California Family-friendly activities

Our most recommended California Family-friendly activities

Palm Springs Aerial Tramway

1. Palm Springs Aerial Tramway

From top to bottom, the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway delivers a scenic and educational journey as you travel through 5 transitional zones. Some have compared it to taking a ride from Mexico to Alaska in just 10 minutes. See for yourself as you ride up to the top, where spectacular views await! The 2.5 mile (4 kilometer) ride from the Valley Station (elevation 2,643 feet, or 805 meters) to the Mountain Station (elevation 8,516 feet, or 2,596 meters) transports you from the warm desert sands to cool mountain air, with temperatures that are generally 30-degrees cooler than on the ground. The tramway is the threshold of the 14,000-acre Mt. San Jacinto State Park, a natural place with some of the last pristine wilderness in Southern California. In the winter, try cross-county skiing or snowshoeing. Rental equipment is available at the Adventure Cether, snow conditions permitting. During the summer months, camping, guided nature walks, and 54 miles (87 kilometers) of hiking are available. There are 2 dining options at the Mountain Station: Peaks Restaurant offers upscale contemporary cuisine with a spectacular view of the desert floor, and Pines Cafe is a cafeteria-style restaurant that offers a casual dining experience. Also at the top are gift shops, a Natural History Museum, and 2 documentary-style movies on the history of the tramway and the Mt. San Jacinto State Park.

San Diego: USS Midway Museum Entry Ticket

2. San Diego: USS Midway Museum Entry Ticket

Take a self-guided audio tour onboard the world’s longest-serving aircraft carrier, the historic USS Midway. See the carrier’s 25 restored aircraft from the days of WWII to Operation Desert Storm. Visit areas throughout the Midway, from the crew's sleeping quarters to the pilots' ready rooms. Docents are available throughout the carrier and are eager to share their stories, anecdotes, and statistics, creating a picture of just how important the USS Midway was to the U.S. Navy. Most guests spend 3 to 4 hours exploring this historic aircraft carrier and learning its history. The included audio guide, available in 6 languages, will help you explore the dozens of highlighted areas across the massive ship.  There are family-oriented activities throughout the Museum. Included are 3 types of flight simulators, music videos, short films, climb-aboard aircraft and cockpits, and more. The Museum is located at the Navy Pier in downtown San Diego.

Monterey Bay: Whale Watching Tour

3. Monterey Bay: Whale Watching Tour

Discover a variety of whale species in the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary on this cruise from Monterey. Uncover one of the world’s best locations for whale watching due to its deep submarine canyon close to shore. With whales spotted almost every day, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Set sail from the Old Fisherman’s Wharf. Catch a glimpse of the hundreds of Californian Sea Lions inside the harbor as the boat leaves the dock. Take advantage of the view and snap a photo to capture the memory. Pass the historic Cannery Row as you leave the harbor and enter the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Search for feeding humpback whales, a variety of dolphin species, porpoises, blue whales, and fin whales. Listen as the onboard biologist provides fascinating insights into the creatures of the bay and what is being done to protect them. During the summer/ fall season, the tour will focus on feeding whales that come to the bay to feast on small fish and krill. Spot humpback whales daily but keep an eye out for blue whales, fin whales, gray whales (finishing migration), orcas and a variety of other dolphin species. During the winter season, the tour will focus on migrating whales at the south end of Monterey Bay where gray whales pass by. Return to your starting point at the end of your tour.

San Diego: SeaWorld Skip-the-Line Park Admission Ticket

4. San Diego: SeaWorld Skip-the-Line Park Admission Ticket

Discover the underwater world at SeaWorld San Diego, with animal encounters, interactive exhibits, and thrilling rides. Get up close to marine life and enjoy educational animal presentations for the whole family to enjoy. Upgrade your ticket to include a dining pass to eat all day at SeaWorld. Experience thrilling rides such as Electric Eel with its high-energy twists and loops, or Manta, with two thrilling launches that send riders soaring in the spirit of the world’s largest ray. For kid-friendly fun, enjoy Tentacle Swirl, Sea Dragon Drop, Elmo's Flying Fish, and so much more. Admire the animals at SeaWorld such as beluga whales, walruses, penguins, sharks, and orcas as you learn about these incredible creatures. Enjoy interactive exhibits such as the Explorer's Reef Touchpools and Sea Lion Point. Explore the Sesame Street Bay of Play where you can meet your Sesame Street friends. If you choose to upgrade to the all-day dining bundle, you can get an entree, a side/dessert, and a drink every 1 hour at Shipwreck Reef Café®, Calypso Bay Smokehouse, Mama Stella’s® Pizza Kitchen, Big Bird's Bistro, Coral Market, Shark Market, Orca West Market, and Pretzel Shop.

Monterey: Monterey Bay Dolphin and Whale Watching Boat Tour

5. Monterey: Monterey Bay Dolphin and Whale Watching Boat Tour

Discover the diverse wildlife of Monterey Bay on a guided dolphin and whale watching boat cruise. Feast your eyes on massive gray whales, watch playful dolphins leap from the water, spot turtles skimming underneath the waves, and learn about the ecological landscape of the bay's oceanic habitat. Begin your tour by meeting your captain and boarding the boat at the Old Fisherman's Wharf. Sail into Monterey Bay, watching for birds and otters along the wharf's shallow banks. Learn about local efforts to protect what is considered to be one of the most ecologically diverse bays in the area. As you sail further away from the shoreline, watch for harbor seals, bottlenose dolphins, humpback whales, elephant seals, and even sharks. Catch sight of gray whales leaping alongside the boat and curious killer whales, with their characteristic black and white coloring, swimming nearby.

San Diego: Harbor Cruise

6. San Diego: Harbor Cruise

See San Diego's best sights. Learn about the city and enjoy a cruise on the bay. Depending on the option booked, this tour takes you under the Coronado Bridge, past military ships, waterfront landmarks, and marine life for a look at San Diego's scenic beauty and fascinating history. This tour’s luxury ships offer three levels with comfortable indoor and outdoor seating, 360-degree views, and an on-board snack bar serving snacks, soda, beer, wine and cocktails (available for purchase). This is a great way to experience San Diego from the water.

Los Angeles: Warner Bros. Studio Tour Hollywood

7. Los Angeles: Warner Bros. Studio Tour Hollywood

Get ready to touch, tour, and explore the 110-acre backlot that brought the films Argo and Batman to the big screen with this guided tour of Warner Bros. Studio. From the film Gravity to the TV show Friends, go behind the camera for a revealing look at your favorite cinematic creations. Explore Stage 48: Script to Screen, an interactive soundstage that explores phases of the film and television production process. Re-enact a scene from Friends on the iconic Central Perk set, or climb aboard Harry Potter’s broomstick for a photo opportunity. Explore the Studio Store with exclusive merch from your favorite films and TV shows. Dine at the Central Perk Cafe and enjoy your meal amongst recreated sets like Monica's apartment, and Joey and Chandler's pad. Recreate scenes from the DC Universe where you can explore superheroes and supervillains.  Swish and flick your way through the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts and even have your own Hogwarts house sorting ceremony. Between December 22 - January 1, 2023, you’ll also be able to explore a special stop at the Midwest Street Backlot, known by Gilmore Girls fans as the set location for Stars Hollow.  Enjoy holiday-themed trivia, guided tours of Stars Hollow, and behind-the-scenes stories from Gremlins, Elf, National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, and many other holiday favorites.

Universal Studios Hollywood: Ticket with Easy Cancellation

8. Universal Studios Hollywood: Ticket with Easy Cancellation

Enjoy world-class entertainment all in one place at Universal Studios Hollywood™. With the regular general admission tickets, you will receive full access to the park to enjoy either 1 or 2 days (depending on the option selected) of rides, shows and attractions. For those wishing to spend less time in lines, the Universal Express Ticket is also available to book. This ticket includes the 1-day general admission ticket, one-time skip-the-line park entry, one-time express access to each ride and attraction plus priority seating at select shows.* This ticket is very popular with guests, so purchase this ticket in advance here to guarantee Universal Express™ privileges! Some of the popular rides, shows and attractions you will enjoy at Universal Studios Hollywood include: The World Famous Studio Tour Go behind-the-scenes on the world-famous Studio Tour to explore Hollywood's most famous backlot in the world's largest working movie studio. • Tour the world-famous Backlot with comedian/video host Jimmy Fallon and learn the secrets of Hollywood moviemaking.  • Visitors can experience the largest street movie set in Hollywood history built with creative consultation from Steven Spielberg himself.  • Guests can see the sets from hit series and witness special effects used in blockbusters like The War of the Worlds. • Plus, you'll ride through the world's largest 3-D experience on King Kong 360 3-D created by Peter Jackson. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter ™ From magical spells to magical creatures, from dark villains to daring heroes, it's all here at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™. Explore the mysteries of Hogwarts™ castle, visit the shops of Hogsmeade™, and sample fare from the wizarding world's best-known establishments. Despicable Me Minion Mayhem  Join Gru, his daughters, and the rebellious Minions on a heartwarming and thrilling 3-D ride.The journey starts in Gru’s home, where guests are recruited for his latest scheme – one where they’ll become an actual Minion! *Does not apply to food and retail locations or non-seated shows. HARRY POTTER characters, names and related indicia are © & ™ Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. Harry Potter Publishing Rights © JKR. (s18). Jurassic Park TM & © 2018 Universal Studios and Amblin Entertainment, Inc. The Walking Dead © 2018 AMC Film Holdings LLC. All Rights Reserved. ©2018 Universal Studios. All Rights Reserved. *Park, rides/shows/attractions, entertainment, experience details and/or access to event may be restricted or unavailable due to capacity/closures/other factors and benefits/restrictions are subject to change without notice. *Ticket is not valid at Universal Orlando Resort. Ticket is valid at Universal Studios Hollywood, located in Los Angeles, California.

Skip the Line: Knott's Berry Farm General Admission Ticket

9. Skip the Line: Knott's Berry Farm General Admission Ticket

A visit to Knott's Berry Farm means a day full of fun for the whole family and the perfect stop on a weekend getaway or family road trip. Located in Buena Park, California, there's something for everyone at Knott’s Berry Farm with dozens of rides, shows, and attractions in five themed areas. This once small family farm has grown into a family fun destination that you see today and is home to the Knott's Berry Farm theme park. Featuring over 40 rides, splash down the Timber Mountain Log Ride, stroll through the park’s old west ghost town, or hang with the Peanuts™ gang at Camp Snoopy. The fun doesn't stop there. Check out the mammoth roller coasters, go on an old west adventure, and pay tribute to California’s Hispanic roots. Experience all kinds of California fun as you visit the fiesta village, enjoy the beach lifestyle along the boardwalk, and go on an adventure in the High Sierras.

San Francisco: Escape from The Rock Bay Cruise

10. San Francisco: Escape from The Rock Bay Cruise

Hop on board a boat and cruise around Alcatraz Island and other sights of San Francisco Bay on this round trip journey. Benefit from a straight-to-the-gate access ticket and informative commentary as you go. Cruise San Francisco Bay and sail under the Golden Gate Bridge on a 90-minute narrated tour by boat around Alcatraz Island. Skip the box office line and go straight to the gate with your ticket. See Alcatraz island from the water while listening to accounts of the chilling escape attempts and the notorious criminals that called Alcatraz prison home. Enjoy a cruise with food and drink available to purchase onboard. Cruise full circle around Alcatraz Island, allowing you to view every angle of this mysterious island, which housed famous inmates such as Al Capone, Billy Cook the Killer, and Clyde Johnson, whose escape attempt is legendary. Gain a clear picture of what life in this maximum-security prison was like when it was the most feared institution in the American penal system.

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What people are saying about California

Defo recommend! The first hour or so is guided with such friendly and passionate staff. You get to see lots and even the Friends foundation. The self guided part of the tour allows you to see the Friends set, the Big Bang Theory set and more! Defo recommend!

If you are wanting to ride the rides, the fast path ticket is the only way to do it.

We went with our two children age 11 and 8. Was a great trip. Fantastic views.

Great experience, recommend everyone to at least one time.

we saw a lot of dolphins, and the price is certainly fair