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TIPS & TRICKS

How to Entertain Kids in Southern California for Under $20

The number one thing kids want to do while on vacation is splash around and have some fun. If you’re going to be in the Southern California area, you don't have to break the bank to entertain your little ones. In fact, there's plenty to do with kids for under $20. Here are some great ways to affordably entertain your family while vacationing in the southern half of the golden state.

1. WELK RESORTS SUMMER SPLASH

This is a festival for the entire family to have some fun in sunny San Diego. It’s being held Sunday, June 25th from noon to 6p.m. at Welk Resorts San Diego. There will be entertainment for the entire family to enjoy:

For the Kids:

  • Giant inflatable water slides

  • Slip and slide

  • Super soakers zone

  • Water balloon fights and dodgeball

  • Watermelon eating contest

  • Face painting

For the Adults:

  • Games: corn hole, giant Jenga, and Solo Cup pong

  • Live Music: Young Guns (Country), and Kingsland (Islander-style music)

  • Drinks: summer signature cocktails, frozen margaritas, craft beer

  • Food: Delicious food trucks!

Don’t worry if you don’t have all the necessities for the day. Towels and other accessories will be available for sale. Use discount code: WATER25 and save 25% on tickets. Special overnight packages are also available. For more details and to purchase tickets, click here.

Kids and parents in water park

2. HAPPINESS COMES IN WAVES

There are plenty of beaches to visit along the coastline of Southern California. If you pack a cooler full of ice, sandwiches, water, and snacks, you can have a full day of fun with the kids for next to nothing. Here are a few of the more popular beaches on the southern coast of California:

  • Laguna Beach

  • Coronado Beach

  • Santa Monica State Beach

  • Del Mar Beach

  • Manhattan Beach

  • Huntington Beach

  • Venice Beach

  • Encinitas Beach

  • La Jolla Shore Beach

  • Goleta Beach

Beach Activities:

  • Swimming

  • Building sand castles

  • Beach games (frisbee, water bucket relay, beach bowling, volleyball, etc.)

  • Boogie boarding

  • Surfing

  • Kayaking

  • Walking

  • Biking

Visiting as many beaches as possible is a lot of fun while driving up the coast of California, and it can be inexpensive to do. Some beaches have great surf, while others have great restaurants, or a pier. If your family enjoys the ocean, this is an easy choice.

Kids activities: Santa Monica
Photo by Kevin Green, located at https://www.california-tour.com/blog/tag/santa-monica-beach/

3. GRIFFITH OBSERVATORY

Check out SoCal’s gateway to the cosmos at the Griffith Observatory. Admission to the observatory is always free and the giant telescope is available for viewing by everyone. You and your kids can view stars, planets, and learn infinitely more about wonders of our universe. The Griffith Observatory is open to the public almost every night of the week, as long as the sky is clear.

Things to Do:

  • Samuel Oschin Planetarium

  • Leonard Nimoy Event Horizon Theater Programs

  • Exhibits

  • Public telescopes and star parties

  • Special programs and events

  • Café

  • Gift shop

  • Griffith Observer Magazine

This is a super exciting activity for anyone who appreciates the night sky and a little astronomy. The Samuel Oschin Planetarium does charge a minimal fee for shows, but everything else if free to the public. They also hold events daily, so check their website for more information and plan a starry evening of wonder.

Kids activities: Griffith Observatory
Photo by Scott Campbell, located at http://www.scottcampbellphotography.com/palm-springs-architecture-photographer/griffith-observatory

4. JOSHUA TREE NATIONAL PARK

If you’re looking for some desert adventures with your kids, consider the year-round national park of Joshua Tree. Just a few hours outside of Los Angeles, this park caters to the nature lovers and explorers. It’s only $12 for a seven-day walk-in pass but reservations are needed for camping.

Activities include:

  • Nature trails

  • Hiking trails

  • Rock climbing

  • Mountain biking

  • Camping

  • Star gazing

  • Backpacking

  • Ranger-led tour of Keys Ranch

  • Photography

Where to Go:

  • Cottonwood Spring

  • Black Rock Canyon

  • Skull Rock

  • Keys View

  • Lost Horse Mine Trail

  • Bajada Nature Trail

  • Ryan Mountain Ruins

The visitor center is available to help you plan your day or week at the park. If camping spaces are full, there are accommodations outside the park. There are no restaurants inside the park, but the views are spectacular.

Kids activities: Joshua Tree
Photo by Kyle Hammons

5. GETTY MUSEUM CENTER

If you are looking for a fun-filled day of beautiful gardens, incredible architecture, paintings, sculptures, and decorative arts, then visiting the Getty Museum is the place to be. Admission is free, although parking is $15.

Activities for Kids:

  • Family Room – hands on activities

  • Art Detective Cards

  • Getty Guide Family Tour

  • Museum Collections

  • European paintings

  • Drawings

  • Sculpture

  • Illuminated manuscripts

  • Decorative arts

  • Photography

Not only will you learn more about the Greek, Roman, and Etruscan cultures, but you’ll also enjoy the amazing 1,200 works of art displayed at the Getty Center. There are two locations available to visit – one is in Malibu and the other is in Los Angeles.

Kids activities: Getty Museum
Photo by Alessandro Benetton

6. FOOTGOLF

There’s a new pastime taking over Southern California that combines two beloved sports: soccer and golf. Footgolf is a fairly recent craze that kids can't get enough of and adults secretly love as well. Welk Resorts San Diego offers an excellent 18-hole course where you and your family can partake in some friendly competition or simply kick around to your heart’s content. The footgolf course is open to the public for $10 and is a great way to enjoy the beautiful San Diego weather while getting a little exercise. To learn more, check out the video below and book your tee time.

There are many free or low cost ways to entertain your kids when visiting Southern California, and this list should give you a good place to start. Have fun visiting all the amazing places Southern California has to offer with your kiddos and let us know what you would add to the list in a comment below!

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