Top 5 Theme Parks in Southern California

Summer is coming, and that means it’s almost theme park season. Maybe you love visiting themed parks, enjoy the thrill of a rollercoaster, or just want to meet a certain famous mouse. No matter what, there’s a theme park in Southern California for you! Keep reading to find out which are the best ones.

Pro tip: for real-time info on the best times to visit, check out this LA Crowd Calendar.

Disneyland & California Adventure

  • Location: Anaheim, Orange County
  • Cost: Varies widely (check prices here) starting at $104 for adults 10+ years old.
  • Best For Families
  • Best Time To Go: Weekdays in the Fall & Winter

Disneyland is the king of all amusement parks and also offers the California Adventure park next door. The “Happiest Place on Earth” has dozens of rides of varying thrill levels, pretty good food (we recommend the Dole Whip!), and tons of characters from various Disney franchises.

Their new Star Wars land (opened May 2019) is sure to be a hit with Jedi fans and will hopefully make the lines on other rides shorter! This won’t be a cheap adventure but if you can try to save money by using the Park Hopper pass or by bundling with Disney hotels.

Universal Studios Hollywood

  • Location: Universal City, Los Angeles
  • Cost: $99+/day for California residents, $109+/day for non-California residents. Tickets here.
  • Best For Adults and teenagers
  • Best Time To Go: Spring weekends or Fall weekdays

For a more Hollywood experience, visit Universal Studios. Focused on movies and entertainment, Universal also has a real working movie studio that you can tour. Attractions rotate but our current favorite attractions are the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, the Walking Dead Attraction, and Fast & Furious – Supercharged.

Six Flags Magic Mountain

  • Location: Valencia, Santa Clarita
  • Cost: $59+/day – costs here
  • Best For people who love rollercoasters and kids over 10 years old
  • Best Time To Go: Spring, Fall, or Winter – avoid Summer!

Six Flags is arguably the best chain of rollercoaster parks in America, and Magic Mountain lives up to their promise. You’ll love this large park full of thrill rides of different levels. Six Flags is definitely worth the trip to the small city of Valencia, about an hour from Los Angeles. Packed during the Summer, try to go when the weather is cooler and there are less tourists visiting.

Knott’s Berry Farm

  • Location: Buena Park, Orange County
  • Cost: $46+/day, see costs here
  • Best For rollercoaster fans and kids between 5-15 years old
  • Best Time To Go: Spring & Fall weekdays or Winter weekends

The cheapest amusement park in the area, Knott’s Berry Farm started with a Camp Snoopy and Wild West theme when it opened in the 1920s. Originating with a berry farm, Walter Knott and his wife started serving fried chicken and pies the later added on amusements.

Today there are dozens of thrill rides to satisfy every adrenaline junkie. Check out the Supreme Scream for that stomach-drop feeling, Silver Bullet for a smooth coaster, Ghostrider if you like wooden coasters, and Xcelerator for pee-your-pants drops from crazy heights.

Also check out Knott’s Scary Farm, the night-time transformation of the park during October. Monsters come alive and rides turn into themed mazes! Scary Farm is best for teenagers and adults as not to scare the kids.


  • Location: Carlsbad, San Diego
  • Cost: $95+ for adults
  • Best For Families with kids under 13 years old
  • Best Time To Go: Weekdays

If you have a child that loves Legos, Legoland is a must. They have 60+ rides as well as Lego replicas of famous landmarks, buildings, and more. Legoland also has a nearby aquarium and waterpark, the most savings on tickets check out their combo options.


Southern California has year-round great weather with little rain, making it a great theme park destination. There are parks for every taste and age range! For more California travel tips visit our blog where you’ll find rainy day activities, top Glamping spots, and more West Coast fun.

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