It’s the land of long coastal roads and iconic road trips, towering sierra and mighty forests, ancient history and absolute newness.
You may not fit it all into one holiday but you’ll find California is highly skilled at making sure you get the most out of every minute of your stay.
California is home to Yosemite, Joshua Tree and Death Valley National Parks.
The Mojave National Reserve is in the southeast of the state.
California’s major cities include San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego.
Southern California shares a border with Mexico.
The beautiful West Coast is on the Pacific Ocean.
California is the most visited U.S. state with an average of 223 million visitors each year.
The City of Angels is end to end legends and there’s nowhere else quite like it, especially for older kids. Behaving like a tourist is inevitable, so just go with it and take guided tours wherever possible. Don’t miss Santa Monica Pier at night, a walk along Rodeo Drive, do at least one Hollywood experience, fit in a visit to the Fashion District for teens and spend more than a day on the city’s wonderful beaches.
Yosemite National Park is just over a three hour drive east of San Francisco. Not a day trip by any means, but a fantastic family adventure you can have over a long weekend.
San Diego is sunny all year round, has acres of beaches and is California’s most family-friendly city. It may not have the same number of star attractions as LA or San Francisco, but the historic quarters, fun theme parks and world famous zoo are more than enough to keep kids of all ages entertained.
San Francisco is another California city that’s worth a visit with kids. Younger ones love the fun activities, many parks and surprising thrills. Don’t miss the sea lions on Fishermen’s Wharf and Telegraph Hill’s flocks of colorful wild parrots. Teenagers will love the quaint historic quarters, exceptional shopping and once-in-a-lifetime experiences like crossing the Golden Gate Bridge and sailing to Alcatraz. Walk around and take the trolley cars as much as you can in San Francisco, it’s the best way to see the city and soak up its unique atmosphere.
With a stunning blue lake set in the mountains and straddling the Nevada-California border, Lake Tahoe is a great spot for families in all seasons.
With over 3,000 animals and 650 species, this award winning zoo is one of the best in the world.
Home of the mightiest and most terrifying rollercoasters, this park is a California legend.
The original and best theme park every other one in the world wants to be.
The biggest waterpark in a state packed with huge waterparks.
A seaside tradition since 1907 and still as lively, colorful and exciting as ever.
Cruise to explore one of the world’s most famous prisons. It’s fascinating for older kids and you’ll have great views of the city from the bay.
Discover LA through a range of city walking tours designed to dig deeper than the starry surface.
Go be amazed by the sea lion colony and stay for the incredible family entertainment.
Behind the scenes and up close to the glitter, glamor and gritty working side of making a movie.
The oldest and biggest Chinatown in the U.S. and the largest Asian community outside Asia.
If you’re sticking to cities, don’t drive. Public transport is always excellent, clearly explained and extensively laid out. On the coast and in the countryside, renting a car is the best way to get around with children. There are good rail and coach services across the state, but they involve long journeys and few stops.