Los Angeles County is home to more than 10 million people, and the sunny locale boasts more than its fair share of theme parks. If your vacation will take you to Los Angeles this year, you'll want to add a day or an afternoon spent at one of Southern California's most exciting destinations. The ideal theme park awaits your family whether you're traveling with wee ones and need some gentle rides or you're vacationing with teenagers who love whirling, twirling roller coasters. Need some help selecting your Los Angeles theme park s and other fun destinations? Here's all the information you need to arrange an exciting and one-of-a-kind Los Angeles vacation at theme parks near Los Angeles.

Admission to Los Angeles Theme Parks

A number of these popular Los Angeles theme parks, plus other great Los Angeles area attractions, are included on the Go Los Angeles® Card. Choose as you go from dozens of top attractions and save up to 55% on combined admission vs. paying at the gate. See all available passes, attractions & prices – Learn more.

Universal Studios Hollywood

universal-studios-hollywood-studio-tourKnown for its slogan as the "Entertainment Capital of L.A.," Universal Studios is an expansive historic landmark that sits north of Hollywood in the San Fernando Valley. The world famous studio first opened in 1919, and the amusement park came along in 1951. (we also recapped some of the best Hollywood Studio Tours - if that interests you) The property is home to a slew of working television stations and a busy movie studio, and it also welcomes more than 6 million visitors each year to its thrill rides, shows, and the famous studio tour. The attractions at Universal often feature flight simulations and 3D technology, so you won't see a park full of traditional roller coasters when you visit this place. The park recently opened its "Wizarding World of Harry Potter" to much acclaim. Getting In: Universal Studios Hollywood tickets are available as a premium option on the 3- ,5-, and 7-Day Go Los Angeles® Cards.

Six Flags Magic Mountain

unnamedIf you're looking for a wild and exciting day during your Los Angeles vacation, you'll want to head to north Los Angeles County to Valencia, which is home to Six Flags Magic Mountain and its wide variety of roller coasters. There aren't many amusement parks with more roller coasters than Six Flags Magic Mountain. The park opened in 1971, and many of the rides that originally inhabited the park were built by the same company that helped develop the rides for Disneyland. Fun fact: Gold Rusher, which is a roller coaster that was in operation when the park opened, is still in operation today. Although much of Six Flags Magic Mountain is geared toward the biggest and most death-defying thrill rides you can find in North America, the park also features seasonal festivities like "Fright Fest" and "Holiday in the Park,"  as well as a children's area known as Thomas Town. NEW for 2017 is the exhilarating attraction JUSTICE LEAGUE: Battle for Metropolis! Team up with your favorite DC Super Heroes to defeat the evil Super-Villains in an epic battle that's made even more amazing with 4-D effects, gaming graphics, and one of the only virtual 360-degree loops. If your visit will occur in the summer, a trip to Hurricane Harbor --  Magic Mountain's sister park -- will keep you cool in Valencia, where temperatures soar in the summer months. Getting In: Six Flag Magic Mountain tickets are included with the Go Los Angeles® Card.

LEGOLAND® California

legoland-california-costume-characters-300dpi-4X6 One of the most popular parks for families with young children is LEGOLAND California, which features more than 60 rides for pint-sized visitors. The park features sections with fun themes like Dino Island, a dinosaur-themed area where kids can dig for fossils and DUPLO Village, which features water rides designed for little visitors under the age of 6. Like Six Flags, LEGOLAND has a sister park with LEGOLAND Water Park, which is located on the property at LEGOLAND California at the entrance to Fun Town. A summer vacation to LEGOLAND means packing some swimsuits for the family. Give our tips for visiting LEGOLAND California a read to get the most out of your time. Getting In: LEGOLAND California tickets are included with the Go Los Angeles® Card.

Knott's Berry Farm

LAX knott's berry farm (2)Welcoming more than 3.5 million visitors a year through its gates, Knott's Berry Farm might look like an old-fashioned county fair, but the park has some of the wildest thrill rides in Southern California. The park is a terrific stop for families since it caters to all ages with rides designed for teen and adult riders, as well as miniature versions for kids that mimic the style of the adult rides. Knott's is one of the oldest amusement parks/attractions still in operation in Southern California, having opened in 1920. Knott's was originally a simple operation where the family sold its soon-to-be-famous berry preserves and pies, and the Knott family would eventually add a restaurant and tea room in the 1930s. Theme rides and attractions would follow in the ensuing decades. Getting In: Knott's Berry Farm tickets are included with the Go Los Angeles® Card. We've a post on tips for Knott's Berry Farm here.

Knott's Soak City Water Park

Knott-s-Soak-City-Waterpark-3Located just a half mile from the entrance of Knott's Berry Farm, Knott's Soak City is one of Southern California's popular water parks with rides and attractions that cater to all ages. Some attractions, like the six-lane race ride "Banzai Falls" require riders reach a height of at least 42", and other attractions like Gremmie Lagoon are designed for children and have no height requirement. The park operates from May until September, and visiting Knott's Berry Farm one day and Knott's Soak City the next is a fun and easy way to spend a few days of your Los Angeles visit. Getting In: Knott's Soak City Water Park tickets are included with the Go Los Angeles® Card.

Pacific Park - Santa Monica Pier

pacific-park-santa-monica-pierDuring your visit to Santa Monica and the world-famous Santa Monica Pier, you'll see a unique amusement park known as Pacific Park, which features old-fashioned carnival rides and games and is built on the pier over the water. We put together some helpful info to check out before your visit to Pacific Park. This fun and lighthearted park is the perfect destination if you're traveling with children who aren't yet tall enough for true thrill rides. However, the park also has some rides for older kids and adults that provide a few fun stomach flips and thrills. One of the coolest features of the park is its Ferris wheel, which towers into the sky to give riders a beautiful view of the Pacific Ocean and is powered entirely by solar power. Getting In: Pacific Park Santa Monica tickets are included with the Go Los Angeles® Card.

K1 Speed Indoor Karting

LA-K1-Speedway-Torrance-1A popular spot for indoor go-kart racing, K1 Speed Torrance is conveniently located right near the meeting of the 110 and 405 freeways. You don't need a reservation to race, and the karting center offers youth races and adult races. The adult races require a height of at least 58" and the junior races require a height of at least 48" tall. The races run separately, so if you're interested in racing with the kids, make sure everyone is at least 58" tall. K1 Speed is close to Long Beach, so it's a great place to spend an evening after you've spent the day exploring the Queen Mary or the Aquarium of the Pacific. Getting In: K1 Speed Indoor Go Karting tickets are included with the Go Los Angeles® Card.

iFLY Indoor Skydiving

iFly-Indoor-Skydiving-4iFLY boasts locations across the United States, and the Southern California location is located at the Universal Studios CityWalk, which is a shopping and entertainment venue that sits right outside the Universal Studios park. While not really a 'theme park', iFLY Hollywood caters to flyers of all ability levels including first-time flyers, returning flyers, and experienced flyers. You can fly with a friend, as well as with the entire family. You can even schedule a group visit for a birthday party or if you have a large family. The venue is open until 9 PM during the week and until 11 PM on the weekends, so it's a fun way to conclude a day spent at Universal Studios and Universal CityWalk. Getting In: iFLY Indoor Skydiving tickets are included as an option when you build your own pass.


A Southern California landmark since 1955, Disneyland Park lures a whopping 16 million visitors each year to its sunny Anaheim location. Disneyland is located in Anaheim, which is south of Los Angeles in Orange County. The size of Disneyland, as well as its proximity to Disney California Adventure Park (right across the street), means an overnight stay in an Orange County hotel is an excellent way to make sure you get to the park early. Most of the rides at Disneyland are appropriate for children, and there are only a few rides that have a strict height requirement and a recommendation on age. The "big kid" rides are usually found across the street at Disney California Adventure Park. Getting In: Disneyland admission is separately ticketed and is not included with the Go Los Angeles® Card. For more information about this attraction and to purchase tickets, please visit the attraction website.

Disney California Adventure

Families often choose to visit Disneyland and Disney California Adventure at the same time since the park entrances are right next to one another. While the rides at Disneyland cater mostly to very young visitors (and the young-at-heart), Disney California Adventure offers some genuine thrill rides. The park opened in the not-too-distant past in 2001, but it wasn't as popular as Disneyland until the park's designers began adding extra attractions and thrill rides. A massive expansion of the park occurred in 2012 with the addition of Cars Land, which is based on the popular series of Pixar "Cars" features. Disney California Adventure features traditional rides like the California Screamin' coaster, as well as 3D rides like the kid-friendly Toy Story Midway Mania. Thrill-seekers will like the Tower of Terror and the Grizzly Rapids water ride, which is a must-see in the summer. Getting In: Disney California Adventure admission is separately ticketed and is not included with the Go Los Angeles® Card. For more information about this attraction and to purchase tickets, please visit the attraction website.

Los Angeles Zoo

la-zoo-botanical-gardensWhile you won't see roller coasters at the Los Angeles Zoo, a visit still has the opportunity to provide a thrilling experience for families. The park opened in 1966 and features beautiful exhibits, including a certified botanical garden, a chimpanzee exhibit, and a large enclosure for Asian elephants. The park is open every day of the year and features daily hours from 10 AM to 5 PM, and arriving when the gates open ensures you can see as many animals as possible. If you'd like to provide your family with an educational vacation, you might combine a visit to the Los Angeles Zoo with a trip to the Aquarium of the Pacific and the Natural History Museum. Getting In: L.A. Zoo tickets are included with the Go Los Angeles® Card.

Aquarium of the Pacific

Aquarium-of-the-Pacific-2One of the most exciting venues in Los Angeles is the Aquarium of the Pacific, where the attractions are alive and awe-inspiring. The non-profit aquarium employs about 300 people, but there are also more than 600 volunteers who give their time to the popular Long Beach attraction. The aquarium's exhibits are divided into geographical sections, so you'll see aquatic creatures from the Los Angeles region in the Southern California & Baja Gallery and animals like sea otters in the Northern Pacific Gallery. The not-to-be-missed exhibit at the Aquarium of the Pacific is Explorer's Cove, which features the popular rainbow lorikeets that you can hold and feed, as well as the 10,000-square-foot Shark Lagoon and its touch pools. Yes, you can touch the sharks! Getting In: Aquarium of the Pacific tickets are included with the Go Los Angeles® Card.

Let's Recap

Remember, you can save on admission to a number of the Los Angeles area's most popular theme parks with the Go San Los Angeles® Card. Choose as you go from dozens of top attractions and save up to 55% off combined admission vs paying at the gate.