vacation spots in California for families

It’s been a while since you’ve been on vacation, and now your kids are all grown up. So your family needs an adventure-filled getaway that will satisfy everyone. The best vacation spots in California for families are all over the state. From the Bay Area to Los Angeles, there is no shortage of fun things to do and places to visit with your family.

This blog post will give you 15 of the top places to go on a family vacation. You’ll find everything from amusement parks and waterparks to museums and zoos – no matter what age your kids are or how big their interests are, they’re sure to love one of these destinations!

let’s get started, shall we,

1. San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Do you have kids that love animals? If so, the San Diego Zoo Safari Park is a must-see. The park houses an extensive collection of wild animal species from all over the world. Safari trips are available for visitors who want to see many of the zoo’s exotic creatures up close and personal.

The San Diego Zoo Safari Park is located in Escondido, California, about an hour outside of the city. It’s the sister park to the San Diego Zoo but offers a different experience for animal lovers.

The best part of the San Diego Zoo Safari Park is that it allows visitors to get up-close with animals. Visitors can go on safaris, take a train ride, or walk around the park to see all animals. You might want to bring your camera because there are plenty of photo opportunities.

2. San Francisco

San Francisco has been a vacation destination for many years. It’s crowded, busy, and loud, making it the complete opposite of a quiet family getaway! But there are plenty of places to visit in San Francisco that will give your kids something to do. The city is also chock full of good food spots, so you don’t have to worry about going hungry.
The best part about going on a family trip to San Francisco is getting a taste of California history while having fun with your kids. Some great attractions include:

Aquarium of the Bay: This aquarium features different sea life from the San Francisco Bay Area and Northern California coastlines. You’ll see sharks, octopi, jellyfish, sea lions, and more marine animals. It’s a great place to visit if the weather is nice and you want to take your kids to an outdoor activity.

California Academy of Sciences: This museum houses farm animals, live butterflies, and insects worldwide. There’s also an indoor rainforest and aquarium with different aquatic creatures. The planetarium even features laser shows for kids
Coit Tower: A massive tower with amazing views of San Francisco sits atop Telegraph Hill in downtown SF.

Families can go up for free during certain hours, but they’ll have to pay if they want to access it during other times of the day. But it’s worth seeing because there are incredible panoramic vistas that span across the Bay Area.

3. Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara is another California town that’s worth visiting. It’s known for its art scene, historic buildings, and cute boutiques. There are also tons of kid-friendly activities to do in this seaside city.

One great way to spend the day in Santa Barbara with your family is at the waterfront. You can go on a boat tour or rent kayaks or paddleboards to see some sea lions at work. Kids will love feeding the birds here because there are so many different kinds of them!

You can also visit local beaches like Leadbetter Beach, Arroyo Burro Beach, Hendry’s Beach, Black’s Beach, Goleta Beach Park, Rincon Point, and Beach. Or you can take a scenic drive along the Pacific Coast Highway to see some of Santa Barbara’s finest views.

And if you want to show your kids the true meaning of American history, visit the Santa Barbara Presidio and El Presidio de Santa Barbara State Historic Park. This is where California first began as a Spanish colony! You can tour buildings that date back to that period and learn all about the area’s fascinating past.

4. Miami and South Beach

South Beach is one of America’s most prominent party destinations, but it also has plenty for families to do during the day. I recommend staying in Miami or South Beach so you can explore both parts of this city during your trip.

Start by visiting Ocean Drive, which features colorful Art Deco buildings, sidewalk cafes, and even a colorful beach! Next to Ocean Drive in Lummus Park, where kids can play on the beach or go for a swim. Then take them across the street to the Children’s Fountain so they can enjoy an interactive fountain show.

For little ones who want to explore nature, visit Miami Beach Botanical Garden. Here you’ll find more than 5,000 species of plants that are native to Florida! There are also special events like storytelling sessions at their theater for families looking for something fun to do with their children.

5. San Antonio

San Antonio is one city where history and family-friendly activities meet up. It’s known as “The Most Historic City America” because it holds the most Spanish colonial sites. San Antonio is great for sightseeing because the city is pretty compact, so you won’t have to drive around much. One of the most popular attractions in this city is The Alamo, which was a mission that served as one of Texas’ first defenses during its fight for independence from Mexico.

You can also visit the River Walk, which winds along San Antonio’s famous river and passes under bridges with shops on them. There are many restaurants along this waterway where you can get local food, shop at souvenir stores, or take a boat ride! In addition, you’ll be able to see downtown buildings plus views of the San Antonio skyline while exploring this part of town.

The Shops at La Cantera are worth visiting because they offer shopping, dining, and family-friendly entertainment. There’s a miniature golf course where you can play against your friends or family member, as well as laser tag for those who want a little more excitement. You can also play arcade games or board games at the mall then have dinner at one of its many restaurants.

There are also great outdoor attractions in San Antonio, like The DoSeum, an interactive children’s museum that features science exhibits, art workshops, and even a water wall! In addition, six Flags Fiesta Texas has thrilling roller coasters for older kids, so this would be an excellent place to come with friends rather than younger siblings!

6. Los Angeles

Los Angeles is one of the most popular cities in America, and it’s also a huge attraction for families because there’s always something to do. Try visiting Disneyland Park, which has eight themed areas with attractions like roller coasters, parades, and many games! Don’t forget to visit Disney California Adventure, too, so your kids can experience more entertainment from their favorite movies and TV shows.

You can also go shopping at The Grove, which offers upscale shopping, dining, and free concerts throughout the year. There you will find a 19-screen movie theater where you can catch a movie or stop by a musical fountain that shoots water high into the air. Finally, if your children want indoor playtime, I recommend checking out Kidseum, a children’s museum that features art workshops, storytelling sessions, and even a ball pit!

7. Fresno

Fresno is a great city for those who want to visit California but don’t have much money. This city has lots of low-cost activities that the whole family can enjoy without spending too much money.

The biggest attraction in Fresno is Roeding Park, which features a zoo, water park, botanical garden, and even an aviary! You can also rent out paddleboats or fishing poles so you can spend a day on the park’s lake. The Pine Flat Lake area is another place where kids will have fun because there’s a large playground with slides and swings, and picnic tables throughout the region.

Fresno offers two outlet malls with stores like Gap, H&M, Nike, and Old Navy for those who love shopping. You can also take your kids to the Children’s Museum of Central California, which has a lot of fun exhibits like a playground with multiple slides and climbing structures. It also offers art workshops where children can paint, draw, or even create their puppets!

8. Bakersfield

Bakersfield is a great city for people who want to go on family adventures but don’t have much money. This town has lots of low-cost activities that the whole family can enjoy! The biggest attraction in Bakersfield is the Kern County Museum which explores California history and even teaches kids about what life was like for their ancestors long ago. There you will find exhibits with Native American artifacts and fossils, and even animal specimens from various periods.

You can also see plenty of farm animals at the Living Desert Zoo & Gardens. Here you’ll be able to see deer, wolves, zebras, and big cats like tigers and leopards. You can visit them by riding on an open-air tram tour or even taking a walk on self-guided trails to see the animals from up close.

Another fun attraction in Bakersfield is the Castle Air Museum, which features an extensive aircraft and flight memorabilia collection. This museum collects many large planes so children can explore them inside and out! Kids will also be able to see a cockpit, flight simulator, and even a control tower that they can climb inside.

9. Anaheim

Anaheim is a great city to visit if you want to go on adventures but don’t have much money. This town has plenty of low-cost activities that the whole family can enjoy! The biggest attraction in Anaheim is Disneyland, and it’s also one of the most popular theme parks in America. Here you will find over 60 rides and attractions like Space Mountain, Alice in Wonderland, and even Pirates of the Caribbean!

The park is divided into different themed areas like Tomorrowland, where you will find futuristic rides for older kids, and Fantasyland, filled with rides for younger children. If your kids want some indoor playtime, I recommend visiting Disney California Adventure to experience even more entertainment from their favorite movies and TV shows!

Anaheim offers two outlet malls with stores like Nordstrom Rack, Saks Fifth Avenue Off 5th, and Prada for those who love shopping. You can also take your kids to Typhoon Lagoon Water Park, where they will find fun water slides and even a pirate-themed play area.

The city of Anaheim was established in 1857, so you can experience California history at the Heritage House Museum, which features original Victorian furnishings that are still in their original states! In addition, kids will enjoy exploring the home’s rambling garden that has beautiful rose bushes. They can also look at dollhouses made by famous artists as well as antiques from different periods.

10. Riverside

Riverside is an excellent city for those who want to go on family adventures but don’t have much money. This city has plenty of low-cost activities that the whole family can enjoy!

The biggest attraction in Riverside is the Norton Simon Museum, which features an extensive collection of famous artworks worldwide. You will see decorative pieces as well as paintings by Rembrandt, Monet, and van Gogh. One of my favorite exhibits was Whistler’s Peacock Room because it shows how artists used depth and perspective from past centuries. If you’re hungry, then I recommend grabbing lunch at Lucille’s Smokehouse Bar-B-Que, where they offer delicious food like pork sandwiches, smoked chicken wings, and even mac ‘n’ cheese.

Another fun attraction in Riverside is the American Crafts Museum because it houses a variety of handmade items like quilts and vintage toys. This museum also offers hands-on classes for kids to learn about making different crafts like cards and paper planes!

Riverside has two outlet malls with stores like J.Crew, Nordstrom Rack, and Kate Spade New York for those who love shopping. You can also go shopping at nearby El Paseo because it features luxury boutiques like Louis Vuitton, Giorgio Armani, and Bottega Veneta, to name a few! If you want to cool off, then I recommend going to The Rinks – Ice Arena & Lanes where you and your family can play hockey and skate in the rink.

11. Irvine

Irvine is a beautiful city for those who want to go on family adventures but don’t have much money. This city has plenty of low-cost activities that the whole family can enjoy! The biggest attraction in Irvine is the University of California, Irvine, which features science exhibits like the Animal Discovery Room, where kids can touch live animals like lizards and silkworms. This campus also offers tours that show what college is like so they can see what it’s like inside lecture halls, labs, and even housing! Your kids will love getting lost inside this campus because all around them will be tall palm trees and colorful flower gardens.

Irvine has two outlet malls with stores like Nordstrom Rack, Saks Fifth Avenue Off 5th, and J.Crew for those who love shopping. You can also go shopping at nearby Fashion Island, where you will find a variety of high-end boutiques like Tiffany & Co., Apple Store, and Burberry.

If you want to cool off, I recommend going to The Laguna Beach Resort Family Water Park because it offers water slides and a giant pool for those hot summer days. You can also visit the Irvine Ice Center, where your kids will have fun playing hockey on an ice rink! In addition to that, they can also skate around during open skating hours, which are listed here. This place is great for families since most people wear skates over their shoes and all the staff is family-friendly.

12. Fremont

Fremont is a great city for those who want to go on family adventures but don’t have much money. This city has plenty of low-cost activities that the whole family can enjoy! The biggest attraction in Fremont is the Pacific Park which features rides like the Carousel, Ferris Wheel, and Roller Coaster. Kids will love riding these attractions because they’re all hand-made, and kids can even control how fast some of them spin around! Another fun activity at Pacific Park is playing mini-golf, where you put your ball into holes with foam clown faces.

You might be wondering why this place is so cheap since most amusement parks are costly, but what makes it so affordable are the coupons you can find online. If you don’t have any coupons, the general admission fee is about $30, including all rides, access to Pacific Park’s arcade, and even cotton candy or popcorn!

If you want to cool off, I recommend going to Black Angus Steakhouse because they have an outdoor patio where you can spot wildlife like ducks, geese, swans, and even wild turkeys! You can also go shopping at the Great Mall of the Bay Area, where stores include Coach Outlet, Off 5th by Saks Fifth Avenue, and Nike Factory Store.

13. Glendale

The biggest attraction in Glendale is the Alex Theatre which shows old movies and live performances from singers and dancers. You can even watch an opera or a ballet at this theatre, making your kids feel like they’re living in a storybook. They can also see what it’s like inside a Broadway show since The Alex puts on productions based on their favorite children’s stories like Peter Pan, Alice In Wonderland, and Cinderella! Another fun activity at The Alex is attending movie night to eat popcorn and candy while of a magic show or a cartoon!

Of course, no visit to Glendale would be complete without going shopping because there are so many malls in this city. The biggest mall is the Americana at Brand, which has stores like Apple Store, Zara, and Anthropologie, where you can find your favorite designer brands for half of their usual price! You can also go shopping at Glendale Galleria, which has Nike Factory Store, Macy’s, and Nordstrom Rack stores.

14. Hawthorne

The biggest attraction in Hawthrone is the Del Amo Fashion Center, which has stores like Forever 21, H&M, and Zara. You can go shopping at this mall for hours without feeling tired because there are so many stores to check out! My family loves going here, mainly because they have a Nordstrom Rack that discounts everything by 60% or more!

If you want your kids to experience life as an astronaut, then take them to the California Science Center, where they will learn about space exploration through hands-on exhibits. They can even participate in fun experiments that test their reflexes and hand-eye coordination skills.

For those who love eating delicious food, then you should visit Eggslut at Grand Central Market, which serves breakfast sandwiches made with farm-fresh ingredients.

15. Van Nuys

The biggest attraction in Van Nuys is Universal Studios which has tons of perfect rides for the whole family to enjoy! My favorite ride at this place is Transformers: The Ride 3-D because it combines special effects with live animatronics to create a fantastic adventure where you fight alongside Optimus Prime!

This ride only costs about $20 per person if you buy your tickets online, so bring your friends or family members along and go on this incredible adventure together. Another fantastic thing about Universal Studios Hollywood is that they have shows like Animal Actors, Water World, and Shrek 4-D, which is excellent for those who don’t want to wait in line all day long to experience one attraction. They also have tons of restaurants and shops to buy souvenirs like T-shirts, DVDs, and even collectible figurines.

For those who like relaxing at amusement parks, then they should go to California’s Great America in Santa Clara because it has a water park where you can swim and play with tons of inflatable obstacles! Also, this place is excellent for people who don’t want to shovel snow during the wintertime since they get soaked by waterfalls and slides that move around.


I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it! Also, let me know in the comments area if there’s a fun place I missed on this list because you can’t have too many places to see when you’re on vacation.

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