It’s time to plan a family vacation or maybe just an outing. The kids are older and you really want to plan something that makes them look up from their cell phones. Maybe, they will even talk to you!

There are plenty of fun things to do in California after the kids have seen it all. You just have to look beyond the obvious tourist traps to find these hidden gems. Below are eight ideas.

Horseback riding

There are plenty of options for a family that includes both experienced and inexperienced riders. There are trails that are both close to downtown Los Angeles as well as into the mountains. One of the most convenient trails starts in Hollywood and heads up to the Hollywood sign. There are also trails at Paramount Rance, Palos Verde Penisula, and Malibu.

Whale watching

There are plenty of companies offering whale watching tours. Some, like Newport Landing, offers multiple daily trips from Newport Beach. Just minutes from Los Angeles, Newport Landing can take you out on tours all year. However, the best time to watch whales is mid-December through March.

Ferry to Catalina Island

Catalina Island with the charming town of Avalon is an hour away from Los Angeles and you can get there by ferry with boat transportation available all year. There are around 30 departures daily from ports in Long Beach, Dana Point, and San Pedro. One in Avalon, there are adventure activities, campgrounds and the rustic community of Two Harbors. You can stay overnight as well.

River rafting

White water kayaking in Southern California is one of the more thrilling adventures the area has to offer! The Kern River is popular for both kayaking, river rafting, tubing, and camping. It’s the perfect place to escape to for both a thrilling adventure and a sojourn with nature. 

Belmont Shore

People tend to forget about Belmont Shore, but there is always something going on in the beach community. You can sail, watch kite surfers, or watch a movie on the beach in the summer. For those who want to try something new, there are kite surfing lessons available.

Sunny Jim Sea Cave

Those who want their family to get some exploring in should go to this sea cave. It’s the only one in the state that you can get to by land and is a great way to get into some adventure. It is pretty cheap admission to walk down a manmade tunnel through a century of history with the bonus of gorgeous ocean views.

Go on a movie studio tour

Most studios offer one to two-hour tours to get a look at how movies and television shows are made. Universal Studios includes a tram tour of the backlot in their offering. If you pay more, you can get a VIP pass to walk on set. Each studio tour is different, so find out what each includes in their price.


There are trails from Hollywood to the mountains for the whole family to enjoy. Trails in Runyon Canyon, Griffith Park, around Griffith Observatory and up to the Hollywood sign are both convenient and challenging. Those with more time can head up to the mountains. Expert hikers advise taking water, snacks, and sunscreen. Be aware cell phone signals aren’t widely available so its best t turn it off or set it to airplane mode until you need it. Keep it GPS tracking enabled.


Chinatown is one way to experience the color and excitement of another culture. From food to entertainment, Chinatown is like stepping into another world. A good time to go is around the Chinese New Year, typically in February. There are a parade and festival to celebrate the holiday.


Older kids will love the skateparks available year-round in Southern California. One of the best and popular ones are at Venice Beach. Others are less expensive and with fewer crowds. Parents can enjoy watching all the skateboarding tricks from more advanced skateboarders also.

Whether you live in Southern California or plan on visiting, including outdoor activities for you and your family will make your outings more memorable. It will also help your kids burn off energy and encourage them to explore.

Fun Things to do in California After the Kids Have Seen It All! was last modified: by

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