There are so many amazing things to see and do in California that we know it can be overwhelming when planning out your vacation.
That’s where we come in! Our local experts put together a California road trip itinerary covering a ton of fun family attractions from San Diego to San Francisco!
Best yet, visiting these attractions with Go City Cards will allow you to save up to 55% on attraction admission. Enjoy!
This itinerary includes family favorite attractions like:
- SeaWorld® San Diego
- LEGOLAND® California
- Universal Studios Hollywood
- Warner Bros. Studio Tour Hollywood
- San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
- Aquarium of the Bay
- and more!
You Can Save on Attraction Admission
Admission to these top California attractions are available on our Passes.
Go City Cards give you the flexibility to create your own itinerary, so you can choose as you go from dozens of top attractions to create a vacation tailored to your family’s interests.
Remember, this California itinerary is just one of many ways to experience this beautiful region.
See all available passes, attractions & prices – Learn more.
Must-Do Activities in San Diego:
SeaWorld San Diego
Discover a world beneath the waves through the rides, exhibits, and shows at SeaWorld in San Diego.
Whether it’s taking a journey to Atlantis, marveling at the talent of dolphins at the Dolphin Days show, or spending time with nearly 300 penguins of all shapes and sizes, SeaWorld is filled with nearly endless possibilities and experiences where you are guaranteed to learn a lot.
This enchanting world is great for all ages and has everything from thrilling rides to calming creatures to exciting shows, so there’s never a dull moment!
They also periodically host special events at SeaWorld (some of which are included with admission), including annual events like fireworks for holidays, special events around Christmas and Halloween, evening events for adults, and the popular Seven Seas Food Festival.
Check their events calendar before your visit to see if any of these fun events will be going on during your vacation!
Getting In: SeaWorld San Diego tickets are included on 3-, 5-, and 7-Day Go San Diego Cards.
San Diego Zoo
The San Diego Zoo is one of the most popular zoos in the world, and with good reason.
Their immense appeal is due to the impressive collection of varying species within the 100 acres of the Zoo. There are more than 3,700 rare and endangered animals living and prospering just next to the city of San Diego.
In order to take full advantage of your time at the Zoo and to meet as many of the animals as possible, there are recommended guided bus tours so you you can easily target areas of particular interest.
The San Diego Zoo is also a leader in animal care and conservation around the world and are particularly known for their excellent work with the endangered Giant Pandas.
With your visit to this Zoo, you will have the opportunity to learn about an incredible amount of animals and the amazing work being done to help them around the world.
Getting In: San Diego Zoo tickets are included on the Go San Diego Card.
Upon entering the LEGO® world, you’ll find an endless combinations of LEGO-related activities and fun for the whole family to share.
At LEGOLAND California, there are more than 60 rides, shows, and attractions all along the themes of your favorite LEGO characters, games, and movies. The SEA LIFE® Aquarium in LEGOLAND is the home to more than 5,000 creatures that you can experience alongside your LEGO characters and friends.
Don’t forget about the LEGOLAND Water Park! This attraction offers more than 7 slides and other watery adventures to explore, and is a great family-oriented place that all ages will fully enjoy.
NEW for Summer 2018 at LEGOLAND is the much-anticipated LEGO CITY: Deep Sea Adventure. This submarine-style ride sees you hunting for treasure alongside real sharks, rays, and fish. If you’re lucky, you’ll even get to see a shipwreck with LEGO divers!
Getting In: LEGOLAND California tickets are included on the Go San Diego Card.
USS Midway Museum
During this interactive experience you’ll explore 50 years of history aboard the longest-serving Navy aircraft carrier of the 20th century. You even have the opportunity to go on a flight simulator!
On this historic aircraft you will be exposed to over 60 exhibits (for example, sleeping quarters and the flight control room) with a self-guided audio tour and 29 restored aircraft. Along this trip, you will meet museum docents ready to share personal stories enhancing the adventure even more.
This exciting experience has something for everyone and is a captivating way to learn more about American history.
Getting In: USS Midway Museum tickets are included on the Go San Diego Card.
San Diego Harbor Tour or Whale Watch
Experience San Diego off the main land and take a trip through the coastal waters to explore a side of the city you have not seen before.
Choose the Harbor tour, full of many incredible sites of the city and information about the mainland, or the Whale Watch Cruise to adventure further beyond the coastal waters and explore the wildlife and amazing creatures that are neighbors to this city.
Both tours are exciting and captivating and great trips for the whole family! Plus, you’ll learn so much about the city and its waterfront neighborhood.
Fun San Diego Area Options to Add to Your California Road Trip Itinerary:
There are plenty of other fun options to choose from in the San Diego area, including these activities, many of which are included on the Go San Diego Card.
San Diego Zoo Safari Park – This sister attraction to the San Diego Zoo recreates a real African safari right outside the city. Pick a custom safari adventure for a specific journey, or take a trip around the park on the African Tram to see a little bit of everything! This park is a great experience for all ages and will transport you halfway across the world without getting on a plane.
Belmont Park – This amazing beachfront amusement park offers endless fun for the whole family alongside a beautiful ocean view. From laser tag to countless rides to adventures in the waves, Belmont Park has an incredible amount of activities that will keep you busy all day long.
More Time in Balboa Park – From museums to performances to restaurants to beautiful gardens, this Park has an incredible collection of exciting interesting and beautiful experiences. Many of the museums are also included with the Go San Diego Card, appealing to those interested in art, natural history, air & space, anthropology, and much more.
Visit La Jolla – La Jolla, San Diego’s jewel by the sea, is the most popular beach in California. This beautiful peninsula beach with spectacular views has many outdoor activities for the whole family to enjoy. This is a great destination with so much to do and a view that will take your breath away.
Visit Torrey Pines – Torrey Pines is a natural state reserve located within the city limits of San Diego. It’s comprised of 2,000 acres of preserved wilderness, untouched since the first development of the city. This expanse of wild land gives visitors an idea of what California must have looked like when it was first discovered by early settlers.
Must Do Activities in Los Angeles:
Universal Studios Hollywood
Experience this world famous amusement park from studio tours to themed rides and shows with all of your favorite Universal Studios movies and characters.
A few of the must see rides, shows, and attractions include…
- The Walking Dead Attraction
- The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™
- Studio Tour
- Fast & Furious – Supercharged
- Despicable Me Minion Mayhem
- Jurassic Park: The Ride
- And many more!
Only Universal Studios lets you ride the movies and go behind the scenes of a real working movie studio. A visit to Universal Studios Hollywood will provide interactive fun for the whole family that you’ll never forget.
Getting In: Universal Studios Hollywood tickets are included on 3, 5, and 7-Day Go Los Angeles Cards.
Warner Bros. Studio Tour Hollywood
The Warner Bros. Studio Tour in Hollywood brings you through one of the busiest movie studios in L.A.
The tour includes the opportunity to visit several soundstages and backlots, as well as the exterior sets of classic Warner Bros. productions. Then, visit the interior of a current set and see what the team is working on at that moment and how the magic happens.
Next, visit the Archived Exhibits of the preserved sets, costumes, and everything that went into some of the most famous movies.
The tour will also include a visit to the Warner Bros. Prop Department (the largest in the world), as well as a visit to “Stage 48: Script to Stage” which will provide an interactive journey of how the creation process really happens.
Getting In: Warner Bros. Studio Tour Hollywood tickets are included on the Go Los Angeles Card.
Hollywood Movie Star Homes Tour
This tour will bring you to the homes of 45 famous L.A. residents, while providing a glimpse into the lives of many of your favorite celebrities that you hear so much about.
Your narrated trip, conducted in a comfortable air conditioned tour bus, reveals all the popular places celebrities can be found in the city. If you’re lucky, you may spot more then just houses — so bring your camera!
This 3 hour experience is also a great opportunity to become more familiar with the layout of the city in a fun and exciting way.
Getting In: Hollywood Movie Star Homes Tour tickets are included on the Go Los Angeles Card.
Pacific Park – Santa Monica Pier
This fun-filled pier has all the activities you could possibly want! Whether you’re traveling with kids looking to get their adventure on, or a group of friends who love a little bit of nostalgia and lots of shopping and dining, this is the place for you.
There are exciting and thrilling rides, endless amounts of games, countless food options, and outlets and seaside shopping for the whole family. The options are practically limitless, and there’s truly something for everyone. Combine that with a breathtaking view, and you’ve got one amazing day in store!
The best way to take in the expansive ocean and beautiful coastline is to take a ride on the Pacific Wheel, the only solar-powered Ferris wheel in the world, which will give you a spectacular view from more than 130 feet above the Pier.
Getting In: Pacific Park – Santa Monica Pier tickets are included on the Go Los Angeles Card.
Harbor Cruise or Whale Watch
Both the Harbor Cruise and the Whale Watch experience will take you beyond the California coastline and into the incredible surrounding ocean for an informative and captivating journey.
The Whale Watch Cruise provides the opportunity to witness sea life and sea animals in their natural habitats, all while learning from an expert employee of the Aquarium of the Pacific.
The other option, the Harbor Cruise, is a 45-minute guided excursion along the L.A. Harbor, where you will see and learn about famous landmarks, buildings, and many more exciting places.
Both of these adventures are great options for the whole family and will keep everyone excited, interested, and learning a lot the whole time!
Getting In: Harbor Cruise or Whale Watch tickets are included on the Go Los Angeles Card.
Fun LA Area Options to Add to Your California Road Trip Itinerary:
There are plenty of other fun options to choose from in the Los Angeles area, including these activities, many of which are included on the Go Los Angeles Card.
OUE Skyspace LA – The exhilarating OUE Skyspace in Los Angeles is the tallest open air observation deck in California and will give you a spectacular 360 degree view of the city from almost 1,000 feet above the streets. The deck is amazing both in the day and at night, so you can’t really go wrong with a visit here.
Other Great Theme Parks – If the Pacific Park on the Santa Monica Pier wasn’t enough for your thrill-seeking family, there are many other great theme park options in the area including: Six Flags Magic Mountain, Knott’s Berry Farm, and Knott’s Soak City Waterpark. All have great rides and games and everything you need for a day of complete and exciting family fun!
Aquarium of the Pacific – Experience sea life up close through countless engaging exhibits. The incredible creatures of the sea will amaze the whole family, and you’ll all learn more about the ocean and the organisms that live in it then you could have ever imagined.
Sony Picture Studio Tour – This 2-hour guided walking tour of the Sony Picture Studio will allow you to visit historic sound stages and get to experience what a real working studio is like.
Griffith Observatory – At this gateway to the sky, you will be able to look through the famous Griffith Observatory telescope, experience exhibits, see a live show and enjoy the incredible views of the city of L.A. and the famous Hollywood sign.
Must Do Activities in San Francisco:
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA)
Renovated relatively recently, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art boasts many new exhibits and greatly increased its size, making it the largest museum of its kind in the entire world and a must-see attraction.
This fantastic institution wants to make sure the museum is available to everyone, so they’ve created 45,000 square feet of art-filled space that’s open to the public, free of charge. Of course, you won’t want to leave without seeing what else they have in store for art lovers!
The museum is always changing and has so many possibilities for exploring and learning that it is one of the most highly recommended attractions of the city. Keep an eye on their events calendar to see what’s coming up in the way of special programming or temporary exhibits, too.
Getting In: SFMOMA tickets are included on the Go San Francisco Card.
Aquarium of the Bay
Located in the incredibly popular Fisherman’s Wharf neighborhood, the Aquarium of the Bay is an excellent attraction option for animal lovers.
As you step into their amazing exhibits, you really get a feel for the incredible world beneath the surface. With all of the shows, exhibitions, and talks available throughout the day, you’ll learn so much about the ocean and its many fascinating inhabitants.
Getting In: Aquarium of the Bay tickets are included on the Go San Francisco Card.
Hop On Hop Off San Francisco Tour
This easy and convenient bus tour is a great way to see a lot of the city and orient yourself quickly.
Your guided adventure will take you through all the main parts of the city including Chinatown, Fisherman’s Wharf, the Ferry Building, and so much more.
The best part of this bus tour is its flexibility. If you see something that interests you, like the great shops in the Ferry Building, you can just hop off the bus, take your time looking around, and then catch another bus when you are ready to move on.
This is a truly great way to see the city and experience all it has to offer.
Getting In: Hop on Hop Off Big Bus San Francisco Tour tickets are included on the Go San Francisco Card.
California Academy of Sciences
This scientific and educational institution is located in San Francisco’s beautiful Golden Gate Park.
The California Academy of Sciences has a vast array of exhibits and information explaining life on earth. They also boast a planetarium, an aquarium, and a natural history museum all under one green roof.
The California Academy of Sciences is also environmentally conscious and not only advocates for sustainable living, but also leads by example with its living roof.
Getting In: California Academy of Sciences tickets are included on the Go San Francisco Card.
Bridge 2 Bridge Cruise
This San Francisco Bay cruise is a great way to see and learn about all the waterfront sights and more from an ocean view.
This cruise is the only Bay cruise that will take you under two of San Francisco’s most famous bridges — the Golden Gate Bridge and the Bay Bridge.
You’ll be surrounded by amazing views on all sides, while being treated to interesting information about your surroundings.
This is truly a great way to see the city, the coast, and bridges in an efficient amount of time.
Getting In: Bridge 2 Bridge Cruise tickets are included on the Go San Francisco Card.
Fun San Fran Area Options to Add to Your California Road Trip Itinerary:
There are plenty of other fun options to choose from in the San Francisco area, including these activities, many of which included on the Go San Francisco Card or the Build Your Own Pass.
Golden Gate Park – The Golden Gate Park is home to the de Young museum and the California Academy of Sciences and many more attractions. This beautiful park is made up of large grassy spaces (great for picnics), incredible gardens, lakes, museums, and more.
Fisherman’s Wharf – On Fisherman’s Wharf you’ll find lots of activity and excitement. From the street performers to the fresh seafood stands, there isn’t a dull moment at this iconic place.
Other Cruise Options (Escape From The Rock, Golden Gate Bay Cruise) – If you’re interested in spending more time on the San Francisco Bay, there are other great cruise options. Some of these options include the Escape From the Rock boat trip (a trip to Alcatraz, the prison of the San Francisco coast) and the Golden Gate Bay Cruise (which will take you around the Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge for great views and an unforgettable experience).
Wine Country Tours – Wine Country Tours will take you outside the city of San Francisco and into the rolling hills of the surrounding country. On a Wine Country Tour, you will find yourself on a beautiful vineyard and with the opportunity to explore everything it has to offer.
Blazing Saddles Bike Rental – Explore the city on your own time with a bike rental. One of the best ways to use this bike rental is to take a ride across the Golden Gate Bridge. At any of the Blazing Saddles Bike Rental locations, the employees will direct you to the fastest route to the Golden Gate Bridge. This unforgettable and thrilling experience will provide you with amazing views of the city and the bay.
This California itinerary was designed to be a fun San Diego to San Francisco road trip packed full of the west coast’s top attractions and things to do.
Remember, many of these great attraction options and more are available on our California attractions pass options, where you can save up to 55% on combined admission vs paying at the gate.
We hope you consider adding a few of these fun options to your California vacation itinerary!