California has the advantage of having lots of fun things to do — but if you want to go on an adventure, many iconic theme parks are actually located right in the southernmost part of the state.
If you haven’t hit one yet, here’s a brief rundown of different places you can take your family this winter, summer or any time you want to get some fun.
If you’re planning a trip down south and Disneyland isn’t your cup of tea, 30 miles past downtown San Diego and one hour south of Anaheim, Legoland California is a great option. It is a 128-acre family theme park located in Carlsbad, modeled after the famous toys by the Lego Company, with all sorts of interesting things for youngsters to observe.
This was the first theme park to feature iconic Legos, said Legoland California spokeswoman Julie Estrada said.
There are more than 30,000 models in the park created from more than 62 million Lego bricks. There’s the Brontosaurus named Bronte, a tiny rabbit in a magician’s hat in Miniland Las Vegas. And if you’re tired of just looking at Legos, you can lounge in the Legoland Castle Hotel built just last year, go on more than 60 interactive rides.
You can venture into Explorer Island, where historic-looking ferns and bamboo (and Bronte) are scattered throughout an ancient dinosauric jungle. Or Fun Town, a kid-sized town square with a clubhouse, police and fire academy and more Lego-built structures. Don’t forget Pirate Shores, a place with water galore, and Castle Hill, an area that takes kids back to medieval times, all with Lego-themed playgrounds and robo-coasters.
San Diego’s Mission Bay is home to animals, exciting rides and family-friendly entertainment, from Manta roller coasters to spectating on Dolphin Day shows.
The Electric Eel has twists and turns, while soaking raft rides and gondola boat strolls add to more aquatic fun.
And coming this May: the “Tidal Twister,” a dueling roller coaster (similar to West Roast Racers at Six Flags Magic Mountain) will feature high-speed turns and upside down twists. And last but not least, the Sea Dragon Drop, which is not something that can be found other water parks around the country.
SeaWorld San Diego spokesman David Koontz said there is a new coaster coming this year, currently unnamed but will be a “horizontal coaster experience” that inverts its riders right by the northwest corner of the park. Electric Eel currently is the park’s highlight, but the latest coaster will be 22 feet high.
Knott’s Berry Farm
A more unconventional theme park can be found in the Knott’s Berry Farm theme park, which is actually on the site of a former berry farm that dates back to the 1920s. The unique draws of this place is it replicates nostalgic “campground” attractions, with “Camp Snoopy” being some of its more popular rides. “Snoopy” is the mascot of Knott’s Berry Farm, taking a page from the iconic “Peanuts” comic strip, and the family might find Charlie Brown, Lucy and all the other characters there.
Rides like the Grand Sierra Railroad train and the Timberline Twister, along with the steel spinning coaster called Sierra Sidewinder are all similar to the traditional roller coaster experience.
Wild Water Wilderness has the park’s only water ride called “the Bigfoot Rapids river rafting adventure,” while equine enthusiasts can also look at the Pony Express, a horse-themed family roller coaster installed in 2008. For those looking for thrills, the Timber Mountain Log Ride (not to be confused with the Timberline Twister) is a log ride with two drops, including one from 42 feet.
Harry Potter World at Universal Hollywood
Careful of the crowds at Universal Studios Hollywood’s Harry Potter World — if you’re looking to visit the popular new park inspired by J.K. Rowling’s hit series, you might have to wait for a bit for attractions like the Forbidden Journey ride’s castle, or the Defense Against The Dark Arts interactive classroom.
You can also check out Ollivander’s Wand Shop for a lucky wizarding child to get the wand they’ve always admired from the movies, or taste-test the real Butterbeer, Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans, Chocolate Frogs or grub at Three Broomsticks.
This is the best place for any kid who loved the franchise and the movies it .inspired, from the seven original books to the latest “Fantastic Beasts” prequels.
There is also a new coaster, rumored to open late fall of 2019, that is Universal’s latest project and may possibly be “Hagrid’s Hut” or a ride exploring Hogwarts, as these are all niches from the movie that online blogs have speculated about.
There’s actually two theme park options if you head to Disneyland — the well-known House of Mickey and California Adventure Park. You can check out rides at one — Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters, Indiana Jones Adventure, Space Mountain and others, which are all modeled after the company most famous titles.
And the Disney California Adventure Park also has Goofy’s Sky School, Grizzly River Run, Toy Story Midway Mania! and other rides for a slightly different experience.
And in summer 2019, Disneyland, already a mammoth among families entertainment, will add Galaxy’s Edge, an immersive 14-acre area themed to the Star Wars franchise.
Any young parkgoers can then pilot the Millennium Falcon, fight the First Order and the Resistance and hang out with aliens and robots inspired by the original series.
Not to mention the themed restaurants and the ability to meet Mickey, Ariel, Alice, Aladdin and many other park characters make this the top way for kids to have fun any season of the year.
The catchy tagline, “Thrill Capital of the World,” applied to our own Six Flag Magic Mountain theme park, with Valencia roots that date back to before we had a city of Santa Clarita. It’s reputation is renowned, as 10Best.com, a travel website published by USA TODAY, voted the theme park the country’s No. 1 best for the second time in four years.
“It was a tremendous honor from our fans who continue to support our efforts of providing innovative and thrilling ride experiences each and every year,” Magic Mountain President Neal Thurman said.
“For roller coaster lovers, it doesn’t get much better than Six Flags Magic Mountain. The park boasts the world’s largest lineup of coasters – 19 of them – including some rather inventive offerings and record-breakers,” according to the national outlet’s review. “Stars of the heart-pumping ride list include The New Revolution Galactic Attack, the first giant looping mixed reality roller coaster in the world, and Twisted Colossus, the world’s longest hybrid coaster.”
The park has also debuted record-breaking 17-story-high CraZanity. At 170 feet in the air, CraZanity reaches speeds of up to 75-miles-per-hour.
But this year, new plans abound.
In 2019, the theme park will break a world record of having the most roller coasters with a new racing coaster, also the first of its kind, featuring two side-by-side tracks with four individual high-speed launches.
It is planned to be produced in partnership with West Coast Customs, a car customization shop headquartered in Burbank. Apocalypse, a wooden coaster, and the Go Karts, are also highlights to check out.