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Top Southern California Theme Parks

Here are your options for a theme park adventure near Los Angeles.

Top Southern California Theme Parks
Hi, I'm Christina!

A long-time San Francisco Bay Area food and travel writer, Christina Mueller hails from the Other Coast and has spent way too much time in South America and Europe. Her adventures always dive into the local food scene and she likes to highlight any region’s top hikes and cultural sites.

Southern California, home to Hollywood, knows how to put on a show. As such, the area's theme parks offer thrills and surprises for the whole family. Here are your options for a theme park adventure near Los Angeles.

Universal Studios Hollywood

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This one-stop shop for movie lovers features a series of “worlds” where fans immerse themselves in rides and attractions designed around their favorite characters. From the thundering action of Transformers: The Ride–3D to the mysteries at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, each area has its own, larger-than-life experience. The park’s Studio Tour is the best way to get a behind-the-scenes look at Universal Studios history.

Disneyland® Park

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The original Disneyland®, this is the ultimate theme park. You’ll find the iconic Sleeping Beauty Castle Walk-through, eight themed lands, and Disney character experiences. Popular rides and attractions include Space Mountain and Peter Pan’s Flight, plus evening fireworks and light shows.

Disneyland California Adventure® Park

Photo Credit: Disneyland California Adventure® Park / Tripadvisor

Opened in 2001 across from Disneyland®, Disney California Adventure® Park builds on the original concept with attractions tied to additional movies and themes, including Star Wars. Heroic Encounter: Black Panther and Radiator Springs Racers are stand-out character experiences and stage shows from Pixar and Disney.

Top Southern California Theme Parks

Photo Credit: Hayk_Shalunts / Shutterstock

Built for kids, Carlsbad's LegoLand mixes more than 60 shows, attractions, and rides into its all-Lego, all-the-time theme. Create a home for horses at Horseland Stables, earn a LegoLand driver’s license at Junior Driving School, or, in New York miniland, see Central Park made entirely from Legos.

Knott’s Berry Farm

Photo Credit: Logan Bush / Shutterstock

Gravity-defying roller coasters are just one part of a full day at Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park. Fans of slower rides will appreciate the Calico Railroad steam engine and classic Timber Mountain Log Ride, while the Old West Ghost Town offers tales of the Old West and the Camp Snoopy theater hosts family activities and shows starring the gang from Peanuts.

Six Flags Magic Mountain

Photo Credit: Robert V Schwemmer / Shutterstock

Looney Tunes’ Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck invite guests to participate in live action shows at Six Flags Magic Mountain in Los Angeles, where rides are the name of the game. Roaring Rapids and Pepe Le Pew’s Tea Party offer thrills, and Wonder Woman’s Lasso of Truth and the intense loop-de-loops of the Viper are an intense rush for adrenaline junkies.

SeaWorld San Diego

Photo Credit: SeaWorld San Diego / Tripadvisor

Animal lovers can hit SeaWorld SanDiego, aquariums are plentiful, ride loops and inversions are sea-themed, and shows feature creatures of the sea. Dolphin Days show dolphins and pilot whales at their acrobatic best, sometimes splashing the audience.

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