24 Best Theme Parks in Northern California

Northern California knows how to deliver thrills! These parks aren’t just about rides – they create lasting memories. Sure, some parks show their age, and crowds can be a drag. Still, the excitement is undeniable.

One park stands out. It’s home to the world’s first-ever strata-coaster. This ride breaks barriers, pushing height and speed limits beyond anything you’ve experienced. Want to know which park it is? Keep reading, and we’ll spill the beans!

Insider Tip: This record-breaking strata-coaster often has shorter lines in the evening. Head there as the sun starts to set for a smoother ride experience!

California’s Great America

California's Great America in California

California’s Great America promises classic amusement park fun. You’ll find thrills galore, water slides, and decent food options. They’ve got a nice mix of rides, from intense coasters to kid-friendly stuff. But let’s be real – it can get pricey, and the park isn’t the newest.

LocationSanta Clara, California
Cost Range$$
Main AttractionsGold Striker, Flight Deck, RailBlazer, Demon, Drop Tower, Boomerang Bay Water Park
MapCalifornia’s Great America Map

Still, it’s a solid choice for families or groups who want that old-school theme park vibe. October is a blast – they go all out with spooky decorations and haunted houses. Summer’s their busiest time, but the water park helps beat the heat.

Insider tip: Check for online deals before you buy tickets at the gate. Sometimes you can snag a decent discount!

Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk

Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk in California

The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is a blast from the past! You’ll find vintage rides nestled right next to the sandy beach. It’s more about the relaxed atmosphere than cutting-edge attractions. Think classic seaside fun, not high-tech thrills.

LocationSanta Cruz, California
Cost Range$$
Main AttractionsGiant Dipper, Sky Glider, Neptune’s Kingdom, Sea Swings, Fireball
MapSanta Cruz Beach Boardwalk Map

Families love the old-school carousel and the boardwalk’s mix of food – everything from corn dogs to gourmet snacks. Summer is their peak season, with live music and the beach at its best (but also those crowds!). Opt for spring or fall if you want more elbow room without sacrificing the sunshine.

Insider Tip: The Giant Dipper, that iconic wooden coaster, runs smoothest at night. Hit it after dark for the best ride!

Happy Hollow Park & Zoo

Happy Hollow Park & Zoo in California

Happy Hollow Park & Zoo is a San Jose gem! It’s the perfect mix of cute animals, kid-friendly rides, and a sprinkle of learning. Think hands-on petting zoo experiences, not just peering at exhibits. They’ve got a puppet theater (so quirky!) and a cool focus on being eco-friendly.

LocationSan Jose, California
Cost Range$
Main AttractionsAnimals, Rides, Puppet shows, Learning Lodge, Picnic Areas
MapHappy Hollow Park & Zoo Map

It’s not huge, so little legs won’t get too tired. If you want to skip the crowds, weekdays are best. Spring and fall weather makes it even more enjoyable for exploring the outdoor areas.

Insider Tip: Check their website for special events – sometimes they have animal encounters or themed activities that aren’t always advertised widely.

Gilroy Gardens Family Theme Park

Gilroy Gardens Family Theme Park in California

Gilroy Gardens is a hidden gem, especially if you love plants! It’s part theme park, part giant garden – a totally unique experience. The rides are mostly geared toward younger kids, so think gentle thrills, not roller coaster madness.

LocationGilroy, California
Cost Range$$
Main AttractionsCircus Trees, Garlic Twirl, Artichoke Dip, Quicksilver Express, Monarch Garden, Splash Garden
MapGilroy Gardens Family Theme Park Map

They have these amazing “Circus Trees” – trees shaped into hearts, spirals, all kinds of crazy forms. Makes for awesome photos! This place is ideal for picnics, as they have tons of shaded areas.

Insider Tip: Head to the water play area first thing in the morning. It gets packed later in the day, especially during warmer months.

WaterWorks Park

WaterWorks Park in California

WaterWorks Park is your Redding oasis! Think waterslides, pools, and splash zones galore – perfect for families looking to beat the heat. Little ones will go wild for the kiddie area, while bigger kids (and adventurous adults!) can tackle the fast slides.

LocationRedding, California
Cost Range$$
Main AttractionsAvalanche, Cyclone, Dragon, Riptide, Lazy Lagoon, Lil’ Squirts
MapWaterWorks Park Map

It’s no secret – WaterWorks gets crowded, especially on summer weekends. For a quieter time, hit it on a weekday or go super early/late in the day. Want a guaranteed spot to chill? Splurge on a cabana rental (they book up quick, so do it in advance!).

Insider Tip: Bring your own water bottle! They’ve got refill stations to keep you hydrated without paying theme park prices for drinks.

Children’s Fairyland

Children's Fairyland in California

Children’s Fairyland in Oakland is pure magic for the little ones. It’s like walking straight into a storybook! They’ve got rides, themed play areas, even puppet shows – all based on classic tales. It’s more about imagination than big thrills, making it perfect for toddlers up to about age 8.

LocationOakland, California
Cost Range$
Main AttractionsOld West Junction, Pirate Ship, Alice in Wonderland Maze
MapChildren’s Fairyland Map

Let’s be honest – Fairyland isn’t cheap. Weekend crowds can be tough too. For the best experience, aim for a weekday visit or go during the fall or winter when things are calmer.

Insider Tip: The “Jolly Trolly” is an old-school train that loops around the park. Kids love it, and sometimes it’s a nice break for tired adult legs!

Six Flags Discovery Kingdom

Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in California

Six Flags Discovery Kingdom is a wild mix – think rollercoasters, animal shows, and even a splash zone! It’s a good choice for families with varied interests – someone can be riding a looping coaster while others check out the dolphins.

LocationVallejo, California
Cost Range$$
Main AttractionsThe Joker, Medusa, Superman Ultimate Flight, Dolphin Discovery, Odin’s Temple of the Tiger
MapSix Flags Discovery Kingdom Map

Be prepared: it can get expensive, and lines for the big rides can be loooong, especially in summer. But hey, they’ve got some super-fast coasters if thrills are your thing!

Insider Tip: The animal shows are actually pretty cool. If you time it right, you can catch a show while the lines for rides are at their worst.

Sonoma TrainTown Railroad

Sonoma TrainTown Railroad in California

Sonoma TrainTown Railroad is a sweet escape, especially if you’re traveling with younger kids. The train ride is the star of the show – a relaxing journey perfect for little engineers. They’ve got a few classic rides, a playground, even a place to meet some farm animals.

LocationSonoma, California
Cost Range$
Main AttractionsSteam Train Ride, Carousel, Ferris Wheel, Roller Coaster, Petting Zoo
MapSonoma TrainTown Railroad Map

It’s not about thrills, it’s about those old-school amusement park vibes. Perfect for a sunny afternoon where everyone can unwind.

Insider Tip: They sometimes offer snacks on the train – check before you go if that appeals to your crew!

Funderland Amusement Park in California

Funderland Amusement Park in Sacramento is like a big hug for families. It’s got those classic rides that bring back childhood memories – a carousel, a little train, even a Ferris wheel with a great view. It’s perfect if you want a fun day out with the kids without the crazy crowds or sky-high prices.

LocationSacramento, California
Cost Range$
Main AttractionsLog Run, Flying Dragon Roller Coaster, Crazy Cups, Squirrelly Whirl, Red Baron, Backroad Buggies, Oscar the Fish, Funderland Train
MapFunderland Amusement Park Map

Don’t expect the latest, greatest rollercoasters. But sometimes, simple is best! Think laughter, maybe a bit of cotton candy, and the kind of happy exhaustion you get after a day at the park.

Insider Tip: Keep an eye on their website. They sometimes do special events like character meet-and-greets or themed days that are a blast for the kids.

The Wave

The Wave in California

The Wave in Dublin is your go-to spot for summer fun! Think thrilling water slides, a big wave pool, and a splash area perfect for younger kids. It’s a guaranteed way to beat the heat and make some memories.

LocationDublin, California
Cost Range$$
Main AttractionsSplash Zone, Slides, Play Structure
MapThe Wave Map

Expect crowds, especially on summer weekends. Lines get long, and it can be tough to find shade, so plan accordingly.

Insider Tip: Want to hit the best slides when the lines are shortest? Wait until about an hour before closing! Most of the crowds head home by then, leaving more room for last-minute thrills.

Pixieland Amusement Park

Pixieland Amusement Park in California

Pixieland Amusement Park in Concord is all about smiles for the little ones! Think classic rides like a carousel, a mini train, even gentle “flying” airplanes. It’s perfect for that toddler-to-preschool sweet spot.

LocationConcord, California
Cost Range$
Main AttractionsAntique Carousel, Red Baron Airplanes, Pixie Express Train, Frog Hopper, Windy Grove Cars
MapPixieland Amusement Park Map

Don’t expect high-speed thrills – this place is about gentle fun. It can also get busy on weekends and isn’t exactly cheap.

Insider Tip: Head to the back of the park first! The train and a few other popular rides are tucked back there, and lines are usually shorter at the start of the day.

Aqua Adventure Water Park

Aqua Adventure Water Park in California

Aqua Adventure Water Park in Fremont is the perfect way to beat the heat! They’ve got slides, a splash zone for the little ones, and even a lazy river for floating. It’s a great option for families who want a mix of thrills and relaxation.

LocationFremont, California
Cost Range$$
Main AttractionsOasis Pool, Bucket Bay, Splash Zone, Adventure Island, Fort Fremont
MapAqua Adventure Water Park Map

Be prepared – summer weekends get absolutely packed. If you hate crowds, weekdays are a much better choice. It’s also not the cheapest way to cool off, so factor that in.

Insider Tip: They have these shaded cabanas for rent. If you’re willing to splurge, snag one online before you go – they sell out, but guarantee you a spot to escape the sun.

Boomers Livermore

Boomers Livermore in California

Boomers Livermore is a guaranteed good time! They’ve got go-karts, laser tag, mini-golf… basically, all the stuff that makes a day out memorable. It’s a great place to let your inner kid loose (and bring the real kids along too!).

LocationLivermore, California
Cost Range$$
Main AttractionsGo Karts, Miniature Golf, Laser Tag, Batting Cages, Kid’s County Fair
MapBoomers Livermore Map

Just be warned – weekends get seriously packed. Think energy, noise, and maybe a few lines. But hey, that’s part of the experience, right?

Insider Tip: They sometimes have “unlimited play” wristbands. If your group has serious stamina, look for those deals!

South Bay Shores

South Bay Shores in California

South Bay Shores is summer fun central! They’ve got big slides for thrill-seekers, a splash zone for the little ones, and tons of space to lounge in the sun. Ideal for families who want that classic water park experience.

LocationSanta Clara, California
Cost Range$$
Main AttractionsShark Reef Plunge, Feeding Frenzy, Pacific Surge, Mad Res-
cue, Tide Pool, Sandcastle Cove, Pup’s Pier
MapSouth Bay Shores Map

Lines can get loooong, especially on hot weekends. It’s also not cheap, so be prepared for sticker shock.

Insider Tip: They rent cabanas! It’s pricey, but you get shade and a guaranteed place to stash your stuff. If you hate fighting for a lounge chair, consider splurging on one.

Roseville Golfland Sunsplash

Roseville Golfland Sunsplash in California

Roseville Golfland Sunsplash is like a choose-your-own-adventure for fun! They’ve got a water park with slides and a wave pool, but also mini-golf, an arcade… even go-karts! Perfect for groups who can never agree on one activity.

LocationRoseville, California
Cost Range$$
Main AttractionsWavepool, Lazy River, Miniature Golf, Arcade
MapRoseville Golfland Sunsplash Map

Expect summer crowds and lines, especially on weekends. And fair warning, it’s not cheap to get everyone in.

Insider Tip: The mini-golf course is actually pretty decent! It’s a good “chill zone” if you need a break from the water park madness.

Scandia Golfland

Scandia Golfland in California

Scandia Golfland in Fairfield is the perfect spot for old-school fun! They’ve got mini-golf, go-karts, batting cages… even an arcade with classic games! It’s like stepping back in time, perfect for families or friend groups who want a laid-back, smile-filled day.

LocationFairfield, California
Cost Range$$
Main AttractionsMini-Golf, Batting Cages, Bumper Boats, Arcade
MapScandia Golfland Map

Be warned: it gets packed on weekends, and it won’t win any awards for cutting-edge attractions. But, sometimes that’s a good thing!

Insider Tip: They sometimes have afternoon specials! Hit their website before you go, as you might score a deal on unlimited play.


FUNBOX SACRAMENTO - Citrus Heights in California

Think of FunBox in Citrus Heights as a giant, colorful playground! It’s all about photo ops, interactive exhibits, and just being a little bit silly. Great for families with younger kids or anyone who loves a unique experience.

LocationCitrus Heights, California
Cost Range$$
Main AttractionsSelfie Room, Teddy Bear Tunnel, Bubble Bath-tub, Upside-down room
WebsiteNot Available
MapFUNBOX SACRAMENTO – Citrus Heights Map

Be warned: it can get crowded, especially on weekends. It’s also not huge, so don’t expect to spend hours there.

Insider Tip: They change out some of the exhibits regularly. Follow them on social media to see the latest and decide if it aligns with your interests!

Six Flags Hurricane Harbor Concord

Six Flags Hurricane Harbor Concord in California

Six Flags Hurricane Harbor Concord is a guaranteed good time if you like making a splash! They’ve got thrilling slides, a wave pool that’ll knock your socks off, and even a lazy river for when you need to catch your breath. It’s basically summer fun dialed up to 11.

LocationConcord, California
Cost Range$$
Main AttractionsThe Big Kahuna, Splashwater Island, Break Point Plunge, The River Cruise, and Typhoon Slide Complex.
MapSix Flags Hurricane Harbor Concord Map

Just know: weekends here are chaotic. Think crowds, lines, and lots of excited kids (which can be awesome or a dealbreaker, depending on your vibe).

Insider Tip: They sometimes have afternoon/evening discounts. If you’re okay with a shorter visit, check their website for those deals!


FUNBOX PLACER COUNTY - Roseville in California

FUNBOX Placer County in Roseville is a giant play space for kids! It’s all about hands-on activities, bright colors, and photo-worthy spots. Perfect if you need a place to burn off energy, especially on a rainy day. Best for kids in the toddler to early elementary age range.

LocationRoseville, California
Cost Range$$
Main AttractionsGiant Teddy Bear, Up Lollipop Maze, Cup Noodles, Bath Time, Rubber Ducky Bath Time
WebsiteNot Available

It’s not huge, so don’t expect to spend all day here. But they do timed sessions, which helps keep the crowds manageable.

Insider Tip: Socks are required for everyone! Don’t get caught out – bring a few pairs, especially if your kids are prone to losing them.

Fairytale Town

Fairytale Town in California

Imagine stepping inside a giant storybook – that’s Sacramento’s Fairytale Town! It’s got playsets based on all your favorite stories, plus farm animals to meet and gardens to explore. Perfect for little ones with big imaginations (and grown-ups who love a bit of magic too!).

LocationSacramento, California
Cost Range$
Main AttractionsKing Arthur’s Castle, Sherwood Forest, Mr. McGregor’s Garden, Cinderella’s Carriage
MapFairytale Town Map

Best for kids in that preschool to early elementary sweet spot. It’s more about gentle fun than big thrills. Think climbing, sliding, and lots of pretending.

Insider Tip: There’s a little petting zoo area tucked in the back. A nice surprise for animal lovers!

Antioch Water Park

Antioch Water Park in California

The Antioch Water Park is your spot for beating the summer heat! They’ve got a mix of slides, pools, and a kiddie splash zone – something to keep everyone happy. It’s more about low-key fun than cutting-edge thrills, perfect if you want a laid-back day by the water.

LocationAntioch, California
Cost Range$$
Main AttractionsThrill Slides, Sport Pool, Tad Pool, Spray Park, Lap Pool
MapAntioch Water Park Map

Be warned: it gets packed on weekends, and it’s not huge. If you hate crowds, plan accordingly!

Insider Tip: They sometimes have discounts or afternoon-only tickets. Check their website before you go to see if you can score a deal.

Urban Air Trampoline and Adventure Park

Urban Air Trampoline and Adventure Park in Sacramento is where active fun gets turned up to 11! It’s way more than just trampolines. Think climbing walls, ropes courses, even a battle beam for balancing duels! Perfect for those days when you’ve got energy to burn.

LocationSacramento, California
Cost Range$$
Main AttractionsTrampolines, Adventure Course, Spin Zone, ProZone, Climbing Wall, Sky Rider, Tubes Playground
MapUrban Air Trampoline and Adventure Park Map

Heads up: It can get pricey, and weekends are chaotic.

Insider Tip: Check for online discounts! Sometimes you can snag a coupon or a special event that makes it a better deal.

Wake Island Waterpark

Wake Island Waterpark in California

Wake Island Waterpark is a blast for water lovers! They’ve got a cable system for wakeboarding and waterskiing, which is awesome if you want to try something new. But there’s also a floating obstacle course, beach volleyball, and even a kiddie splash zone. Great if you’ve got a mixed group!

LocationPleasant Grove, California
Cost Range$$
Main AttractionsWater Slides, The Aqua Park, Wakeboarding, Paddleboarding, Beach Volleyball
MapWake Island Waterpark Map

Summer weekends get absolutely packed. If you have the flexibility, weekdays are way more chill.

Insider Tip: They rent out the whole park for private events! If you have a big birthday or a group outing, that could be a super fun (though pricey) option.

Raging Waters San Jose

Raging Waters San Jose in California

Raging Waters San Jose is a summer classic! They’ve got tons of slides, a big wave pool, and a lazy river for floating. It’s a good choice for families or groups who want that traditional water park experience.

Location San Jose, California
Cost Range$$
Main AttractionsBombs Away, Dragon’s Den, Endless River, Great Barrier Reef, Pirate’s Cove
MapRaging Waters San Jose Map

Be warned – it gets crowded and pricey, especially on weekends. If you hate waiting in lines, this might not be your jam.

Insider Tip: They have cabanas for rent. If you’re willing to splurge, they offer guaranteed shade and a spot to stash your stuff.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *