The southwestern corner of the country holds some of the nation's most famous and beautiful attractions. San Diego, California has so much to offer for kids and adults alike. Listed below are some of the best things to do with your kids in San Diego which make it a beautiful, one-of-a-kind city of the Pacific.
1. San Diego Zoo
The world-famous San Diego Zoo is a must-see attraction for everyone! It is home to over 3700 rare and endangered animals and over 700,000 exotic plants throughout the spacious 100 acres. Highlights include the Polar Bear Plunge, the Giant Pandas, the Skyfari tram and other exhibits. The website provides schedules, tickets, and much more!
2. The Beach
San Diego is covered with 70 miles of stunning coastline and breathtaking ocean views. Coronado Central Beach encloses the famous Hotel Del Coronado, a very calm and dog-friendly area. La Jolla Shores Beach is for the more active beach-goer. There are surf schools, kayak rentals, La Jolla caves, and the main street, Avenida de la Playa, is in easy walking distance. Moonlight Beach, located in Encinitas, is the ultimate beach: picnic tables, fire rings, lifeguards, restrooms, volleyball courts, a snack bar and equipment rentals make this a great place to stop on vacation.
3. LEGOLAND California
This resort not only owns the largest selection of LEGOs in the country, but you can also enjoy the SEA LIFE Aquarium, LEGOLAND Hotel, LEGOLAND Water Park. Check out the website for park hours and price. These are San Diego activities for kids to enjoy!
4. Birch Aquarium At Scripps
This lively seaside environment of tidal pools, whale watching, and over 60 habitats of fish and invertebrate from the Pacific to the tropical waters of Mexico is a favorite destination in La Jolla. The location is perfectly ideal because you will be able to enjoy beautiful views of the ocean as well as you make your way through the enclosures.
5. Children’s Pool Seals
This cozy, scenic spot up in La Jolla is a favored attraction for both kids and adults because it is simply a stretch of beach filled with seals! In the early 1930s, a seawall was built to protect children from vicious waves, so they could enjoy swimming safely. But the harbor seals and sea lions have come to find this enclosure a home for themselves. Although swimming is allowed, this is more of a site to look at. Bring your cameras though for the beautiful scenery and its furry and fuzzy natural inhabitants!
6. Balboa Park
Besides being one of the largest tourist spots in San Diego, it is also one of the most satisfying as well. It is a park filled with colorful and natural gardens, 16 museums, restaurants, and beautiful pools and fountains scattered throughout. There are plenty of activities for little kids too to include the Model Railroad Museum where there are four large scale and model train layouts. For adults, there is the Science Center where everyone can peruse through 8 galleries and 100 exhibits. Also, check out the IMAX theater inside! The History Museum is also worth checking out for their dinosaur bones, geology exhibits, San Diego ecosystem history, and exhibits of the Titanic, Ansel Adams, coffee, and so much more. Another attraction to Balboa Park is its proximity to San Diego Zoo, very convenient for vacationers. This will be a family favorite from your San Diego vacation.
7. Petco Park
Home of the San Diego Padres during baseball season, this is a fun place to see just in Downtown. You are free to take behind-the-scenes tours of the park, the field, the press box, and more. Tickets for the games are available online so check it out for a local game and get some Padres spirit! Make sure to bring your camera as well because Petco Park has very scenes of Coronado Island and the stunning downtown area.
8. SeaWorld San Diego
There is too much to say about SeaWorld: the Cirque de la Mer water show, Sesame Street Bay of Play, roller coasters and water rides, behind-the-scenes tours, and hands-on activities. SeaWorld is simply just an incredible place to be! A must for your San Diego vacation! All ages will sure to enjoy. It is located just near the Mission Bay Area, which is a another perfect San Diego beach.
9. New Children’s Museum
This is the perfect attraction for those who are traveling with little children. There are climbable art installations, art rooms dedicated to food, finger-painting, tot-time for little kids, arts and crafts, a surrealistic exploration called the "The Wonder Sound," and so much more. The San Diego activities for kids at the museum will help them "think, play, create." Everything is hands-on, fun for the whole family, and educational.
10. San Diego Zoo Safari Park
Although physically separated from San Diego Zoo, the Safari Park is filled with more hands-on and playful activities. There are over 3000 animals that live within the park and 10 different safaris such as the “Flightline Safari” a zip line safari; “Caravan Safari”, a 2 hour safari in an open-air truck with the opportunity to feed giraffes; the “Cheetah Safari” where you have the chance to watch the fastest land mammal up close run, and many, many more. Adults and kids will absolutely love this adventure up close and personal with animals of all sorts!
11. San Diego Botanic Garden
This is a vacation spot that everyone in the family can enjoy. The garden is composed of over 24 themed gardens, ranging from native plants, endangered plants, low water plants, plant of the month, and more. For children, there are bird feedings, a giant tortoise display, and a fun summer camp. The Seeds of Wonder Children’s Garden is full of bubble making, dinosaur dig-ups, child-sized play house, and model railroad track with trains that chug through the garden. The Hamilton Children’s Garden has a giant game of tic-tac-toe, a garden of feathery plants, sundial displays, and a giant tree house.
12. Maritime Museum of San Diego
As San Diego is a large nautical city thanks to its support of the US Navy, there is a lovely museum dedicated to early naval vessels. There are nine boats in the museum to include steam-powered boats, sailing ships and submarines. Families can spend a night aboard the Star of India, the world’s oldest active ship during the summer months. To make it even better, you can walk along the beach and river walks for some delicious seafood.
13. Carlsbad Flower Fields
The Flower Fields are particularly famous for their wedding venues and huge fields of colorful displays. Mainly in bloom and in season from March to May, the Fields are open to tourists for hayrides through the fields, tractor rides, play houses and amusement areas. This place is wonderfully beautiful in the Spring so make sure to bring your camera for some absolutely beautiful photographs.
14. Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve
This is a favored and popular reserve located in San Diego. The Torrey Pines hiking trail is simply beautiful as it directly looks over the cliffs out onto the Pacific Ocean. There are a number of trail paths to choose from so each time you hike is a different adventure. There are a few hills along the way but the majority of the trails are flat and well mapped out. Many of the trails lead directly onto the beach so as you walk your way back to the beginning, you can walk in the ocean and take in the San Diego's natural beauty.
15. Cabrillo National Monument
This monument is named after the leader of the first European expedition to explore the West Coast in 1542. Here, you will enjoy a hike along Bayside Trail, which gives you a spectacular view of Point Loma and the Point Loma Lighthouse. The lighthouse is a famous marker for Sailors as it signals their entry into San Diego Harbor.
16. Old Town California
Old Town is a fun place to enjoy Spanish dancing and fine Spanish cuisine. This is the place where the first Spanish settlers arrived in 1769 and built the first missions in the state. There are 15 historic buildings, a haunted house called the Whaley Museum, theater and billiard hall, and the Serra Museum. And then you can visit any one of the many eateries that will leave your tummy asking for more!