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Summer in Southern California offers urban adventure, natural exploration, theme park fun and opportunities to decompress. If you’re after family fun, Southern California is perfect. Here are some great places to spend with those closest to you.

The Beach

Southern California beaches are plentiful, beautiful and highly enjoyable for kids, teens and adults. Aside from sun soaking and beach combing, surfing or surf lessons are plentiful. Check out Huntington Beach, Santa Barbara, Laguna Beach or Carlsbad. One day lessons are cheaper than a theme park ticket and the experience and skill could last a lifetime.

Balboa Park

Located in San Diego, Balboa Park is a unique urban park experience, offering museums, sports, gardens and natural settings. Balboa Park includes the San Diego Museum of Art, the San Diego Model Railroad Museum, the San Diego Automotive Museum, the San Diego Museum of Air and Space and the San Diego Natural History Museum. Find also the Balboa Park Rose Garden and the Fleet Science Center. Learn, enjoy and relax in this natural urban mecca.

Santa Monica Pier

On the pier, with a high-top view of Santa Monica’s 3.5-mile beach, find shops, food, beach access, interesting buskers, culture and ocean life. With a 126-year history, you might wonder what makes this place so significant. The Pacific Park Ferris Wheel, which is located here, is a fun, memorable element, but the entire pier and the beach are perfect for families. Find the pier’s 103-year old Looff Hippodrome merry-go-round. A worthwhile experience for children is the natural aquarium underneath the peer, where kids can observe aquatic creatures in their natural environment.

La Jolla

Tired of urban life? Break away into the wilderness of the La Jolla Luiseño Indian tribe. Nestled in the Palomar Mountains, La Jolla is a serene escape for all ages. Adventure also awaits, if you’re willing. Hike the trails or take a zipline cruise across the rugged terrain of this Native American reservation. Also find the San Luis Rey River, available for riparian retreat with leisurely river floats with your kayak, paddleboard or canoe. River tubing excursions and riverside camping are also options around La Jolla. If your family is closer to San Diego, find yourself at the San Diego-La Jolla Underwater Park to lounge or snorkel the coastline.

Theme Parks

Summertime in southern California begs a trip to a theme park. With numerous parks to choose from, find one that satisfies your family’s needs. Find the original Disneyland in Anaheim, Universal Studios Hollywood, Disney California Adventure, Sea World in San Diego, Legoland in Carlsbad, Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia, and even California’s first theme park, Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park.