12 Fun Things to Do in California With Kids

santa monica pier at golden hour things to do in california with kids

California is a family-friendly paradise, offering an array of activities perfect for kids. From the sunny beaches of the south to the mystical redwood forests of the north, there’s something for every young explorer.

Discover thrilling theme parks, interactive museums, and beautiful outdoor spaces in California. Experience the joy of roller coasters, learn about sea life in advanced aquariums, and enjoy nature in stunning national parks. This guide is your ticket to creating lasting memories with your family in the Golden State.

This post is part of our series Discover the USA

Amazing Destinations in California to Tour With Your Kids

There are countless fun things to do in California with kids, whether you visit in summer or winter. We’ve picked out a selection of the top 12 attractions to include on your bucket list for little adventure seekers.

San Diego Zoo

Your kids will appreciate you when you take them to the 100-acre zoo in real life! Make their fantasy come true, especially when they can interact with several animals they have only seen on the screens. The San Diego Zoo is among the top in the world. It’s home to around four thousand animals. A visit to this zoo is one of the top activities for youngsters in California.

Also, the SkyFari Aerial Team is a great way to get around the large zoo, which will be very interesting to your kids. Furthermore, they also have the Fisher-Value Discovery Playground, where kids can connect with farmyard animals.

Amusement Parks

One of the most amazing things to do with the kids in California is to visit amusement parks. Encounter your various characters and become fully awake at this charming amusement park.

Set out on wild adventures and enjoy some amazing games at the park. One of the best parks to visit is Castle Park. There are several fun things to do at Castle Park. Moreover, the tickets to enter Castle Park are affordable.

Tour the Balboa Island

Taking a dip in the sea is often a pleasant activity, and, surprisingly, it is better when there is a nearby arcade and small amusement park. The Balboa Fun Zone is one of Southern California’s most outstanding beach regions!

Situated opposite the Balboa Beach Pier, the Balboa Fun Zone has an assortment of arcade games and little rides like kiddie bungee jumping and a Ferris wheel. You can likewise find chocolate-dipped delicate serve as well as funnel cakes at this ocean-side park.

balboa pier in california

Enjoy exceptional rides at Gilroy Gardens

Small children can be impatient at amusement parks. However, your kids will always find nice spots to keep them happy at Gilroy Park. The horticultural amusement park has rides specifically designed for small kids – like the Garlic Twirl, the Mushroom Swing, and the Artichoke Dip. Some of them are surrounded by olive trees that have been there for a long time. A little baby can have a smooth ride while an older kid can enjoy some roller coasters.

Universal Studios

Universal Studios is a large crowd-pleaser for every age. Yes, it is energizing to be in Hollywood and see the setting for a portion of your best programs on the studio visit. Also, there are rides and shows for all ages, from fun acts by animals to the thrilling Revenge of the Mummy rollercoaster.

Furthermore, your kids can enjoy the staggering Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Your kids will thank you for every experience they explore at Universal Studios.

Go hiking in Yosemite

Yosemite National Park is a fantastic destination for families visiting California with kids. Its breathtaking natural beauty, including towering waterfalls, giant sequoias, and scenic valleys, offers a spectacular backdrop for adventure and education. Children can immerse themselves in nature through engaging activities like hiking on family-friendly trails, participating in Junior Ranger programs, and wildlife watching.

father and child at sunset in yosemite

Yosemite’s awe-inspiring landscapes encourage outdoor play and foster a love and appreciation for nature in young hearts, making it an ideal location for a memorable family getaway.

Explore the Oakland Zoo

The zoo in Oakland is home to over 700 animals worldwide – hailing from the tropical rainforests and the African savannah. Its heart is the fifty-five-acre California Trail that was established in 2018. Take the Skyride gondola to the entry; the ride alone provides views of 6 counties, then view creatures that are native to the Golden State, like jaguars, grey wolves, grizzly bears, eagles, and bison.

The preservation endeavors of the area have also helped endangered California animals – for example, the Alameda striped racer snake and the mountain frog(yellow-legged). You may also book one of the overnight safari-style tent experiences if one day is insufficient.

Watching dolphins and whales

You can see whales off the California coast any season of the year, including large blue whales in late spring and autumn and grey whales in winter and spring. Species that should be visible all year are finback whales, dolphins, and humpbacks. Places that provide whale-watching visits incorporate Newport Beach, San Francisco, Mendocino, Santa Cruz, and Monterey.

dolphins off the California coast

Explore the Winchester Mystery House

“Unusual” summarizes the San Jose mansion that Sarah Pardee Winchester began establishing in 1884. Stressed that she would be haunted by the victims of the riffle empire of her family, she purposely built quirky elements to throw ghosts off track, like forty flights of stairs and a ton of dark passages. Pick a day or night for your visit through the home or its gardens for one of the most unique experiences in California!

The Monterey Bay Aquarium

Become familiar with the extraordinary marine world that flourishes in the depths of the sea at the Monterey Bay Aquarium! See marine mammals such as seals and otters. Marvel about the weightless movements of large jellyfish and find an assortment of fish species at this Northern California aquarium.

monterey bay aquarium in california

Your children will adore the intelligent penguin show that the Monterey Bay Aquarium has, the life-size kelp timberland, and the wildlife deck out back. Make sure you carry your binoculars to search for penetrating whales when you visit the Monterey Inlet Aquarium, the ideal road trip from San Francisco.

Knott’s Berry Farm

Who does not cherish a thrilling amusement park? Knott’s Berry Farm is one of the most seasoned parks in California and honors the state’s mining history with Western sets and a phantom town feel. The park has roller coasters for extra daring explorers. It also provides a kid-friendly area, especially Camp Snoopy, for younger visitors. Knott’s “Scaring Farm” is the most famous to visit during the Halloween season. However, guests should have the ability to handle a good spook.

Disneyland Resort

We could hardly finish our list of California family attractions and not mention Disneyland! The original Disney park, this magical destination for families, is renowned as the “Happiest Place on Earth.”

It is a wonderland where children’s fantasies come to life through enchanting rides, beloved characters, and spectacular parades. Each themed land offers unique experiences, from Fantasyland’s fairy-tale charm to Tomorrowland’s futuristic allure. The park’s immersive attractions cater to all ages, ensuring that both young kids and adults find joy and entertainment.

More on Visiting California With Kids

There’s a good reason we keep returning to California time and time again! Offering some of the best year-round weather in the US and such a huge variety of attractions that kids love, its the destination that has the lot. You may also like to read:

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2 thoughts on “12 Fun Things to Do in California With Kids

  1. Ted says:

    Hey family travellers!

    We just came back from Colorado springs with the family. Its was tons of fun ! The only issue we had was the transport ie safe taxi with car seat as we didnt have a car. Any tips on safe travels? We tried taxi bambino but they only have airport transfers.

    Thank you!


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