The California Wild West is a place of natural beauty, but sometimes you just need to get out and have some fun! So whetherr you’re looking for an adrenaline rush or just want to take the kids for a day at the park, Northern California has many amusement parks that are sure to please.
Discover which one will be perfect for your family in this blog post about Amusement Parks in Northern California.
What is the best amusement park in Northern California? Unfortunately, that’s a question that has no single answer. So we’ve compiled this list of 15 different parks to help you make your decision.
1. Six Flags Discovery Kingdom – Vallejo, CA
Six Flags Discovery Kingdom is a theme park located in Vallejo, C, specializing in animal-themed attractions. With a lion’s head towering above its entrance, this park is home to many different kinds of wildlife from all over the world. This park also has one of the biggest and most exciting coasters, El Toro, which sand blasts you with air as it twists and turns you around at 80 miles per hour.
2. Great America – Santa Clara, CA
Great America is a thrill seeking park with fun rides from the mild to the extreme. It features some of the greatest rollercoasters in Northern California, like X-Flight; an inverted coaster that goes upside down seven times through twists and turns at fifty miles per hour.
3. Gilroy Gardens Family Theme Park – Gilroy, CA
Gilroy Gardens is home to beautiful flowers and trees set among 24 acres of family fun! Their most popular attraction is their Monorail where you can take a leisurely ride around the park or experience it as if you were on your favorite roller coaster! Don’t forget to check out their water play area with fountains spraying up to four feet high.
4 . Raging Waters Sacramento and Cal Expo – Sacramento, CA
Raging Water Sacramento is Northern California’s largest water park. This expansive park has rides for all ages, including family raft rides, body slides, and white-water rapids. Raging Waters also holds an annual event called ‘Campout at the Soak Zone,’ where you can spend the night camping out under the stars with your family or friends!
5 . Discovery Museum and Planetarium – Sacramento, CA
The Discovery Museum and Planetarium is a hands-on science museum that has over 300 exhibits for you to explore. You can explore the world of space or put together your roller coaster with actual electrical wiring! The planetarium offers full shows daily at 10, 11, 12, 2, and 3, so don’t miss it!
6 . California’s Great America – Santa Clara, CA
California’s Great America is a thrill seeker’s dream! This park features some of the greatest rollercoasters in all of Northern California. One that stands out among them all is their newest ride, RailBlazer. RailBlazer will take you for a fast-paced adventure through twists and turns, drops, and climbs at speeds up to 68 miles per hour.
7. Six Flags Marine World – Vallejo, CA
Six Flags Marine World is one of the oldest amusement parks in Northern California, dating back to 1968. This park has many animal exhibits, including penguins, walruses, and sea lions. It also features some of the most thrilling rides in Northern California, like Batman: The Ride, a roller coaster that takes you upside down six times at 60 miles per hour!
8 . Playland at the Beach San Francisco, CA
Playland at the Beach is a historic amusement park that features family fun rides and games! Playland was founded in 1929 by Charles I.D. Looff, known as “The Father of Coney Island,” created one of the first carousels, nationally recognized today as The Santa Cruz Carousel. This park also has a historic wooden roller coaster called The Hurricane. This ride has received the ACE Coaster Classic Award for its historical impact on the industry.
9 . Evergreen Museum, California State
The Evergreen Museum features over 100 antique cars and steam locomotives dating back to the 1860s. The California State Railroad Museum brings you through the history of rail travel in America, starting from when it began in 1827 until today! There are also train games outside where your family can become conductors and engineers.
10 . Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk – Santa Cruz, CA
Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is the only seaside amusement park in California. It has rides for all ages, including its world-famous wooden roller coaster, The Giant Dipper. This beautiful park also features the Looff Carousel, one of CHARLES LOOF’s earliest works built-in 1911!
11 . The California Palace of the Legion of Honor– San Francisco, CA
The California Palace of the Legion of Honor is a beautiful museum located on The Presidio. It features over 34,000 pieces, including works by Van Gogh, Monet, and Rembrandt. This beautiful building was modeled after its sister in France, built during the 19th century!
12 . Chinatown San Francisco, CA
Chinatown is located in San Francisco and was created in the late 1800s. This area has everything you need for a good adventure, including restaurants, museums, and shops! There are also two great Chinese New Year celebrations held every year students from local schools perform traditional dances.
13 . Raging Waters Sacramento and Cal Expo – Sacramento, CA
Raging Waters Sacramento is one of the largest water parks in Northern California. It features rides like Shipwreck Rapids, which takes you on an adventure through twists and turns down a river in an inner tube! This park also has wave pools, lazy rivers, and more for your family to enjoy.
14 . Lake Tahoe area attractions- Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority
Lake Tahoe is one of the most popular tourist attractions in all of Northern California. This area features many different activities such as hiking, biking, and even scenic drives! Lake Tahoe also has beautiful beaches for you to spend your day at. Don’t forget some sunscreen!
15 . San Diego Wild Animal Park – Escondido, CA
San Diego Wild Animal Park features over 3,700 animals from more than 250 species. There are four trails featuring wildlife from Africa, Asia, the Americas and Australia . You can also see classical art in their Elephant Overlook exhibit while some of the park’s elephants paint on a large canvas! This park is also home to multiple conservation projects that help preserve the habitats of these beautiful animals.
16 . Universal Studios Hollywood – Universal City, CA
Universal Studios is one of the most popular studios in California. This studio features attractions like King Kong 3D, Jurassic Park Rapids Adventure, and Backdraft with fire effects! You can also visit some of your favorite movie characters like Shrek or E.T.
17 . Six Flags Magic Mountain – Valencia, CA
Six Flags Magic Mountain is one of the largest and most popular theme parks in California. This park has over 100 rides and attractions like Apocalypse: the Ride, Green Lantern: First Flight, and The Riddler’s Revenge! These rides are sure to thrill both adults and families alike.
18 . Santa Cruz Boardwalk – Santa Cruz, CA
The Santa Cruz Boardwalk is a beautiful amusement park located on the beach! There are classics like the Giant Dipper roller coaster, which is an old wooden coaster from 1924. The boardwalk also has a museum and shops for all of your shopping needs.
19 . Big Bear Lake area attractions– Lake Arrowhead Village
Big Bear Lake is located in the San Bernardino Mountains and is only a few hours from Los Angeles. This area has great hiking trails like Big Bear Discovery Center, which takes you around Big Bear Lake. If you want to go fishing while you’re there, we recommend going to Baldwin Lake, where catfish, bluegill, and black crappie are abundant.
20 . Six Flags Hurricane Harbor – Valencia, CA
Six Flags Hurricane Harbor is one of the largest water parks in Southern California. This park features great family rides like Roaring Rapids, which is a fast-paced mountain river raft ride! You can also go down Mammoth Falls if you like some good twists and turns!
21 . San Francisco Cable Car Museum- San Francisco, CA
The Cable Car Museum is located in the historic Washington-Mason Cable Car Barn and Powerhouse. This museum features a variety of different exhibits on the history of San Francisco’s iconic cable cars! You can also ride some of these historic cable cars for yourself after visiting this great museum.
22 . Santa Barbara area attractions
Santa Barbara is a beautiful town located in Southern California. This town is known for the beach, but it also has a cute downtown area with shopping and restaurants. While visiting Santa Barbara, some attractions you can see are California African American Museum, Old Mission Santa Ines, and the Santa Barbara Botanical Garden.
23 . Monterey Bay Aquarium – Monterey, CA
The Monterey Bay Aquarium is located in the town of Monterey, which is south of San Francisco. This aquarium features many exhibits like “From Pole to Pole” and “Sea Otter Habitat.” Two theaters showcase films about different animals in their habitats. You can even get up close to some of these animals!
24 . Lassen Volcanic National Park – Mineral, CA
Lassen Volcanic National Park is located in the southern part of California. The park has great hikes like Bumpass Hell, which takes you to bubble mud pots and fumaroles (steam vents)! There are also two different natural hot tubs if you want something more relaxing!
25 . Hearst Castle – San Simeon, CA
Hearst Castle is one of the most visited sites in California. This castle was built by William Randolph Hearst, who was a newspaper entrepreneur. The castle itself sits on 200 acres of land that feature beautiful gardens and views of the ocean! You can also visit some other attractions like the elephant seals at Piedras Blancas or San Simeon pier!
26 . The California Palace of the Legion of Honor– San Francisco, CA
The California Palace of the Legion of Honor is located in San Francisco and features an extensive collection of European art. This museum has over 33,000 works in its permanent collection and also includes special exhibits. If you love art, this museum should be on your list!
27 . Fort Point National Historic Site – San Francisco, CA
Fort Point National Historic Site is the place where the history of California began. This fort was built during the civil war to defend San Francisco Bay. You can visit this historic site and see some of the original buildings that have been preserved for over 150 years!