California: the Happiest Place on Earth!
There are so many great things to do in California.
Here are a few of our favorite adventures.
You must have known that the first thing we'd suggest is obviously known as "The Happiest Place on Earth". I grew up with a family who had year passes to Disneyland almost constantly (mind you, that was when they cost like $300 for the year...not the current $1,000+). I also worked at Disneyland during high school as a face painter. Needless to say, I love Disney. They do such a great job at making the park experience magical.
Knott's Berry Farm
This amusement park doesn't provide much entertainment for young kids, but for teens and adults it is a blast! Andrew and I were lucky to do a "double date" with my parents to Knotts the first time Andrew came to CA to meet my family. It was so fun and we had such great conversation as we waited in line for rides.
When I was younger, I was determined to become a dolphin trainer at Sea World. Well, that didn't exactly pan out, but my love for marine life still lives strong, so I love visiting Sea World! So fun and so many amazing shows.
San Diego or Las Angeles Zoo
We went to the San Diego Zoo for our first anniversary. Then my parents gifted our family with a season pass to the LA zoo. We both love the zoo. It is amazing how many different species of animals there are. Both of these zoos are top notch...just depends where you are staying and how long you want to drive to get to your destination.
We are Southern California natives, so our go-to beaches are usually Newport or Huntington. Obviously the beach is a great place to go relax, soak up some sun, and play in the ocean waves; however, there is so much more to do than that.
Bike Ride on the Boardwalk
This is one of our favorite things to do as a family. Bring your bike or rent one right on the boardwalk and cruise all the way past Balboa and down to the Wedge. Then stroll on back.
On our boardwalk bike rides, we sometimes stop by Balboa Pier. It has a fun environment with arcades and a ferris wheel. Then take the ferry across the bay to Balboa Island. There you can casually cruise the quiet streets and stop by a quaint restaurant or local shop.
One of our favorite family vacations is to rent a house right on the beach. In the evenings, after the sand has cooled off some from the sweltering heat of the day, we like to play some beach volleyball. We are not good AT ALL, but it doesn't even matter.
As a teenager, I loved having beach bonfires with my friends. There are designated fire pits at Huntington Beach, but in the busy summer seasons you will want to make sure to claim it early in the day.
Paddle Board in the Cove
My family tried this once and it was so fun! Most companies that rent paddle boards will give you a short lesson on how to get up and steer and all that. Then go out on the water and enjoy.
Santa Monica Pier
Ok, so this pier is farther north, so we don't go to Santa Monica often. But trust me, if you want to go people watching, this is the spot for you :) And then don't forget to go to Venice Beach just a few miles away (about a 45 minute walk) to see some more interesting characters.
Check it out.
Let's be honest, watching sports live is sooo much better than trying to watch a game on TV. So while you are in SoCal, go see some live sports:
El Capitan Theater
Going to the movies is always a solid choice of activities, but going to the El Capitan theater and watching a Disney movie takes the whole experience up a bit.
While we mostly explore Southern California (because that is where my parents live), we were recently able to visit San Francisco. Here are a few of our favorites from our trip.
Alcatraz is notorious for housing some of the most famous criminals. The audio tour takes you around the facility and tells you tales of some of the people who were unfortunate enough to be housed at Alcatraz when it was open form 1934 to 1963.
* Note: Once you know that you are going to visit San Francisco, you have to immediately go onto the Alcatraz website to buy your tickets. These spots fill up FAST, so be sure to reserve your spot months in advance.
If you want to see the "big" touristy spots in a short amount of time, consider buying a "Big Bus Tours Guide" (really, all the companies take the same route). These hop-on, hop-off buses are perfect for people who dont have a lot of time to explore on their own. A few of the highlights include:
Quick List (more details coming soon):
- Amusement Parks
- Six Flags
- long beach aquarium of the pacific
- Big Bear, Mammoth
- The Getty Villas