Travel Hacks For Travelling With Kids In California

30 March 2016

Think of a family holiday in California, and undoubtedly, Mouse ears will come to mind. The Golden State is almost synonymous with the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim – currently celebrating 60 years – and the theme parks are a popular stop for Aussie families visiting Los Angeles. Getting the most out of your time at California’s many theme parks and attractions takes military-style planning and execution to ensure you navigate the inevitable crowds without losing a family member, but there’s plenty of other travel tips to help your clan have fun in California outside the big-name attractions. Here’s some of our favourite travel hacks for a California holiday with the family.

 Visit before September 5, 2016 to see the Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration. (Image: Disney)

Theme parks

  • Take advantage of Disney’s FASTPASS service, which is included in every Disneyland Park ticket. It saves your place in line for some of the most popular attractions while you enjoy the rest of the park.
  • Stay at Disneyland Hotel to get early entry to the parks.
  • A Front Of Line ticket at Universal Studios Hollywood will allow you to skip the lines on most rides and attractions. It costs more, but will save you up to four hours’ queuing time.
  • Get a The Flash Pass Platinum to reserve your ride, reduce waiting time by 90 per cent, and stay on selected rides for two rides in a row at Six Flags Magic Mountain. Use the pass on rides with the longest lines.
  • To make the most of your day at Legoland California in Carlsbad, go early. The theme park hours are 10am to 5pm, but the turnstiles open at 9am.
  • Ride the world’s only solar-powered Ferris wheel – the Pacific Wheel – at Pacific Park at Santa Monica Pier. Only $US5 a ride.

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 California's national parks have heaps of activities for kids. (Image: Getty)

National Parks and nature

  • At Redwoods National Park, children aged between seven and 12 years can do free Junior Ranger activities (available from June to early September). The hour-long activities run from many of the information centres and kids can earn a badge on completion.
  • The best time to visit Yosemite National Park is between May to September to get the full experience (some roads are closed due to snow from November to June).
  • Dinosaur-mad kids? Take them to La Brea Tar Pits & Museum in Miracle Mile. Admission to the museum is free on the first Tuesday of the month (except in July and August).
  • For a great view of the Hollywood sign, head to Lake Hollywood Park on Canyon Drive. The grassy field offers a great vantage point plus barbecue facilities and a playground.
  • Pre-plan before you go to San Diego Zoo. Take the double-decker Guided Bus Tour (included in the 1-Day Pass) to scope out the layout of the zoo and plan what to see.
  • Lake Cunningham Regional Skatepark in San Jose is the largest skate park in California and a day pass is just $US3 per child and $US5 per adult. Rentals are $US5.
 Checking out the sunbaking locals at Pier 39. (Image: Getty)

Free things to do

  • Located under the Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica Pier Aquarium is free for kids aged 12 years and under when accompanied by an adult.
  • Picnic and play in LA’s Griffith Park by day, and at night, peer at the stars through the Zeiss telescope in the Griffith Observatory.
  • Venice Beach has the best free street entertainment – enjoy with an organic ice-cream cone from N’Ice Cream, which is made fresh daily.
  • Meet the sea lions at Pier 39, a crowd-puller at San Francisco’s Fishermans Wharf.
  • Take a turn down Lombard Street in San Francisco – the oft-photographed attraction is one of the most crooked streets in the US.
  • Visit the Cable Car Museum, where kids can see the wheels and cogs that power San Francisco’s famous public street cars.
  • Hidden near Seward Street in the Castro district of San Francisco is a labyrinth of concrete slides. BYO cardboard to slide on down!
 Hire some wheels and hit the beach. (Image: Getty)

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Visit your local Flight Centre store or call 131 600 for more advice and the latest deals on travelling to California.

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