20 Fun Things to Do in California with Kids

Things to Do in California with Kids

California, often known as the Golden State, is a treasure trove of fun and exciting activities for kids. From picturesque national parks to thrilling theme parks, there is something for every family to enjoy. Whether you’re exploring natural wonders, learning about marine life, or experiencing the magic of Disneyland, California offers endless opportunities for family fun.

In this blog, we’ll share 20 fun things to do in California with kids, ensuring that your family vacation is filled with unforgettable memories. So, pack your bags, gather the whole family, and get ready for an amazing adventure in the Golden State!

1. The Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park
Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park is a must-visit destination for families seeking natural wonders and outdoor adventures. This iconic park, located in the Sierra Nevada mountains, offers breathtaking waterfalls, towering granite cliffs, and giant sequoias that will leave both kids and adults in awe.

The whole family can embark on various activities such as hiking, rock climbing, and wildlife watching. There are trails suitable for all ages and skill levels, allowing everyone to experience the beauty of Yosemite. Kids will be fascinated by the park’s natural wonders, while parents can appreciate the magnificent scenery.

For an educational twist, Yosemite National Park offers a Junior Ranger program, where kids can earn badges by completing activities and learning about nature conservation. It’s a wonderful opportunity for children to connect with the environment and gain a deeper appreciation for the park’s ecosystem.

When it comes to accommodation, Yosemite offers a range of options, from campsites for a rustic outdoor experience to nearby lodges and cabins for a more comfortable stay. No matter how you choose to explore Yosemite, it’s guaranteed to be a memorable experience for the whole family.

2. Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park
Joshua Tree National Park

Located in southern California, Joshua Tree National Park is a unique destination that should not be missed. The park’s distinct landscape is dotted with Joshua trees, a species native to the region, creating a surreal and otherworldly atmosphere.

Families can explore the park through hiking and rock climbing, with trails suitable for all ages and abilities. Kids can marvel at the unique geological formations, such as Skull Rock and Arch Rock, which provide great photo opportunities and a chance to learn about the park’s natural wonders.

Joshua Tree National Park also offers ranger-led programs and activities designed specifically for kids, allowing them to learn about the park’s ecology and history in a fun and engaging way. From wildlife spotting to stargazing, there is always something exciting happening in Joshua Tree.

Camping is a popular option for families who want to spend more time immersing themselves in the park’s beauty. Spending a night under the starry desert sky is truly a magical experience that the whole family will cherish.

3. Crystal Cove State Park

Crystal Cove State Park
Crystal Cove State Park

Crystal Cove State Park, located along the stunning coastline of Orange County, is the perfect place for a family picnic. This picturesque state park boasts 3.2 miles of beach and bluff coastline, offering breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean.

Families can set up their picnic blankets and enjoy a delicious meal while marveling at the natural beauty surrounding them. The park’s beach and tide pools provide endless opportunities for exploration, with kids being able to discover marine life in their natural habitat.

In addition to beach activities, Crystal Cove State Park also has hiking trails for families to explore. Take a leisurely walk or hike up the hills for panoramic views of the coastline, providing a perfect backdrop for family photos.

For those looking to extend their stay, Crystal Cove State Park offers overnight accommodations in historic beach cottages, allowing families to immerse themselves in the park’s rich history and charming atmosphere. The park also hosts educational programs and events throughout the year, so be sure to check the schedule for any family-friendly activities happening during your visit.

4. Disneyland and Disney California Adventure

Disneyland and Disney California Adventure
Disneyland and Disney California Adventure

No list of fun things to do with kids in California would be complete without mentioning the magical world of Disneyland. Disneyland, along with its sister park, Disney California Adventure, offers a whole day of family fun and excitement.

Step into the enchanting world of Disney, where kids can meet their favorite characters, watch parades and shows, and experience thrilling rides. From classics like Space Mountain to new additions like Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, there’s something for everyone, no matter their age.

Disneyland and Disney California Adventure have different themed areas, each transporting visitors to a different place and time. Whether you’re exploring the whimsical lands of Fantasyland and Tomorrowland or diving into the worlds of superheroes and animation, there is always a new adventure waiting to be discovered.

To make the most of your visit, it’s advisable to plan. FastPasses allows you to skip the lines for popular attractions, dining reservations ensure you won’t go hungry, and park hopper tickets give you the flexibility to explore both Disneyland and Disney California Adventure in one day. Get ready for a day of magic, laughter, and unforgettable experiences at the Disneyland Resort!

5. the Thrills at Knott’s Berry Farm

the Thrills at Knott’s Berry Farm
the Thrills at Knott’s Berry Farm

Located in Buena Park, Knott’s Berry Farm is another amusement park that promises a day of family fun and thrills. With its wide variety of rides, diverse attractions, and family-friendly atmosphere, there’s something for everyone.

For thrill-seekers, Knott’s Berry Farm offers a range of exhilarating rides, from roller coasters like GhostRider and HangTime to thrilling water slides at the neighboring Knott’s Soak City Water Park.

Younger kids will delight in exploring Camp Snoopy, a themed area dedicated to the beloved Peanuts characters. Camp Snoopy features rides and attractions perfect for younger children, ensuring that everyone in the family can have a great time.

In addition to rides, Knott’s Berry Farm also hosts live shows, entertainment, and interactive experiences that are sure to captivate both kids and adults. From magic shows to musical performances, there’s always something happening at the park.

Make sure to indulge in some of Knott’s famous fried chicken and boysenberry pie, a delicious treat that has been a staple at the park for decades. A visit to Knott’s Berry Farm is a perfect way to create lasting family memories and have an unforgettable day of fun and excitement.

6. Legoland California

Legoland California
Legoland California

For families with younger kids, a trip to Legoland California is a perfect choice. Located in Carlsbad, Legoland California offers multiple attractions, rides, and activities aimed at kids and families.

The park is divided into different themed areas, such as Pirate Shores, Miniland USA, and LEGO Ninjago World, each offering its own unique experience. Kids can enjoy building their own LEGO creations, visiting LEGO-themed shops, and watching live shows featuring their favorite characters.

Some of the most popular rides include the Coastersaurus, a roller coaster designed for younger kids, and the LEGO City: Deep Sea Adventure submarine ride, where families can embark on an underwater adventure.

Legoland California also boasts a water park, perfect for cooling off on a hot California day. The water park provides slides, wave pools, and a lazy river for kids and adults to enjoy.

One of the highlights of Legoland California is the LEGO Star Wars Miniland, where visitors can see impressive LEGO replicas of scenes from the iconic movie franchise. For marine life enthusiasts, a visit to the SEA LIFE Aquarium, located within Legoland, offers an opportunity to explore the wonders of the ocean.

Legoland California is a place where imagination comes to life, providing a perfect day of family fun and adventure.

7. the Golden Gate Bridge

Golden Gate Bridge
Golden Gate Bridge

Immerse yourself in the rich history and engineering marvel of the iconic Golden Gate Bridge with a captivating guided tour. Whether on foot or by bike, traverse the bridge and behold the breathtaking vistas of the San Francisco Bay.

Delve into the bridge’s story at the Golden Gate Bridge Welcome Center and explore the nearby Fort Point National Historic Site for added historical insights and panoramic views.

Opt for a ferry ride to Alcatraz Island for an exceptional and unforgettable experience. Lastly, savor delectable fresh seafood at the nearby Fisherman’s Wharf, making the most of your exploration in this golden state.

8. Tour of Alcatraz Island

Alcatraz Island
Alcatraz Island

Alcatraz Island, situated in San Francisco, California, is a favorite among tourists. Once a federal prison for notorious criminals, the island now offers a captivating experience for visitors.

Accessible via ferry, it allows guests to explore the prison cells and facilities, with the highly recommended audio tour providing historical insights and personal anecdotes from former inmates and staff.

Beyond its grim history, Alcatraz boasts beautiful gardens, diverse wildlife, and breathtaking views of San Francisco. Due to its popularity, tickets often sell out in advance, making it essential to plan and book ahead of time.

9. An Evening at Santa Monica Pier

Santa Monica Pier
Santa Monica Pier

Ride the Pacific Park Ferris wheel and roller coaster to experience thrill rides with your whole family. Test your skills at carnival games and win prizes at this perfect place for family fun. At the aquarium, see polar bears and other sea creatures up close, a must-see for younger kids.

Take a stroll on the beach at sunset, a favorite activity for the older kids. Enjoy live music and street performers, making it a bucket list experience for everyone. Indulge in delicious food from various vendors, making it one of the best places to visit in California.

10. Educational Fun at La Brea Tar Pits

La Brea Tar Pits
La Brea Tar Pits

Embark on an educational adventure at La Brea Tar Pits, offering a unique learning experience for kids. Discover the mysteries of the Ice Age and the fascinating creatures that roamed the earth during that epoch. The museum boasts interactive exhibits, engaging children with captivating displays.

Little ones can partake in exciting hands-on activities like fossil excavation and creating their tar pits, making the learning experience immersive and fun. La Brea Tar Pits truly combines entertainment with education, enriching your California trip with a perfect blend of knowledge and excitement.

11. Engage with Science at Griffith Observatory

Griffith Observatory
Griffith Observatory

Explore interactive exhibits and captivating planetarium shows at Griffith Observatory. Delve into astronomy and space science through engaging, guided tours about the observatory’s history and architecture.

Admire stunning views of Los Angeles from the terrace and immerse in special events and programs year-round. Participate in hands-on workshops and activities for kids and families, making it a perfect place for family fun.

It’s a thrilling experience for older kids and a must-visit on your California bucket list. Griffith Observatory offers an enriching blend of education and entertainment, ensuring a memorable visit for the whole family.

12. Relax at Huntington Beach (Surf City USA)

Huntington Beach
Huntington Beach

Unwind at Huntington Beach, also known as Surf City USA. Experience the thrill rides and family fun at Disneyland Resort in Anaheim.

Explore the iconic Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, a must-see on your California adventure. Delight in picnics and hikes at Griffith Park in Los Angeles, a perfect place for outdoor family activities.

Discover marine life at the Monterey Bay Aquarium and make unforgettable memories with the whole family. Play and learn at Legoland in Carlsbad, a favorite among younger kids. Take a boat tour of Lake Tahoe to witness natural wonders and breathtaking views of one of the most stunning lakes in North America.

13. Explore La Jolla Beaches and Tide Pools

La Jolla Beaches and Tide Pools
La Jolla Beaches and Tide Pools

Explore the variety of beaches and tide pools in La Jolla, offering endless family fun. Kids can learn about marine life from sea creatures, while the beach provides opportunities for swimming, surfing, and snorkeling.

Take a nature walk to enjoy scenic views of the Pacific Ocean and visit La Jolla Cove to see adorable sea lions. It’s the perfect place for the whole family to experience natural wonders and create lasting memories. With its exciting attractions, California is truly one of the best places for family adventures.

14. Meet the Animals at San Diego Zoo

Animals at San Diego Zoo
Animals at San Diego Zoo

Discover the diverse marine life at the world-famous Monterey Bay Aquarium and explore interactive exhibits at the California Science Center. Enjoy thrilling rides and meet your favorite movie characters at Disneyland Resort and Universal Studios.

Take a family hike and witness the natural wonders of Joshua Tree National Park. Visit Balboa Park in San Diego and explore aircraft carriers at the USS Midway Museum.

Don’t miss the chance to see the polar bears at San Diego Zoo and learn about conservation efforts for wildlife. Experience the whole family fun at Knott’s Berry Farm and Six Flags Magic Mountain with thrill rides for older kids and camp Snoopy for younger kids.

15. Dive into Marine Life at Monterey Bay Aquarium

Monterey Bay Aquarium
Monterey Bay Aquarium

Explore the stunning views of San Francisco Bay from the Golden Gate Bridge. Experience the magical world of Disney at Disneyland. Enjoy the beautiful scenery on a road trip along the Pacific Coast Highway.

See the stars’ names on the sidewalk at the iconic Hollywood Walk of Fame. Witness majestic creatures up close while whale watching in Monterey Bay. Let your kids have fun building and creating at Legoland California.

16. Explore the Mysteries of Calico Ghost Town

 Mysteries of Calico Ghost Town
Mysteries of Calico Ghost Town

Explore the rich history of Calico Ghost Town, a former silver mining town now preserved for visitors. Historic buildings like the schoolhouse, post office, and museum offer a glimpse into the past. Kids can enjoy gold and gemstone panning at the Calico Mine Company, while families can explore hiking trails and campgrounds.

The town hosts events year-round, including gunfighter shows and haunted tours during Halloween, making it a perfect place for a spooky adventure. With its thrilling history and family-friendly activities, Calico Ghost Town is a must-visit destination for families exploring California with kids.

17. Enjoy a Day at Catalina Island

Catalina Island
Catalina Island

Take a ferry to Catalina Island for breathtaking views. Dive into the island’s history at the Catalina Island Museum. Hop on a glass-bottom boat tour to witness vibrant marine life. Explore the island’s flora and fauna at the Catalina Island Conservancy Nature Center. Rent a golf cart and roam the island freely. Seek adventure through exhilarating zip-lining experiences.

18. Hiking and Exploring in Lassen Volcanic National Park

Lassen Volcanic National Park
Lassen Volcanic National Park

Explore the unique experience of hiking and exploring in Lassen Volcanic National Park with your family. Children will be fascinated to learn about volcanic activity and geology while navigating the various trails suitable for all ages and skill levels.

The park also offers camping, fishing, and different seasonal activities, making it a perfect place for family fun throughout the year. Discover the natural wonders and make unforgettable memories as you hike through this captivating national park.

19. Watersports and More at Lake Tahoe

More at Lake Tahoe
More at Lake Tahoe

Nestled in the heart of Lake Tahoe, families can indulge in a plethora of watersports activities, such as kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, and boating. Additionally, fishing enthusiasts can relish the experience of catching fish or embark on a scenic cruise around the pristine lake.

During winter, visitors can hit the slopes at numerous ski resorts or opt for a stroll along the beach for a more serene experience. Moreover, the surrounding area boasts hiking trails, mountain biking, and other exhilarating outdoor adventures, ensuring an action-packed itinerary for families seeking adventure in this beautiful region.

20. Feel the Glamour at Universal Studios

Glamour at Universal Studio
Glamour at Universal Studio

Explore the magic of Disneyland Resort and California Adventure Park, where your kids can meet their favorite movie characters and enjoy thrilling rides. Visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium to witness marine life and learn about conservation.

In San Francisco, take a ride on the iconic cable cars and soak in panoramic views of the city. Experience the awe-inspiring beauty of the giant redwoods at Muir Woods and take a memorable ferry trip to Alcatraz Island. Embark on a family-friendly whale-watching tour to catch glimpses of majestic marine creatures in their natural habitat.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some top family-friendly attractions in California?

Looking for family-friendly attractions in California? Look no further! Disneyland and Disney California Adventure Park offer magical experiences, while Legoland California promises a day of fun. Want to learn about wildlife? Head to the Monterey Bay Aquarium or the San Diego Zoo. Other options include Universal Studios Hollywood, Knott’s Berry Farm, and SeaWorld San Diego.

Are there any free or low-cost activities for families in California?

California offers a variety of free or low-cost activities for families. Explore the beautiful beaches, go hiking on the scenic trails, or visit state and national parks. Take advantage of free museums, art galleries, and community events. Look for deals on theme park tickets and utilize family-friendly discounts.

What are some outdoor activities that kids can enjoy in California?

California offers a wide range of outdoor activities that kids can enjoy. From building sandcastles and swimming at the beach to hiking in its beautiful natural landscapes, there is never a shortage of fun things to do. Other options include camping, fishing, and visiting amusement parks. So, get ready for an exciting adventure in California with your kids!

What are some kid-friendly dining options in California?

Things to do in California with kids, California offers a plethora of kid-friendly dining options. From popular chains like In-N-Out Burger and Shake Shack to family-friendly restaurants like The Cheesecake Factory, there’s something for everyone. Don’t forget to explore food trucks, street vendors, farmer’s markets, and food festivals for unique and tasty experiences.


California offers a plethora of exciting and engaging activities for families with kids. From exploring national parks to visiting iconic attractions, there’s something for everyone. Whether you’re seeking educational experiences or thrilling adventures, California has it all.

The state is home to famous landmarks like the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz Island, as well as natural wonders like Yosemite National Park and Joshua Tree National Park. Families can also enjoy beach outings, interactive museums, and wildlife encounters.

With so many options available, you’ll never run out of things to do in California with kids. Have you been to California with your family? Share your experiences and recommendations in the comments below!

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