Plan a perfect getaway with our list of the best things to do in San Diego with kids.
With the warmer months beginning to settle into most of North America, it’s time to escape the cold. Many families are making their way down south. it With so many beautiful things to do in the south, it is no wonder why. Like most families, bringing along the kids is an absolute must. Especially if you are trying to get away from the bitter cold. If you are traveling with children, then today we have got a treat for you. In today’s article, we are going to dive head first into some of the best things to do in San Diego with kids.
Our roundup of the best things to do in San Deigo with kids will include a variety of activities. From families who love adventure to families who prefer to relax. There is a little something for everyone. We have rounded up a list of some of the top activities that locals and tourists absolutely love when it comes to San Diego. Of course, San Diego is known for its fantastic restaurants, but there is plenty more to do here as well. Surprisingly enough, some of these destinations will cost you no more than a car ride over. Let’s get started with our roundup of some of the best things to do in San Diego with kids this travel season.
1. Spend the Day at Sea World San Diego
Credit: Sea World San Diego / Facebook
If you and your family love adventure and wildlife, then this popular destination is for you. Without a doubt, one of the best things to do in San Diego with kids is to visit the beautiful San Diego Sea World. Sea World is known around the world as one of the most family friendly destinations to visit. Although Sea World has earned a bad rep over the years, vistors shound not be quick to judge. There is so much more going on here that you should not ignore it.
One of the absolute show stopping features to take advantage of here are the beautiful dolphins. These friendly creatures will swim right up to you and share a laugh or two. In fact, if you really want to get to know the dolphins, you can actually get in the water and swim with them! Having the chance to swim with dolphins is an oppertunity you can not miss out on. Other majestic creatures that you can splash around with include the majestic Beluga Whales. These fantastic whales are certainly a sight to take in. Don’t be worried, their size may be alarming, but they are certainly one of the friendliest creatures that call Sea World home.
If you prefer to take things one step at a time, then consider making your way over to the beautiful penguins. Interacting with them is certianly one of the neatest things to do in Sea World. Of course, if you have not had the opportunity to clap along with California’s happy seals, no worries either. The seals here at Sea World are some of the cutest and most fun animals you will see. Be sure not to miss out on them when you visit. With so many different animals to have fun with, one thing is certain. Whatever sea animal you choose to spend the day with, you will surely not be disappointed.
Once you are done hanging out with the beautiful sea creatures here, there is more adventure waiting for you. If you love thrill and adventure, then you are sure to love the exciting roller coaster rides. When it comes to thrill rides, the roller coasters here are some of the best that the state has to offer. Some of the show stopping rides you should save a seat on include the ever popular Electric Eel. There is also the fantastic Manta and Journey to Atlantis that will have your heart stopping. These rides are sure to have you loving all that the park has to offer. You can easily spend an entire day here and not get bored.
For loads of fun and adventure, visiting San Diego Sea World is a must. Whether or not you are traveling with family, you can not go wrong here with your travel clan. Locals and visitors alike vote this hot spot easily as one of the best things to do in San Diego with Kids.
2. Stroll Through Balboa Park
Balboa Park is one of the most popular destinations in southern California. If you are traveling with children, then this is one of the best things to do in San Diego with kids. What makes Balboa Park such an iconic destination is the fact that there is so much to learn here. This is because Balboa Park is home to some of San Diego’s best museums.
Some of the museums that you can expect to find here include the Fleet Science Center, the San Diego Natural History Museum, and the San Diego Model Railroad Museum, Balboa Park is also home to the Museum of Man, and the San Diego Air and Space Museum. In addition to that, there are 11 other museums that are waiting to be explored here. With all these museums, you might find yourself coming back more than once.
If you are not coming here to explore the many museums, then strolling through the grounds is an absolute must. Balboa Park’s grounds are some of the most beautiful landscaping in San Diego. It is this landscaping that makes it perfect for strolling around in on a warm summer’s day. You can easily pack along a nice picnic and spend an afternoon here admiring the beauty around you.
If getting out and enjoying the beauty sounds appealing, then there are a range of gardens and trails for you to stroll through. Not only that, but you can look forward to finding many performances happening year ’round. This is thanks to the wonderful performing art venues that are located here. With over 1,200 acres that are carefully and artfully cared for, there is beauty in every corner that you turn. You can easily spend a whole day here and not get bored. Nature lovers, history lovers, and explorers alike are sure to enjoy all that awaits you here at Balboa Park. All these neat features are what make Balboa Park awesome. For many, this is one of the best things to do in San Diego for kids.
3. Spend the Day in the San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum
Credit: Children’s Museum / Facebook
Another one of the best destinations and easily one of the best things to do in San Diego with kids is this next hot spot. With all travelers with kids, it is a must to visit the San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum. The San Diego’s Children’s Discovery Museum is the perfect place for kids to explore and venture out with hands on learning. The Discovery Museum offers visitors six thousand square feet of indoor space to play in. Inside, you will find themed play stations of all sorts. These different play areas are designed for children to interact with their environment. Along with that, these themed stations offer children hands on activities. Such activities include things such as shopping, learning about wildlife, and exploring the nature around them.
When you venture outside, there is even more adventure waiting for you. Outside of the San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum you will find plenty of fun. There are chicken cubes, worm farms, and other hands on interactive locations for children to play in.
What makes the Discovery Museum such a neat place to visit is the impact it has on young children. This is in part because it brings awareness to energy and water conservation to children. Not only that, but it is presented in a way that children can understand. Children from all ages can benefit from the hands on learning method that the Children’s Museum has to offer. Each investigative station allows your child the opportunity to interact one on one with things they will see in their everyday life. There is no better place to let a little your kids explore big world things than at the family geared Diego Children’s Discovery Museum. Without a doubt, it is one of the best things to do in San Diego with kids.
4. La Jolla
Credit: Jon Lee Clark
When it comes to traveling with children, one of the best things to do is to get in touch with nature. Along with that, one of the best things to do in San Diego with kids is to soak in the sights of the iconic seals that call Southern California home. If you are looking to visit the sea lions, then it is a must that you make your way to La Jolla. La Jolla is home to lazy sea lions who lounge around all day. Kids of all ages are sure to enjoy the unique display of cuteness and fun that the sea lions have to offer.
One of the most popular locations to visit the sea lions is a location called the Children’s Pool. The Children’s Pool is a rather small stretch of send that is protected by a dismal seawall. In this location, the sea lions have overtaken the shore and lounge around. Many have observed that the lions lounge here all day waiting for visitors to stop by and say hello. Originally, the Children’s Pool was intended as a safe play area for children to lounge around in. However, the seals took over and now it is more of a sightseeing location than an actual pool to play in.
It is not clear yet whether or not officials want to restore this patch of shoreline for children again, however one thing is certain. It is a popular destination that draws out crowds of visitors each year. In the meantime, La Jolla is certainly one of the best places to go to if you want to visit these iconic sea creatures.
When you do visit, you should be aware that touching the sea lines is something that you should avoid. In fact, one of the best ways to observe the sea lions is by standing on the sea wall that closes off the shore instead. If you are a travel photographer, then it is an absolute must that you bring along your camera. The shore here is simply one of the best locations to photograph. You will regret it if you dont. From sight seeing, to seal watching, La Jolla is easily one of the best things to do in San Diego with Kids.
5. Explore San Diego Old Town
When it comes to exploring the history of San Diego, there is no better place to go to than Old Town San Diego. For many decades, Old Town San Diego has been known to be the birthplace of California. What makes this one of the best things to do in San Diego with kids is the fact that the options here are plentiful and entertaining. From historic sites to a beautiful park to many many Mexican restaurants. You can easily spend a day here with your children without getting bored.
A must visit location in Old Town San Diego is the Whaley House. The Whaley House is considered to be one of the coolest haunted houses in the country. You can enter and explore the Whaley House if you are looking to step back into simpler times where the wild west lifestyle of San Diego once existed.
In addition to the Whaley House, you must make it a point to stop by the Junipero Sierra Museum. The Junipero Sierra Museum gives you an actual historical account through the Kumeyaay Indians, Spanish, and Mexican exhibits. These exhibits allow you to explore a time in San Diego’s history where the social landscape was a lot different than what it is today. Visitors can trace back San Diego’s roots starting from the 1700s up to modern day society in this wonderful museum.
In addition to all the historical landmarks that call Old Town San Diego home, there is plenty for you to do right on the streets. If you visit Old Town at just the right time, you will often find groups of people dressed in periodical costumes. In addition to that, it is common for mariachi bands to bring the streets to life with their vibrant music. Lastly, there are other live entertainment options that are sure to bring joy to any visitor’s face.
In order to plan out your trip here properly, be sure to check out the event calendar before you head out. Whatever event you have the opportunity of staying for, we are sure you will fall in love. Without a doubt, strolling through the streets of Old Town San Diego is easily one of the best things to do in San Diego with kids.
6. Visit the San Diego Zoo
When it comes to National Zoos, the San Diego National Zoo is known as one of the best zoos in the nation. When you visited here you will easily see why. Not only is it one of the best zoos in the nation, but it is one of the best things to do in San Diego with kids.
The San Diego Zoo was originally founded by Harry M. Wegeforth. Mr. Wegeforth was a physician who became inspired while on a trip at the Panama California Exposition in 1915. At this Exposition, he heard the roar of a lion and the ambition to create a zoo to connect people with the beauty of wildlife was born. Currently, the San Diego Zoo is home to over six hundred and fifty different species. This range of wildlife is what has allowed the San Diego Zoo to earn the title of one of the best zoos in the nation.
One of the unique features of the San Diego Zoo is the fact that many of the exhibits feature cageless habitats. For example, in 1922, the first ever moated lion enclosure was open. This exhibit setup has allowed visitors to get an experience of the zoo like no other.
In addition to the beautiful lions, the zoo is home to some stunning creatures such as the giant pandas. In fact, the San Diego Zoo is only one of four zoos in the nation to house giant pandas. When you are visiting the pandas, you must make sure to stop by the Giant Panda Discovery Center. This Discovery Center enables visitors to get an experience that is like no other. With the multisensory exhibits that are available here, you can literally experience the manner in which the pandas sound and smell.
You will soon find that strolling through the San Diego Zoo is a wonder in itself as well. One of the best ways to explore the zoo is by getting around on a guided tour bus. This tour bus will highlight some of the main features that the zoo has to offer. In addition to that, you will be able to cover nearly three quarters of the park this way. Another neat way to explore the zoo is through the Skyfari Tramway. This tramway will also offer you a unique manner in which to explore and get around the zoo.
What makes the San Diego Zoo so cool is the fact that zoo officials have gone above and beyond to create natural habitats. The animals who are housed here are in living conditions that closely resemble their natural environments. Some of these habitats include African rainforests that are grazed through by beautiful gorillas. Another neat habitat is the Arctic woodlands and tundras that the polar bears call home.
If you are looking for one of the best things to do in San Diego with kids, then the San Diego Zoo is a location that you should certainly not leave off your list. From the overall experience to the beautiful animals that are housed here, you are sure to fall in love. Be sure not to leave it out on your itinerary here!
7. Relax at Coronado Beach
It is no surprise that San Diego is home to some of the best beaches on the west coast. One of those beaches is the iconic Coronado Beach. Coronado Beach is home to family friendly shores that are waiting to be played on. The wispy white sand paves the way to water that is relatively calm. Because of its location, the water is favorable all year long. This favorability makes it one of the best things to do in San Diego with kids.
In addition to the water, you may want to consider staying at the iconic Hotel del Coronado. . This hotel is popular for so many reasons. For starters, it takes calming luxury to a whole new level. You can easily see this level of luxury in the way that the hotel is designed. The architectural beauty of the hotel is one of the most iconic symbols of Coronado Beach.
With on site restaurants as well as beach chair and umbrella rentals, there is no reason not to spend the whole day here. Pack along a cooler that is stuffed with some of your favorite snacks and drinks and you are sure to have a great time.
If you are traveling with a furry friend then this is the place to be. You should know that Coronado Beach is one of the best places to bring your furry buddy along. On the north end of the beach, there is a dog play area that is perfect for letting your dogs run around. If you are a surfer, then the north end of the beach is where you may want to stay as well. The north end features some of the best surfing in San Diego when the waves are just right.
If you are looking for a lazy way to spend the day and are not too concern about a jam packed day, then head out to Coronado Beach. Ask any local or visitor and they will tell you that this is one of the best things to do in San Diego with kids.
8. Spend the Day at Belmont Park
Credit: Belmont Park / Facebook
If you and your kids love amusement parks, then one of the best things to do in San Diego with kids is to visit the iconic Belmont Park. Belmont Park is a one stop shop for all things fun. For starters, Belmont Park is considered to be one of the best seaside amusement parks in all of the West Coast.
Belmont Park has a little bit of something for everyone. For younger children, there is a fabulous merry go round carousel that is as beautiful to photograph as it is wonderful to ride on. If you are looking for more of a thrill, then there are a range of roller coasters and rides that are just waiting for you here. Are you more of a game lover? No worries. The arcade here is one that you can easily spend a whole afternoon having fun in as well. Kids of all ages are sure to love this hotspot for an afternoon of fun in the sun.
Along with the rides, you are sure to have a fun time sampling all the tasty food that is waiting for you here. For example, Belmont Park is known for having some of the best scoops of ice cream in all of San Diego. Dessert is not the only thing that is served up here. Belmont Park is home to a range of great restaurants as well. One of the best things to do in San Diego with kids is to spend a whole day enjoying the yummy treats that Belmont Park has to offer.
If you plan on traveling to this premier destination, then be sure to check out Costco or Groupon first. For example, if you are a member of Costco, you can often get discounted rates for entry into the park. If not, then Groupon is a great place to go to as well. Groupon often has awesome deals and perks for enjoying the park. While entrance to Belmont Park is free, you should be advised that the rides and other activities will cost you money. One of the best ways to get a good bang for your buck is by getting the Go San Diego card. This card will give you all access combo pass that will allow you to enjoy Belmont Park to the fullest.
9. Explore the Natural History Museum
In any city, visiting the local museums is an absolute must. When you visit the local museums you get the opportunity to dive deep into the history of what makes that museum so unique. With that being said, one of the best things to do in San Diego with kids is to visit the San Diego Natural History Museum. This museum is nicely situated in the beautiful Balboa Park. Along with that, it is currently the oldest scientific institution in Southern California. If you find yourself in Southern California, then you owe it to yourself to pop into this fantastic Institution
The exhibits that are housed here are a beautiful mix of magical, inspiring, and downright mesmerizing. One of the neatest exhibits to experience is the Fossil Mysteries. The Fossil Mysteries exhibit will allow you to explore the prehistoric era of California. There are incredible fossils for you to observe as well as models, interactive stations, and murals that detail the rich history that is ingrained in the fossils located in this region.
In addition to the fossils, there are unique exhibits that detail the relationship between the different ecosystems that call California home. This is really neat to observe especially since California offers such an eclectic range of ecosystems.
Along with all the cool exhibits for your children to dive into, there is a giant theater that offers stunning presentations. With both 2D and 3D presentations, you can experience the unique history of Southern California’s geographical past. The shows here detail everything from the Ice Age to the wonders of the ocean.
Historian buffs are not the only people who are sure to love the Natural History Museum. Children of all ages are sure to enjoy it as well. If you are traveling through Southern California, then it is an absolute must that you put this landmark on your list. Easily said, one of the best things to do in San Diego with kids is to visit this iconic landmark.
10. San Diego Air and Space Museum
Credit: San Diego Air and Space Museum / Facebook
Take Flight and explore all there is to know about the iconic San Diego Air and Space Museum. The San Diego Air and Space Museum is home to so many neat aircrafts and of course, so much fun. Because of all it has to offer, it is easily one of the best things to do in San Diego with kids. When you bring your family here, you are in for a day of exploration, learning, and absolute joy.
The Air and Space Museum is home to a wide range of aircrafts. These historic aircrafts all tell a story that allows visitors to understand how the progress of aviation has helped shape our nation’s history. This Smithsonian affiliate features aircraft such as Aeronca C – 3 Collegian, the Consolidated PT – 1 Trusty and a Ryan STA. These are all iconic engines of the Golden Age of Light. In addition to that, historical artifacts that were prominent during the Golden Age of Flight that are akin to Amelia Earhart’s and Charles Lindbergh’s aviation history can be found here as well.
For historians, you can come out and appreciate the reproductions of the Wrights Brothers’ gliders. You can also jump forward to the Jet Age where a beautiful Douglas A – 4B Skyhawk and a Boeing GPS – 12 Satellite. These both tell the story of that time period. Be sure not to miss out on the North American X -15 rocket plane either. It is these planes that have helped shape the future of aviation as we know it today.
In addition to all the beautiful aircrafts that you can observe here, there’s plenty more. For example, there are also flight simulators that children of all ages are sure to love. In addition to the flight simulators, there is an “Action Hangar” where younger children can explore as well. Lastly, pulsating shows and a 3D / 4D theater are all features of the Air and Space Museum that you can not ignore. For history and flight lovers, this is the place to be. Visiting here is one of the best things to do in San Diego with kids.
11. Explore the Birch Aquarium at Scripps
Credit: Birch Aquarium / Facebook
If you are wanting to learn all that there is to know about the underwater world, then this next location is for you. One of the best things to do in San Diego with kids is to explore the Birch Aquarium at Scripps. The Birch Aquarium is the public exploration center or the nationally acclaimed Scripps Institution of Oceanography.
When you arrive at the aquarium, you will immediately be blown away by the main aquarium once you enter. This main aquarium is home to over 60 types of fishes and invertebrate. These creatures come from everywhere including the cold waters of the Pacific Northwest and the beautiful warm waters of the Mexican Caribbean.
In addition to the main aquarium, the Birch Aquarium offers hands on educational exhibits that are geared specifically for kids. These exhibits do a neat job of teaching children the main methods of both water conservation and energy conservation.
When you head deeper into the Birch Aquarium, you will be greeted with panoramic ocean views of the beautiful La Jolla shore beaches. Here, you will also find amazing tide pools that are home to some fascinating sea creatures. Lastly, depending on when you come, there are some great tours that you can take advantage of. For example, there are whale watching tours that take place from Decenter through April. And if you are here during the summer months, then you may want to take advantage of the snorkeling with leopard sharks. Whatever you choose to participate in, one thing is certain. Exploring the underwater world is easily one of the best things to do in San Diego with kids.
12. Board the Maritime Museum of San Diego
Credit: Maritime Museum of San Diego / Facebook
If you have a sailor in your midst, then one of the best things to do in San Diego is to visit the iconic Maritime Museum of San Diego. The San Diego Maritime Museum is located right on the Embarcadero Waterfront Park. What makes this museum so unique is the fact that it is home to one of the nation’s largest collections of historic vessels. Better yet, these historic vessels are all ready for you to board and explore. Sitting on the brilliant blue waters of the Pacific, you will have the opportunity to dive deep into the history of the sea when you are here.
In total, The Maritime Museum of San Diego allows visitors to experience 11 heritage boats and submarines. While each vessel is one that offers its own unique display, there are some that you should not miss out on. One of the most popular vessels to explore is the Star of India. Not only is the Star of India believed to be one of the oldest ships of its time. But it is impressive in the fact that it still sails regularly.
The history of this ship dates all the way back to the year 1863. This was the year that this vessel was first built. After its construction, it was launched out of the Isle of Man. After that, the vessel’s main mission was to carry a range of cargo between New Zealand, India, and Britain. Although this fabulous structure no longer is an operational cargo carrier, it is still a site to visit. You can get on the boat and explore the ins and out of what made the Star of India so unique.
Another neat vessel to visit it the B 39 Submarine. This submarine was a Soviet era submarine that also happens to be one of the largest conventionally powered submarines that were ever built. To get a sense of the scale that the Soviet Union operated on, this is a pretty neat vessel to explore as well.
13. Play in the Point Loma Tide Pools
Credit: Scott Gustin
One of the best things to do in San Diego with kids is to explore the natural wonder that San Diego has to offer. One of the best places to do this is by going to the Point Loma tide pools. On the western tip of the peninsula, there is a range of tide pools that form on the rocky and jagged shoreline. These amazing tidepools are home to some of nature’s most fascinating creatures. These tide pools are thanks in part to the location of Point Loma. This shoreline is incredibly rocky because it is within the National Monument’s borders. Because of this, any type of commercial development is strictly off limits. This lack of development has allowed the tidal pools here to form and flourish.
Once you decide that you want to visit the tide pools, you will want to keep a tide chart handy. When the tide goes out, the rocky shoreline left behind is left scattered with tide pools. These are all tide pools that will just be waiting to be explored. These tide pools are where you can find a range of sea life including sea anemones, starfish, and hermit crabs. If you are lucky, you may even spot some fish and an octopus as well!
When you are traveling with children, one of the best ways to entertain them is by going outside and exploring the beautiful wonders of the outdoors. The tide pools here are what make this location one of the best things to do in San Diego with kids. Making a quick trip to the Point Loma tide pools is something you certainly will not regret. If you do decide to come out here, we recommend that you bring along a snack. You and your kiddos can easily spend the better half of an afternoon scrambling the rocks and wading in the water here. Packing along snacks will allow you to restore your energy so that you can continue exploring all day long.
14. Stroll Through Seaport Village
Credit: Seaport Village
Before we dive into this next destination, we have to point out that it is one of the best places to explore in California. This is soley on the fact that it one of the best free things to do in San Diego. When you are traveling with children, anything free is a must. According to many locals and visitors, Seaport Village is another one of the best things to do in San Diego with kids. Everything about Seaport Village in San Diego is targeted towards families who are looking to have some fun. Essentially, Seaport Village is an area along the seaside that was designed specifically with families and locals in mind.
When you arrive here at Seaport Village, you will quickly pick up on the touristy vibe. In fact, it is this touristy vibe that pulls tourists from all over the country here. In addition to that, there are over 50 restaurants and shops that make Seaport Village a great destination. Along the seaside here, you will find an eclectic range of shops waiting to be explored. One of these shops is the famous Frost Me Cafe and Bakery that features gourmet cupcakes. This also happens to be the same shop that recently won the Food Network’s hit show Cupcake Wars. In addition to satisfying your sweet tooth, be sure to pop into the local kite store. Here you can get your hands on a one of a kind kite to fly through the breezy bay that surrounds you.
Whenever you decide to visit, you will surely find street entertainment waiting for you as well. From musicians to magicians, there is entertainment to satisfy every type of traveler. Lastly, be sure not to leave Seaport Village without having taken a ride around the historic carousel. Although this historic carousel is mainly for younger children. It is one of the best things to do in San Diego with kids because it is so picturesque. Speaking of pictures, Seaport Village is naturally one of the best places to take family photographs. The vibrant atmosphere here makes photography a must while you are strolling around.
Some might say that exploring Southern California is underrated. However, nothing could be further from the truth. There are so many things to do in Southern California. In fact, you could spend a year here and not get bored. When you are planning your trip out to San Diego, you will want to plan accordingly. San Diego is not a destination to go to if you are looking for a quick getaway. Especially if you are traveling with children.
To truly appreciate and enjoy all the things to do in San Diego with kids, you will want to set aside at least a week or two. This will give you ample time to enjoy all your daily excursions. Not only that, but you will be able to explore all the museums and popular landmarks without having to rush through. And of course, if you are traveling with children, you will need to set a couple of days aside as well. These days will ensure that you can have some time to relax thoroughly as well.
However you choose to plan out your adventure here, you are sure to have plenty of fun. There is nothing overrated about San Deigo. When you get here, you are likely going to agree as well. For family travels and trekking around with kids here’s to happy exploring!
Related Article: Top 6 Best Restaurants in San Diego: Newest Places to Eat