We won’t even bother with the obvious ones: California is absolutely full of theme parks. And let’s not waste time reviewing Disneyland and Six Flags. You don’t need a review to tell you whether your kids will love theme parks.
Rather, we’ll try to focus on the other California vacation spots kids love. It seems that, after the theme parks, California is full of vineyards which, let’s face it, bore the heck out of anyone under 21 (depending on how rebellious the teens are, that is). However, California has its share of family friendly spots where you won’t find anyone dressed as a cartoon character.
A Brief Disclaimer:
Keep in mind that none of these places are guaranteed to delight each and every kid in the world, as each kid has different tastes and interests, but we’ll try to provide enough variety that you can find something that seems custom tailored to what really gets your kids excited.
La Brea Tar Pits
What makes the La Brea Tar Pits and the attached museum so appealing to kids is the sheer dramatic entertainment value provided. More than just a bunch of dusty relics with plaques explaining where they came from, the museum is full of millennia old skeletons, animatronic displays, stuffed saber tooth tigers and audio video presentations on ancient life. You can even watch an archaeology team in progress on some days. It’s the closest you’ll get to a dinosaur theme park without any roller coasters.
Los Angeles County Art Museum
This one depends on the kids. Some kids would go nuts over an art museum while others would just go nuts with boredom. If your kids are the artsy types, the LA County Art Museum can really have a positive impact. The art is collected from all over the world and in the traditional styles, with very little in the way of abstract or modern art. Here you’ll find three stories of classic European and Asian sculptures and paintings, as well as some more recent works from Norman Rockwell and other American artists. For a young artist, it’s a religious experience, but for anyone else, it’s kind of a snooze.
Redwood National and State Parks
Along the coast of northern California (rent a car and drive the coast if you can) you’ll find the Redwood National and State Parks area, one of the natural California vacation spots kids love, covering more than a hundred thousand acres. This whole area of California is sort of a Mecca for American nature lovers. It’s home to the Sequoia, perhaps more commonly known as the California Redwood, the largest trees in the world. The scenery is breathtaking, and the area is home to several endangered species including northern spotted owls, Steller’s sea lions, and the bald eagle. This is one of the best places you could hope to take an outdoorsy type of kid.
Everyone loves movies, but if you plan a trip to Hollywood, a brief warning may be in order: If you’re bringing kids, visit the Grauman’s Chinese Theater, the Walk of Fame, and the Wax Museum, take a picture of the famous sign and call it a day. These parts of town are very cool, the rest – not so much. Many of the famous landmarks have been destroyed. Of course, if you know which spots to hit, this can be one of the California vacations kids love.