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Southern California Family Vacations


The Golden State is as big as some entire countries, stretching 840 miles down the Pacific Coast. Most families head to Southern California, where Los Angeles, Anaheim, and San Diego are popular spots. (The San Francisco "Bay Area", just so you know, is some 400 miles north.) Below are some top things to do on family getaways.

1. Los Angeles with Kids

saechang/Flickr/CC BY-ND 2.0

From Beverly Hills to Disneyland and from Hollywood to Santa Monica, the sprawling metropolis that is Los Angeles offers myriad ways for families to have fun.

2. Santa Barbara with Kids

Flickr Creative Commons/katie ruthh

From 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. 

3. Laguna Beach with Kids

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 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.

4. LEGOLAND California Theme Park

things to do in Southern California - Legoland
Photo courtesy of LEGOLAND California.
South of LA and and north of San Diego, this theme park has 128 acres, and much of what's in it is made of LEGO blocks. Designed for ages two to twelve, LEGOLAND has a coaster, "dark ride", and other rides; mini-lands such as Ancient Egypt, made out of Lego); and many more attractions.

5. Disneyland California for Families

top things to do in Southern California - Disneyland
Photo courtesy of Disneyland Resort.

This popular destination in Anaheim has two theme parks: Disneyland Park (the original "Magic Kingdom"), and Disney's California Adventure, which opened in 2001 and is getting a giant renovation. Anaheim is in Orange County, which is south of Los Angeles County; see an overview of the many different Neighborhoods of Los Angeles


6. Free Things To Do in LA

About.com's Guide for Los Angeles Travel has a bunch of ideas: visit the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and the movie stars' footprints at Grauman's Chinese Theatre; attend a tv show taping; visit the La Brea Tar Pits, where fossils are excavated; visit the California Science Center; and more.

7. Catalina Island - Los Angeles Area

About's guide for California covers this popular getaway that's 22 miles from Los Angeles.

8. Southern California Family Vacations: San Diego

top things to do in California - San Diego
Photo courtesy of San Diego Convention & Visitors Bureau / Joanna DiBona.
About.com's Guide for California Travel has a San Diego getaway planner that includes highlights for families such as the San Diego Zoo and Wild Animal Park. Of course seeing animals in their natural habitat is even better, and San Diego offers a great opportunity for whalewatching, from December to March. Families will also like The New Children's Museum; trolley tours; and Balboa Park, with 13 attractions.

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