30+ Things To Do in California with Kids

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The Golden State, California, is known for incredible weather, diverse nature, and some of the country’s most exciting destinations! From sprawling metropolis of Disneyland to the wilderness of Humbolt’s Redwood State Park, it’s impossible to run out of things to do in California. 

This guide is just 30 (plus a few extra) ideas for fun things to do in california with kids, and you can find even more ideas when you use the GoWhee App!

things to do in california with kids: Cover blog
Lake Hollywood Park. Photo by @themiers

1. See the World in Miniature at Balboa Park

San Diego’s Balboa Park is home to the world’s largest model train museum.

Key Information: $13.50/$9 – Open Tuesday-Sunday – Wheelchair accessible

Good To Know: The San Diego Model Railroad Museum is open on many holidays.

2. See the Sea Lions at La Jolla Cove

Pacific harbor seals and sea lions love to haul out near La Jolla. Kids love to watch and listen to these animal acrobats!

Key Information: FREE – Best viewing along Coast Boulevard between Cave Store and Children’s Pool – Seal and Sea Lion Trail is stroller friendly

Good To Know: Don’t try to feed the seals or sea lions– it’s illegal!

>>> Discover tons of fun things to do in California with kids, recommended by local parents, here.

Little girl watching a sea lion in La Jolla cove
La Jolla cove. Photo by @travelingwithkidsworldwide

30+ Things To Do In California with Kids

3. Camp in Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe has several state parks that make it easy to go camping with your kids.

Key Information: Prices vary – Go in spring or fall to avoid bugs – Tent camping and cabin camping available

Good To Know: Eagle Point Campground has brand new restrooms.

4. Explore the Cosmos at Griffith Observatory

The famous Griffith Observatory in LA’s Griffith Park is a great place to learn about space. 

Key Information: FREE – Open Friday-Sunday – Café onsite

Good To Know: As of November 2021, Griffith Observatory requires proof of COVID-19 vaccination to enter.

>>> Find more cultural places and indoor fun for kids  in California, here

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5. Visit the KidZone Museum

If you’re in the Lake Tahoe area, your kids will love visiting the KidZone Museum!

Key Information: Admission is $10 – No strollers beyond the lobby – Food onsite

Good To Know: The KidZone has a limited cell phone use policy for children’s safety. Pictures and critical calls only! 

6. Take the Flight of the Hippogriff at Universal Studios Hollywood

Visit Universal Studios and feel like you’ve stepped into your favorite films!

Key Information: $109+ – Stroller friendly – Many food options

Good To Know: Even young kids can enjoy the family-friendly Flight of the Hippogriff roller coaster!

Need to find fun things to do with kids?

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7. Go for a Hike in Yosemite National Park

No California family vacation is complete without spending time in nature! Yosemite National Park has lots for kids to enjoy.

Key Information: $35 per car – Food onsite – Not ideal for strollers.

Good To Know: While you can hike in the park, it’s huge– you’ll definitely need a car.

>>> Discovers tons of family-friendly hikes in California, here.

8. Meet Your Favorite Pixar Characters at Disney California Adventure

Disney’s California Adventure is home to fun rides and great shows celebrating California’s culture, especially their film and animation industry.

Key Information: $104+ – Stroller friendly – Many food options

Good To Know: California Adventure has more thrill rides than Disneyland.

9. Float Down the Lazy Amazon Adventure at Raging Waters

What’s better than a water park on a hot summer day in Los Angeles? Your kids will have a blast at Raging Waters.

Key Information: $50.99+ – Free life jackets – Food onsite

Good To Know: The Little Dipper play area is perfect for toddlers.

10. Spend a Day at Disneyland Park, California

If you’re looking for things to do in California with kids, you can’t go wrong with the United States’ most famous theme park, Disneyland!

Key Information: $104+ – Lots of food options – Very stroller friendly

Good To Know: Staying at one of the Disneyland resort hotels can get you early admission to the park.

mom and child in front Disney Castle
Disneyland Park in California. Photo by @findingourtomorrow

11. Step Back In Time to the 1800s at the Calico Ghost Town

Visit a real silver mine and more at the Calico Ghost Town!

Key Information: $5+ – attractions have additional fees – pets welcome

Good To Know: You can camp out in this ghost town!

>>> Find more unique family fun experiences in California, here.

12. Walk Among the Tallest Trees in the World at Humboldt Redwoods State Park

Enjoy a peaceful walk among ancient trees. 

Key Information: FREE – Picnic areas – 100+ miles of trail

Good To Know: Visitors are required to watch a short video about the impact human food has on park wildlife.

13. Explore the Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose

Kids have so much fun at the Children’s Discovery Museum, they don’t even know they’re learning!

Key Information: $15 – No eating in the museum – Quiet room 

Good To Know: Don’t miss the giant bubble blowers!

>>> Discover tons of children’s museums around the globe in seconds on the Gowhee App.

Children Discovery Museum San Jose.
Children Discovery Museum San Jose. Photo by @themiers

14. Learn About Sea Otters at the Monterey Bay Aquarium

The Monterey Bay Aquarium is home to incredible animals, including adorable sea otters!

Key Information: $34.99+ – Food onsite – Restrooms with changing tables 

Good To Know: No outside food is allowed, but there are some great picnic areas nearby

15. Discover Australian Animals Galore at Living Desert

The Living Desert Zoo and Garden is a unique zoo that features desert animals from all over the world.  

Key Information: $17.95+ – Food onsite – zoo closes at 1:30 PM due to summer heat

Good To Know: Kids love the giraffe feeding experience!

16. Explore Joshua Tree National Park

California has more national parks than any other state– 28 of them! Joshua Tree National Park is a family favorite with many short, kid-friendly trails.

Key Information: $30 per car – Not stroller friendly – Main visitor center has café

Good To Know: Joshua Tree gets hot, so make sure you bring plenty of water and salty snacks.

17. Go Tide Pooling at Little Corona Beach

You never know what you might find in a tide pool!

Key Information: FREE – Free parking – Check website for low tide times

Good To Know: Rocks can be slippery, so wear water shoes.

Little corona beach
Little corona beach. Photo by @gowheeapp

18. Walk Across the Golden Gate Bridge

See amazing views of San Francisco from the Golden Gate Bridge!

Key Information: FREE – Stroller-friendly – Pedestrians share the path with bikes, so be alert

Good To Know: The bridge’s full length is 1.7 miles– if that’s too much for a round trip with little kids, you can always catch a ferry back.

19. Visit the World’s Most Famous Sidewalk

Find your kids’ favorite stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame!

Key Information: FREE – Stroller friendly – Use the Star Map to look up favorites in advance

Good To Know: You can surprise your kids with their very own Hollywood Stars!

20. Do Everything Under the Sun at LEGOLAND California

LEGOLAND California is a theme park and a water park designed just for kids!

Key Information: $89.99+ – Food onsite – Restrooms with changing tables in the park

Good To Know: You can get a great deal on tickets if you stay at the LEGOLAND hotel.

21. See the Hollywood Sign from Lake Hollywood Park

If you want to see the famous Hollywood sign, it’s very visible from Lake Hollywood Park. It’s an awesome photo op!

Key Information: FREE – Picnic area – Kids’ playground

Good To Know: This park does not have restrooms.

>>> Discover more local favorite spots like this, recommended by parents, here.

22. Meet Exotic Birds at Turtle Bay

Feed friendly lorikeets at Turtle Bay Exploration Park!

Key Information: $14+ – Nectar cups are $2 – No strollers in the aviary

Good To Know: If your kids love nature, they’ll love the Turtle Bay TV episodes!

23. Take an Unforgettable Safari at the San Diego Zoo

See exotic animals at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park!

Key Information: $55+ – No eating on the safari vehicles – Food onsite

Good To Know: If you have older kids, the zipline safari is a favorite.

>>> Find more places like this near you and around the Globe on the Gowhee App.

24. Enjoy a Weekend Trip to Catalina Island

Take a weekend or day trip to Catalina Island to relax on the beach, enjoy delicious food, and take in the beautiful seaside scenery.

Key Information: Many accommodation options – Climate is great year-round – Lots of natural activities

Good To Know: Descano Beach is one of the most popular beaches with families.

25. Check Out Stearns Wharf in Santa Barbara

Stearns Wharf is classic California fun, with beautiful ocean views and fun shops and snacks.

Key Information: FREE – attractions have fees – Many dining options

Good To Know: Longboards Grill has great views and a kid-friendly environment.

Discover More things to do in California with kids

Try the GoWhee App for FREE today.

26. Ride Family-Friendly Rides at Knott’s Berry Farm

Knott’s Berry Farm is a classic theme park where kids of all ages can have a great time.

Key Information: $69+ – Mix of kiddie and thrill rides – Food onsite

Good To Know: The Ride and Slide combo ticket gets you theme park and water park access!

>>> Discover more farm experiences for the whole family in California, here

27. Visit the 2nd Happiest Place on Earth

Bravo Farms is a fun place to shop, snack, and spend time with your family. 

Key Information: FREE to visit – Several locations – Plan for an hour or two

Good To Know: Kids love their old-fashioned candy.

Bravo Farms Traver
Bravo Farms Traver. Photo by @lovelife_abroad

28. Take a Day Trip to Crissy Field

Crissy Field is a 100+ acre recreation area with a fun, safe beach and great picnic areas.

Key Information: FREE – Changing rooms at the beach – Bridge views

Good To Know: Crissy Field was once an Army airfield, and one of the old airplane hangars has a trampoline park inside!

29. Ride the Carousel at Santa Monica Pier

The Santa Monica Pier is a classic boardwalk with kid-friendly activities, including a historic carousel. 

Key Information: $1+ – closed Tuesday and Wednesday – wheelchair friendly

Good To Know: The carousel can be rented for private events.

30. Get Your Fill of Thrills at Six Flags Magic Mountain

Six Flags Magic Mountain is one of California’s favorite theme park destinations.

Key Information: Tickets start at $70 – More thrill rides than kiddie rides – Food onsite

Good To Know: If you don’t want to bring your stroller, they have them available to rent.

>>> Filter theme parks and other places with 30+ filters designed by parents on the Gowhee App.

31. Encounter More than 2,000 Animals at the San Francisco Zoo

The San Francisco Zoo has many incredible and rare animals.

Key Information: $18+ – Food onsite – Lots of shade

Good To Know: Watch the Komodo dragon exhibit carefully– it has sprinklers that go off at different times and the dragon loves taking a shower!

Little boy at the San francisco zoo
The San Francisco zoo. Photo by @gowheeapp

32. See the Ice Age Come to Live at the La Brea Tar Pits

Visit an actual fossil dig site at the La Brea Tar Pits

Key Information: $7+ – LA County residents get in FREE in the afternoon – Food trucks park nearby

Good To Know: There’s not much shade, so make sure your stroller has a canopy.

33. Take a Tour at Hearst Castle

The Hearst Castle is part of a very special state park. Getting to see inside is a trip back in California’s history.

Key Information: $15+ – Accessible tours available – No food allowed onsite

Good To Know: Strollers are not allowed on this historic property.

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