November 14, 2017

Southern California for Families with Teens


Bringing your teen on vacation can be an opportunity for more adventure, or a pain. With social media and other electronic entertainment, it can be hard to find affordable and fun activities that are fitting for teens as well as the whole family. We have compiled a list of our very favorite places (beyond just theme parks!) to bring your teen on vacation in Southern California, and none of them include those wildly popular electronic devices! Here are our top things to do in Southern California with your teen on your next California vacation.

Beaches & Parks

Huntington Beach :
5 distinct beaches cover 10 miles of irresistible coastline at " Surf City USA ." Here you'll find beach volleyball, surfing, over 500 fire rings waiting to be claimed for a bonfire, and endless opportunities for vacation pictures at the famous Huntington Beach pier. Keeping teens entertained will be no problem, just schedule some surf lessons, or visit the International Surf Museum to see the world's largest surfboard. Starting to feel hungry? Grab a snack at one of Huntington's waterfront eateries including crazy bacon creations at BaconMANia or Hawaiian shaved ice at Kokomo's Surfside Grill.

Beaches for Every Occasion:
Already been to Surf City? Looking for something new? Take a look at our Southern California Beach Guide and find a new favorite beach for everyone in the family!

Shopping & Dining

Downtown Disney:

Okay, we know we listed Downtown Disney as a great destination for families with toddlers... but it's an awesome stop for older kids too (or just adults)! If you are interested in Disneyland Park and Disney’s California Adventure, but don’t want to drop the extra money it takes to make an all day trip at the most expensive theme park around, consider making a night out of visiting Downtown Disney. Younger kids can build a race car or bear, adults can enjoy a cocktail, and teens can explore favorite shops like Sephora or new finds like Wonderground Gallery, full of intriguing Disney art and then enjoy a coffee from Starbucks or a famous cupcake from Sprinkles Cupcakes. Various Disney food stands and Disney merchandise stores also line this ‘downtown’ walkway, and if the family needs some down time you can all catch a movie at the theater. Enjoy 2 hours of free parking with $20 spent at Downtown Disney and validation, or 4 hours with an AMC or fine dining validation.

Anaheim Packing District :

Are trendy towns like San Clemente, Corona Del Mar, and Dana Point too far from your northern Orange County California Beach vacation rental? For all things ‘instagram worthy’, check out the Anaheim Packing District , a communal indoor plaza with all sorts of unique food inspired by flavors all over the world. Enjoy delicious poutine, spicy Indian curry, unique boba, or build your own popsicle at one of the many food vendors inside this trendy wonderland. Teens and adults alike enjoy snapping pictures on greenery-decorated garden swings and enjoying a crepe on artistically painted steps. This is a must-visit for the more social media or food-loving teen!

(P.S. Have a teen who loves to shop? Make sure to take at the other top local shopping centers in our Southern California Shopping Guide! )

Outdoor Adventures & Thrills

Jetpack America :

Located in San Diego, Jetpack America describes the water powered jetpacking experience as "skydiving, jet skiing, parasailing and scuba diving all rolled into one."  For adventurous teens (and adults), especially Marvel fans, the opportunity to soar through the air with a water powered "hydro flight" is pretty irresistible. Book a photo or video package to go along with your flight to bring home some fun vacation memories that you'll look back on fondly for years to come!

Watersports Galore:

Your teen might think they're too cool to get out on the water... or they may love the opportunity to learn to surf. With the variety of watersports available in SoCal it's worth asking your teen whether they'd like to try kayaking (maybe exploring some sea caves) , stand up paddle boarding, surfing, snorkeling (maybe snorkeling with sharks in LaJolla), or other watersports opportunities.

Take a look at our guides to kayaking in Southern California and snorkeling and diving in Southern California for some more ideas. If you're vacationing further south towards Carlsbad, be sure to check out California Watersports on the Carlsbad Lagoon where you can rent jet skis, try wakeboarding, and more!

Indoor Adventures & Thrills

K1 Speed Go Cart Racing :

Zoom across the raceways in K1 Speed’s amazing 20hp electric karts, built for the beginner all the way to the pro! With 35 locations, including Irvine (near Newport Beach) and Anaheim (near Belmont Shore Long Beach), K1 Speed offers fun for the whole family, starting at $19.99 per racer for 14 laps. Racing at K1 is the perfect choice for a family with teens because it is experiential and is a great way to get the adrenaline pumping!

Escape Rooms :

Every wondered what it would be like to solve a murder mystery, crack a secret code, or explore an unseen world? Try one of Orange County’s escape rooms: simulated environments where small group of people attempt to uncover secrets, clues, and escapes in a limited time. Exodus Escape Rooms for example, offers a variety of different narratives, from the escape room titled Sherlock, to Masquerade Manor. Escape Rooms are a great way to get the whole family working together - or if you're vacationing with a whole group of teen travelers book them an Escape room and leave them to solve the mystery themselves! Be sure to book your escape room ahead of time. Prices typically range between $25-$35 per participant.

Sky High Sports OC :

Sky High Sports is a trampoline extravaganza for people of all ages. Located in Costa Mesa, Sky High offers trampoline rooms for children and teens/adults, as well as trampoline basketball courts, trampoline dodge ball, and foam pits! Get your best jumping gear on and try out every trick you can think of in this bouncy paradise. Prices Monday-Thursday are $15 for the first hour and $5 for each additional hour, while Friday-Sunday is $15 for the first hour and $10 for each additional hour. Other packages including the Ninja course or Laser Maze access start at an additional $3. Check out Sky High’s deals for homeschoolers ($7 on Mondays), and Munchkin Mondays for children 6 and under as well!

Seasonal Offerings

Be sure to check out blog and local calendars before your trip to see what's happening during your vacation! For fall your teen might enjoy local haunted houses and other Halloween events , and local music festivals and surfing competitions throughout the year offer ample entertainment!

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