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17 Family Friendly Attractions in California
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17 Family Friendly Attractions in California

Planning a trip in the Golden State with little ones? Here are some of the best family-friendly attractions in California to check out.

Palig Dzadourian

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8 min read

November 03, 2022

Disclaimer: California.com is not receiving any type of compensation for reviewing any of the products or services mentioned in this article.

With how fast the world is moving, we might find ourselves struggling to enjoy the small yet essential things in life. Finding time to enjoy ourselves with our beloved family has become a bit of a struggle lately, but the Golden State just so happens to be the perfect place to catch those fleeting moments. With an infinite amount of family-friendly attractions to discover and bond with your loved ones, get ready to explore the wonders of California and create unforgettable memories you will cherish for the rest of your lives. It doesn’t matter where you start, but make sure to add all of these family-fun destinations to your bucket list!

Pink, fluffy and absolutely adorable, flamingos are just one of the wide of the 650 species of animals found at the San Diego Zoo.

1. San Diego Zoo 

Location: Balboa Park, San Diego

Begin your adventure with one of the largest zoos in the world, at the famous San Diego Zoo in Balboa Park. With conservation being at the forefront of this zoo’s mission, wildlife welfare is a guarantee here. Bring your kids along for an educational yet thrilling trip where they will be able to marvel at the large variety of animals that reside at the zoo. With this amazing selection, there is a pretty good chance your children’s favorite animal will be right around the corner. 

There are a number of attractions at this zoo, making it one of the most popular zoos in the country. Visitors can also feed the farm animals themselves, an exhilarating activity for your animal loving kids.

This serene lake is sure to become one of your go-to family trip spots.

2. Lake Shasta

Location: Shasta County

Lake Shasta is calling! If you are ever at a loss when looking for things to do in California with kids, Shasta County is where you need to head. Letting your kids go out and experience the beauty of California’s wilderness is definitely one the best ways to have fun! Lake Shasta is one of the Golden State’s clearest and largest lakes, among the most beloved getaway spots. From lake camping adventures to activities on the water, your time spent at this pristine lake will be unlike any other trip. 

3. Legoland California 

Location: One Legoland Dr, Carlsbad

No one is ever too old for some fun with legos! This is a spot where everyone will be able to get in touch with their inner child and enjoy the various areas and activities available for anticipating visitors. Forget all about your worries in the themed areas such as Ninjago, Miniland, and Star Wars; each one filled with a unique atmosphere. 

Don’t forget to bring your swimsuits along, as there is also an amazing water park where you all the family can refresh after all the endless fun outside. 

Take a step back in time while visiting Calico Ghost Town.

4. Calico Ghost Town

Location: San Bernardino County 

While this next spot is not the most popular family-friendly attraction, it certainly remains one of the most interesting ones. Situated near Barstow, this eerie ghost town is a preserved mining town from the 1800s. Once you enter the premises, you will get a feeling of being sent back in time, almost as if you stepped into a time machine. The architecture is also still in perfect condition, so your children’s imagination will run wild. This spot is also a great opportunity to teach your little ones some history lessons, while keeping the element of fun and intrigue in the equation. 

Let the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s beauty take you away from the worries of daily life.

5. Monterey Bay Aquarium 

Location: Cannery Row, Monterey

Introducing Monterey Bay Aquarium, an aquarium where you will find over 600 species of fish and marine animals. Aquariums are one of the best places to take kids - to see them bewildered by these animals that are usually hidden away in deep waters is an unforgettable experience. 

Take your kids to the many exhibits available for visitors and watch as the excitement builds up. 

Get those ski boots on and get ready to slide down the slopes over at Mammoth Mountain.

6. Mammoth Mountain 

Location: Mammoth Lakes 

If you are planning a family trip during the colder months, a getaway to Mammoth Lakes is the ideal place to go with kids. Nestled in the heart of the Sierras, Mammoth Mountain is where you will find a plethora of outdoor activities suitable for just about anybody. Skiing and snowboarding are among the most popular things to do with kids and family; but for a more mellow getaway, you can also go about exploring town, sip on hot cocoa, or have a hearty meal at one of the many comfort food restaurants. 

Simply seeing the pier from afar gives you a sense of excitement and anticipation.

7. Santa Monica Pier 

Location: Santa Monica 

The silhouette of the colorful ferris wheel is enough to reel anyone in! One of the best things to do with family if you are within the area, the Santa Monica Pier has an infinite amount of fun activities for everyone. Frolic around the pier while enjoying the beautiful ocean view, or dive into the cool water for a swim; or even walk past the lines of performers ready to entertain any passerby. 

The Pier is also home to an amazing arcade where kids of all ages can get their fill of fun and excitement. 

Travel into the world of geological wonders at Lassen Volcanic National Park.

8. Lassen Volcanic National Park

Location: Northern California 

If you have kids who are passionate about nature and the history of our planet, they are going to absolutely love this next attraction. Lassen Volcanic National Park is filled to the brim with volcanic gas vents, boiling mud, and pools. You will have the chance to walk around these geological wonders all day, including some of the areas like the Boiling Room and the Devil’s Kitchen. 

The Boiling Springs Lake is also a popular attraction, as this bubbling lake reaches up to 125 degrees! 

Take in the warm hues of the sunset at Crystal Cove State Park.

9. Crystal Cove State Park 

Location: Orange County 

A trip to the beach is something we could not pass out on, especially when talking about fun things to do with kids. While California is lined with gorgeous beaches, Crystal Cove beach is like no other! Discover three miles of beautiful sandy beach where your little ones will be able to run around, build sand castles, and take a dip in the mellow waters. 

There are also campsites to take advantage of if you are in the mood for an impromptu camping trip. However you decide to spend your time here, it will be worth every minute!

10. Universal Studios

Location: Los Angeles 

Universal Studios is one of the most obvious choices for this list. It’s where you and your kids’ favorite movies were filmed, and you get to see how! Dive into the imaginary world of movies and get ready to spend one of the best days ever at this theme park. 

There are multiple exciting rides every member of the family can go on, movie setups, and themed areas to explore. One of the most popular ones being the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. This one is definitely a must see in California, and one of the most fun things to do with family

Spend a memorable day at the famous Six Flags Magic Mountain, with attractions for kids as well as for the extreme thrill seekers.

11. Six Flags Magic Mountain 

Location: Magic Mountain Pkwy, Valencia

Welcome to the world of heights, where a thrilling day waits for you and your family. Famous for being home to one of the most intense roller coaster rides in the state, Six Flags Magic Mountain is an experience you will not be forgetting anytime soon. Most of the rides do not have height restrictions as long as an adult rides with their kids, allowing you to get the full package of fun. If you’re lucky to catch yourself here on a warm day, make sure to check out Hurricane Harbor, the water park right next door!

12. Winchester Mystery House

Location: San Jose 

This one might be on the more spooky side of things, but is still a great option if your kids are interested in testing their bravery. The Winchester Mystery House was built in the late 1800s by Sarah Winchester and is said to be haunted by ghosts to this day, ever since her husband and child died. 

Wander through the blooming gardens, and learn about the misfortunes of Sarah Winchester in the museums available for visitors. While this family-friendly attraction might leave you feeling unsteady, it is definitely one you are bound to remember. 

13. Raging Waters 

Location: San Dimas

Arguably one of the most fun things to do with family when in California is to go to one of the best water parks within the state! Raging Waters is where all your worries will drown away while you splash around the endless water activities and rides open to visitors of any age. From more extreme rides to areas dedicated to your smaller ones, Raging Waters is sure to leave you wanting more.

At Joshua Tree National Park you'll be bewildered and amazed at what the desert has to offer - epic family camp-outs await!

14. Joshua Tree National Park 

Location: Joshua Tree 

An adventure in the wonders of the Mojave desert is without a doubt something all the family should experience at least once in their lifetime. There are so many things to discover in this vast expanse of land - miles of trails for you to hike, amazing campsites to stay overnight, and wildlife viewing opportunities. Overnight campers also have the chance to witness the enchanting night sky of Joshua Tree, filled with twinkling stars. You might even be able to catch a glimpse of the Milky Way!

15. Gilroy Gardens 

Location: Gilroy

With over 40 family friendly rides and exhibits, Gilroy Gardens is the perfect spot for a trip with the kids. Hop on the carousel for a relaxing yet fun ride, or head over to the water oasis to freshen up in the Californian heat. Gilroy Gardens is also home to the peculiar circus tree that you can see up close wandering about the place. 

Disneyland is a no-brainer when it comes to how to spend the most magical day with your family!

16. Disneyland 

Location: Anaheim 

How could we ever leave out the magical world of Disneyland? A place where dreams come true no matter your age! Spending the day with your favorite cartoon characters, going on fun rides, and munching on delicious Disney themed snacks is a recipe for paradise.

17. Bob Baker Marionette Theater 

Location: Los Angeles. 

Almost every child loves to see puppets talk, dance, and do funny stuff. They have been bringing joy and laughter all around for ages, and Bob Baker Marionette Theater follows the spirit. Join in for live performances of a lifetime, and watch as your children laugh along and have the time of their lives in a lost art of the past.

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