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Home > Family Travel > Family Travel Guides > California Travel Guide

 

California Vacations Travel Guide

 

General Information

Baby Equipment Rentals - companies in California that rent baby gear and equipment including car seats, strollers, cribs and more

Family Resorts in California - resorts, hotels and other family friendly lodging

California Travel & Tourism Commission - things to do, places to stay, maps, calendar of events and more.

Santa Cruz County Conference & Visitors Council - Helps you make the most of your visit. Visit them on-line for ideas on where to stay and dine, and find information on an array of activities, attractions and events.

 


Zoos

Chaffee Zoological Gardens of Fresno
894 West Belmont Ave
Fresno, California 93728
Phone: (559) 498-4692
A wonderful zoo with a great variety of animals and activities for families.  Click here for map.

Birch Aquarium at Scripps
2300 Expedition Way
La Jolla, California 92037
Phone: (858) 534-4086
The Birch Aquarium at Scripps is home to more than 350 species of marine life found in waters from the cold Pacific Northwest to the warm tropical reefs of the South Pacific. Forty-six tanks range in size from a 70,000-gallon re-created kelp forest to small nursery tanks. The aquarium also features a man-made tide pool that stimulates an awareness in visitors of the fragility of San Diego's intertidal environments. 

Micke Grove Zoo
11793 N Micke Grove Rd
Lodi, California 95240
Phone: (209) 953-8840
Micke Grove Zoo is a five-acre AZA accredited Zoo with mammals, birds, reptiles, and invertebrates. 

Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach
100 Aquarium Way
Long Beach, California 90802
(off Shoreline Drive)
Phone: (562) 590-3100
More than 12,000 live marine specimens representing 550 species reside at the huge, world-class aquarium. Engaging, hands-on interactive experiences abound in Kids' Cove. Designed as an actual playground of the Pacific Ocean, kids of all ages can discover the undersea animal kingdom by walking through a giant whale skeleton, nesting on a giant sea bird egg, and burrowing in the sand as a hermit crab would do.  The journey through the Pacific Rim unfolds as visitors are guided through the Pacific Ocean’s three major regions; Southern California/Baja; Northern Pacific and the Tropical Pacific. The exhibits introduce the inhabitants and seascapes of the Pacific, while also focusing on specific conservation messages associated with each region.

Los Angeles Zoo
5333 Zoo Dr
Los Angeles, California 90027
Phone: (323) 644-6400
The Los Angeles Zoo is located in the heart of the nation's second-largest city. Visitors can view a collection of 1,200 animals from around the world.

Monterey Bay Aquarium
886 Cannery Row
Monterey, California 93940
Phone: (831) 648-4800
Exhibits take you into the hidden world of Monterey Bay, a spectacular ocean realm at the heart of the nation's largest marine sanctuary. The exhibits re-create the bay's habitats, from shallow tide pools to the open ocean and deep sea.

Oakland Zoo
9777 Golf Links Road
Oakland, California 94605
Phone: (510) 632-9525
The Oakland Zoo is nestled in the rolling hills of 525-acre Knowland Park and is home to over 300 native and exotic animals from 50 different species living in lush, naturalistic settings. 

Orange County Zoo
1 Irvine Park Rd
Orange, California 92862
Phone: (714) 633-2022
Animals to see include black bear, mountain lion, North American porcupine, beaver, bald eagle, golden eagle and many more. Harbor seal, bison and many more animals will be coming to the zoo in the future.

The Living Desert Wildlife & Botanical Park
47-900 Portola Avenue
Palm Desert, California 92260
Phone: (760) 346-5694
Within its 1,200 acres you will discover nearly 400 fascinating desert animals representing over 150 species including coyotes, bighorn sheep, oryx, zebras, cheetahs and meerkats. There are lush botanical gardens representing 10 different desert ecosystems and a journey to "Eagle Canyon," with its streams, mountain lions, bobcats, Mexican wolves and golden eagles is a definite "must see."  All of this plus wilderness hiking trails, Native American exhibits and special events and programs throughout the year.

Sacramento Zoo
3930 W Land Park Dr
Sacramento, California 95822
Phone: (916) 264-5166

San Diego Zoo
2920 Zoo Drive
San Diego, California 92101
Phone: (619) 234-3153
Located in beautiful Balboa Park, the 100-acre World-Famous San Diego Zoo was founded by Dr. Harry Wegeforth in 1916. The San Diego Zoo cares for more than 4,000 individual animals representing 800 different species. Its collection of animals, as well as its plant collection of over 6,500 species, is acknowledged as one of the finest in the entire world. 

SeaWorld San Diego
500 Sea World Dr
San Diego, California 92109
Phone: (619) 222-6363
SeaWorld guests will experience more excitement, more sensational entertainment and more interactive opportunities than ever before. From spectacular shows and animal interactions to world-class thrill rides, once-in-a-lifetime experiences await SeaWorld visitors.

San Francisco Zoological Gardens
1 Zoo Rd
San Francisco, California 94132
Phone: (415) 753-7080
The largest zoological park in Northern California and one of the Bay Area's most popular cultural and recreational attractions, the San Francisco Zoo is home to over 250 species of exotic and domestic mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish and invertebrates. 

Steinhart Aquarium
Golden Gate Park
San Francisco, California 94118
Phone: (415) 750-7247
Steinhart Aquarium is an aquatic world of 165 individual tanks exhibiting the interactions of more than 6,000 representatives of diverse underwater environments. Visitors come face to face with nearly 600 species of fishes, large invertebrates, reptiles, amphibians and even black-footed penguins.

Happy Hollow Park and Zoo
1300 Senter Road
San Jose, California 95112
Phone: (408) 277-3000
Providing affordable family entertainment, education, and fun since 1961.  The park is a peaceful, creative, and safe place for children of all ages - with the main focus on "little ones" between the ages of 2-10. There are creative Play Areas, children's Rides, Puppet Shows, special events, and Birthday Areas. 

Santa Barbara Zoological Gardens
500 Ninos Dr
Santa Barbara, California 93103
Phone: (805) 962-6310
In addition to over 700 animals, the Zoo offers a carrousel and zoo train.  Click here for directions.

Six Flags Marine World
2001 Marine World Parkway
Vallejo, California 94589
Phone: 707-643-6722
Discover the wonders of wildlife at Six Flags Marine World with tigers, dolphins, sharks, elephants, giraffes and other amazing animals, Experience the best in wild rides with Vertical Velocity, the new tallest, fastest skyrocket of a thrill-coaster in Northern California.

 


National Parks

Mojave National Preserve
Barstow, California
Phone: (760)255-8800
Rose-colored sand dunes, volcanic cinder cones, Joshua tree forests, and mile-high mountains are found along the scenic drives through Mojave National Preserve, located in the heart of the Mojave Desert.  The Preserve is easily reached via I-15 or I-40 east of Barstow, CA, and west of Needles, CA and Las Vegas, NV. There are six freeway exits that provide visitor access.

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
Borrego, California
Auto touring, biking, hiking, climbing, horseback riding, water sports and wildlife viewing.  Located about 100 miles east-northeast of San Diego. From the west, enter the park on State Highway 78, 12 miles east of Julian, on County Road S-22, 20 miles east of Warner Springs on Route 79.  From the south, enter on County Road S-2 at Ocotillo, just north of Interstate 8. From the east, enter on Route 78, west of Brawley or Road S-22, 10 miles west of Salton City, both east off State Highway 86.

Redwood National and State Parks and Visitor Center
Crescent City, California
Phone: (707) 464-6101
Redwood National and State Parks are home to some of the world's tallest trees: old-growth coast redwoods. They can live to be 2000 years old and grow to over 300 feet tall. Spruce, hemlock, Douglas-fir, berry bushes, and sword ferns create a multiple canopied understory that towers over all visitors. The parks' mosaic of habitats include prairie/oak woodlands, mighty rivers and streams, and 37 miles of pristine Pacific coastline.  Junior ranger program available for kids.

Death Valley National Park
Death Valley, California
Phone: (760) 786-2331
Death Valley National Park has more than 3.3 million acres of spectacular desert scenery, interesting and rare desert wildlife, complex geology, undisturbed wilderness, and sites of historical and cultural interest.  Sightseeing by personal auto, 4-wheel drive, bicycle, mountain bike (established roadways only), hiking, and camping.  Join a ranger November through April for a talk, walk, guided hike, or evening program. 

Muir Woods National Monument
Mill Valley, California
Phone: (415) 388-2595
Activities include bird watching and hiking along trails and bridges along Redwood Creek that create leisurely 1/2 hour, 1 hour, or 1 1/2 hour loops. All of these walks take you on a journey beneath 1000 year old old-growth coast redwood trees.

Lassen Volcanic National Park
Mineral, California
Phone: (530) 595-4444
Hiking, auto touring, biking, camping, boating, fishing and much more.

Pinnacles National Monument
Paicines, California
Phone: (831) 389-4485
The popular activities include hiking, rock climbing, birding, wild flower walks, studying volcanic and plate tectonics and observing the rich flora, fauna and spectacular geology.

Point Reyes National Seashore
Point Reyes Station, California
Phone: (415) 464-5100
Trails may be used by hikers, mountain bikers, and horseback riders. Leisurely drives throughout the seashore to beaches and wildlife areas; such as the tule elk range or historic lighthouse. Picnicking at beaches and trailheads is also recommended.  Point Reyes is located approximately 22 miles north of San Francisco on Highway 1 along the west coast of California. Travelers may approach the park from the winding scenic Highway 1, either northbound or southbound. You can also reach the park via Sir Francis Drake Boulevard or Point Reyes/Petaluma Road.

Cabrillo National Monument
San Diego
, California
Phone: (619) 557-5450
The park offers a superb view of San Diego’s harbor and skyline. At the highest point of the park stands the Old Point Loma Lighthouse, which has been a San Diego icon since 1854.  Activities include bird watching, fishing, hiking, nature walks and wildlife viewing.  Follow State Highway 209 south, from Interstate Highways I-5 or I-8, to the tip of Point Loma.

Fort Point National Historic Site
San Francisco, California (In Golden Gate National Recreation area)
Phone: (415) 556-1693
Fort Point is the only third system brick fort on the west coast of the United States. It became a National Historic Site on October 16th, 1970.

Golden Gate National Recreation Area
San Francisco, California
Phone: (415) 556-0560
The Golden Gate National Recreation Area is the largest urban national park in the world. The total park area is 74,000 acres of land and water. Approximately 28 miles of coastline lie within its boundaries. It is nearly two and one-half times the size of San Francisco.  Golden Gate NRA can be reached by Highways 1 , 101, 880 and 280. From the north, south or east parts of the San Francisco Bay Area.

Alcatraz Island
in Golden Gate National Recreation Area
San Francisco, California
Phone: (415) 561-4900
Reservations: (415) 705-5555
Alcatraz Island is one of Golden Gate National Recreation Area's most popular destinations, offering a close-up look at a historic and infamous federal prison long off-limits to the public. Visitors to the island can not only explore the remnants of the prison, but learn about the Native American occupation of 1969 - 1971, early military fortifications and the West Coast's first (and oldest operating) lighthouse.  Blue and Gold fleet provide ferry service to the island.  Advanced ticket reservations are recommended.  Advanced ticket reservations are available from Blue and Gold fleet web site http://www.blueandgoldfleet.com/

San Francisco Maritime National Historic Park
San Francisco, California
Phone: (415)556-3002
This unique Park, located at the west end of San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf, includes the fleet of historic vessels at Hyde Street Pier, the Maritime Museum, and the Maritime Museum Library. Board turn-of-the-century ships, tour the Museum and learn traditional arts -- like boatbuilding and woodworking.  The Park offers history, music and craft programs for all ages. 

Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area
Santa Monica, California
Phone: (805) 370-2301
Hiking, mountain bicycling, horseback riding, bird watching, whale watching, swimming, surfing, nature walks, festivals and picnicking may be enjoyed year-round.
 
Devil's Postpile National Monument
Three Rivers
, California
Phone: (760) 934-2289 summer
Phone: (760) 872-4881 winter
The Postpile is the world's finest example of unusual columnar basalt. Its columns of lava, with their four to seven sides, display a honeycomb pattern of order and harmony.  A guided walk to the postpile leaves the ranger station at 11 am daily; campfire programs are offered Wednesdays & Saturdays at 8:15 pm; pets are permitted in the monument if they are kept on a leash less than 6 feet (1.8m) long.

Kings Canyon National Park
Three Rivers, California
Phone: (559) 565-3341
Activities vary according to season, but no matter the time of year, the best way to get into the park is to get out of the car.  In summer, rangers lead walks and talks in the foothills, the sequoia groves, and the high-country. Take a tour of the exquisite Crystal Cave. There are rivers to enjoy -- carefully! Pack stations offer horseback riding.  Come winter, cross-country skis or snowshoes can be rented to explore the sequoia groves beyond the roads. You can join a ranger-guided snowshoe walk. If you prefer warmer activities, trails in the foothills are almost always snow-free, and by February are graced with wildflowers.  Watch for Bears!!

Lava Beds National Monument
Tulelake, California
Phone: (530) 667-2282, Ext. 2
Volcanic eruptions on the Medicine Lake shield volcano have created an incredibly rugged landscape punctuated by cinder cones, lava flows, spatter cones, lava tube caves and pit craters.  Caving and wildlife viewing, particularly birdwatching in the spring and fall, are the most popular activities at Lava Beds. Walks, evening slide programs, and cave tours are offered daily during the summer. Ranger-guided activities are available by reservation during the rest of the year.

Channel Islands National Park
Ventura, California
Phone: (805) 658-5730
Visitors to the park may enjoy a variety of recreational opportunities, such as SCUBA diving, snorkeling, swimming, bird watching, kayaking, whale watching, and sailing. On the islands, one may camp, hike, picnic, and explore tide pools, isolated beaches, and rugged canyons.  A full day is recommended to visit the park.  The islands have no stores, restaurants, or overnight accommodations; you must bring all your own food, water, and camping equipment.

Whiskeytown National Recreation Area
Whiskeytown, California
Phone: (530) 246-1225
Water based activities are the primary interest of most Whiskeytown visitors including - swimming, sailing, water skiing, scuba diving, and fishing.  In addition, the land area surrounding the lake and extending all the way to the top of Shasta Bally (6209' elevation) provides ample opportunities for hiking, horseback riding and mountain biking.

Yosemite National Park
Yosemite, California
Phone: (209) 372-0200
The park harbors a grand collection of waterfalls, meadows, and forests that include groves of giant sequoias, the world's largest living things.  Short walks and longer hikes to waterfalls in Yosemite Valley; open-air tours around Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias; walks amongst giant sequoias in the Mariposa, Tuolumne, or Merced Groves; drive or take a tour bus to Glacier Point (summer-fall) to see a spectacular view of Yosemite Valley and the high country; drive along the scenic Tioga Road to Tuolumne Meadows (summer-fall) and go for a walk or hike.

 


Museums

Castle Air Museum
Atwater
, California
Phone: (209) 723-2178
Presently the museum has 43 World War II, Korean War, and Vietnam Era aircraft on display. Rare aircraft such as the SR-71, and B-36. All restored and maintained by our devoted volunteer staff, these aircraft are a tribute to the men and women who maintained and flew them. Here you will read the history of each aircraft, view the statistics, and see a photo of the aircraft as it is displayed on the museum grounds.

Catalina Island Museum
Avalon, California
Phone: (310) 510-2414
The museum exhibits include history of native Americans, Spanish discovery, ranching & mining, military occupation, maritime history, sports & recreation and Hollywood filmmaking.

Habitot Childrens' Museum
2065 Kittredge Street (near Shattuck) in downtown Berkeley
Berkeley
, California
Phone: (510) 647-1111
Habitot Children's Museum, the only hands-on discovery museum for young children in the East Bay.

Hall of Health
2230 Shattuck Ave.
Berkeley, California 94704
Interactive, hands-on exhibits to learn about the workings of the body, the value of sound diet and exercise, and the destructive effects of smoking and drug abuse.

Lawrence Hall of Science
Berkeley, California
Phone: (510) 642-5132
Kids can play and learn in this all-hands-on exhibit where toys are used to demonstrate scientific principles such as inertia, momentum, and center of gravity.  The Lawrence Hall of Science is located in the hills east of the main U.C. Berkeley campus, on Centennial Drive just above the Botanical Gardens.  Click here for directions.

Burlingame Museum of Pez Memorabilia
214 California Drive
Burlingame, California 94010
Phone: (650) 347-2301

National YoYo Museum
320 Broadway
Chico, California 95928

Air Force Flight Test Center Museum
Edwards AFB, California
Exhibits include displays of aircraft hardware, rocket engines, and models. Museum visitors can learn about the past, present, and future of flight testing in the museum's theater.  Currently, seven of the museum's aircraft are displayed outdoors at the Jimmy Doolittle Airpark. They include the B-52D, F-84F, F-104, F-111, T-38, T-39, and Gloster Meteor. Another five are mounted on pedestals around the base, including the F-104, NF-104, P-59, T-33, and T-38.  Aircrafts displayed inside include the first F-16B, an A-37, an X-1 replica, an X-25, and a Firebee drone. Museum aircrafts joining the existing outdoor display include an F-4C, an F-101B, a T-33, and a YA-7D.  Museum visitors will view a number of other rare aircraft on display. These include the first T-46; prototypes of the A-7F, A-9, A-10B, F-4E, and F-94; one of only two PA-48 Enforcers; the first production C-141; and a number of other one-of-a-kind aircraft.  Civilians who wish to visit the museum must call (661) 277-8050 for sponsorship prior to arriving at the base entry gate.

Hollywood Wax Museum
6767 Hollywood Blvd.
Hollywood, California 90028
Phone: (213) 462-5991
The approximately 220 wax replicas on display at the museum include major movie and television stars of past and present, sports figures and a host of other celebrated people.

International Surfing Museum
411 olive avenue
Huntington beach, California 92648
Phone: (714) 960-3483
The International Surfing Museum located in Huntington Beach, California is home to a collection of some of the most significant artifacts in the history of surfing. With surf music and videos playing in the background, you'll be in the mood to view the many fine exhibits.

Children's Museum - La Habra
La Habra, California

Queen Mary Museum
Long Beach, California

California Science Center
700 State Drive
Los Angeles, California 90037
Phone: (323) 724-3623
The California Science Center offers fun and informative permanent exhibits presented in interactive worlds. Through hands-on experiences in our galleries, you'll learn about human inventions and innovations, the life processes of living things and more. The Science Center also features fantastic special exhibits that change all the time.

Griffith Observatory
2800 East Observatory Road
Los Angeles, California
Phone: (323) 664-1191
The Observatory is divided into three main areas: the Hall of Science astronomy museum, the telescopes (see below), and the planetarium theater. All are open to the public and, except planetarium shows, are free of charge. The telescopes operate only when the sky is clear.

Chabot Observatory and Science Center
Oakland, California
Phone: (510) 336-7300

The March Field Air Museum
March Air Reserve Base, Riverside, California 92518
Phone: (909) 697-6602
Home to over 50 historic aircraft and many inside displays relating to the history of March Field, now known as March Air Reserve Base.

Discovery Museum - Sacramento
101 I Street
Sacramento, California 95814
Telephone: (916) 264-7057

The Reuben H. Fleet Science Center
1875 El Prado Balboa Park
San Diego, California (two blocks south of the San Diego Zoo on Park Blvd.)
Phone: (619) 238-1233

San Diego Aerospace Museum
2001 Pan American Plaza, Balboa Park
San Diego, California 92101
Phone: (619) 234-8291
A dazzling collection of over 65 U.S. and foreign aircraft and spacecraft.

San Diego Aircraft Carrier Museum
San Diego, California

San Diego Maritime Museum
1492 North Harbor Drive
San Diego, California 92101
Phone: (619) 234-9153

San Diego Model Railroad Museum
1649 El Prado
San Diego, California 92101
Phone: (619) 696-0199
The world's largest operating model railroad museum. This unique museum has four enormous scale model layouts, built by separate clubs, which depict railroads of the southwest in O, HO and N scales. In addition, the museum features a Toy Train Gallery with an interactive Lionel layout for children; a 3-Rail Hi Rail layout, numerous educational displays, and prototype artifacts, including a centralized tower control (CTC) machine, working semaphore, and crossing signal.

Alexander F. Morrison Planetarium
San Francisco, California
Phone: (415) 750-7145.

The Wax Museum at Fisherman's Wharf
145 Jefferson Street
San Francisco, California 94133
Phone: (800) 439-4305
All types of characters in showcased in life size wax figures.

Market Street Railway
San Francisco, California
Phone: (415) 863-1775
San Francisco is home to the most successful operation of historic rail transit in the world: the unique cable car system, and now the wildly popular "F-line" historic trolleys.  Take the family for a historic ride.

Ripley's Believe It or Not! Museum
175 Jefferson Street
San Francisco, California 94133
Phone: (415) 771-6188

USS Pampanito
San Francisco, California
USS Pampanito (SS-383) is a World War II Balao class Fleet submarine that is open for visitors daily at San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf Pier 45.  Click here for directions.

Zeum
San Francisco, California
Phone: (415) 777-2800
A fun place for children and parents.

Children's Discovery Museum of San Jose
180 Woz Way
San Jose, California 95110
Phone: (408) 298-5437
For children to age 13, it is first and foremost a place to call their own, offering interactive exhibits and programs that span the arts, science, technology and the humanities.

S.S. Lane Victory
Berth 94
San Pedro, California 90733
Phone: (310) 519-9545
The S.S. Lane Victory is a Fully Operational WWII Victory Ship.

Discovery Science Center
2500 North Main Street
Santa Ana, California 92705
Phone: (714) 542-CUBE
Discovery Science Center is a place where children and adults alike can learn while having fun.

Intel Museum
Intel Corporation's Robert Noyce Building, Main Lobby
2200 Mission College Boulevard
Santa Clara, California 95052
Phone: (408) 765-0503
At the Intel Museum in Santa Clara, you can experience the power of computer chips first hand, and the evolution of their development.  Learn how chips are made, how transistors and microprocessors work and much more.

Museum of Flying
2772 Donald Douglas Loop North
Santa Monica, California 90405
Phone: (310) 392-8822
A rare collection of World War II fighter aircraft; the majority of the aircraft within the collection are in flight ready condition.

The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum
40 Presidential Drive
Simi Valley, California 93065
Phone: (800) 410-8354

 


Theme Parks, Amusement Parks & Water Parks

Adventure City
1238 S. Beach Blvd. (Between Ball & Cerritos) Anaheim, California. In the Hobby City Complex
Phone: (714) 236-9300
Adventure City is a little theme park with big adventures. A world of excitement, entertainment and education awaits guests at Adventure City. Rides that spin, twirl and zoom, shows that captivate both the young and young at heart and a collection of small town buildings reminding us of simpler times -- all blended together to create a town filled with fun! 

Disneyland Resort
1313 S. Harbor Blvd.
Anaheim, CA 92803
Disneyland Resort Information (recorded) (714) 781-4565
Disneyland Resort Information (operator) (714) 781-7290
Disneyland Travel Packages (800) 225-2024
Disneyland Resort Hotels (714) 956-6425
All the fun rides and activities you can think of for your family are right here at Disneyland Park, Disney's California Adventure and Downtown Disney.

Atwater Theme Park
Atwater, California
Amusement park, water park and kiddy rides.

Knott's Berry Farm
8039 Beach Boulevard
Buena Park, California 90620
Phone: (714) 220-5200
Knott's is a 150 acres of thrilling rides, exciting attractions, outstanding live entertainment, fascinating historic exhibits, world-famous dining and one-of-a-kind specialty shops.  Click here for directions.

LegoLand
One Legoland Drive
Carlsbad, California 92008 USA (One hour south of Disneyland in Anaheim; half an hour north of Sea World in San Diego)
Phone: (760) 918-5346
This is the first LEGOLAND in the United States and is designed specifically for children ages 3 through 12 and their families.

Outrageous Waters Water Park & Fun Center
Highway 53 at Old State Highway/Dam Road
Clearlake, California
Phone: (877) 932-3386
Water slides, pools, children's pool with waterslide, Grand Prix race track
batting cages, video arcade and restaurant.  Click here for directions.

Wild Water Adventure
11413 East Shaw Avenue
Clovis, California 93611
Waterslides, wave pools, tub rides, water half pipe and more.  Click here for directions.

Waterworld USA
1950 Waterworld Pkwy
Concord, California 94520
Phone: (925) 609-1364
Beat the summer heat in Concord's refreshing oasis. Fly down speed slides, surf the waves or relax on a raft. Waterworld USA Concord has a water adventure for the whole crew.

Bonfante Gardens Theme Park
3050 Hecker Pass Hwy
Gilroy, California 95020
Phone: (408) 840-7100
Bonfante Gardens Theme Park is a one-of-a-kind experience combining five unique gardens and amusement rides with the mid-20th century history and agricultural roots of Santa Clara Valley. Set among 600 acres of rural countryside in Gilroy, California, Bonfante Gardens Theme Park features 75 acres encompassing 40 rides and attractions including theme gardens, food concessions, an event plaza, and 25 of the world famous Circus Trees. 

Universal Studios Hollywood
Hollywood, California
Phone: (877)-286-4746
Why just watch the movies, when you can live them?  Featuring one-of-a-kind attractions right out of the world's biggest movies and favorite television shows, Universal Studios Hollywood is the place to Ride The Movies.  With plenty of thrill rides, one-of-a-kind attractions, and live shows offered year-round, the Universal Studios Theme Park has more Hollywood entertainment to offer than any other destination in the world.

Oakwood Lake Resort / Manteca Waterslides
874 E Woodward Avenue
Manteca, California 95337
Phone: (877)-OAKWOOD
The Manteca Waterslides at Oakwood Lake RV Campground is your Northern California family fun spot. No other facility can offer full hook-up tent & RV campgrounds, with the exciting fun of our waterslides and other waterpark attractions, as well as facilities for company picnics, family reunions, etc. within easy walking distance in one beautiful lake park setting.  Click here for directions.

Castle Park
3500 Polk Street
Riverside, California 92505
Phone: (909) 785-3000
Haunted house, miniature golf, rides, arcade, carousel and more.

Waterworld USA
Cal Expo, 1600 Exposition Boulevard
Sacramento, California 95815
Phone: (916) 924-3747
Blast down thrilling water slides, relax in the lazy river, ride the waves or just soak up the sun. Waterworld USA Sacramento has gallons of water adventures for all ages.

Raging Waters
111 Raging Waters Dr.
San Dimas, California 91773
Phone: (909) 802-2200
Waterslides, pools, wave pools, rides and all kinds of fun for the family.  Click here for directions and map.  Click here for coupon (please note this coupon may not always be available).

Raging Waters
2333 S. White Road
San Jose, California 95148
Phone: (408) 238-9900
The Bay Area’s largest water theme park, offers family recreation on the grounds of Lake Cunningham Regional Park in San Jose. There are water slides, thrill rides and attractions designed for every member of the family including an interactive family play structure and pint-sized attractions for the little ones.  Click here for directions.

Paramount's Great America
Santa Clara, California
Phone: (408) 988-1776
Paramaount's Great America is Northern California's most thrilling park with more than 50 rides and attractions, for thrill seekers, families, and kids.  45 miles south of San Francisco and 6 miles north of San Jose on Great America Parkway between highways 101 and 237 in Santa Clara, Calif.

Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk
400 Beach St.
Santa Cruz, California 95060
Phone: (831) 423-5590
Choose from heart-pounding rides like the Hurricane, Tsunami, and Chaos. Or classic rides like the 1924 Giant Dipper roller coaster and 1911 Looff Carousel. Plus, there are great rides for kids of all ages -- over 30 rides in all! You can also explore exciting indoor attractions. Enter Sector 7 for wild laser tag action. Step into the Casino Fun Center for state-of-the-art video games, pinball and more. In Neptune's Kingdom, play pool, miniature golf and games. Cruise on over to the Surf Bowl for a few games or to try Atomic Bowling. It's a blast!  Click here for hours and directions.

Pacific Park & Pacific Park for Kids
Santa Monica, California
Phone: (310) 458-8294
Located on the world famous Santa Monica Peir, Pacific Park is the family place to play.  Pacific park for kid features (12) rides, including a 55 foot roller coaster, a swinging ship and the world's first solar-powered Ferris-Wheel soaring 9 stories above the Pacific Ocean.

Six Flags Magic Mountain
26101 Magic Mountain Pkwy
Valencia, California 91355
Phone: (661) 255-4100
Six Flags Magic Mountain has rides, entertainment and games for everyone in the family.

Six Flags Hurricane Harbor Los Angeles
26101 Magic Mountain Pkwy
Valencia, California 91355
Phone: (661) 255-4100
From thrilling speed slides to cool kids areas to gallons of water adventures. Hurricane Harbor is a tropical paradise so come cool off and work on your California tan.

 


Family Activities

Calico Ghost Town
36600 Ghost Town Road
Yermo, California 92398
Phone: 1-800-86-CALICO
Historical Old West mining town. Theme park with attractions including: Maggie’s Mine, Mystery Shack, Gold Panning, Narrow Gauge Mining Train ride, Lucy Lane Museum, old school house, house made from glass bottles, Chinese section, shops and restaurants. Special events held throughout the year.

River Way Ranch Camp
6450 Elwood Road
Sanger, CA 93657
Phone: (800) 821-2801
Located on 73 acres in the foothills of the Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Forests, River Way Ranch Camp offers children an experience that will teach valuable skills while creating lifelong friendships and treasured memories. Camp has overnight programs for children ages 7 through 16 with traditional camp activities such as swim instruction, fishing, ropes course, music, and more. In addition, campers can take part in specialty programs such as film school where they will create their own film from writing to production. Other specialty programs include the Dance Program, Performing Arts Program, and the Tech Lab Program.

Wonder Valley Family Camp
6450 Elwood Road
Sanger, CA 93657
Phone: (800) 821-2801
Families will build lifelong memories at the Wonder Valley Family Camp. This camp emphasizes family togetherness creating an environment for guests of all ages. Age appropriate activities are available for babies to adults. Activities include water sports such as waterskiing, sailing, fishing, water polo, and more. Land-loving families can spend their time playing tennis, golf, paint ball, playing on the trampoline, horseback riding, and more. Other options include field trips to Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, river trips, and Wild Water Adventures Water Park. Evening activities include Parents Night Out, talent show, campfires, and much more.
 

 

If you know of a family activity in California, let us know and we will add it here.

 


Summer - Family Vacation Hot Spots (Beaches, Lakes, etc.)

Disneyland Resort
1313 S. Harbor Blvd.
Anaheim, CA 92803
Disneyland Resort Information (recorded) (714) 781-4565
Disneyland Resort Information (operator) (714) 781-7290
Disneyland Travel Packages (800) 225-2024
Disneyland Resort Hotels (714) 956-6425
All the fun rides and activities you can think of for your family are right here at Disneyland Park, Disney's California Adventure and Downtown Disney.

Knott's Berry Farm
8039 Beach Boulevard
Buena Park, California 90620
Phone: (714) 220-5200
Knott's is a 150 acres of thrilling rides, exciting attractions, outstanding live entertainment, fascinating historic exhibits, world-famous dining and one-of-a-kind specialty shops.  Click here for directions.

Universal Studios Hollywood
Hollywood, California
Phone: (877)-286-4746
Why just watch the movies, when you can live them?  Featuring one-of-a-kind attractions right out of the world's biggest movies and favorite television shows, Universal Studios Hollywood is the place to Ride The Movies.  With plenty of thrill rides, one-of-a-kind attractions, and live shows offered year-round, the Universal Studios Theme Park has more Hollywood entertainment to offer than any other destination in the world.

Moccasin Point Marina
11405 Jacksonville Road
Jamestown, California
Phone: (209) 989-2206
Rental Information: 800-255-5561
Situated in a canyon carved out by the Tuolumne River and near the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, beautiful Lake Don Pedro is surrounded by rolling green hills and oak trees. Traverse the trails through lush green pine trees or dive into the cool mountain waters beneath a waterfall. Take advantage of the serenity of the lake and enjoy your favorite water activities aboard your own luxury houseboat rental. Fish, swim or ski on the 13,000 surface-acres of glassy blue water. Search for a secluded cove and make your houseboat the home base for all your outdoor activities on the lake.

Lake Don Pedro Marina
11500 Bonds Flat Road
La Grange, California 95329
Phone: 209-852-2369
Rental Information: 800-255-5561
Located in the Sierra Nevada foothills of central California is Lake Don Pedro on the way to Yosemite is Lake Don Pedro, the state's best kept secret. Lake Don Pedro is east of Modesto and approximately 2 hours southeast of Sacramento. Because of its large size and shoreline, Lake Don Pedro is rated as one of California's best recreational lakes with hundreds of hidden coves and inlets to boat, fish, swim and camp. With nearly 13,000 surface acres of water and over 160 miles of shoreline, outdoor enthusiasts can find ample space on Don Pedro to enjoy their favorite water sport from fishing to houseboating, swimming, waterskiing and sailing. Lake Don Pedro offers three convenient boat ramps for those ready to spend time at the lake and is perfect for tent and R.V. campers with over 540 developed sites to choose from for camping

Monterey Bay Aquarium
886 Cannery Row
Monterey, California 93940
Phone: (831) 648-4800
Exhibits take you into the hidden world of Monterey Bay, a spectacular ocean realm at the heart of the nation's largest marine sanctuary. The exhibits re-create the bay's habitats, from shallow tide pools to the open ocean and deep sea.

San Diego Zoo
2920 Zoo Drive
San Diego, California 92101
Phone: (619) 234-3153
Located in beautiful Balboa Park, the 100-acre World-Famous San Diego Zoo was founded by Dr. Harry Wegeforth in 1916. The San Diego Zoo cares for more than 4,000 individual animals representing 800 different species. Its collection of animals, as well as its plant collection of over 6,500 species, is acknowledged as one of the finest in the entire world.  Click here for map and detailed information.

SeaWorld San Diego
500 Sea World Dr
San Diego, California 92109
Phone: (619) 222-6363
SeaWorld guests will experience more excitement, more sensational entertainment and more interactive opportunities than ever before. From spectacular shows and animal interactions to world-class thrill rides, once-in-a-lifetime experiences await SeaWorld visitors.

Golden Gate National Recreation Area
San Francisco, California
Phone: (415) 556-0560
The Golden Gate National Recreation Area is the largest urban national park in the world. The total park area is 74,000 acres of land and water. Approximately 28 miles of coastline lie within its boundaries. It is nearly two and one-half times the size of San Francisco.  Golden Gate NRA can be reached by Highways 1 , 101, 880 and 280. From the north, south or east parts of the San Francisco Bay Area.

Alcatraz Island
in Golden Gate National Recreation Area
San Francisco, California
Phone: (415) 561-4900
Reservations: (415) 705-5555
Alcatraz Island is one of Golden Gate National Recreation Area's most popular destinations, offering a close-up look at a historic and infamous federal prison long off-limits to the public. Visitors to the island can not only explore the remnants of the prison, but learn about the Native American occupation of 1969 - 1971, early military fortifications and the West Coast's first (and oldest operating) lighthouse.  Blue and Gold fleet provide ferry service to the island.  Advanced ticket reservations are recommended.  Advanced ticket reservations are available from Blue and Gold fleet web site http://www.blueandgoldfleet.com/

PIER 39
Beach Street & The Embarcadero
San Francisco, California 94133
Phone: (415) 705-5500
Map: click here
PIER 39 is San Francisco's #1 Attraction, with more than 110 stores, 11 full-service restaurants with Bay views and numerous fun-filled attractions. The two-level outdoor festival marketplace features everything from high fashion leathers to artistic jewelry and imported chocolates. Activities and fun are endless.

Trinity Lake Resorts
45810 State Highway 3
Trinity Center, California 96091
Phone: 530-286-2225
Rental Information: 800-255-5561
Tucked back amidst the majestic Trinity Alps and surrounded by towering pine trees, Trinity Lake Resorts and Marinas at Cedar Stock offers an escape from the rest of the world. Experience the serenity of the lake hidden away in one of the many tree-laden coves. Whether you go back in time to the Gold Rush era to experience the excitement of panning for a nugget or two or cast a line for trout or kokanee salmon in the cool waters of Trinity Lake, recreational enthusiasts will satisfy their love of the outdoors with the many things to do in the National Forest.

Six Flags Magic Mountain
26101 Magic Mountain Pkwy
Valencia, California 91355
Phone: (661) 255-4100
Six Flags Magic Mountain has rides, entertainment and games for everyone in the family.

Six Flags Hurricane Harbor Los Angeles
26101 Magic Mountain Pkwy
Valencia, California 91355
Phone: (661) 255-4100
From thrilling speed slides to cool kids areas to gallons of water adventures. Hurricane Harbor is a tropical paradise so come cool off and work on your California tan.

Six Flags Marine World
2001 Marine World Parkway
Vallejo, California 94589
Phone: 707-643-6722
Discover the wonders of wildlife at Six Flags Marine World with tigers, dolphins, sharks, elephants, giraffes and other amazing animals, Experience the best in wild rides with Vertical Velocity, the new tallest, fastest skyrocket of a thrill-coaster in Northern California.

Delta Houseboat Rentals
1400 Old Levee Road
Walnut Grove, California 95690
Phone: 916-776-4270
Rental Information: 800-255-5561
Located in between the hustle of San Francisco and Sacramento city life, is the California Delta. A place where cable drawn ferries still transport vehicles from across the river, agriculture grows abundantly on levies once built by Chinese immigrants, waterfront restaurants line the banks of small historical towns and houseboats serve as a unique way to explore it all. Unique not only by design, the California Delta offers water enthusiasts and nature lovers an abundance of activities not found on other California lakes or waterways. With over a thousand miles of tributaries and channels, fishing, bird watching, sightseeing and water skiing are favorite past times enjoyed on the Delta.

Yosemite National Park
Yosemite, California
Phone: (209) 372-0200
The park harbors a grand collection of waterfalls, meadows, and forests that include groves of giant sequoias, the world's largest living things.  Short walks and longer hikes to waterfalls in Yosemite Valley; open-air tours around Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias; walks amongst giant sequoias in the Mariposa, Tuolumne, or Merced Groves; drive or take a tour bus to Glacier Point (summer-fall) to see a spectacular view of Yosemite Valley and the high country; drive along the scenic Tioga Road to Tuolumne Meadows (summer-fall) and go for a walk or hike.

Carmel-by-the-Sea and the Monterey Peninsula are located on the scenic central coast of California, one of the most popular travel destinations in the United States. Other attractions in the area include Big Sur, Carmel Valley, Monterey, Pacific Grove, Pebble Beach, and much more.

Catalina Island - Only 22 miles off the coast of Los Angeles but it feels like a world away.  Stroll the streets of Avalon and explore the village of Two Harbors.  Hike past grazing buffalo and dive into crystal clear water.  Only an hour by boat or and easy 14 minutes by helicopter.

Huntington Beach - Enjoy the year round Mediterranean climate. Explore our eight and one-half miles of uninterrupted beachfront. Stroll our magnificent pier. Discover the largest wetlands preserve on the coast of California. Dine in one of our fine restaurants. Accommodations range from four diamond to youth hostel.

Imperial Beach - Visitors from all over flock to Imperial Beach to revel in our beautiful coastline. We are the home to the renown U. S. Open Sandcastle Competition, and our immaculate beach is ideal for swimming, jogging, sunbathing and some world-class surfing.  With ample parking and clusters of restaurants and retail shops in close proximity, one can pick up a quick picnic lunch or dine in a restaurant with an ocean view. The perfect place for a picnic on the beach and some enjoyable family-fun in Dunes Park, a new beachfront park with state-of-the-art playground equipment, a volleyball area and picnic tables.

Long Beach - All the family entertainment you can think of.

Newport Beach - Newport Beach, the "Colorful Coast", is one of the premier coastal destinations in Southern California. Voted as one of the nation’s "10 Best Beaches" by the Surfrider Foundation, Newport Beach features the world’s largest small yacht harbor. Activities range from boating and water sports to superb golfing, and world-class shopping. With its close proximity to John Wayne/Santa Ana Airport, it is ideal for family vacations, weekend getaways and corporate meetings year-round.

Seal Beach - Surfing, boogie boarding, swimming, kite flying, sailing (we have some of the best sailing waters on the west coast), sand castle building, wind surfing, bicycle riding (30 miles of bike paths), fish right off the pier, or take a charter boat out for deep sea fishing, truly unique shopping and of course sun bathing. Beach shops rent bicycles, rollerblades, boogie boards, surf boards and wet suits. Enjoy fine dining or if you prefer, fun casual dining in some of the best restaurants in Southern California.

Venice Beach - Venice, California is a desired destination for travelers the world around. It. s unlike any place on Earth. Well known for its artists, street performers and funky atmosphere. It. s a virtual carnival running year round with free admission.

Lake Berryessa - Camping, fishing, boating, hiking and nature walks.  Located about 1 hour northeast of San Francisco in the wine country.

Lake Don Pablo - Fishing, swimming, camping, water-skiing, jet skiing, sailing, or exploring hundreds of miles of shoreline by boat.  For the equestrian, there are over 100 miles of horseback and hiking trails for your enjoyment. Located East of Modesto.

Englebright Lake - Fishing, hiking, swimming, rugged canyons for hiking and nature walks.  On the historic Yuba River 20 Miles east of Marysville off California State Route 20.

Lake San Antonio - Boating, water sports of all types, fishing, swimming, picnicking and camping.  Located just outside King City.

 


Winter - Family Vacation Hot Spots (Ski Resorts, etc.)

Bear Valley
Highway 4 at Highway 207
Bear Valley, California 95223
Phone: (209) 753-2301
Bear Valley is best known for its exceptional hospitality, comfortable atmosphere and personalized service, with trails for beginners to advanced.

Bear Mountain Resort
43101 Goldmine Dr
Big Bear Lake, California 92315
Phone: (909) 585-2519
Known for its steep terrain and off-trail carving that lets you outside lines; there are four mountain peaks to choose from, including the highest lift-serviced peak in Southern California reaching to the sky at 8,805 feet.

Snow Summit Ski Area
880 Summit Blvd
Big Bear Lake, California 92315
Phone: (909) 866-5766
Skiing, snowboarding and a great beginners area.

Big Air Green Valley Snowboard Park / Ski Green
33311 Angeles
Green Valley Lake, California
Phone: (909) 867-2338
Mainly caters to snowboarders.  Most trails are advanced.

Mammoth Mountain
1 Minaret Rd
Mammoth Lakes, California 93546
Phone: (760) 934-2571
One of the resorts with the most snowmaking and grooming equipment in California.  Mammoth Mountain offers a variety of runs for everyone from the beginner to the expert.

Donner Ski Ranch
19320 Donner Pass Rd
Norden, California 95724
Phone: (530) 426-3635
Known for short lift lines and affordable tickets.

Sugar Bowl Ski Resort
Old Hwy 40
Norden
, California 95724
Phone: (530) 426-9000
Known for its deep powder there are 1,500 acres of challenging terrain and also lots of fun runs for beginners.

Squaw Valley USA
1960 Squaw Valley Rd
Olympic Valley, California 96146
Phone: (530) 583-6985
8,000 acres of wilderness preserve in the California High Sierra, Squaw Valley offers magnificent open bowl skiing similar to the terrain found in the European Alps.

Dodge Ridge
Dodge Ridge Rd
Pine Crest, California 95364
Phone: (209) 965-3474
Offers snowboarding, skiing, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Considered to have on of the best teaching programs in the US.

Heavenly
295 Hwy 50 Suite 1
South Lake Tahoe, California 96150
Phone: (702) 586-7000
The 10,100-foot summit at Heavenly Ski Resort is the highest in the Lake Tahoe area and provides a spectacular panoramic view. Receiving 20-plus feet of snowfall a year makes skiing fantastic.  Heavenly Ski Resort also offers top-name entertainment, nightclub dancing, casino gambling and award-winning dining and lodging along with a state-of-the-art day care center, which is located in the California Lodge and provides care for infants and toddlers. Heavenly also began offering the Perfect Kids Children's Center, which is also located in the California Lodge.

Sierra - at - Tahoe
1111 Sierra-At-Tahoe
Tahoe, California 95735
Phone: (530) 659-7453
Sierra-At-Tahoe offers three fun zones (terrain parks) for skiers and snowboarders.  A snow tubing hill will is accessible for all ages including families with young children.

Alpine Meadows
2600 Alpine Meadows Rd
Tahoe City, California 96145
Phone: (530) 583-4232
A great ski area with miles of trails and a family ski area.

Granlibakken
725 Granlibakken Rd
Tahoe City
, California 96145
Phone: (530) 581-7333
74 acres of pristine forests this resort has a small practice ski hill, ski rental shop, ski school and snow play area for sleds and saucers. The resort is centrally located within a 20-minute drive of 14 downhill and eight cross-country ski areas.

Boreal Mountain Playground
I-80 at Donner Summit
Truckee
, California 96160
Phone: (530) 426-3666
Offers terrain parks, night skiing, family and kids zone, sledding, ski and snowboard schools.  Known for its wonderful night skiing.

Northstar - at - Tahoe
Hwy 267 & Northstar Dr
Truckee, California 96160
Phone: (530) 562-1010
Northstar at Tahoe has the latest snow toys including snow scoots, ski bikes, ski foxes and the Zorb, a 10-foot clear plastic sphere that will give you the snow-thrill ride of your life. The park also contains a half pipe, snow tubing and snowshoeing.  Northstar's lesson program for children ages 5-12, is located at a 5,000 square foot facility located near the Lodge at Big Springs. Parents can team up sharing lift ticket and babysitting duties with the Parents Predicament interchangeable lift ticket.

Tahoe Donner Ski Bowl
11603 Slalom Way
Truckee, California 95737
Phone: (530) 587-9400
Known for great atmosphere, friendly, family skiing and snowboarding.

Shirley Meadows Ski Area
1600 Rancheria Road
Wofford Heights, California
Phone: (760) 376-4186
Located in the Sequoia National Forest in the Greenhorn Mountains the area caters to the beginner and intermediate skiers.

Ski Sunrise
1 Table Mountain Rd
Wrightwood, California 92397
Phone: (760) 249-6150
Located high in the Angeles National Forest, Ski Sunrise is not a typical ski area.  You drive your car to the top of the mountain and without waiting, ski right down to the foot of the slopes. They have one of the best beginner areas in the industry, which is set aside from the intermediate and more advanced terrain.

Badger Pass Ski Area
Yosemite, California 95389
Phone: (209) 372-8430
Located in Yosemite National Park, Badger Pass has services and programs that give your entire family the opportunity to ski, with spectacular scenery and other winter activities, such as ice skating.

 


Helpful websites and services

 
Custom Camps Family Camping Service - Hassle Free Family Camping in Northern California. A wonderful service for families. They set up the entire camp site and all your family has to do is show up and relax. But the best part is, when its time to go home they come back and clean up the camp site.

Trekaroo – A trip planning website with things to do, places to stay for families with kids of all ages.

 

If you know of a website or company that is helpful to families traveling to California, let us know and we will add it here.

 


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