Thinking about visiting cities in southern California? You’re in luck. There are many family-friendly cities in southern California that boast breathtaking views, food, and attractions for all!
Few places offer as much to see and do as California. But for families visiting the Golden State for the first time, deciding which places to visit, sights to see, and activities to experience can be daunting, to say the least.
In fact, you can spend your next ten family vacations in California and still have plenty left for next time. The state is that big, and the list of options is that large. So what are families to do, with so many options?
The best approach to visiting California is breaking the gigantic Golden State into smaller, more manageable chunks. As fate would have it, California is already divided into two general sections.
These would be northern California, which includes cities like San Francisco, San Jose, and Sacramento, and southern California, which – you guessed it – covers the southernmost part of the state. There are so many different cities in southern California!
For the sake of simplicity, we’ve decided to focus exclusively on Southern California. Furthermore, we opted to focus on six cities, all of which offer families plenty of fun and excitement.
So, let’s get on with it then! The following article includes a list of our top 6 family-friendly cities in southern California you should definitely visit this summer.
Family-Friendly Cities in Southern California
The first on our list of cities in southern California is San Diego. Nicknamed “America’s Finest City,” San Diego does a great job living up to its reputation.
For starters, you’ll discover some of the world’s prettiest beaches and the best Mexican restaurants north of the border. But that’s not all! There’s whale watching year-round, a world-class zoo, and The New Children’s Museum, all waiting for you and your kids.
In fact, the San Diego Zoo holds over 12,000 animals to view and learn about! The cost ranges from $52 for children ages 3-10 and $62 for an adults day pass. If you’re looking for a family-friendly activity for the kids, this is it!
If mom and dad get the chance to enjoy some time alone, San Diego concerts and comedy clubs are the way to go. And if there’s enough time after the show ends, consider ending the evening with a stroll through the Gaslamp District, where the city’s best restaurants and nightclubs are located.
Next up is Carlsbad. Located 35 miles north of San Diego, Carlsbad is another southern California city known for its beautiful coastline. It’s number 2 on our list of cities in southern California because of its coastlines and attractions!
Additionally, younger family members will probably be most excited to see Legoland California, which is located in Carlsbad. It is a theme park, resort, and aquarium all in one. It is a children’s paradise, that’s for sure! Who doesn’t love legos?
Is there a golfer in the family? If so, perhaps they’d enjoy a tour of one of several golf manufacturing facilities headquartered in Carlsbad. Afterwards it can be followed by 18 holes at one of the wonderful golf courses nearby.
Speaking of golf courses in Carlsbad, w e’d recommend the course called The Crossings at Carlsbad. It has a waterfront view and is simply gorgeous!
Next up on our list of cities in southern California is none other than Palm Springs!
While most of southern California’s treasures are found along the coast, some, like Palm Springs, are situated in the desert. While the days of being a resort town for the rich and famous are all but over, Palm Springs remains a fun little city for visitors to experience.
Assuming nobody in your family has a fear of heights, we encourage you to ride the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, which takes visitors on a two-and-a-half-mile journey over Chino Canyon and up to the peak of Mount San Jacinto, at an elevation of 8516 feet.
Palm Springs is also renowned for its mid-century modern architecture, including homes, hotels, and office buildings throughout the city. It’s a gorgeous architectural playground!
Once a sleepy suburb nestled in the outskirts of Los Angeles, Anaheim became one of the most visited cities in southern California thanks to a man named Walt Disney. You might have heard of him!
Walt Disney chose Anaheim as the place to build Disneyland, which first opened in 1955 and eventually expanded to include California Adventure, a sister park located directly across from the original park. But these aren’t the only theme parks in town.
There’s also Knott’s Berry Farm, which predates Disneyland for several decades and includes several roller coasters and other thrill rides. Throw in the possibility of catching an Angels or Ducks game while you’re in town, and there’s no shortage of things to see and do in Anaheim.
The Fairytale Traveler visited Disneyland in Anaheim, California, in 2022. Check out how magical it was here!
If southern California had its own capital city, then it would most certainly be Los Angeles, the City of Angels.
Where do we begin? From Hollywood to Santa Monica Pier to the Griffith Observatory, Los Angeles is home to some of the world’s most famous attractions.
Take the kids to the Santa Monica Pier and enjoy the many food concession stands, small amusement park rides, and even the fishing opportunities! The view from the pier is breathtaking, as are the shops!
You could probably spend an entire day simply driving around looking for the filming locations of your favorite movies, even with the Los Angeles traffic.
Are there surfers in the family? If so, head to Redondo and Venice Beach to try for some killer waves! This is definitely one of the reasons why Los Angeles is on our list of cities in southern California you should definitely try.
The last stop on our list of cities in southern California is Santa Clarita, a city 30 miles north of Los Angeles and considered by many to be the northernmost part of southern California.
In addition to several beautiful state parks, Santa Clarita is also home to Six Flags Magic Mountain. The popular amusement park holds the record for most roller coasters, with 19 and counting.
For nature loving families, check out the prehistoric rock formations at the Vasquez Rocks Natural Area Park! It’s a very unique aspect of Santa Clarita.
Every family should visit California at least once. However, with so much to see and do, a once-in-a-lifetime adventure can seem overwhelming. The best approach is to focus on one part of the state at a time.
Even when broken down into geographically distinct sections, there’s still plenty to experience and not enough time to get it all done. When it comes to cities in southern California, it can be difficult to choose which places are worth visiting.
But after reading this list of the top 6 cities in southern California to visit, we hope you and your family will be able to make a decision! From Carlsbad to Los Angeles, there are so many different attractions to choose from.
With this in mind, the next step might be planning the sequel trip – coming next summer!