California Family Destinations2023-03-15T18:38:44+00:00

California Family Destinations

This is our complete list of fun, family-friendly travel destinations in California to help you plan road trips or weekend getaways.

Click on the images or highlighted text for links to the websites for updated information.

Bay Area

Six Flags Discovery Kingdom


Rides & animals

Jelly Belly Factory Tour


Factory tours are free to the public, and offered daily.

  • Updated HD/4K quality videos to give you an up-close-and-personal look at our candy manufacturing
  • Interactive exhibits
  • A self-guided walk along the elevated, ¼ mile long tour lane to give you a bird’s-eye view of the entire operation.
  • Free samples

Children’s Fairyland


Whimsical storybook sets, gentle rides, friendly animals, and live entertainment.

Adventure Playground


Climb on the many unusual kid designed and built forts, boats, and towers.
Ride the zip line or hammer, saw, and paint.

Chabot Space & Science Center


Interactive exhibits, telescopes, a planetarium

Central Coast

San Luis Obispo Children’s Museum

San Luis Obispo

A fun place for children and families to explore, discover and learn through hands-on exhibits and programs.
Three floors and an outside playscape are jam packed with exhibits for children ages 1-10.

Avila Valley Barn

San Luis Obispo

Farm store, bakery and ice cream, animal feeding, tractor and pony rides, u-pick experiences, seasonal events.

Dinosaur Caves Park

Pismo Beach

A large unique play area is found in the park and includes a gentle dinosaur, two concrete dolphins, three beautiful dinosaur eggs, three playful seals, a tire swing, tot swing, and The USS IMAGINATION.

F. McLintocks

Fun western-themed restaurant.

Big Bubba’s Bad BBQ

Paso Robles

Fun western-themed restaurant where you can walk up to the top of a fort, eat in a jail cell and feed koi fish in the indoor pond.


Gilroy Gardens

Rides, water play, gardens and circus trees

Long Beach

The Queen Mary

Tour the historic ocean liner

The Pike

Outlet shopping, dining, Ferris wheel and carousel

Los Angeles

Griffith Observatory

Griffith Park

Visitors can look through telescopes, explore exhibits, see live shows in the Samuel Oschin Planetarium, and enjoy spectacular views of Los Angeles and the Hollywood Sign.

Autry Museum of the American West

Griffith Park

The Autry features world-class galleries filled with Native American art and cultural materials, film memorabilia, historic firearms, paintings, interactive areas, and more.

Los Angeles Zoo

Griffith Park

La Brea Tar Pits & Museum

The only active urban fossil dig site in the world.
Outside, you can watch excavators carve fossils out of the asphalt.
Inside the museum, our staff prepares these discoveries in the see-through Fossil Lab.
You’ll see final result in our exhibitions: extraordinary saber-toothed cats, mammoths, dire wolves, and mastodons, as well as the tiny, but scientifically significant, microfossils of insects, plants, mammals, and reptiles.

Universal Studios


Movie studio tour and movie-based rides and attractions.

Universal CityWalk

Hollywood – Universal Studios

Restaurants, shops, movies, indoor skydiving, dueling pianos

Hollywood Wax Museum


Get to know your favorite stars and pop culture icons in a way that is unattainable anywhere else.
You’ll be able to walk right up and look into the eyes of full-size wax figures that began as clay sculptures and are now life like presences.
You’ll also find props and costumes to give you just the right look for your pics with current and classic stars.

Ripley’s Believe It Or Not


Discover the strange, the shocking, and beautiful.
Enjoy some eye-popping exhibits – you can pose with pop culture icons, lose yourself in some mind-boggling visual illusions, and even see a shrunken head!
The array of weird will leave you awe-struck.

Guinness World Records Museum


Here’s your chance to explore long-held and recently-broken world records that will inspire you, amaze you, and possibly puzzle you… think… the man who swallowed 22 swords simultaneously, or the guy who made 747 balloon shapes in an hour!
Along the way, you’ll get an entertaining up-close look at the best of the best in pop culture, sports, space, technology, animals, natural phenomena, and, of course, the limits of human potential.

California Science Center

Interactive science galleries and exhibits, IMAX Theater.
Home of the Endeavour space shuttle.

Discovery Cube Los Angeles

Children’s museum


Cannery Row

Shopping, dining, arcade with blacklight mini golf, mirror maze & lazer challenge

MY Museum

Monterey County Youth Museum


Safari West

Santa Rosa

Safari tours, overnight glamping safari tent stays, dining

Charles Schulz Museum & Snoopy’s Home Ice

Santa Rosa

Charles Schulz Museum (creator of Peanuts comic strip)
Snoopy’s Home Ice – Ice Skating
Warm Puppy Cafe
Snoopy’s Gallery and Gift Shop



A quarter scale railroad on four miles of track.
Each train trip lasts 20 minutes and goes through tunnels, over bridges and makes a stop at Lakeview – our miniature town and petting zoo.
Also, railroad-themed amusement rides.

Northern California

Turtle Bay Exploration Park


Sundial Bridge, a museum, forestry & wildlife center, arboretum and botanical gardens

Railroad Park Resort


Experience our Dinner House & Lounge built inside restored antique railroad cars. Live the life of a railroader by staying in one of our caboose lodging units, without sacrificing the comforts of today’s modern conveniences.
Camp along a clear mountain creek in the pines known as Little Castle Creek. Find a nostalgic treasure in our gift shop or explore relics like the Willamette gear-driven steam logging locomotive, the 1893 Wells Fargo Car, or the wooden snow plow and flanger.

Orange County



Our recommended Disneyland area hotel:
Howard Johnson Anaheim Hotel & Water Playground


Across the street from Disneyland, huge waterpark, family rooms with bunk beds

Downtown Disney


Dining & Shopping

Great Wolf Lodge


Indoor water park resort

Knott’s Berry Farm

Buena Park

Theme park, water park, Independence Hall replica

Medieval Times

Buena Park

Dinner & Tournament
See our electrifying show featuring heroic knights on spirited horses displaying the astounding athletic feats and thrilling swordplay that have become hallmarks of this unique entertainment experience.
Enjoy a “hands-on” feast as the dynamic performance unfolds before you.

Pirates Dinner Adventure

Buena Park

Interactive pirate dinner show

Discovery Cube Orange County

Santa Ana

Interactive museum

Billy Beez

Anaheim – Near Disneyland

Indoor play space with lots of slides, sport court, tot area and pretend city

Marina Park

Newport Beach

Nautical themed playground on the beach

Balboa Island Ferry

Newport Beach

Short ride across the bay in or out of your car.

Orange County Great Park


Playground, tethered balloon ride, carousel

Irvine Adventure Playground


Playground with concrete slides, water play, dirt and mud play, and giant building blocks

Pretend City


Children’s Museum
Child-size interconnected city built with rich educational intention, where children can assume various real-world roles.


California State Railroad Museum

Large train museum and train rides

Old Sacramento

Historic Buildings, Shopping, Dining, Museums, Tours, Carriage Rides, Candy Stores

Wacky Tacky

Roseville & Rancho Cordova

Large indoor playground with slides, ball pits and air cannons.

California State Capitol

The building serves as both a museum and the state’s working seat of government.
Visitors to the Capitol can at once experience California’s rich history and witness the making of history through the modern lawmaking process.

Fairytale Town

26 playsets based on nursery rhymes and fairytales, a friendly flock of farm animals, two performing arts stages and several gardens

San Diego

San Diego Zoo

Balboa Park



Theme park, water park and aquarium

Balboa Park

Playground, Train, Carousel, Puppet theater, Gardens

San Diego Model Railroad Museum

Balboa Park

Educational programs, displays, toy trains, and scale models of California railroads

San Diego Museum of Us

Balboa Park

A cultural anthropology museum that explores the human experience from multicultural perspectives to spark dialogue, self-reflection, and human connections.
During your visit, you’ll explore a variety of unique, interactive exhibits that cover a vast range of human history and culture.

San Diego Air & Space Museum

Balboa Park

Journey through the history of flight.
Rare specimens of aircraft

Fleet Science Center

Balboa Park

Explore and investigate more than 100 interactive exhibits that pique your curiosity and become immersed in an IMAX film adventure that shows the wonders of the planet—and beyond

San Diego Natural History Museum

Balboa Park

Four floors of exhibitions, a 3D theater, and a research collection of 9 million specimens.

San Francisco

California Academy of Sciences

Golden Gate Park

Aquarium, planetarium and natural history museum

Koret Children’s Quarter

Golden Gate Park

Playground with concrete slides and a carousel.

Bay Area Discovery Museum


A children’s museum where kids ages 0-10 can engage in playful exploration.
7.5 acres of indoor and outdoor space

Yerba Buena Gardens

Playground with long, metal tube slides, bowling and ice skating centerChildren’s Creativity Museum, carousel and good eats for the whole family at The Pin-Up

Pier 39

Aquarium of the Bay, watch sea lions, street performers, carousel, and many good restaurants.

Boudin Bakery

Fisherman’s Wharf

Watch sourdough bread being made and learn about the process and history in the museum.

Musee Mecanique

Fisherman’s Wharf

One of the world’s largest (over 200) privately owned collection of coin-operated mechanical musical instruments and antique arcade machines in their original working condition. (You can play them!)
Free Admission


A public learning laboratory exploring the world through science, art, and human perception.
Hundreds of explore-for-yourself exhibits

San Francisco Zoo

Home to over 2,000 exotic, endangered and rescued animals representing more than 250 species and lovely peaceful gardens full of native and foreign plants.
Farm animals for feeding and petting, historic 1921 Dentzel Carousel and the 1904 miniature Little Puffer Steam Train, Elinor Friend Playground

San Jose

California’s Great America

Santa Clara

Theme park and water park with Camp Snoopy.

Happy Hollow Park & Zoo

Zoo, park, rides & entertainment

Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara Zoo

Zoo with play area and train

Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History

More than 3.5 million specimens covering every aspect of natural history—from mammals, birds, and marine life to geology, astronomy, paleontology, and anthropology.
State-of-the-art interactive exhibits for all ages, paired with the Central Coast’s only planetarium, on 17 acres of oak woodland along Mission Creek

Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History Sea Center

Stearns Wharf

Highly interactive marine education facility offers you close encounters with marine animals from the Santa Barbara Channel

Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk

Rides, games, arcade, mini golf, bowling, laser tag

Roaring Camp Railroads


Steam train rides and special events

Mystery Spot

A gravitational anomaly located in the redwood forests just outside of Santa Cruz.
Within the Mystery Spot you will be stunned as your perceptions of the laws of physics and gravity are questioned.
45 minute fully guided tour

Tuolumne County

Columbia State Historic Park

The town’s old Gold Rush-era business district has been preserved with shops, restaurants and two hotels.
Visitors can experience a bygone era watching proprietors in period clothing conduct business in the style of yesterday.
There are opportunities to ride a 100 year-old stagecoach, pan for gold, and explore the real working businesses of Columbia.

Railtown 1897 State Historic Park


History comes to life with vintage steam trains, a working roundhouse, and the timeless Sierra Railway Shops

Fun Rest Stops

Casa de Fruta

On Pacheco Pass (Hwy 152) between the central valley and the central coast

Farm stand, sweet shop, restaurant, train and carousel rides, playground, sluice, peacocks.

Bravo Farms

Kettleman City – Hwy 41 & Interstate 5

Playhouses with slides, sand box with toys, shooting gallery, interactive displays, gemstone sluice, antiques, food and gift shop.

Bravo Farms

Traver – Near Kingsburg – Hwy 99 between Fresno and Visalia

Tree house, feed animals, shooting gallery, slides, food and gift shop.

Vista del Lago Visitors Center

Pyramid Lake – On the Grapevine between the Central Valley and Southern California

*Read all about it in our Inside Look*

Fort Tejon State Historic Park

On the Grapevine between the Central Valley and Southern California

Historic military fort with restored adobes and exhibits.
Living history demonstrations once each month.

Special Events

Day Out With Thomas
Thomas and Percy’s Halloween Party

Roaring Camp Railroads – Santa Cruz

Meet and get a ride from Thomas and Percy, meet Sir Topham Hatt, many other Thomas-related activities.

California State Fair

CalExpo – Sacramento

Large fair with monorail ride, Camp Smokey, lots of entertainment and exhibits.

The Great Dickens Christmas Fair

Cow Palace – San Francisco

Enter the winding lanes of Victorian London and immerse yourself in a world of music halls, theatres, pubs, dance parties, and charming shops overflowing with hand-made holiday treasures.
Discover holiday revelry in this lamp-lit city brimming with over 800 lively and colorful characters from the imagination of Charles Dickens, the pages of history, and the sometimes saucy world of the Victorian stage.
Children’s shows, games and activities.

The Polar Express

California State Railroad Museum – Sacramento

Enjoy hot chocolate and yummy cookies as you ride along with many of the story’s characters such as the Train Conductor, the Dancing Waiters, and a ghostly Hobo.
Once you reach the North Pole, the jolly old elf — Santa himself — will come on board to give each passenger a silver sleigh bell, the “first gift of Christmas”.
Tickets go on sale in October and sell out very quickly.