California is the ultimate playground for kids and families, so we've nicknamed it Kidifornia!
Family holidays are when some of the most treasured memories are made, and Kidifornia is an amazing place to create yours. The Golden State has something guaranteed to amaze everyone, aged one to 100.
An adventurous Yosemite hiking expedition in the wild High Sierra, zipping down the snowy peaks of Lake Tahoe, discovering the magic of Disneyland Resort, or the glitz and glamour of Beverly Hills. There are endless opportunities for kids and adults alike to dream big in California.
Have a look around and get planning that dream family trip!
Want to take the family on the trip of a lifetime through stunning mountains and quirky deserts, stopping at world-famous beaches along the way? With one of the most diverse landscapes in the world packed into just one state, Kidifornia is the place to experience it all.
California is famous for its beaches, but did you know that the tallest mountain in mainland USA, Mount Whitney, is in the Golden State? It’s nearly twice as tall as any mountain in Australia! And Death Valley in Eastern California is one of the hottest places on Earth, with temperatures frequently soaring to over 50OC! It’s also starred as a striking background set in famous films such as Spartacus and Tarzan.
No matter where you go in Kidifornia, its natural wonders are sure to amaze. You don’t have to venture far from the big city to see record-breaking natural spectacles. A few hours’ drive north of San Francisco is the 53,000-acre Humboldt Redwoods State Park, home to the Avenue of the Giants and the world’s 2nd, 4th, 6th, and 8th tallest trees! Can you find them?
While you’re out and about exploring, don’t forget to keep your eyes peeled to spot some awesome animals in their natural habitat – like squirrels, beavers and elk in the forests and prairies in Northern California. But if you don’t get to see you favourite animals in the wild, there are plenty of zoos dotted all through the state. San Diego Zoo has over 4,000 different species for visitors to see and hear – and some you can even stroke.
Along the coast you’ll get the chance to see sea lions, dolphins and whales, both in the wild and at one of the world-famous aquariums or marine sanctuaries, like the brilliant Monterey Aquarium. This famous facility is home to more than 35,000 animals and plants – a large number of them native to the state, such as the cutest California sea otters. The aquarium’s Underwater Explorer program gives kids aged eight to 13 the chance to be introduced to the underwater world through safely guided surface scuba diving.
Whether it’s exploring a millionaire’s castle, discovering the depths of the ocean, or meeting your favourite movie characters, you’ll have the time of your life at Kidifornia’s iconic family attractions. The state is jam-packed with theme parks that will excite and thrill every sense, and you won’t need to venture far from one to discover the excitement of another.
At any time of the year, experience the wind whistling through your hair with the cool runnings of bobsledding down the Alpine Slide at Magic Mountain (just 35 miles northwest of Downtown Los Angeles), before slipping down the Egyptian-themed Splash Kingdom Waterpark in neighbouring Redding.
Located in Kidifornia’s Central Coast, exquisite Hearst Castle was built in the 1920s to house the newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst. Now, its grounds – filled with luxurious pools, huge guest houses, exotic animals and classic artwork – are open to the public. It’s quite the spectacle, and provides an impressive setting for more than a few Instagram-worthy photos!
Then descend to the mysterious depths of the ocean at nearby Monterey Aquarium. You’ll get to see over 550 species, including otters, fish and sharks! You might even think you’re seeing Nemo, because this attraction was the real-life inspiration for the locations in Disney’s Finding Dory film.
Speaking of Disney, no exploration of California’s theme parks would be complete without a visit to the legendary Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, Orange County. Since opening in 1955, the park has sold over 84 million pairs of Mickey Mouse ears, as well as hosting millions of young and young-at-heart fans on its shows, tours and rides!
Riding old steam trains through beautiful fields. Trekking on horseback high above the glitz and glamour of Hollywood. Discovering abandoned towns and maybe striking it rich in the goldfields. In Kidifornia, the choices are endless when it comes to outdoor adventuring!
During the gold rush over 150 years ago, whole towns sprang up in the wilderness to cater to the thousands of people flocking to make their fortune in the mines. Chasing the gold is still a possibility in places like Jamestown in Gold Country, where you’ll learn about the huge rush that changed the course of the State’s history forever. Or if you’d prefer a faster-paced look at the region, jump on the zipline that flies through the caverns at Vallecito!
If that sounds a little too hot to handle, cool off along the coast without losing the adrenaline rush. At Pismo Beach, buggies still fly up and down the dunes at the only drivable stretch of beach in the state. Or check out the world-famous surf at Santa Cruz, and maybe jump on the Giant Dipper Rollercoaster at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, one of the oldest amusement parks in the world.
In Los Angeles County, outdoor adventure meets the pizzazz of the red carpet. For panoramic views of the City of Angels, trek through Griffith Park on horseback with Sunset Ranch, and get up close and personal with the iconic Hollywood Sign.
If you’re a film buff, TV fan or music lover, chances are you’ll already know about the huge number of A-list celebrities who love to call California home. The sunshine and the surf, the laid-back attitude, and of course the allure of Hollywood, bring the rich and famous from all over the world to set up home here.
In the middle of Los Angeles, Hollywood is the global hub of the film and television world, with studios, theatres and backlots on almost every corner. Hollywood Boulevard and Sunset Boulevard are top places to do some celebrity spotting and experience a little red-carpet action.
Kids and adults alike love the backstage tours at working studios Warner Bros. Studio Tour and Universal Studios Hollywood for a chance to see sets from current movies and TV shows, and then explore the rides, lives shows, and attractions featuring favourite characters. And don’t miss the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, with its motion-simulator ride through Hogwarts Castle!
If you don’t get to spot a star in person, head to Madame Tussauds Hollywood, or find your favourite film, music and sport legends literally under your feet on The Hollywood Walk of Fame. More than 2,400 named star shapes are embedded in this famous pavement along 15 blocks of Hollywood Boulevard and three blocks of Vine Street. There are also tours running through Beverley and Hollywood Hills where you can check out how the other half live from the comfort of a bus.
And don’t forget, Los Angeles isn’t the only place to go star-spotting. Throughout the state, celebrities have left their mark, from Frank Sinatra’s Palm Springs house complete with a grand piano-shaped swimming pool, to showcasing upcoming project at Comic-Con International in San Diego. Even in the snowy peaks around Lake Tahoe you’ll find the rich and famous taking time off for the Celebrity Golf Tournament. If you keep a keen eye, you’re sure to recognise a familiar face!
As a farming and cooking hub, Kidifornia is a wonderful place for kids to try new things, pick their own produce, and enjoy some great tastes – while parents sample some great wines!
With San Diego running along the Mexican border, it’s no surprise the city is home to some of California’s best Mexican restaurants. You can gorge yourselves silly on burritos, nachos and quesadillas, but it’s the fish tacos at Oscar’s in Pacific Beach that pack a real taste of the town.
You’ll find family-friendly farm and food festivals all over Kidifornia. In May, head west of Los Angeles to the seaside town of Oxnard for the California Strawberry Festival, which showcases all sorts of strawberry-flavoured treats imaginable, from strawberry popcorn to strawberry pizza!
Like strong flavours as part of your food experiences? Check out Gilroy Gardens Family Theme Park, where a range of rides and attractions have a garlicy twist, such as the Artichoke Dip and the Garlic Twirl. Garlic fans will adore the Gilroy Garlic Festival in July, where chefs cook up garlic specialties and dozens of vendors sell garlicky goods. Should all of those smells build up a bigger appetite, head along to the Stinking Rose, an aptly named ‘garlic restaurant’ in San Francisco that serves up garlic in all kinds of dishes, including ice cream!
In the Central Valley, treat the kids at the Jelly Belly factory in Fairfield, the home of the original multi-coloured jelly bean! The brilliantly coloured beans are not only produced here in their millions to be shipped all over the world, but are also built into huge portraits of famous icons. Look out for Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe, and even the former US President and notable Californian, Ronald Reagan, who was quite a fan of the candy. He reportedly kept a jar full of them on his desk in the Oval Office!
Grab a hot dog and a drink, get settled in your seat, and prepare to cheer on some of the world’s greatest athletes doing what they do best. If you’re a fan of high-octane, thrilling sporting events, you’re in the right place. Kidifornia is home to some of the biggest.
During the cooler months, from September until April, the regular seasons of three of the four major leagues – NFL, NBA and NHL – hit venues in cities all around the state. But further from the major cities there are just as many opportunities to get up close to world-class sporting action. Squaw Valley and Mammoth Lakes are both home to important Olympic facilities, with skiers and snowboarders battling it out for supremacy and a spot on Team USA in the winter games! Grab your skis or board and try your hand at carving up the snow yourself, with more than 1,000 hectares of ski fields to conquer.
In summer, the professional action is centred at the ballpark for the “American pastime”, baseball, but the sunny days and warm weather provide ample opportunities to get out and involved in some sports all through the state. San Diego is home to arguably the world’s best skateboarder, Tony Hawk, and there are top skateboarding spots all over Kidifornia perfect for practicing some of his famous tricks.
If keeping two feet firmly attached to the ground seems more sensible, why not get involved with the Rock n Roll Marathon? Local bands and music industry giants play along the course to encourage runners.
With multiple Californian teams in all the major US professional leagues, and hundreds of unique sporting options available all through the state, there’s guaranteed to be a game to see or join, no matter where you are. The only problem you’ll have is finding the time to get to them all!