If you decide to book a fly-drive holiday in California, you’ve the freedom to visit as many of its spectacular theme parks as possible. The US state has so many to choose from, it can be tricky knowing where to start. However, below are five of what I think are the best, and a brief guide to each theme park.
1. Knott’s Berry Farm
Knott’s Berry Farm is located in Buena Park on Beach Boulevard, south of two freeways, so it’s easily accessible by car. Spanning 160 acres, the theme park has everything from restaurants and shops to live shows and white-knuckle rides, as well as plenty of attractions that are more suited to younger children.
If you’re something of an adrenaline junkie, make sure you don’t leave without climbing onboard some of its thrilling rides. WindSeeker sees you travel 300 ft into the air, which will certainly provide you with spectacular views if you dare to look! La Revolucion, meanwhile, swings you into the sky at 64 ft.
2. Disneyland Park
It wouldn’t be a driving holiday to California without stopping at Disneyland Park, whether or not you’ve got children with you. You’ll be greeted by Main Street, USA, where you’ll board a vintage vehicle which will take you past traditional-style buildings.
Once you hop off, you can head to the various sections within the theme park, including Fantasyland, Tomorrowland and Frontierland. The latter is where you’ll find the popular runaway mine train Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and remains a firm favourite among visitors. Disneyland Park is also home to the likes of Space Mountain, as well as some of the characters from the famous children’s films.
3. Six Flags Discovery Kingdom
Six Flags Discovery Kingdom is an easy drive from northern California’s main destinations, including San Francisco and San Jose. Located in Vallejo, the theme park is the only one in the country to have marine animals, wildlife and white-knuckle rides all in one place.
Again, adrenaline junkies will enjoy Medusa, the most technologically-advanced, tallest, fastest and longest rollercoaster in all of California. Another one not to miss is V2: Vertical Velocity, which will see you reach speeds of around 70 mph in just four seconds. There are lots of rides for little ones too, not to mention creatures such as dolphins, elephants and tigers to see.
4. California’s Great America
Fourth on my list of the state’s top theme parks is California’s Great America. This is a short drive from San Jose and around 45 minutes from San Francisco, so like the others, you should easily find it when in a rental vehicle.
The theme park is packed with family rides, including Star Tower, Whitewater Falls, The Grizzly and Celebration Swings, while KidZVille will keep younger children amused with its abundance of child-friendly rides and play areas. For those of you who like something to get your heart racing, keep an eye out for the 2013 opening of Gold Striker. This will be northern California’s fastest and tallest wooden rollercoaster, reaching speeds of nearly 54 mph and a height of 108.2 ft.
5. Universal Studios
TV and movie buffs will love Universal Studios, which is located right in Hollywood, an attraction in itself. From 3D rides such as Hong Kong 360 and Transformers: The Ride to the Special Effects Stage and Studio Tour, there is plenty to keep everyone of all tastes amused here. I especially like the sound of the Studio Tour, which sees you explore the biggest working film studio on the planet.