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Must-See California Theme Parks & Attractions

Not to be missed!

San Diego is packed with great things to see and do including these top theme parks and attractions.

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The theme parks and attractions listed below are each day-long experiences with the exception of the Midway Museum, which can be explored in half of a day. Bring comfortable walking shoes, sunscreen and smiles for a complete day of fun in the sun!

LEGOLAND California

LEGOLAND California is a 128-acre theme park featuring more than 60 interactive attractions, shows and rides, some are even "kid powered," all geared toward families with children 2 to 12 years old.

The adjacent LEGOLAND Water Park has seven slides and a lazy river where you can build your own LEGO themed raft, while at SEA LIFE™ Aquarium, guests can view undersea creatures like sea stars, sharks and stingrays!

To get the full LEGO experience, as well as an early start for your day of park fun, spend the night at the nation's first LEGOLAND Hotel, featuring 250 LEGO-themed rooms.

San Diego Zoo

At our world-famous Zoo you’ll discover more than 3,500 animals of more than 650 rare and exotic species in a beautiful 100-acre tropical garden. Spectacular bioclimatic exhibits like Monkey Trails, Lost Forest, Elephant Odyssey, Gorilla Tropics, Sun Bear Forest and Tiger River house endangered species in enclosures that mimic their natural habitats. The San Diego Zoo is also proud to have the largest population of Giant Pandas in the U.S., one of only four facilities in the nation to house this critically endangered and lovable species.

Beyond viewing the vast range of animals, you can take a three-mile guided bus tour, ride the sky tram, or interact with the adorable creatures at the children's petting zoo and baby animal nursery.

San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Formerly known as the Wild Animal Park, the San Diego Zoo Safari Park is an extraordinary experience—an up-close chance to experience wild nature at its best. Throughout the 1,800 acre preserve animals from Africa and Asia roam freely over vast expanses of land as they would in their native habitats. Take the Africa Tram Safari for an exciting expedition and guided tour of rhinos, giraffes, antelope, gazelles and more that inhabit this unique field exhibit.

Located just 30 miles northeast of downtown in San Diego's north inland region, it’s an easy drive to the sprawling park in pretty San Pasqual Valley. Wear comfortable walking shoes and plan on a full day of exploration, so you can watch a cheetah run at full speed, come face to face with an African lion or gaze up at majestic eagles, noble owls and rare Andean condors.

SeaWorld San Diego

There’s more magic to be found at SeaWorld San Diego, located in glistening Mission Bay. At this 189-acre park you’ll discover spectacular shows, heart thumping rides and dozens of exhibits containing marine life from around the globe. Lifetime memories are created during the behind-the-scenes, private interactions with dolphins, whales and penguins. Thrill-seekers love the 60-foot wet plunge on Journey to Atlantis or the ultimate rush on Manta®, the roller coaster shaped like a giant manta ray that reaches its max speed in only 2 seconds. Follow that with a breathless helicopter simulator ride through the perilous, icy landscapes of the Arctic Circle, or a deep “dive” into the world of sea turtles at Turtle Reef. This 280,000-gallon aquarium is home to 60 threatened sea turtles, an interactive game that teaches kids about the threats turtles face in the wild, a map that tracks rehabilitated turtles and an exciting ride called Riptide Rescue.

Aquatica San Diego

SeaWorld's water park, Aquatica San Diego combines up-close animal experiences, running waters from serene to extreme, high-speed thrills of water slides and a sandy beach setting into a one-of-a-kind water park. Lounge lazily in a river or scream at the top of your lungs as you plunge down a thrilling water slide. Escape the summer’s heat at this raging water park that’s a splash-filled day of water fun for all ages.

USS Midway Museum

Docked along the Embarcadero, the USS Midway Museum is San Diego’s maritime treasure. It is the longest-serving U.S. Navy aircraft carrier of the 20th century. Relive nearly 59 years of world history as you explore the massive engine room, sleep quarters, galley, brig and more with a guided audio tour. The four-acre flight deck has more than 20 aircraft—kids, big and small, enjoy the climb-aboard cockpits and flight simulators. Families should request the child's audio guide tour with content geared specifically for 7-12 year olds.

Day Trip to Disneyland

San Diego is an excellent home base to enjoy not only the city’s attractions, but also a day trip to Disneyland. Just 90 minutes from downtown San Diego, you can reach the Magic Kingdom by car or by train. After a dazzling day of rides and recreation, return to San Diego’s laid-back lifestyle and spend the following day relaxing on a beautiful beach.


Not just for kids, San Diego's theme parks are for anyone looking to smile all day long. Discover more sights to see and things to do in California's coastal paradise!

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