If you are looking for something fun to do this weekend we have an extensive list of Southern California Amusement Parks & Attractions. Everything from the most expensive theme park to the most affordable. Whether you’re looking for family-friendly destinations or the most extreme thrill rides we have you covered.
Jump to — Zoos – Aquariums – Water Parks – Dinner Shows – Smaller Parks – Maritime Attractions
Major Theme Parks
Knott’s Berry Farm is Southern California oldest and most affordable amusement park. Knott’s offers entertainment for everyone in your family from grandparents to toddlers. Thrill rides, fun shows, a real ghost town, and Camp Snoopy make Knott’s Berry Farm a must visit for both locals and tourists.
Universal Studios is part amusement park part studio tour. Universal Studios is one of the biggest amusement parks in the state of California. Along with thrill rides, and shows Universal Studios most popular attraction is the movie studio tour. One day is not enough time to explore this huge SoCal attraction.
Weekend Activities Guide
Disneyland is really two amusement parks. The Original Disneyland Park and the newer Disney California Adventure Park. You are going to need at least two days to enjoy both parks to their fullest. Disneyland offers Park Hopper Tickets that lets visitors see both attractions and save a few dollars. Disneyland is Southern California most expensive amusement park.
Legoland is designed with younger children in mind. Rides and attractions are not as extreme as other amusement parks but just as entertaining. Legoland can easily be visited in one day even if you include some time at Sealife Aquarium of Legoland Water Park.
Magic Mountain is home to the biggest and badest roller coaster rides in California. Magic Mountain is oriented towards thrill rides, however, the kid’s area is a good size featuring numerous rides and attractions for younger children.
SeaWorld is a medium-sized park, at 21-acres, that easy to walk around. The park features rides, animal exhibits — some interactive — and shows. There are few thrills and the animal acts are fun and entertaining.
Zoos – Safari Parks
There is always something new going on at the zoo, as it attempts to reinvent itself for the newer generation of zoo-goers as well as keeping regulars coming back from more. The Los Angeles Zoo was is mostly organized by continent. Among them are the Campo Gorilla Reserve, home to seven western lowland gorillas and interpretive center for Asian Elephants.
There are nearly 4,000 animals living at the San Diego zoo along with a botanical collection of over 700,000 plants. Plan on walking several miles visiting all the exhibits at the zoo. If all this sounds too much there is a 40-minute guided tour bus that lets you see most of the park while seated.
Safari Park is 1800-plus acres of exotic animals and botanical gardens galore, carved out of the hills and canyons of the picturesque San Pasqual Valley just outside of Escondido, California. There is no other safari park or zoo in the country that is as advanced in endangered research and development as the San Diego Zoo, and the Safari Park is an extension of that commitment.
Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach is one of the most popular family attractions in Southern California. View sea creatures from Southern California, Northern Pacific, and Tropical Pacific all in one place. Kids and adults will love the aquarium’s touch tanks and be amazed by Shark Lagoon and the Penguin Habitat.
Birch Aquarium is located on a hilltop site that provides a panoramic view of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography campus located just off the Pacific Ocean. Birch Aquarium exhibits include: “Coral Reef” is a gallery of interactive displays on reefs from around the world. “The Hall of Fishes” is a collection of 60 tanks holding Pacific fish and invertebrates collected from the west coast,
The Sea Life experience is a family voyage to the depths of the oceans, presenting the wonders of the underwater world to them in a fun and educational way. The two-story aquarium has over 36,000 square feet filled with ocean displays. Carlsbad California.
Southern California Water Parks
Knott’s Soak City a 13-acre water park across Beach Blvd from Knott’s Berry Farm and designed to look like a 1950s beach town, Soak City features 17 water rides including slides, tubes, six-story funnel, huge wave pool and a one-third-mile lazy river.
Raging Waters San Dimas is Southern California’s biggest water park with 50 acres and 36 water rides ranging from mild to wild. Pack up the kids and head to San Dimas for a day of fun and sun. Popular rides at Raging Waters are Tunnel of Terror: a forty foot drop in the dark with 360-degree turns and Dragon’s Den: a two-person bowl ride.
LEGOLAND Waterpark is geared primarily for kids 2-12, but fun for the whole family, this 5 1/2 – acre water park is adjacent to Legoland California and is the perfect way to cool off after an adventurous day inside the theme park.
Six Flags Hurricane Harbor is a 25-acre water park next to Magic Mountain amusement park in Valencia, California. The water park features 23 slides and attractions from mild to wild. Hurricane Harbor is a fun family destination during Southern California’s hot summer days.
Aquatica Water Park boast the largest wave pool in Southern California, holding more than 500,000 gallons of water with waves up to five feet high. Other features include Kata’s Kookaburra Cove® for little kids and Whanau Way slide complex with rides up to 60 foot high
Full of sword fights, stunts, and pirates swing from ropes. There are plenty of funny moments with pirates cracking jokes (family-friendly) along with singing and dancing. Guest are served a three-course dinner during the show. Soft drinks are included with dinner.
This adult only show (18 years and up) features the finest entertainers, bartenders, chefs and beautiful dancers, brought in from all over the world. Dinner entrees include your choice roast chicken, braised brisket or salmon fillet.
The show features a tournament between Knights of the Realm in the flag toss, ring toss, and javelin throw, followed by some jousting with authentic medieval weapons. One knight is left to claim the title of New Champion.
Smaller Theme Parks
Belmont Park in Mission Beach San Diego is an old time beachfront amusement park that has been around since the 1920s. Located steps from surf and sand in Mission Beach, Belmont Park offers everything from rides and games to shopping and oceanfront dining-something for the entire family.
Pacific Park is located on the world famous Santa Monica Pier. The centerpiece of this amusement park is the Pacific Wheel, the world’s first solar-powered Ferris wheel. Pacific Park has no entrance fee. Visitors can buy individual rides tickets or an all-day pass.
Adventure City is Anaheims little theme park. All the rides here are for younger children. Adventure City is a great place to introduce kids to theme parks without the expense of the big parks. Open weekends year-round, daily holidays and during the summer season.
Walking tour takes you through berthing spaces, the forecastle, engineering, mess hall, officers quarters, flight deck and finally the Captain’s Bridge. Veterans and volunteers can be found throughout the ship to answer questions and share their stories.
Self-guided tours let visitors explore seven decks of this massive ship. One of the many highlights of this trip is the huge 16-inch big guns located on the main deck. The shells from these guns weighed as much as 2700 pounds and could travel over 20 miles to a target.