. Afterward, head south for a day at Balboa Park in downtown San Diego, where the Natural History Museum and the zoo offer the best things for older kids.

Explore the wonders of central California at Hearst Castle, or embark on a road trip to the natural beauty of Sequoia National Park, home to the largest trees in North America. The perfect place for a family vacation awaits in the diverse landscapes of the central coast and Orange County.

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21. Hollywood: See the Iconic Hollywood Sign

Hollywood

Visit the renowned Hollywood Walk of Fame and admire the stars dedicated to your beloved celebrities. Capture a memorable picture with the iconic Hollywood sign in the background. Explore the TCL Chinese Theatre to witness the handprints and footprints of legendary actors.

Immerse yourself in the history of Hollywood at the captivating Hollywood Museum. Embark on a guided tour of celebrity homes in Beverly Hills, and delve into the rich history of the iconic Hollywood Bowl at the fascinating Hollywood Bowl Museum.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some family-friendly attractions in California?

Fun Things to Do in California with Kids, Some family-friendly attractions in California include Disneyland and Disney California Adventure, where kids can immerse themselves in magical experiences. The San Diego Zoo and Safari Park offer an up-close encounter with amazing animals. LEGOLAND California is a theme park that brings LEGO toys to life, and Universal Studios Hollywood offers thrilling rides and shows based on popular movies and TV shows.

Are there any outdoor activities suitable for children in California?

Fun Things to Do in California with Kids, California offers a wide range of outdoor activities perfect for children. From exploring beautiful beaches and hiking trails to visiting zoos, aquariums, and theme parks like Disneyland, there are endless options for kids to have fun and learn. Outdoor sports like surfing, kayaking, and skiing are also popular choices for families with kids in California.

How do I plan a fun and affordable family vacation in California?

Fun Things to Do in California with Kids, To plan a fun and affordable family vacation in California, start by researching and comparing prices for flights, accommodations, and activities. Consider visiting during the off-season or on weekdays for lower prices.

Look for free or low-cost activities like hiking, beach days, or visiting state parks. And of course, don’t forget to plan and create a budget to avoid overspending.

Are there any safety considerations to keep in mind when traveling with kids in California?

Fun Things to Do in California with Kids, When traveling with kids in California, it’s important to prioritize their safety. Keep a close eye on them, especially near water or in crowded areas. Protect their skin from the sun by using sunscreen and hats. Always have a first aid kit handy for emergencies. Research your destination for any potential hazards or safety concerns.

Conclusion

In conclusion, Fun Things to Do in California with Kids, California offers a wide range of exciting and family-friendly activities that are sure to create lifelong memories. From exploring the wonders of the ocean at La Jolla Beaches and Tide Pools to experiencing movie magic at Universal Studios Hollywood, there is something for everyone in the Golden State.

Whether you’re riding the waves at some of the best beaches in the world or taking in stunning views of the Golden Gate Bridge, California has it all. So start planning your next family adventure and create unforgettable moments with your loved ones. Don’t forget to comment below and share your favorite experiences in California with kids!

 

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