California, the Golden State, is renowned for its stunning coastline, diverse landscapes, and iconic attractions. Exploring California with your kids is a fantastic opportunity to create lifelong memories and introduce them to the beauty and wonders of the state.
From breathtaking national parks to vibrant cities and unique cultural experiences, California has something for every family.
We’ll highlight 30 places to see in California that you should consider experiencing with your children before they are all grown up.
Yosemite National Park :
Embark on an unforgettable adventure in Yosemite National Park. Witness towering granite cliffs, cascading waterfalls, and pristine wilderness. Hike to Glacier Point or explore the Mariposa Grove of giant sequoias.
Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco :
Take your kids to the iconic Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. Walk or bike across the bridge and enjoy panoramic views of the city and the bay. Don’t forget to visit the nearby Battery Park for a picnic.
Disneyland, Anaheim :
Experience the magic of Disneyland in Anaheim, where your children can meet beloved Disney characters, enjoy thrilling rides, and immerse themselves in the enchanting atmosphere of the park.
Santa Monica Pier, Los Angeles :
Visit the Santa Monica Pier, located on the stunning California coastline. Let your kids ride the Ferris wheel, play games at the arcade, and enjoy the lively atmosphere of this iconic landmark.
Monterey Bay Aquarium :
Explore the wonders of the sea at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Marvel at the diverse marine life, including playful otters, mesmerizing jellyfish, and majestic sharks. Don’t miss the interactive exhibits and touch pools.
Joshua Tree National Park :
Discover the unique beauty of Joshua Tree National Park, where the Mojave and Colorado deserts meet. Hike among the otherworldly Joshua Trees, explore hidden oases, and stargaze at night.
SeaWorld San Diego :
Delight your children with a visit to SeaWorld San Diego. Experience thrilling marine animal shows, get up close to dolphins and penguins, and learn about the importance of ocean conservation.
Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk :
Enjoy a day of fun at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. Ride classic amusement park attractions, play games, and relax on the sandy beach. Don’t miss the Giant Dipper, an iconic wooden roller coaster.
Alcatraz Island, San Francisco :
Take a boat ride to Alcatraz Island and explore the infamous former prison. Take an audio tour to learn about the history and legends surrounding this iconic landmark.
Legoland California, Carlsbad :
Immerse yourselves in the colorful world of Legoland California. Let your kids build and play with Lego bricks, enjoy rides, and explore themed lands like Ninjago World and Pirate Shores.
Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks :
Marvel at the towering giants of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. Take your kids on a hike among ancient sequoia trees, and explore the stunning landscapes of these adjacent parks.
Hearst Castle, San Simeon :
Step into a world of opulence and grandeur at Hearst Castle. Take a guided tour of this historic mansion, filled with art, antiques, and stunning architecture. Enjoy the breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean.
La Brea Tar Pits, Los Angeles :
Take a journey back in time at the La Brea Tar Pits. Witness the fossil excavations and learn about the prehistoric animals that were trapped in the asphalt thousands of years ago.
Santa Barbara Zoo :
Visit the Santa Barbara Zoo, known for its beautiful gardens and diverse animal exhibits. Let your children meet giraffes, elephants, and other fascinating creatures while enjoying the zoo’s family-friendly atmosphere.
Lake Tahoe :
Escape to the stunning Lake Tahoe, where you can enjoy outdoor activities year-round. Swim in the crystal-clear waters, hike along scenic trails, or hit the slopes during the winter months.
Exploratorium, San Francisco :
Ignite your children’s curiosity at the Exploratorium in San Francisco. With interactive exhibits and hands-on experiments, this museum will inspire their love for science, art, and innovation.
San Diego Zoo:
Explore the world-famous San Diego Zoo, home to a vast array of animals from around the globe. Witness pandas, lions, and gorillas up close and learn about wildlife conservation efforts.
Point Reyes National Seashore :
Discover the beauty of Point Reyes National Seashore, a pristine coastal area known for its dramatic cliffs, sandy beaches, and abundant wildlife. Spot seals, hike to the lighthouse, and enjoy a picnic by the sea.
Universal Studios Hollywood:
Immerse yourselves in the magic of filmmaking at Universal Studios Hollywood. Experience thrilling rides, behind-the-scenes studio tours, and live shows featuring beloved characters and blockbuster movies.
Redwood National and State Parks :
Experience the majesty of the ancient redwood trees in Redwood National and State Parks. Take a scenic drive through the Avenue of the Giants, hike among the towering giants, and camp amidst nature.
California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco:
Visit the California Academy of Sciences, a unique institution combining a natural history museum, aquarium, and planetarium. Explore the rainforest dome, watch penguins being fed, and learn about the wonders of the universe.
Santa Barbara Mission :
Discover the history and architectural beauty of the Santa Barbara Mission. Take a guided tour to learn about the mission’s significance and explore the peaceful gardens surrounding it.
Palm Springs Aerial Tramway:
Ride the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, the world’s largest rotating tram car. Ascend to the top of the San Jacinto Mountains and enjoy panoramic views of the desert below.
Pismo Beach :
Relax and enjoy the coastal charm of Pismo Beach. Let your kids play in the sand, fly kites, and explore the tide pools. Don’t miss the opportunity to witness migrating monarch butterflies in nearby groves.
Old Sacramento State Historic Park:
Step back in time at Old Sacramento State Historic Park. Explore the preserved 19th-century buildings, ride a steam train, and learn about the California Gold Rush era.
Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area:
Escape the urban hustle and bustle at the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. Go for a family hike, have a picnic, or spot wildlife in this beautiful natural oasis.
San Diego Air & Space Museum :
Inspire your children’s fascination with flight at the San Diego Air & Space Museum. Explore historic aircraft, learn about space exploration, and participate in interactive exhibits and simulations.
Death Valley National Park:
Experience the otherworldly landscapes of Death Valley National Park. Marvel at the salt flats of Badwater Basin, hike through canyons, and witness the vibrant colors of Artist’s Palette.
California State Railroad Museum, Sacramento :
Immerse yourselves in the history of the railroad at the California State Railroad Museum. Explore beautifully restored locomotives, ride a vintage steam train, and learn about the impact of railroads on California’s development.
Monterey Bay, Carmel, and Big Sur:
Take a scenic drive along the stunning coastline of Monterey Bay, Carmel, and Big Sur. Enjoy the breathtaking ocean views, visit charming coastal towns, and explore the dramatic cliffs of Big Sur.
California offers an incredible array of destinations that are perfect for exploring with your kids. From the natural wonders of Yosemite and Joshua Tree National Parks to the vibrant cities of San Francisco and Los Angeles, the state is filled with opportunities for adventure, learning, and creating lasting memories.
So, pack your bags, hit the road, and embark on a journey to discover the beauty and diversity of California with your children before they are all grown up.