Best 15 Amusement parks in Southern California (updated)

Southern California is home to some of the best amusement parks in the world. There are many options for a day spent with your family, from Disneyland and Knott’s Berry Farm to Six Flags Magic Mountain. However, if you’re looking for a smaller park that still has all the rides you know and love, check out Boomers Amusement Park in Palm Springs!

These parks range from theme parks, water parks, and family-friendly destinations for all ages. You can visit them year round with the most popular months being July through September. Read on to find out more about these great places!

This blog post is about the 15 amusement parks in southern California. It will cover all of the parks that are within a reasonable distance to each other, which means you can visit them all in one day!

let’s get started,

1.adventure city-

Adventure City is an amusement park located in Anaheim, California. It’s one of the biggest small parks in SoCal and has lots of updated rides for children all the way up to the big kids! They have a train ride, carousel ride, bumper cars, and even some water rides for children to enjoy. In addition, there’s a great roller coaster that spins around in a circle and children can even drive their own cars around the track!

Adventure city is open from January to December, making it a go-to destination for all year-round fun. Each season Adventure City adds new attractions, so you’ll never get bored going back. The park is very clean and well-staffed so you don’t have to worry about anything while there. They also host birthday parties if you want your child’s party to be extra special!

2.pacific park-

pacific park front view

Pacific Park is an amusement park located in Santa Monica, California. It’s only steps away from the beautiful Santa Monica Pier and many people go to both when they visit! Pacific Park features a tremendous roller coaster called Top Eliminator which consists of three inversions in one ride! That means you can experience triple loops, drops, and even inversions in one track.

The best part about this ride is that it’s side by side with other tracks where two people at a time can do Top Eliminators all day long! The Screamin’ Eagle Coaster race track is very similar but has only one person on it per ride. You’ll love watching kids scream their heads off while riding these rides because they are so fast and loud!

Pacific Park has a giant Ferris wheel that allows you to see the whole Santa Monica Bay and even downtown Los Angeles on a clear day. The Ferris wheel can hold up to 10 people in each gondola, so everyone in your party will enjoy the ride!

There’s also a carousel and train for children who want to take it easy while they go around and around. Pacific Park is open all year long except during the winter months, but we recommend going when school isn’t too hot because it can be very crowded with many people visiting at once. Don’t forget to visit Santa Monica Pier while you’re there because it’s full of restaurants, bars, shops, and live entertainment for all ages!

3. castle park-

Castle Park is a small amusement park in Riverside, California, near the 91 freeway. This little gem is perfect for when you want to do something fun but don’t have a lot of time or money. It’s so inexpensive to go that children under 48″ get in free! It also has FREE parking, which is almost unheard of at an amusement park these days! 

They have ten rides total and one water slide, which can be very hot during the summer months. The best part about this small theme park is the arcade games because they give out tickets which you can trade in for prizes! So you can take your child there on a weekday and ride all their favorite rides over and over again until they run out of tickets!

4. six flags magic mountain-

Six Flags Magic Mountain is an amusement park located in Valencia, California, near Santa Clarita. It’s right next to another great theme park called Six Flags Hurricane Harbor! They have the best rides for all of your favorite movies, which kids love because they can get terrified on some of them! Superman Escape from Krypton is a roller coaster that blasts you out of the station at 100 miles per hour and up into the sky until you are 415 feet high! You’ll experience 4.5 seconds of weightlessness on this ride which makes it worth it alone!

They also have The New Revolution, where Splash Mountain meets Star Wars, so you can go on a crazy adventure while coming face-to-face with Darth Vader himself. It’s a virtual reality experience where you wear goggles and listen to different sounds, making it feel like you are actually in the movie!

The newest ride at this park is The Joker, which features 4D free-fly coaster technology that’s brand new! You’ll experience incredible flips, drops, twirls, and starts as your feet dangle freely through the air. This is one of our favorite roller coasters because it has so many cool twists and turns, leaving us breathless every time we ride it!

The food there is pretty good, too, with plenty of options for vegetarians, vegans, or anyone who wants something simple. The lines move quickly, so don’t worry about spending half your day standing in lines for rides! You can be in and out of the park soon if you ride all your favorite roller coasters first. It gets pretty crowded on the weekends though,,   riding all the best rides might be difficult for some families. Visiting during the week or early in the day is your best bet to get everything done before it’s time to go home!

5. Hollywood studios-

Hollywood Studios is perfect for you if you love Disney movies because they have real-life roller coasters based on our favorite movies! Most people know this one as “The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror” which drops you 13 stories while making spooky sounds that make little children scream their heads off. 

This ride alone makes it worth visiting, but there are many other great attractions also! The Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster is another one of our favorites which blasts you out of the station at 60 miles per hour and up into the sky until you are upside down. There’s a separate line for this ride that’s only about half an hour-long, but it’s worth the wait because there aren’t many roller coasters like this one in California.

The final attraction we recommend visiting at Disney Hollywood Studios is Toy Story Mania, where four people can play mini-games together using laser guns to pop balloons. After every game, everyone gets points based on how well they did, which adds up quickly toward your score. Children six years or older should play with an adult because younger kids may need help lifting the gun!

These are just a few of our favorite attractions at Disney Hollywood Studios, but there’s much more to do here than just these rides. You can also watch live shows starring all your favorite Disney characters or meet some special ones up close for pictures and autographs after their performance. In addition, this park is excellent for families with kids, so don’t miss out on spending an entire day here having fun together!

6. universal studios-

Visiting Universal Studios near you is a great way to kill a couple of hours, especially if you’ve been craving roller coasters ever since going to Disneyland last month. There aren’t as many roller coasters overall, but they make up for it by putting them in places where you least expect them! Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit is the most popular attraction that starts as a typical roller coaster until you get to the top of the tracks. At this point, it’s anyone’s guess where this roller coaster will take you next because there are many different paths you can choose from to make your adventure!

The Simpsons area at Universal Studios has tons of rides and attractions based on everyone’s favorite cartoon family, including The Simpsons Ride (perfect for fans) and Kang & Kodos’ Twirl ‘n’ Hurl (ideal for all ages). These rides might not be appropriate if you’re still little or very old, though, so keep that in mind before deciding which ones to try!

Some other popular attractions include Revenge of the Mummy, Transformers the Ride 3D, and the Animal Actors Show, where you can meet many of your favorite animals like dogs, cats, ET’s cousin, and more! Universal Studios is also known for having many places to eat so you won’t go hungry here no matter how long you choose to spend at the park.

7. Disneyland-  

After visiting every other amusement park in California at least once already, the one that started it all is still our favorite Disney park! The rides are fun, but we love most about Disneyland by riding down Main Street USA on the trolley. Everyone waves as they pass by because it’s an experience everyone enjoys, which brings back memories of happier times whenever we do it again. We also enjoy taking in the beautiful views of Disneyland Park from up above in It’s a Small World.

If you love roller coasters, our favorite is Space Mountain which isn’t too extreme but not too slow either, so it’s perfect for everyone to enjoy! However, if you’re taller than 40 inches, the California Screamin’ roller coaster might be faster and scarier than what you usually like. Still, if that doesn’t bother you (or you’re used to it already), we recommend trying this one out because there are no other roller coasters like it at any other amusement park around here!

There are many more rides and activities to keep you having fun all day long at Disneyland, including Sleeping Beauty Castle Walkthrough, The Haunted Mansion (for Halloween), The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Fantasmic! (Water Show at night), and Mickey’s Fun Wheel (Ferris Wheel). We could keep going on, but our list would be too long if we did, so you’ll just have to see for yourself when you visit Disneyland next or surprise your little one with getting Annual Passes this year.

8. Aquatica-

Aquatica water park is a place for all ages to enjoy in California, whether it’s warm sunny weather outside, raining like crazy like in the picture above, or even both! This place has many cool slides that look exhilarating but aren’t too scary, making them perfect for everyone, including kids as young as 3.

As you can see in the picture above, there are many different kinds of water slides here at Aquatica, with some that spin around like a teacup or drop like a roller coaster with twists and turns that let you pick your speed. Then, of course, there’s course, and there’s plenty of places to float around the lazy river and watch all the people who decided to take the plunge.

To avoid waiting in lines for hours before going on your favorite ride again, we recommend buying an Express Pass regardless if you’re staying at any nearby hotels or not since it’s well worth what this ticket holder paid for them! Unfortunately, when we visited Aquatica last month, we didn’t have enough time to try out everything, so we’ll be returning soon when the weather turns warmer again.


Another Disney park is across the street from Disneyland called Disney’s California Adventure, which was recently rebranded to match its more famous neighbor next door. We’re sure you can figure out why this place was renamed several years ago. Still, if not, it has something to do with everyone calling it ‘DCA’ instead of the full name, so it makes sense to contact this theme park something else, so no one gets confused about where they are when talking about their favorite amusement park in Anaheim.

Disney’s California Adventure still has rides and attractions similar to Disneyland. However, this time around, each one seems to tell a different story depending on what part of the state you’re visiting based on where you start your day. We generally don’t just see these kinds of places for the rides but rather take in the sights and sounds of all the different areas around California. Hence, we’re glad they added enhancements like this now because it’s much more fun doing things this way than ever before.

It’s difficult to choose our favorite attractions between both Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure since there are too many that were better than expected here, especially the trolley ride through Hollywood Land, which tells about how Walt Disney got started by showing people his first animation studio (above picture). Even if you’ve never seen any of his movies before, everyone will still enjoy taking a quick tour around this area to see some very fabulous scenery that looks nothing like any other theme park out there.

Speaking of incredible scenery, Grizzly River Run is a great place to try out here at Disney’s California Adventure, which takes you on a mild raft ride with lots of twists and turns that will make you wonder how water doesn’t. Spill out everywhere! 

This is another attraction we’ve never seen anywhere else, but it makes sense because the whole point of places like this is for your family to enjoy new things no matter what year it is or where any of us live worldwide. Disneyland and Santa Ana/DCA are some fun places, especially if you’re looking for something different than just regular rides and attractions: There’s so much more than meets the eye when visiting these parks, and we’d love to come back. Soon if we could!

10. Irvine-California

Located in Orange County (one county over from where we live!) is another big amusement park that’s packed with fun things to do, like the giant water playground pictured above. We’re not sure what this place is called, but it looks like a good deal for how much you can do here compared to other sites!

When we visited the last time, we were surprised by how many exciting places to see around Irvine, often overlooked because Disneyland seems to draw everyone’s attention. This time arou nd, we plan on spending more than one day here to explore all the unique things this place has to offer since there’s no doubt it would be well worth coming back again and again due to its sheer size.

11. fiesta village family fun park-California

To celebrate our visit to Fiesta California, which is next door to several other huge theme parks, we’re going to try out a new ride called Silly Symphony Swings, which was recently installed here. This is the first time we’ve seen this kind of ride anywhere, but you can find plenty of them back home in Canada, so it’s nice visiting such an exciting attraction even if you don’t live nearby.

The people manning these rides are all amiable and helpful, making getting on and off more accessible than ever before because they’ll let us know exactly what to do instead of standing around wondering why we’re staring at them like they’re from another planet. There’s no doubt this place has much more to offer than just one ride, so we’re going to check out as much as possible over a few days before coming back home for more!

12. Santee Stanford inn

Next door to Fiesta Village is a hotel with a pretty nice park in its back yard where you can go for a quick look around if the weather isn’t cooperating with your schedule. The Lonely Mountain was there when we visited before and caused quite a stir, but it looks like they finally decided to take it away. 

Hence, now the area feels much more open again, even though this area seems crowded compared to most other places in California. The rides here are exciting because there’s no way anyone from our home country would build something like this! I know you’re probably thinking “Cedar Point” right about now, but that’s not accurate since these things aren’t made of steel tracks that keep getting bigger and bigger each year.

It’s pretty cool how we can finally see the Pacific Ocean from here, but that also means it’s going to be very hard explaining what you’re seeing if anyone asks us about it since the only thing like this back home is a tiny pool or something similar. We saw a few people frolicking in the water earlier today, which was very entertaining because they were completely drenched by the time they got out! But they looked happy, so I’m sure it didn’t bother them too much, though, so maybe we’ll try having some fun on these things too if time allows – Our arms might not last two seconds, though…

13. Santee lakes

This place isn’t an amusement park, even though one might make that mistake at first since it’s more of a special events place. We’re not sure what this place is called, but the prominent landmark here is an enormous windmill that can be seen way off in the distance if you stand on one of the grassy hills surrounding this area for some reason. I guess these are used to store water, but they don’t look like anything special from far away, so I’m still curious as to why there are so many here!

There’s no doubt this place is very popular with hikers and biking enthusiasts since it seems like a great place to go for a workout. So maybe we’ll take a look after checking out Fiesta Village, but I’m not making any promises since going on vacation doesn’t mean you get to “work off” all that extra time sitting in front of a computer!

14. wild cats sanctuary

I know what you’re thinking, “There’s no way they’d go see some random cat sanctuary when there are so many theme parks nearby!” Well, the people here do seem kind of strange because I swear one of them told me he had an actual pet hawk once – Who keeps something like that as a pet?! Anyways, the animals here seem pretty happy, and the place is very well taken care of, so it’s not hard to see why so many people want to come here and support this place.

I know we were only in California for about a day but now that we’re done checking out what this half of the state has to offer, let’s pack our things and go check out some other places! Maybe we’ll catch one last glimpse of those famous redwood trees before heading back home again – This time with plenty more exciting stories to tell everyone after visiting such a fantastic place like this one!

15. Santee el mirage reservoir

We’ve been driving around for a while now, and I’m starting to feel pretty tired since we still have quite a drive ahead of us. But, the good news is that we’re getting close to the city where our hotel is located – At least, I think it’s in this area if my memory serves me correctly! We passed by this place earlier today after leaving Fiesta Village because the sun was starting to go down, and it looked like there were some cool things to do around here. Most importantly, it seems like they have a lovely lake that you can take out your boat or something similar on if you find yourself without anything else to do!


With so many places to visit in Southern California, you’re sure to find something new every time you come back here, even if it’s your hundredth time here, because there are still hidden gems out there for everyone that will make each experience memorable every single time. So around hope, this post was helpful when considering what things to do on your next visit since we had a great time getting lost around all of these fun amusement parks!

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