Kid with dad near Golden Gate Bridge Best Places to visit in California with kids

Are you thinking of visiting California with kids? California is a wonderful place to bring your kids on a vacation.

Aside from the sunshine and gorgeous beaches, it is a beautiful state to visit due to its incredible mountains, National and State parks, and so much more! With so much to do in California with kids, your family won’t be bored.

Things like hiking, vineyards, National Parks, culture, and cities are just some of the things to do on a California kid-friendly vacation. It has everything, from the world-famous Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco to visiting the awe-inspiring safari park in San Diego with kids, there is so much to do in California for families.

The state’s theme parks, like Disneyland, Universal Studios, Sea World, and more are second to none! And, winding through the highways of California is always a delight.

If you are trying to narrow down what to do in California with kids, you have come to the right place. This post will help you with some of the best things to do. And, it will help you plan where to stop on an epic California road trip to see them all.

Here are the top 10 places to visit in California with kids.

This is a guest post by Rasika of Bae Area and Beyond. This post contains affiliate links which means I receive a commission at no cost to you if you make a purchase using this link. See my disclosures. Cover photo credit: Canva

Places to Visit in California with Kids

Here are some of the top places to visit in California with kids. Be sure to add these to your family bucket list!

1. Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe is one of the best places to visit in California with kids
Lake Tahoe Photo credit: Rasika of Bae Area and Beyond

The largest alpine lake in North America, Lake Tahoe is filled with sparkling clear blue water. It’s also surrounded by majestic mountains perfect for hiking or biking. In winter, it becomes a haven for skiers and snowboarders of all ages including kids!

Families with kids can enjoy swimming at Sand Harbor beach or explore the area on a boat cruise. There are many family-friendly activities for kids to try here. Some not to miss include kayaking, paddle boarding, hiking around Emerald Bay, or taking an ATV tour on Rubicon Trail.

After a day of activities with your kids, choose from some fantastic restaurants serving up delicious food (including award-winning seafood) while you take in this beautiful landscape from below! We recommend spending at least 3 days in Lake Tahoe.

2. Disneyland

Kids in front of of Disneyland Castle
Kids love Disneyland California, Photo credit: Bon Voyage With Kids, LLC

California’s Disneyland is one of the most popular theme parks in the world. It is one of the best places to visit in California with kids.

It’s located in Anaheim, California, and has over 60 rides and attractions. If you visit Disneyland with toddlers or your kids, there is so much to do. It’s worth spending some time at Main Street USA to take a steam-powered trail ride around Disneyland. Another favorite land to visit with kids is Fantasyland.

But bring your favorite Disney walking shoes! There are so many magical places here that children love going back year after year to step into the fairytale world. Mickey’s Toontown Fair has always been a favorite land for young children to see classic Disney characters and ride those attractions.

3. Universal Studios Hollywood

hogwarts castle in Universal Island's of Adventure
Harry Potter fans will love seeing Hogwart’s at Universal Studios Hollywood. Photo Credit: Bon Voyage With Kids, LLC

Universal Studios Hollywood offers a lot of attractions and shows that are suitable for children, including the Harry Potter and Jurassic Park-themed attractions, and live shows such as Despicable Me Minion Mayhem. It’s a great place for families to have fun together!

There are also many shops for kids where they can buy souvenirs from their favorite films and characters. Universal Studios Hollywood theme park also has two play areas designed for young children: DinoPlay and Super Silly Fun Land so there will be no shortage of fun when visiting this theme park with your family!

4. San Diego Zoo Safari Park

San diego wild animal park safari giving food to giraffe
San Diego Zoo Safari Park, Photo credit: © Linnaeacat |

The San Diego Zoo Safari Park is home to over 2,600 animals and is one of the best places to visit in California with kids to see and learn about animals. There are seven safaris that families can do at this park including a zipline safari that takes you as high as 130 feet.

There are also youth programs and activities for kids to do such as petting goats, balloon safaris, and an animal-themed carousel. It’s an excellent way to spend a day that will be both fun and educational for your child.

Kids can see tons of animals from every continent except Antarctica. They also have play areas and programs for kids.

5. Legoland California

Entrance to Legoland California San Diego
Legoland California, Photo credit: © Ivansabo |

A favorite of kids, Legoland California is an amusement park located in Carlsbad, a city just north of San Diego. It’s home to over 60 rides, shows, and attractions for children ages 2 – 12.

Themed around Lego toys, this is one of the most popular theme parks for kids with their families today. Legoland Water Park is also located on-site at Legoland California—it’s an outdoor waterpark featuring slides, tube rides, and pools that are all filled with millions of gallons of water!

There are different activities and attractions based on your kids’ height. There’s so much fun here that you and your kids may not want to come out of the water after spending time at the park.

6. San Francisco

Golden Gate Bridge California With Kids
Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, Photo credit: Canva

San Francisco is a popular destination for families with kids. Check out the Golden Gate Bridge either by car or walk on the bridge.

The city is home to the San Francisco Aquarium of the Bay, which offers several interactive exhibits and programs designed especially for children and their families. Additionally, there’s the Exploratorium at Pier 15—a hands-on science and technology museum that features over 600 exhibits focusing on astronomy, physics, and nature along with art and technology demonstrations.

Check out the Children’s Creativity Museum where kids can interact through workshops and experiences.

7. Redwood National and State Parks

Redwoods of Caliornia California with kids
Redwoods of California, Photo credit Bae Area and Beyond

The Redwood National and State Parks have lots of easy hiking trails that are great for getting up close and personal with these ancient trees. There are also other tree attractions nearby.

You can also drive through a redwood tree or drive up an old tree, which makes this place interesting for both adults and children alike! If you want to get even closer to these amazing giants, check out Trees Of Mystery, where you can hike across redwood trees through canopies.

8. Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park
Yosemite National Park, Photo credit: Rasika of Bae Area and Beyond

One of the most popular national parks in the U.S., Yosemite National Park is one of the best places to visit in California with kids! It’s no wonder why with its dramatic views.

Yosemite offers great hiking, rock climbing, and camping opportunities for adults. But there are also plenty of things to do there with kids, as it’s one of the best Central California areas to visit.

The park is home to a wide variety of wildlife including bears and deer. After spending time driving around Yosemite Valley, you can go on a family hike to Lower Yosemite Falls or Mirror Lake Trail.

For more experienced hikers who want an even more challenging trek through mountainside terrain with their kids, try the Yosemite Falls trail or the Half Dome Hike. This is definitely one more for experienced hikers or older kids. But it is one of the most iconic sites and one your family will remember.

9. Pinnacles National Park

Pinnacles National Park
Rock Formations in Pinnacles National Park, Photo credit: Rasika of Bae Area and Beyond

California’s Pinnacles National Park, located about an hour south of San Jose, is a hidden gem for hikers and birdwatchers in California. The park offers a variety of hiking trails ranging from gentle strolls to difficult scrambles.

The Bear Gulch Cave and Balconies Cave are two great spots to explore with kids, as they offer spectacular views and interesting geological formations. If you’re looking for some extra information while visiting this beautiful park, bring your children to one of the guided ranger programs.

These programs are especially exciting for younger children who may not be able to do much on their own yet but still want something exciting and new.

10. Joshua Tree National Park

joshua tree national park
Joshua Tree National Park Photo credit: Rasika of Bae Area and Beyond

The Joshua Tree National Park has a lot of fun activities for kids to do. It’s one of the best National Parks in the U.S.

Kids will love exploring Joshua Tree National Park’s gorgeous desert landscape, which includes thousands of Joshua trees as well as other wildlife such as lizards, birds, and bighorn sheep.

Families can enjoy hiking along trails such as the Arch Rock Trail and the Split Rock Trail or stop by Keys View for some amazing views of the surrounding area. If you want to spend more time in nature, Joshua Tree National Park also has plenty of campsites where you can stay overnight and stargaze.

Final Thoughts On The 10 Best Places to Visit In California With Kids

We hope this guide to the best places to visit in California with kids has given you some great ideas for your next trip. The state has a ton of things to do with kids, from Northern California to Southern California. Visit any of these 10 spots for an unforgettable time with your children.

About The Author

Rasika is the owner of the travel blog Bae Area and Beyond. She is from the Bay Area and her blog covers California destinations. She hopes that her readers will fall in love with California, just like she did.

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