Head to sunny California for stunning beaches, great weather, and some of the most noteworthy amusement parks in the country. This coastal state’s pleasant weather makes it possible for the parks to operate year-round, and each attraction is in proximity to other points of interest including amazing beach adventures, aquariums, or special shows. From Disneyland to Six Flags Magic Mountain, there are an abundance of thrilling amusements parks in the state. Book a stay at one of many incredible California vacation rentals for your upcoming getaway. Check out the seven best amusement parks in California.
1. Disneyland, Anaheim
Make yours the happiest family on Earth when you take them to the original Disneyland, where fairy tales and magic take them as far as their imaginations can reach. The best rides include the Disneyland Railroad, Space Mountain, the Haunted Mansion, and It’s a Small World. Disney characters, shows, and restaurants make your day in the park a complete package where dreams come true. Since opening on July 17, 1955, Disneyland operates on a year-round basis.
2. Six Flags Magic Mountain, Santa Clarita
Six Flags Magic Mountain has more roller coasters than any amusement park in the world. Known as one of the best roller coasters in the state, Goliath drops you more than 200 feet into a hole in the ground at one point, and stops suddenly, leaving you hanging on your side at another point. Other spectacular roller coasters include the 100-mph Superman: The Escape, and Twisted Colossus, a wood and steel hybrid. Pint-sized rides for the kids include Elmer’s Weather Balloons, Taz’s Trucking Co., and Yosemite Sam’s Flight School. Find fun for your family year-round.
3. Pacific Park, Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica
Park on the Santa Monica Pier or in one of the one of the public lots up the street to reach Pacific Park. You pay no admission to get on the pier or to enter the park; you just pay for each ride. This busy, picturesque park features entertainers all along the pier, midway games, the iconic Ferris wheel, and a 1922 carousel. Quaint little shops line the pier, and Bubba Gump Restaurant sits at the base of the pier. No matter where you stop, you get a spectacular view of the Pacific Ocean. For a unique adventure, stop by the Trapeze School of New York to take flying trapeze lessons. Rides operate daily throughout the year, weather permitting.
4. Knott’s Berry Farm, Buena Park
Open all year, the 160-acre Knott’s Berry Farm amusement park offers rides and attractions for all ages. In Snoopy Town, the rides include a kiddie roller coaster, a train, boats, and Pig Pen’s Mud Buggies. Some of the rides accommodate families while others carry only the wee folk. The extreme thrill ride that teens and adults want to do before lunch, the Supreme Scream, shoots riders 252 feet straight up at a speed of 50 mph. You hang for three seconds of weightlessness before plummeting back down. More than a dozen thrill rides give you ample opportunities to test your nerve. Among the family rides, the Timber Mountain Log Ride remains the most popular. You zip along the 2,100-foot waterway before hitting the 42-foot flume.
5. Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, Santa Cruz
One foot on the Santa Cruz Boardwalk takes you a step back in time to the classic beach boardwalk attractions, rides, and food concessions. One of the few surviving oceanside parks, it features three roller coasters, including the vintage 1924 Giant Dipper. The Typhoon launches you six stories high for an upside-down, screaming good time. The Tsunami, Shockwave, Typhoon and other wild rides swirl, swing, bounce, and spin with exciting lights and music for giant thrills. Family rides include the Cave Train, a glow-in-the-dark ride that runs beneath the Boardwalk, swings, and a teacup ride. For the little ones, the 1911 Looff Carousel and 10 other gentle rides turn their memories into sweet dreams. A fun arcade, corndogs, and nostalgia make this a perfect family outing. Rides operate daily April through August, on weekends during other months, and during the week of Christmas.
6. LEGOLAND California, Carlsbad
LEGOLAND California features over 60 attractions, shows, and rides in a 128-acre park that caters to kids between 3 and 12 years old. Ride with the kids on the Dragon Coaster, which looks just like a LEGO construction. Other rides include a pirate ship, airplanes, cars, and more. There’s something for the kids to do at every turn, including tubs of LEGOs to play with all over the park. Be sure to get to the LEGOLAND Water Park next door to build a LEGO raft to float on the lazy river. At the Sea Life Aquarium, meet the sea animals, including sea stars, stingrays, and sharks. The park operates on a year-round schedule.
7. SeaWorld, San Diego
There’s more magic at SeaWorld San Diego than you can shake a wand at. Explore the exhibits of marine life, discover stunning marine life performances, and experience rides for all ages at this sprawling 189-acre theme park in sparkling Mission Bay. Adrenaline junkies love the heart-pumping plunge on Manta, the roller coaster shaped like a giant manta ray. It features a drop from its height of 30 feet that descends 54 feet underground. Kids enjoy the submarine dive at Turtle Reef. Cool everyone off on Shipwreck Rapids, a ride that takes you along a winding river, through the rapids, and over a waterfall. For a change of pace, take the kids on a round-trip ride above the park on the Bayside Skyride.
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