Home to the major metropolises of Los Angeles and San Diego, Southern California also draws families with its gorgeous beaches, beautiful mountains, iconic theme parks, and more. Here are some of the top getaways with kids in sunny SoCal.
Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California, holds a special place in the hearts of Disney fans as the place where the magic began. It's also a classic family vacation perfect for all ages. Instead of heading to the sprawling Disney World in Orlando, plan your getaway at the original Disneyland theme park and Disney California Adventure Park. You can stay at one of the three on-site resorts (Disney's Grand Californian, Disneyland Hotel, or Paradise Pier Hotel) or explore options nearby.
To plan the perfect Disneyland vacation, including where to stay, how to visit, and what to do, read our complete guide to the theme park.
From Beverly Hills to Disneyland and from Hollywood to Santa Monica, there's a lot of ways to have fun in Los Angeles with kids. One of LA's big draws is the thriving film industry. Not only can you see the iconic TCL Chinese Theatre and Walk of Fame but you can also tour film studios or find out more about celebrity homes in the area.
Because of its sheer size Los Angeles is an ideal vacation for the family who wants it all. Be it the glamour of Rodeo Drive, the beachy chill of Malibu, or something in between, the city has you and your family covered.
From Santa Barbara's posh resorts and gourmet restaurants to stunning beaches and an awesome zoo, there's a seemingly endless list of things to love about this coastal town. The coastline and bays make for stunning beach views while the more adventurous can tour the rugged Channel Islands.
Universal Studios Hollywood
Open since 1964, Universal Studios Hollywood is the granddaddy of movie theme parks. Over the years this park has evolved and expanded, adding exciting new attractions such as the beloved Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Jurassic World-The Ride. As an extra bonus, and something that can't be found in its Orlando counterpart, Universal Studios Hollywood offer a studio tour narrated by Jimmy Fallon that takes guests into Hollywood's largest street set and shares some movie making secrets.
Known for its mild year-round climate and artist community, the seaside resort town of Laguna Beach beckons families to enjoy its scenic beaches and kid-friendly attractions. The town has more than 20 beaches to relax on and when you get tired of the sand you can go for a hike, explore the Laguna Art Museum.
Bring the kids to San Diego Zoo and Legoland California, of course, but be sure to mix as many free activities into your itinerary. After you explore some of the amazing beaches in the San Diego area, check out some free kid-friendly activities that will stretch your vacation budget.
Great Wolf Lodge Garden Grove
This rustic, woodsy Great Wolf Lodge indoor waterpark resort may at first seem like an odd fit in sunny Southern California. But keep in mind that it is impervious to the weather, offering either an appealing one-stop short getaway or a nice complement to a trip to Disneyland, which is just 2 miles away.
Do your kids love Legos? The Legoland California theme park is devoted to the colorful bricks, with amazing landscapes made entirely of Legos as well as rides and a water park. Aimed at younger kids age 3 to 10, this is a bullseye for families with elementary school-aged kids.
Golf courses, spas, and upscale resorts are a staple of Palm Springs, a desert oasis that's a few hours east of LA and northeast of San Diego. But there is plenty of appeal for families, too.
Catalina Island is a popular and beautiful getaway 22 miles off the Los Angeles coastline. It's the perfect choice for an island vacation without needing to hop on a plane. Kids will love a glass-bottomed boat tour or the chance to zipline around the island.