Spend up to a week visiting the motherland of theme parks in Orange County and San Diego.
Length of trip: 1-6 days
Total distance: 131mi/210.8km
Anaheim. Join Mickey and Friends at Disneyland ®, still dazzling after 65 years. New touches include Johnny Depp poking his dreadlocks out of hiding spots on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, and the antics of everyone’s favorite clown fish in the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage. Arrive early and utilize Fast Pass tickets to dodge crowds.
Anaheim. Take a gasp-inspiring flying tour of the Golden State on the Soarin’ Over California ride, one of the top attractions in Disney’s California Adventure® . Get a glimpse of future park attractions, including World of Color water and laser show (scheduled to open Summer 2011) and the massive Cars Land complex based on Pixar’s animated feature, Cars, in the Blue Sky Cellar.
Anaheim. Catch live entertainment at Downtown Disney , a pedestrian-only complex of stores, restaurants, and theaters. Devour dangerously good powdered-sugar coated beignets at Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen. Glam up and strike a pose like a Disney Channel superstar at Studio Disney 365.
Buena Park (7.8mi/12.6km; 11 min). Whether you’re a thrill-seeker, a boisterous family, have little ones in tow, or want some old-time nostalgia, you’ll find plenty to do at Knott’s Berry Farm . The entertaining Ghost Town attraction has fun shops selling everything from geodes and leather cowboy hats, and you can take a line-dancing class weekends in Calico Square.
Buena Park. Grab your bathing suit and splash it up at Knott’s Soak City , where you can ride a river, surf a wave, shoot down a flume, or just hang out and soak up some SoCal sun.
Carlsbad (71.3mi/115km; 1 hr 14 min). With rides for all ages, cool stuff to build, spirited shows, and miniature cities built out of Legos, LEGOLAND California ranks as a one-stop fun zone. Don your plastic glasses and enjoy the new Clutch Powers 4-D Show.
Carlsbad. Get ready to get wet at LEGOLAND Water Park , opening in summer 2010. Customize your own raft and bounce down a lazy river, race down slides, and get squirted by giant LEGO characters at this sun-drenched attraction.
Carlsbad. Introduce your kids to the fascinating world of life in the world’s oceans at LEGOLAND Sea Life Aquarium . Learn about and see sharks, octopi, and seahorses, among dozens of other sea creatures. Explore touch pools, and watch rays “fly” underwater.
Escondido (21.1mi/33.9km; 36 min). San Diego Zoo Safari Park overlooking the San Pasqual Valley has huge naturalized enclosures where rhinos, gazelles, giraffes, African crowned cranes, and a host of other spectacular animals coexist. Join special photo safaris, spend the night in a cabin tent, or soar overhead on the park’s thrilling Flightline cable ride.
San Diego (30.8mi/49.6km; 39 min). Like babies? Seems there’s always a bunch of little ones at the always fascinating San Diego Zoo —baby elephants with flapping ears and wiggly trunks, a speckled tapir calf, and of course Yun Zi, an impossibly cute baby panda. See these cuties and some 800 other species at this 100-acre park.