08/11/2011 12:52 pm ET | Updated Oct 11, 2011

Family Vacations In Southern California: A Huffington Post Travel Guide

Family vacations in Southern California can be rewarding experiences or absolute disasters -- it all depends on pre-trip homework. To make planning easier, we've done all the preparation. As part of a Huffington Post series on traveling with children, here are recommended attractions for those planning Southern California family vacations.


No trip to Southern California would be complete without a stroll down Hollywood Boulelvard. Attractions include the Hollywood Walk of Fame and its more than 2,400 stars embedded onto the sidewalk; the Kodak Theater, where the Academy Awards presentation is held each year; and Grauman's Chinese Theater, the 1927 theater that is home to many Hollywood movie premieres as well as more than 200 celebrity handprints and footprints in its forecourt.

Address: The neighborhood centers around Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street in Hollywood
Phone number: N/A
Hours: 24 hours a day, seven days a week
Price: Free


The original Disney theme park continues to delight. Disneyland, located in the heart of Anaheim, offers an array of rides, live entertainment, shops and restaurants as well as unique Disney architecture. The park is divided into several themed areas, including Main Street USA, Tomorrowland and Fantasyland. You might even get to meet Mickey Mouse.

Address: 1313 S. Harbor Blvd., Anaheim, CA 92802
Phone: 714-520-5060
Hours: Park hours change frequently. Check the Disneyland website for current information
Price: Ages 10 and older, $80; children 3 to 9, $74; children 2 and younger, free

Aliso Beach

You can't visit Southern California without spending a little time at the beach, and it's difficult to only name one. However, Aliso Beach in Laguna Beach offers all that makes Southern California beaches special — sun, soft sand, surf and plenty of activities. Other recommended beaches in the area include Manhattan Beach, Zuma Beach at Malibu and Santa Monica Beach.

Address: 31131 S. Pacific Coast Highway, Laguna Beach, CA 92652
Phone: 949-923-2280
Hours: Open daily from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Price: Free

The J. Paul Getty Museum

High atop a bluff in Brentwood, overlooking Los Angeles, the J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center is one of the nation's top art museums. The museum houses an extensive collection of European paintings, furniture, sculpture, drawings and photographs. Among the museum's most noted exhibits are "Irises" by Vincent van Gogh and the museum's early 20th century photography collection.

Address: 1200 Getty Center Dr., Los Angeles, CA 90049
Phone: 310-440-7300
Hours: Open Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.; Saturday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Price: Admission to the museum is free, but parking is $15 per car and free on Saturdays after 5 p.m.

Universal Studios Hollywood

Universal Studios, which calls itself "The Entertainment Capital of LA," is one of the oldest and most famous movie studios still operating today. Part movie studio, part theme park, Universal Studios features 16 rides, including Jurassic Park the Ride, Water World and Universal's House of Horrors. You can also take the studio tour past famous studio sets, like the Bates house from "Psycho" and the shark from "Jaws."

Address: 100 Universal City Plaza, Universal City, CA 91608
Phone number: 800-864-8377
Hours: Open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Price: Ages 3 and older (48" and taller), $77; under 48" tall, $69; Southern California residents 3 and older, $62; children 2 and younger, free

Kidspace Children's Museum

Located in Pasadena next to the Rose Bowl, Kidspace Children's Museum features a variety of exhibits and gardens that encourage children to learn through interactive play. Among the favorites are Bugsy's Diner, where kids learn about the eating habits of insects, and Shake Zone, an exhibit about what causes California earthquakes.

Address: 480 N. Arroyo Blvd., Pasadena, CA 91103
Phone: 626- 449-9144
Hours: June through August, Monday through Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.; September through May, Tuesday through Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Price: $10; infants under 1, free

San Diego Zoo

Part of San Diego's Balboa Park, the San Diego Zoo is home to more than 4,000 animals of more than 800 species. The park is noted for its conservation efforts and its work with endangered species. The zoo is huge, but a guided tour is available by bus to whisk visitors from one section to the next. Don't miss the free-flight aviary and the gorillas in the African rainforest.

Address: 2920 Zoo Dr., San Diego, CA 92112
Phone: 619-231-1515
Hours: Hours change every two months. Check website for current information
Price: Adults (ages 12 and older), $40; children 3 to 11, $30; children 2 and younger, free

What's your family's favorite Southern California destination?


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