Family Fun in Southern California

Young kids spin around in mini-hot air balloon shaped carnival ride.

The Balloon Race ride at the Knott’s Berry Farm amusement park. Photo courtesy of Knott’s Berry Farm.

Southern California is a great place to bring kids of all ages for a family vacation. Naturally, just about everyone will want to go to Disneyland. Teens often prefer to bounce over to California Adventure for the roller coasters and thrill rides. Considering buying two- or three-day passes, and spend the whole weekend getting Disneyfied to the max. Cap a long day of fun with dinner and a show at Medieval Times or Pirate’s Dinner Adventure.

Continue your theme park adventure by checking out other Southern California amusement parks, such as Knott’s Berry Farm in nearby Buena Park. Cool off on the waterslides at Knott’s Soak City or head for the stars at Universal Studios Hollywood for movie-centric attractions and tours. The La Brea Tar Pits remain a kids’ favorite, with bubbling stinky water and a huge collection of bones.

Equally fun and slightly less commercial entertainment abounds in San Diego. Spend a half-day in SeaWorld taking in killer whale shows and riding the coasters. Stroll the meandering paths at the San Diego Zoo in Balboa Park, where you’ll meet lions, elephants, pandas, meerkats, and hundreds of exotic animals. To watch animals live and play in more natural environments, head to North County’s Wild Animal Park.

Kids and adults alike love the wide, flat beaches of Southern California. Park your towel at Ocean Beach, Coronado, Zuma Beach, or Malibu Lagoon State Beach. Many hotels keep a store of loaner beach chairs and sand and surf toys that are perfect for a day spent lounging out on the sand.

Got older kids? Sign ’em up for surfing lessons! San Diego, coastal Orange County, and even Santa Barbara have surf schools that offer everything from two-hour lessons up to multiday kids’ surf camps.


Excerpted from the Second Edition of Moon California.


Maps of Southern California

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