Southern California is one of our favorite places to visit. It’s an easy drive or flight to San Diego or Los Angeles for Arizona families, making it an ideal weekend getaway. Plus there are so many things to do in Southern California with kids!
With so many family activities in Southern California, we could visit every week and find something new to do! I’ve partnered with Visit Buena Park today to share some of my favorite family activities in Southern California.
Things to do in Southern California With Kids: Theme Parks
I love to visit theme parks; it must be the adrenaline junkie in me. Luckily Southern California has no shortage of fun theme parks that the whole family will love.
Knott’s Berry Farm
Knott’s Berry Farm is a classic Southern California destination. Both Peter and I remember visiting it as children, and we were excited to take our own boys to visit a few years ago.
As a mom to little ones, I was most impressed by Camp Snoopy. It offers lots of rides and shows for little kids.The boys ran from ride to ride, excited they could ride all by themselves.
We also loved the nostalgic attractions we remembered from our childhoods, like the giant swings, the log ride, and the wild west stunt show!
Quinn was just starting to become a daredevil, so he spent some time exploring the big roller coasters with Peter while Elliot and I watched a show at Camp Snoopy.
Knott’s Berry Farm offers a great variety of attractions including a separate water park, Knott’s Soak City, open during the summer.
The Disneyland Resort is definitely a family favorite and we visit often. With Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge not opening until 2019, some families may wait until next year to visit Mickey but I wouldn’t!
There are plenty of new things at Disneyland this year as well. A trip to Southern California isn’t complete without a day or two at The Happiest Place On Earth.
Universal Studios Hollywood
Universal Studios Hollywood may be smaller than its East Coast counterpart, but there is still plenty of fun for everyone. In fact, check why I think Hollywood might be better than Orlando! With zombies, Harry Potter, Minions and more in residence, there really is a wide range of options at Universal Studios.
Head south from Los Angeles and you will find LEGOLAND California in Carlsbad, just north of San Diego. LEGOLAND is a theme park geared towards kids 12 and under and LEGO super fans of any age.
Beyond LEGO-themed rides which naturally my boys love, their favorite activities at LEGOLAND include building and racing LEGO boats and trading Minifigures with LEGOLAND employees!
Things to do in Southern California with Kids: Animal Adventures
Both of my guys love animals so we often try to include animals in our travels. From visiting Bearizona to Amish Farms and everything in between, they are happy if our next stop includes an animal adventure.
Seaworld San Diego
We’ve been to SeaWorld a lot over the past few years. It offers a great mix of attractions from rides and a giant play area to animal shows and animal encounters. My boys love the Pets Rule and Sea Lions Live shows the best.
They giggle the entire time. There are also plenty of ways to get wet from splashing animals and water rides to a splash pad open during the warmer months. I recommend coming prepared with a change of clothes for your kids.
San Diego Zoo
You can’t talk about animal adventures in Southern California without mentioning the world-renowned San Diego Zoo! This zoo is huge and you can’t see it all in one day. With some planning and their complimentary guided bus tour, you could see a good chunk of it though.
I’d recommend making it a two-day adventure if you can. The zoo is huge and full of giant hills, don’t wear your family out trying to see it all. A couple kid favorites to consider: the children’s petting zoo, the Skyfari aerial tram, and the Panda bears.
Los Angeles Zoo
I spent a day at the Los Angeles Zoo on a press trip a few years ago, visiting the primates to support the release of Disneynature’s Monkey Kingdom. We haven’t been back as a family yet but I thought the zoo was great.
It’s the perfect size zoo for taking a break from all the theme park action. You could see the entire zoo and not get overwhelmed!
Opening later this year on Beach Boulevard, the Butterfly Palladium Buena Park will feature an indoor rainforest with thousands of butterflies. It will also have the world’s largest jellyfish aquarium, a 3-D theater, and a hummingbird exhibit.
Things to do in Southern California with Kids: Dinner Shows
A fun dinner show is a great way to kick off a Southern California trip. Buena Park is home to a few shows that are perfect for a little family-friendly entertainment.
It’s been a few years since our Medieval Times adventure, but my boys have been asking to go back ever since. At the time, I wasn’t sure if my preschooler would enjoy the show, but he had a blast drinking dragon soup from the bowl and cheering on the green knight.
It was a crazy new adventure and he loved every minute of it. Peter and I found the show a little bit silly, which was perfect because everyone needs a little silly entertainment in their lives. We are definitely ready for a return adventure to Medieval Times.
Pirate’s Dinner Adventure
We haven’t attended the Pirate’s Dinner Adventure yet but I bet my boys would love it. They are all about pirates and sword fights right now! I think it’d be fun to spend a couple days in Buena Park and attend a different dinner show each night.
More things to do in Southern California with Kids
Of course, I couldn’t cover all the great things to do in Southern California! Check out ideas in the free Buena Park Visitors Guide. It contains Southern California airport and transportation options and a calendar of special events in the area. It’s perfect for anyone planning their next Southern California getaway.
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This post was originally published January 19, 2018.