No, Southern California isn’t really its own state, but California is SO big, and has totally different family options in the North and South, we are dividing it into two.
A lot of the family friendly fun in Southern California is related to the amusement parks.
We’ve already highlighted a little about Disneyland here, so let’s talk about transportation to and from Disney.
My husband HATES driving in the car with the kids. It really stresses him out. So this last year we flew. You can usually find fairly cheap airline tickets to LAX and some of the smaller airports in the area. While my kids were thrilled with the airplane ride, that’s only the beginning of the fun. We researched several options for transportation from the airport to our hotel, and then from our hotel to the actual park.
The cheapest option was an airport shuttle to the hotel and the hotel shuttle to and from the park. I did a little more research to find the cheapest airport shuttles and found Mickey’s Space Ship Shuttle. This is a large van shuttle, not a bus. We had six people in our group so we reserved a van to ourselves. I called the number I found online and spoke with Mickey himself. No, not Mickey Mouse, Mickey, the owner of the shuttle. He was very accommodating and determined to provide the lowest fare. We agreed on a price (which was the lowest I had seen online) and scheduled the reservation.
Unfortunately we had a lot of weather related flight delays and arrived 10 hours later than we had planned. Mickey and I were in conversation all day to maintain the shuttle reservation. When we finally arrived at the airport, our shuttle driver had already picked up one family, and squeezed us in the same van. That family had 5 (2 adults, 3 little kids), we had 6 (4 adults, 2 little kids), there were enough seats for 8 passengers, you do the math.
We weren’t thrilled, but it had been a long day and we just wanted to get to our hotel. I called Mickey a couple of days later to discuss arrangements for our shuttle service back to the airport. I told him about our discomfort and frustration of being stuffed, and he made sure he came to pick us up from the hotel. He discounted the fare further to make up for his driver’s mistake, and we were the only passengers from the hotel to the airport.
The vans are eco-friendly, they had seatbelts for everyone (when it wasn’t overcrowded), and lots of room for all the luggage. Mickey’s vans also carry carseats and boosters so you don’t have to pack your own, if you don’t want to. I will use this service again the next time we fly to LAX.
Disneyland isn’t the only amusement park in Southern California. Just to highlight the others:
Legoland. Every lego enthusiast (and wannabe) needs to spend some time here. Here’s the link to their site for more information about pricing.
Don’t forget Knottsberry Farm. This amusement park has a lot of roller coasters, so time your visit when the family is old enough to enjoy all the rides together.
San Diego Zoo. An amazing animal safari, pick your way to travel through the animal encounters. Visit their site here to find information about current pricing and discounts.
Sea World. Also in San Diego, also a great animal encounter. Check out schedules of the different shows throughout the day. You can also look on their site for information about prices.
Southern California offers more than just amusement parks for family. So let’s turn our focus from the pricey to the free: The Beaches.
Review these great tips about keeping your kids safe on the beach.
Then look through this list of the best Southern California Beaches from The Travel Channel.
The beach really is a great way to spend a day (or week) as a family. Allow the kids to use their imagination to create sand villages, bury their brother (or dad), discover natural sea life, find free souvenirs, and enjoy the sensation of the tide. Do you have a favorite beach to visit in So Cal? Have you ever camped on the beach? That’s one trip on my bucket list, I want to be lulled to sleep by the sound of the waves, and wake up in the morning and run right into the ocean.
There are also a lot of great sports to watch in Southern California. Professional sports can be a little pricey, but kids tend to remember the time they saw their favorite team play. Choose from a number of baseball, football, or soccer teams. Depending on the time of year, there are also some great tennis matches available! (I had to throw that one in for my hubby).
What are your favorite activities in Southern California? I feel like everyone has been there at least once. What tips do you have to make Disneyland (or these other attractions) more affordable? Share your tips and pics with us by using #usabytpe. We’d love to hear from you!
Keep checking back to see the highlights from your state.