The Best Children’s Hospitals In California

Securing high-quality children’s medical care is critical – after all, kids are not just small adults. Pediatric hospitals offer specially tailored services meeting the unique needs of young patients from birth through the teen years.

Specialized children’s hospitals employ physician experts across pediatrics specialties along with child life specialists and family resources focused wholly on kids. They excel at making clinical experiences positive despite scary situations.

California children have access to some of the nation’s elite pediatric hospitals and specialty programs. Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford, and Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego are consistently ranked among the best children’s medical centers nationwide.

How California’s Top Children’s Hospitals Were Evaluated

Several benchmarks determine a children’s hospital’s clinical excellence and suitability for kids:

  • Pediatric Expertise – Quality of specialty care across pediatrics including cancer, neonatology, neurology, pulmonology, cardiology, orthopedics, and urology.
  • Family-Centered Care – Integration of parents fully into care, amenities supporting family needs, pediatric education, and support resources.
  • Clinical Outcomes – Survival rates, recovery benchmarks, and treatment efficacy for pediatric conditions and procedures.
  • Nursing Excellence – Quality of specialized pediatric nurses, pain management approaches, and communication with young patients.
  • Patient Safety – Strict infection control and prevention of medical errors with pediatric-tailored practices.
  • Child-Focus – Kid-friendly environments, tailored treatments, and policies wholly centered around children.

California’s Top 10 Children’s Hospitals

California’s Top 10 Children’s Hospitals

Rank Hospital Location Highlights
1 Children’s Hospital Los Angeles Los Angeles – 5 children’s hospital nationally per U.S. News

– Leader in pediatric specialties and advanced care

– Family-centered patient care model

2 Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford Palo Alto – Top 10 children’s hospitals nationally

– Leader in specialties like cancer, neurology & more

– Pioneers innovations like fetal surgery

3 Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego San Diego – Top 10 children’s hospital nationally <br>- Leader in cancer, orthopedics, genetics & more<br>

– CA’s first Pediatric Emergency Department

4 UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital San Francisco – Top 10 children’s hospital nationally

– Leader in solid organ transplants, neurology & more

– Partners with UCSF for clinical trials

5 Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA Los Angeles – Top 10 children’s hospital nationally

– Leader in complex neonatal care, surgery & more

– Level 1 Pediatric Trauma Center

6 Loma Linda Univ. Children’s Hospital Loma Linda – Global leader in pediatric transplant & heart surgeries

– Top 1% nationally in neurology & gastroenterology

-Level 1 pediatric trauma center

7 Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital Long Beach – Leader in hematology/oncology, pulmonology, neurology & more<br>- Level 2 pediatric trauma center <br>- Modernized patient tower opened 2022
8 Valley Children’s Healthcare Central Valley – One of the largest U.S. pediatric networks <br>- Leader in pediatric specialties <br>- New Madera facility opening 2025
9 CHOC Children’s Hospital Orange County – Ranked among top 50 children’s hospitals nationally <br>- Leader in cancer, neuroscience, orthopedics & more <br>- Certified Stroke Center
10 Shriners Hospital Pasadena Pasadena – Global leader in pediatric orthopedics <br>- Treats neuromusculoskeletal conditions <br>- Provides restorative burn and cleft care

Children’s Hospital Los Angeles

This world-class pediatric facility affiliated with the Keck School of Medicine of USC earns the #1 spot for comprehensive clinical care paired with a child-first philosophy.

Highlights & Accolades:

  • Ranked the #5 children’s hospital nationally by U.S. News
  • Leader in pediatric cancer, cardiology, neonatology, orthopedics, neurology and urology
  • Level 1 trauma center equipped for most complex pediatric cases
  • State-of-the-art surgical tower with advanced medical technology
  • Family-centered patient care model and cuddler program supporting parents
  • Child life program preparing kids and families for healthcare experiences

At Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, kids from across California and beyond access elite medicine with compassion.

Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford

This expanding Bay Area children’s hospital garners second place for its integration of world-class Stanford medicine into family-focused pediatric care.


  • Ranked among the top 10 children’s hospitals nationally since 2010
  • Leader in pediatric specialties ranging from cancer and cardiology to genetics, neurology, and urology
  • Highest rating possible in Pediatric Intensive Care Unit care from The Leapfrog Group
  • Cutting-edge fetal and pregnancy care offered, including pioneering fetal surgery
  • Promotes family-centered experience via parent bedside sleeping, sibling visits, and family respite services
  • Recently completed major expansion increasing bed count to 361

Blending academic excellence with heartfelt care, Lucile Packard provides Northern California families with exceptional medical treatment for kids.

Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego

This Southern California pediatric hospital clinches third place thanks to its comprehensive clinical services and child-friendly amenities.

Highlights & Accolades:

  • Ranked among the nation’s top 10 children’s hospitals by U.S. News consecutively
  • Leader in pediatric specialties like cancer, orthopedics, neurosciences, emergency care, and genetics
  • Extensive pediatric research portfolio with over 275 active clinical trials
  • Pioneers innovations like 3D-printed device implants and liquid biopsies
  • Home to California’s first Pediatric Emergency Department
  • Family-centered care with accommodations like overnight rooms for parents

Rady Children’s Hospital delivers advanced pediatric medicine paired with quintessential San Diego sunshine and warmth.

UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital San Francisco

This preeminent Bay Area children’s hospital affiliated with UCSF Medicine garners fourth place for blending specialized pediatric excellence across complex disciplines.

Highlights & Accolades:

  • Ranked among the top 10 children’s hospitals nationwide by U.S. News
  • Leader in complex specialties like pediatric solid organ transplantation, cardiology, neurology, gastroenterology, orthopedics and urology
  • Highest rating possible in Leapfrog Group’s evaluation of hospital safety and quality
  • Partner of UCSF enabling enrollment in innovative clinical trials
  • Child life services like medical play and expression activities make care less intimidating
  • Family accommodation with 21 private overnight rooms

Delivering hope and healing to Bay Area kids, UCSF’s Benioff Children’s Hospital ushers in tomorrow’s breakthroughs today.

Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA

This vibrant Westwood pediatric hospital garners fifth place for blending specialized clinical excellence across over 100 pediatric subspecialties with tailor-made kids programs.

Highlights & Accolades:

  • Ranked among the nation’s top 10 children’s hospitals per U.S. News 2022-2023 Best Children’s Hospitals Honor Roll
  • Leader in areas ranging from complex neonatal care and pediatric surgery to cardiology, neurology, and gastroenterology
  • Level 1 Pediatric Trauma Center equipped to stabilize critically injured children
  • Leverages partnerships with UCLA researchers to advance pediatric medicine
  • “Starlight Site” certification for media amenities easing hospital stays for children
  • Family support programs like free lodging, therapy, and special needs resources

Delivering hope alongside UCLA’s towering jacarandas, Mattel Children’s Hospital provides kids with compassionate, specialized care.

Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital

This leading Inland Empire children’s hospital excels in pediatric specialty and trauma care infused with whole-person wellness.

Highlights & Accolades:

  • A global leader in pediatric heart transplants and infant heart surgeries
  • Top 1% in the nation for pediatric neurology and gastroenterology excellence per U.S. News
  • Level 1 trauma center stabilizing critically injured children across the region
  • Integrative medical approaches leverage nutrition, spirituality, and lifestyle
  • New towers opened in 2020 quadrupling patient capacity
  • Family-oriented amenities like overnight rooms for parents and VR distraction therapy

With advanced medical interventions guided by whole-person wellness, Loma Linda Children’s Hospital provides complete healing.

Miller Children’s and Women’s Hospital Long Beach

This comprehensive Southland pediatric hospital delivers advanced specialty care along Long Beach’s sunny coastline.

Highlights & Accolades:

  • Leader in pediatric hematology/oncology, pulmonology, gastroenterology, neurology, and cardiology
  • Level 2 pediatric trauma center equipped for critical injuries
  • High nursed: patient ratios ensuring quality time and caring relationships
  • Affiliated with MemorialCare’s network of over 4,600 physicians
  • Child life services and medical play easing healthcare anxieties
  • Recently modernized pediatric inpatient tower opened in August 2022

Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital delivers leading pediatric care with compassion by the shore.

Valley Children’s Healthcare

This expanding Central Valley children’s hospital ranks among California’s most comprehensive pediatric centers serving over 1.3 million kids.

Highlights & Accolades:

  • One of the largest pediatric healthcare networks in the United States
  • Leader in specialty care like pediatric heart care, cancer, mental health, and pulmonology
  • Partners with UCSF Health enabling cutting-edge pediatric clinical trials
  • 142-bed Madera facility opening in 2025 will expand access to advanced care
  • Leverages telehealth to extend top pediatric expertise to remote regions
  • Family advisory council informing patient-centered improvements

Delivering elite pediatrics to Central Valley kids, Valley Children’s Healthcare removes barriers to top-tier care.

CHOC Children’s Hospital

This beloved Orange County pediatric hospital excels in complex specialties from oncology to orthopedics to neuroscience within recreation-rich surroundings.

Highlights & Accolades:

  • Ranked among the nation’s top 50 children’s hospitals by U.S. News
  • Leader in pediatric cancer, neuroscience, orthopedics, heart care and mental health
  • Certified Comprehensive Stroke Center providing specialized rehabilitation
  • Hyundai Cancer Institute offering precision medicine and clinical trials
  • Access to Orange County’s sights like Disneyland and beaches to lift spirits
  • Comforting amenities for families like guest beds and Netflix

Combining clinical excellence with quintessential California sunshine, CHOC Children’s Hospital uplifts kids in The O.C.

Shriners for Children Medical Center Pasadena

This pediatric specialty hospital provides advanced orthopedic, spinal, cleft lip/palate, and burn care to kids facing physical challenges regardless of families’ ability to pay.


  • A global leader in pediatric orthopedics research and care
  • Treats complex spinal deformities, limb deficiencies, cerebral palsy, and other neuromusculoskeletal conditions
  • Provides restorative burn care focusing on physical and emotional healing
  • Multidisciplinary cleft lip/palate program offering reconstructive surgical options
  • All care provided regardless of families’ ability to pay
  • Bright, hopeful decor and play spaces for kids

Delivering first-rate rehabilitation to empower kids facing physical difficulties, Shriners Pasadena transforms children’s lives.

Facilities & Amenities at Top California Children’s Hospitals

Category Offerings Details
Child-friendly spaces Playrooms, teen lounges, gardens Dedicated areas supporting play, education, socializing
Family amenities Sleep rooms, laundry, parking Comforts and conveniences for family members
Patient Resources Libraries, resource centers Educational materials on health conditions
Academic services Special education teachers, remote learning technology Enabling students to keep up with schoolwork
Dining options Cafes, room delivery with pediatric menu Supporting a range of nutritional needs
Entertainment amenities Gaming lounges, satellite TV service Movies, games, and media to lift spirits
Comfort care Massage, music therapy, cuddler volunteers Holistic support for pain, anxiety, and coping

Key Takeaways:

  • Leading children’s hospitals invest in family-friendly facilities and resources.
  • Academic, dining, and play programs cater specifically to kids’ needs.
  • Comfort care eases stress for better healing.

Specialty Expertise at Top California Children’s Hospitals

Hospital Specialty Experts Examples
Children’s Hospital Los Angeles Pediatric neurology, pulmonology, neonatology Roberta Glick, MD; Indery Asrani, MD; Pinchi Srinivasan, MD
Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford Pediatric cardiology, gastroenterology, orthopedics Katsuhide Maeda, MD; Bruno Chumpitazi, MD; Peter Waters, MD
Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego Pediatric critical care, genetics, urology Nicholas Cavarocchi, MD; Yanhong Deng, MD; Walid Farhat, MD
UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Pediatric endocrinology, ENT, emergency medicine Stephen Gitelman, MD; Kristina Rosbe, MD; Jeanne Noble, MD
Valley Children’s Healthcare Pediatric neurology, pulmonology, surgery Raman Sankar, MD; Roy Kim, MD; Douglas Miniati, MD

FAQs: Best California children’s hospitals

How can you evaluate and select the optimal children’s hospital for your child?

What key markers indicate children’s hospital quality? Top children’s hospitals excel in pediatric specialty care breadth, nursing excellence, child life support, family amenities, clinical outcomes in pediatric treatment efficacy and survival rates, and prevention of medication errors/infections.

Why choose a nationally-ranked children’s hospital?

Leading children’s hospitals have greater experience managing and optimizing outcomes for even the most complex pediatric cases from congenital disorders to childhood cancers. Their pediatric focus also makes the care delivery experience more child-friendly.

What if my child has a very rare condition?

For highly complex or undiagnosed conditions, broad multidisciplinary pediatric expertise is critical. Leading hospitals like CHLA and Lucile Packard are best equipped for such scenarios. Enrolling in precision medicine trials can uncover answers.

How were the top 10 California children’s hospitals selected?

To determine California’s premier pediatric options, U.S. News & World Report children’s hospital rankings were cross-referenced with Leapfrog pediatric care ratings. Geographic diversity and specialty breadth were also considered to showcase centers excelling in advanced and complex pediatric medicine statewide.


When a child faces worrying symptoms or a complex diagnosis, finding the right children’s hospital is critical. Fortunately, California families can turn to a roster of nationally-ranked pediatric hospitals statewide that blend clinical excellence with compassion.

Leading facilities like Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford, and Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego have deep expertise in treating rare childhood conditions. They focus wholly on the unique needs of pediatric patients.

From Los Angeles up through San Francisco, these children’s hospitals provide access to elite diagnostics, advanced treatments, and restored well-being. Their family-centered approach accompanies clinical excellence, as amenities catering to parents/siblings further reduce anxieties.

While every child and situation is unique, understanding California’s premier pediatric hospitals empowers parents to make informed care decisions. When evaluating top-tier children’s hospitals, specialized expertise must align with personalized needs. Here’s to California kids growing stronger in body, mind, and spirit thanks to the state’s compassionate, leading-edge children’s medicine.


My name is Selina, a medical specialist blogger helping people access treatment for 5+ years. Although blogging awhile, only recently deeply engaged. This past year my most productive, providing hospital reviews and info on symptoms, diagnoses and diseases. Also offer guidelines to help readers navigate healthcare. Goal to continue increased content pace to assist many. Aim to facilitate treatment and empower advocacy through writing.

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