6 Kid Approved California Theme Parks to Visit

Hey, parents, I hate to be the one to break it to you.

Spring Break & Summer vacation plans: let’s discuss. Both will be here before you and I know it, and having kids laying around the house proclaiming, “I’m borrreeeddd” is never a good thing.

Obviously.

Just as obvious is the answer to Spring Break & summertime boredom: visit some California theme parks for thrills and spills in the California sun.

Do you need suggestions on where to take your kids? I’m here for you, man!

Here are 6 California theme parks you need to hit up.

6 kid approved California theme parks to visit during spring break and summer vacations. Universal | Disneyland | Sea World | Great America | LEGOLAND | Gilroy Gardens

6 Kid Approved California Theme Parks to Visit

Every year I ask my kids the same question: where should we go on vacation? And every year they give the same enthusiastic answer: CALIFORNIA!

I’ll admit that it doesn’t hurt that their cousins live there, and visiting these relatives is a big draw. Family first- family always!

But I know my kids, and I know what drives the excited response is the sheer volume of theme parks found in the state. Because they know their momma can’t pass up a chance to visit them!

California is chock full of theme parks & attractions perfect for children of all ages that you’ll want to check out.

 

The Disneyland Resort

Disneyland is our favorite theme park on the West coast. For now (see Universal Studios coming on strong!).

6 kid approved California theme parks to visit during spring break and summer vacations. Universal | Disneyland | Sea World | Great America | LEGOLAND | Gilroy Gardens

I mean, MICKEY. This is what childhood memories are made of!

Disneyland runs deep in our family history; I’ve been visiting since I was 6-weeks-old. That pixie dust practically runs through my veins- it’s strong, y’all!

My children have been going for years, and they know the park as well as any cast member working the churro stands.

Why do we keep going back? It offers exceptional customer service and magical experiences for every age.

The trick to visiting here is keeping things affordable. Well, as affordable as one can in the land of the Mouse. Here are 20 free things you can find at Disneyland. (Yes, I’m serious!)

 

Universal Studios Hollywood

I wasn’t sure how well this one would go over with my mild-thrill seeking family, but it was a huge hit!

If your family has always seen themselves as Disney people, you may want to venture over to Hollywood and give Universal a try.

Why? I have two words for you: Harry Potter.

6 kid approved California theme parks to visit during spring break and summer vacations. Universal | Disneyland | Sea World | Great America | LEGOLAND | Gilroy Gardens

Accio Chocolate Frog! Seriously- don’t forget your house robes!

 

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is the best-themed land on the West coast. You do not want to miss your chance to play a game of Quidditch with Harry or to pick your wand out at Olivanders.

The Wizarding World is just a start. Here are five additional ways that Universal beats Disneyland for my family.

 

Sea World San Diego

If you are huge fans of the ocean and all that lives in it, do not miss a trip to San Diego Sea World.

6 kid approved California theme parks to visit during spring break and summer vacations. Universal | Disneyland | Sea World | Great America | LEGOLAND | Gilroy Gardens

Dine with Shamu at Sea World San Diego Photo: Julie Bigboy

What’s to love about Sea World? They cater to children of all ages with experiences that entertain and educate.

We especially like the opportunities for hands-on experiences with the sea life at Explorer’s Reef. With four different touch pools available, your kiddos have the chance to interact with various fish, including sharks and cleaner fish.

You can even Dine with Shamu from an organic and sustainable menu, and learn more about the majestic killer whales.

 

LEGOLAND California

Just about every parent knows that LEGOS are king for kids between the ages of three and twelve. Imagine a whole theme park devoted to the same creativity and innovation you see in your child’s LEGO projects?

At LEGOLAND California, that’s just what you get.

6 kid approved California theme parks to visit during spring break and summer vacations. Universal | Disneyland | Sea World | Great America | LEGOLAND | Gilroy Gardens

LEGOLAND: your younger children will flip over this California theme park! Photo: Julie Bigboy

Here you’ll find more than 60 rides, shows, and attractions geared toward the preteen crowd. There’s a waterpark, too!

Is this one already on your list? Then be sure to check out my friend Karen’s tips for LEGOLAND California

 

California’s Great America Theme Park

Now, all the fun isn’t only in Southern California. Northern California has some options for you travelers as well!

6 kid approved California theme parks to visit during spring break and summer vacations. Universal | Disneyland | Sea World | Great America | LEGOLAND | Gilroy Gardens

Thrills galore wait for you at California’s Great America. Photo: Leslie Harvey

Great America has been a Bay Area tradition for many families for over 40 years. This park was a staple during my high school summers, and judging by the crowds, it’s still quite popular with teens and tweens.

Thrill seekers: this is your park! But don’t worry, there are attractions for the younger children as well.

If you’re heading to Great America with your kids and want to know before you go, be sure to check out Leslie’s Complete Guide.

 

Gilroy Gardens

There’s another little theme park located in Northern California that you may have never heard of before.

But don’t let that stop you.

Gilroy Gardens, located in the garlic capital of the World (Gilroy, California), is open about half the year. It’s a charming little amusement park for the family traveler and shouldn’t be overlooked.

6 kid approved California theme parks to visit during spring break and summer vacations. Universal | Disneyland | Sea World | Great America | LEGOLAND | Gilroy Gardens

Gilroy Gardens is a cute option for the younger crowd. Photo: Leslie Harvey

One gentle warning: many of the rides are made specifically for toddlers and preschoolers. Don’t forget to check those height requirements before your trip to ensure your kiddos aren’t too tall.

Trips with Tykes has a full list of suggestions for planning your trip. Check it out!

Alright, parents. There are six non-boring ways to spend your next vacation at California theme parks. And hey, no one said you had to pick just one!Which one are you going to visit first?

We’d love it if you joined the TravelingMom Twitter party on Monday, March 13 at 9 pm ET. Follow the hashtags #TMOM and #Kidifornia to be entered to win some awesome prizes.

  • Hotel Abrego in Monterey one-night stay plus tickets to the Monterey Bay Aquarium
  • 2 Visit CA swag gifts

Head over to TravelingMom to RSVP or use the entry form below.

3/13 Kidifornia Twitter Party

Thanks to Visit California for sponsoring this travel Kidifornia discussion. 

6 kid approved California theme parks to visit during spring break and summer vacations. Universal | Disneyland | Sea World | Great America | LEGOLAND | Gilroy Gardens

Comments

  1. It has been, well, decades since I have gone to a non-Disney theme park. Maybe it is time to branch out

    • If you make it to Cali, you have LOADS of options. I know that trip was put on the back burner, but I also hope you make it work soon!

  2. I’ve been to Legoland Florida but would love to take my guys to Legoland California! I also need to spend more time at Disneyland!

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