Disneyland is a must for any SoCal family vacation, but the area is also home to equally fun but lesser-known spots often frequented by locals.
Manhattan Beach, Los Angeles
Not only does this South Bay beach have one of the best surf breaks in SoCal, it has plenty of attractions for landlubber families, too. Drop in to the Roundhouse Aquarium (admission is free) at Manhattan Beach Pier to learn about local marine life.
The Battleship Iowa Museum, Los Angeles
Tour through Battleship Iowa, a 1940 living memorial that’s been transformed into an interactive naval museum in San Pedro, located south of Los Angeles near Ports O’ Call Village. The museum portrays life at sea for thousands of sailors over the past 70 years and has been voted one of the city’s best family exhibits.
Balboa Park, San Diego
The United States’ largest urban cultural park, minutes from downtown, boasts beautiful gardens, performing arts venues, stunning colonial revival architecture and 17 major museums including the San Diego Natural History Museum, Fleet Science Center and even a new Comic-Con museum, set to open in early 2018. Families can easily spend a day in the park taking it all in with a specific Explorer Pass for access to all the attractions including the world-famous San Diego Zoo.
Hockey and ice-skating in Anaheim
Cheer for (or against) the Anaheim Ducks during an NHL game in Disneyland’s backyard—it’s easy to score tickets and watch the pros at the Honda Center. Or, hit the ice as a family at Anaheim Ice rink, close to the city’s revitalized downtown and tons of family-friendly restaurants.
Discovering San Diego’s Low-Key Spots for Family Fun
Writer Lisa Kadane and her family explore San Diego like locals by visiting its lesser-known attractions. Here, she writes about her experience with her kids riding the carousel at Belmont Park, swimming at La Jolla Children's Pool and wandering through Birch Aquarium.