Friday, February 23, 2024

23 of the very best issues to do in San Diego with children


You’re spoiled for selection in relation to nice household metropolis breaks in California, however because the state’s second largest metropolis, it’s no shock that there’s loads to tempt you to San Diego with children.

View of the city skyline of San Diego on a sunny day, seen from the back of a boat with US flag flying - my tips for the best things to do in San Diego with kids

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Together with nice family-friendly museums and a world-famous zoo, there’s historical past, nice seashores and loads of possibilities to get outside too, to not point out some main household sights a brief drive from the town itself.

So whether or not you’re stopping as a part of a highway journey in California or are spending your entire break in southern California, right here’s my decide of the very best issues to do in San Diego with children.

MONEY SAVING TIP! Go to San Diego throughout October and you’ll usually get free admission for teenagers to a number of the metropolis’s greatest sights as a part of the Youngsters Free San Diego promotion

San Diego Zoo

Need your child to expertise an African rainforest and the Arctic taiga with out having to go away the US? Take them to one of many world’s greatest zoos – the San Diego Zoo, which is unfold throughout 100 acres of Balboa Park.

There’s an enormous 3,500 animals to find, together with pandas, polar bears, elephants, meerkats, and flamingos, plus the prospect to see them in a recreated model of their pure habitat – excellent for kindling your youngster’s curiosity.

Koala on a branch in San Diego zoo - one of the best places in San Diego for families

If the strolling will get an excessive amount of for the youthful ones in your troop, the zoo has you coated with its on-site bus tour that covers round 75% of the location.

Or for one thing a bit extra adventurous, climb aboard the Skyfari Aerial Tram, the zoo’s overhead gondola raise. You’ll be in for a deal with with some superb aerial views, adequate for kings and queens of the jungle. 

Get a reduction on tickets when you e-book through Tiqets utilizing my code MUMMYTRAVELS6, or you can too e-book a 1-day Any Day Go if you wish to preserve your schedule versatile.

Don’t get this confused with San Diego Zoo Safari Park, which is round half-hour outdoors the town – though as one of many largest artifical safari parks on the earth, it’s a implausible time out close to San Diego for households too. You may also get joint tickets to each the Zoo and the Safari park when you’re visiting San Diego with children who love animals

Balboa Park

A mixture of tradition, science, and nature, Balboa Park is dwelling to over 1,200 acres of parkland with a complete array of museums, theatres, gardens, trails, and different leisure areas to find – there’s even a scavenger hunt that will help you discover all of it.

Begin with a go to to the WorldBeat Cultural Heart’s EthnoBotany Youngsters’s Peace Backyard, which provides children the chance to study in regards to the meals they eat each day and the function of vegetation in society. 

Try the Marie Hitchcock Puppet Theater too, the longest continuous-running puppet theatre in the US – children (and oldsters) will love the exhibits, or on the San Diego Mannequin Railroad Museum, the biggest such indoor exhibit in North America.

For some extra downtime between sightseeing in Balboa Park, take your children to the world’s first IMAX Dome Theater for academic exhibits on the Fleet Science Heart. They’ll get to see exhibits akin to Serengeti, Turtle Odyssey, Historical Caves, and Deep Sky, whisking them from beneath the waves as much as the celebs, through a few of earth’s most fascinating landscapes.

Toddlers will love their time on the centre’s Child Metropolis, with its interactive play areas, though with eight galleries and over 100 interactive science displays to discover, together with a digital actuality journey simulator and flight simulators, there’s assured to be one thing to maintain all the household entertained.

The Casa de Balboa building with koi pond and waterlilies on a sunny day in Balboa Park - one of the best places to visit with kids in San Diego

The New Youngsters’s Museum   

The place are you able to go in case your children usually are not feeling outdoorsy? The New Youngsters’s Museum in downtown San Diego is jam-packed with actions, excellent for a wet day in San Diego with children.

On the latest addition, No Guidelines….Besides, guests of all ages get to get pleasure from leaping and crawling on greater than 150 mattresses and pillow tyres.

Different displays embrace Sketch Aquarium, the place children get to scan their sea life drawings right into a digital life-size aquarium, and a complete string of others with engaging names like Wobbleland, The Marvel Sound, Wammock! and plenty of extra.

The main focus is on immersing children in artwork and inspiring creativity in all, so it’s a implausible inclusive house too.

San Diego Pure Historical past Museum  

Your children will love the lots of of quirky displays on the San Diego Pure Historical past Museum, together with the fascinating assortment of dinosaur skeletons on show.

In all, the museum homes a formidable 7.5 million specimens, together with rocks, minerals, fossils, taxidermied animals, and mammals – in addition to interactive displays unfold throughout 5 flooring, so that you’ll have loads to see and do at this kid-friendly San Diego attraction. 

Fountain in front of the Natural History Museum - one of the many great museums to visit in San Diego with kids

One of many museum’s greatest highlights is the Big Display Theatre, with each 2D and 3D movies to show all in regards to the pure world.

Try the San Diego Go Metropolis Go which provides you entry to as much as 7 sights, together with the Pure Historical past Museum, or the San Diego Go Metropolis All-Inclusive Go with entry to as much as 50 sights and excursions

San Diego Air and Area Museum

In case your children have an curiosity within the universe and the whole lot past our planet, the San Diego Air and Area Museum will take you on a journey by way of house, from the planets and stars all the way in which out to the sting of the identified universe.

You may study the whole lot from historic astronomy to fashionable house exploration, and there’s even a piece devoted to UFOs!

Whether or not you’re a seasoned house buff or simply beginning your journey of cosmic discovery, put in your rocket scientist hat and prepare for an out-of-this-world expertise!

Maritime Museum of San Diego

Dwelling to the USS Halfway Museum, the biggest naval vessel on the earth open to the general public, the Maritime Museum of San Diego showcases maritime historical past and tradition in its fleet of eight vessels.

In addition to providing an interesting glimpse into life on a US plane provider, there’s loads extra to maintain children entertained, from interactive displays to plane simulators.

The Star of India sailing ship at the Maritime Museum - one of many historic things to do in San Diego with kids

For teenagers (and oldsters), there’s an opportunity to find extra from the educated guides too, who present historic and army commentary.

You may also tour the Star of India, the oldest lively crusing ship, and even keep aboard throughout particular household in a single day adventures in the summertime. Purchase tickets with free cancellation.

Coronado Central Seaside  

Set simply over the bridge from San Diego, Coronado’s seven miles of shoreline is dotted with 5 important seashores so it’s best when you’re in search of a household day by the coast.

The most well-liked selection for households on Coronado Island is Central Seaside – though the entire seashores other than South Seaside have lifeguards and restrooms – proper within the coronary heart of city, and only a quick approach away from eating places and different sights.

View of the beach and beachside path on Coronado Island, site of some of the best beaches in San Diego for kids

For a change from museums and sightseeing, it couldn’t be simpler to search out someplace to construct sandcastles and splash within the calm waters when you’re in search of an opportunity to loosen up and luxuriate in San Diego seashores.

If you happen to’re in search of extra lovely seashores in San Diego, there’s loads of selection, together with Mission Seaside, and the Ocean Seaside and Pacific Seaside areas – some are extra family-friendly than others, relying when you’re visiting with teenagers or toddlers although

Previous City Trolley Excursions 

In case your youngster loves historical past and listening to tales, then the Previous City Trolley Excursions is the proper option to uncover extra in regards to the metropolis, whereas getting an opportunity to see the sights too.

Whereas the drivers share thrilling info in regards to the metropolis’s historical past and structure, in addition they always work together with children and preserve them engaged so it’s additionally a terrific option to see a number of the hottest San Diego sights in a single go.

They’re hop on hop off excursions as nicely, so it’s a enjoyable option to get from A to B, in addition to having the prospect to stretch your legs in case your children want a break.

The Old Town trolley tour and one of the historic buildings in San Diego Old Town, one of the unusual places to visit in San Diego with kids

Discover Previous City San Diego

The placement of the primary European settlement in California, it’s the oldest neighborhood in San Diego and an ideal place to wander round.

There’s an opportunity to find extra in regards to the origins of California right here on the Junipero Serra Museum, though you’ll be able to consider the entire district as a type of dwelling museum as you wander previous the colorful boutiques between the historic buildings – be careful for the haunted Whaley Home Museum!

If you happen to love Mexican meals, you could find a number of the metropolis’s greatest right here as nicely – don’t be shocked to return throughout stay mariachi performers as you stroll.

And whereas it’s a bit of approach from most of San Diego’s different vacationer attraction, the trolley excursions cease right here so it’s simple to hop off and discover.

Bike Excursions of San Diego with children 

If you wish to see as a lot as potential and time is brief, it’s arduous to beat a motorbike tour – and an e-bike tour are nice if not everybody desires to place in lots of effort!

Rent your individual and discover at your individual tempo, with each bikes and ebikes to lease, plus children’ bikes, toddler trailers and tagalongs

Or for households with teenagers, hop on an e-bike to find the very best of San Diego in a 2 1/2 hour tour of the town.

This two-hour electrical bike tour of La Jolla is appropriate for teenagers aged 12+, visiting La Jolla Cove and the coast, recognizing seals and fancy mansions alongside the way in which.

Tail of a gray whale emerging from the water off the coast of Southern California as boat-load of people watching - whale-watching tours are one of the best things to to in San Diego with kids

Go Whale Watching

San Diego is a good place to look at whales and dolphins as they swim off the California coast, so that you’ll discover a selection of whale-watching boat excursions to select from for households.

In summer season, you might be fortunate sufficient to identify Blue Whales feeding offshore, whereas from winter to spring, Grey Whales migrate from Alaskan waters to their calving lagoons in Baja California.

Metropolis Cruises runs a four-hour whale watching tour, with an opportunity to identify dolphins, seals and sea lions alongside the way in which, or Flagship Cruises have knowledgeable guides offering commentary as you sail.

Each depart from San Diego harbor, not removed from Broadway Pier and Navy Pier, to take you out into San Diego Bay.

San Diego SEAL Metropolis tour

For a ship tour with a distinction, climb aboard the San Diego SEAL Metropolis tour to discover the town by land and sea.

Beginning with a drive by way of the San Diego streets, you’ll go a string of landmarks together with the Embarcadero, in addition to the USS Halfway, in addition to studying extra in regards to the significance of the army within the metropolis.

Then the hybrid bus-boat heads straight into Huge Bay the place you’ll be able to cruise previous extra ships, in addition to passing Shelter Island to listen to tales of early sailors and spot the seals hanging out. Simply one of the crucial enjoyable issues to do in San Diego with children.

Kayaks in the sea near caves at La Jolla Cove - one of the best things to do in San Diego with kids

Kayak within the La Jolla Caves  

Lower than a 20-minute drive from San Diego itself, it’s simple to get out an discover the California coast, together with the prospect for older children to discover the ocean cliffs and La Jolla Caves by kayak.

You may lease kayaks and embark by yourself adventures as a household or spot sealife on a two-hour cave tour led by knowledgeable information. With double kayaks, it’s appropriate for teenagers aged 5+.

And when you’ve had your journey out on the waves, save a while to loosen up on the sandy La Jolla Shores seaside as nicely – additionally an ideal possibility for youthful children to play whereas any older ones head out to sea.

Birch Aquarium At Scripps   

Whereas in La Jolla, the Birch Aquarium at Scripps is one other nice possibility for a household time out. Greatest identified for its sea dragons (correctly generally known as weedy seagragons!), there are additionally penguins, turtles, sharks, octopus and a complete shoal of various fish.

The Corridor of Fishes options greater than 60 habitats that span from the Pacific Northwest to the tropical oceans, whereas you can too rise up shut and private with sea stars, hermit crabs, sea cucumbers, lobsters, and different sea creatures on the Tide Pool Plaza. 

A part of the Scripps Establishment of Oceanography, entry is included within the San Diego Metropolis Go, which additionally means you’ll be able to go to with out prebooking.

If you happen to’re studying this record and suppose I’ve forgotten all about Seaworld San Diego in Mission Bay, it’s a deliberate selection on my half – whereas it’s a serious household attraction, I select to not suggest wherever which retains orcas in captivity

Rollercoaster at Belmont Park amusement park in Mission Bay - one of the great things to do in San Diego with kids

Belmont Park

If you happen to’re in search of theme parks, the closest factor on the record is Belmont Park – this amusement park is a historic gem with loads of rides and video games to maintain children entertained.

With 22 enjoyable rides and sights to get pleasure from along with carnival-style video games, you’ll be able to get pleasure from all of it whereas being surrounded by lovely views and superb oceanfront surroundings.

If you happen to’re in search of thrills, journey the Big Dipper (a classic picket curler coaster initially in-built 1925) at speeds over 45 mph, whereas little ones can benefit from the carousel and rides like Tilt-A-Whirl and Dip & Dive.

Try the San Diego Go Metropolis Go which provides you entry to as much as 7 sights, together with a Belmont Park Trip and Play Go, or the San Diego Go Metropolis All-Inclusive Go with entry to as much as 50 sights and excursions

Waterfront park 

Not removed from the Maritime Museum, Waterfront Park is a good place for teenagers to let off some steam, with loads of play tools in addition to spray fountains to splash in on a sunny day.

There are sometimes particular occasions going down right here, together with farmers markets (so you may decide up one thing scrumptious to eat on the park’s picnic tables) in addition to household pleasant festivals.

You’ll discover a bike path by way of the park as nicely when you’ve employed your individual bike for the day, and also you’re not removed from Little Italy the place you’ll be able to decide up some nice ice cream earlier than you hit the park.

Waterfront public park at the Embarcadero Marina Park in Downtown San Diego with picnic benches and paths leading between the grass - one of the fun places in San Diego for families

Eat at Corvette Diner 

You received’t be in need of nice locations to eat in San Diego with children, however Corvette Diner is a kid-friendly house with a distinction.

This traditional diner has 50s-styled workers ready tables and singing, whereas the menu has shakes and burgers, amongst different traditional diner dishes plus a soda fountain. The Dante’s Inferno cheeseburger has an added kick, or with bacon and peanut butter, the Rory would get Elvis’s seal of approval.

With an arcade, a magician on the desk and vibrant decor, this 50s-themed household pleasant attraction in San Diego is likely to be kitsch however in relation to kid-friendly eating places, that is positively one to recollect.

Legoland California

Embark on a memorable journey with your loved ones at Legoland California, the place creativeness involves life for teenagers of all ages – round a 30-minute drive from San Diego, it’s one to not miss whilst you’re visiting the town.

With over 60 rides, exhibits, and sights the place children can take the lead, this San Diego household theme park is geared to children aged between 2 and 12. The Heartlake Metropolis part options an interactive construct space, Fort Hill is a medieval journey with knights and dragons, and the Creativeness Zone is a must-visit for inventive little ones.

Don’t miss a visit to Legoland’s Sea Life Aquarium whilst you’re there, to move your children into the depths of the ocean. Youngsters will get to see marine life galore together with sharks, sea turtles, stingrays, sea stars, sea horses, jellies, and hundreds of colourful fish within the 20,000-square-foot indoor aquarium! 

Subsequent to the aquarium is the Legoland Water Park, one other cool spot to spend a few hours with the children. There are slides, rides and wave pool for the entire household, such because the Duplo Splash Safari space and Craggers Swamp space. Guide tickets for Legoland California right here.

Colourful flower fields with an old tractor in the background at Carlsbad Flower Fields near San Diego - one of the most unusual things to do in San Diego with kids

Carlsbad Flower Fields

A bouquet’s throw from Legoland California, The Carlsbad Flower Fields are one of the crucial uncommon issues to see with children in San Diego County.

The fields come alive each spring like a trapped rainbow as 50 acres of flowers bloom in each conceivable shade, in addition to some enjoyable household actions.

Tiptoe by way of the maze of candy peas, fill out passport papers at stamp stations, and admire the Big Tecolote Ranunculus, in addition to studying about recycling and composting.

The perfect time to see the fields is usually mid-March by way of early Could, however examine the web site for up to date data on blooming instances.

Seaside Hike At Torrey Pines Pure Reserve 

Not removed from La Jolla, Torrey Pines State Pure Reserve is likely one of the greatest household sights in San Diego. With over eight lovely trails to discover, that is the proper place to expertise a few of California’s pure magnificence. 

A good way to soak up the view from above is to observe the Man Fleming Path, a largely flat 0.8-mile loop excellent for little toes. As you and your little explorers traverse the well-maintained path, you’ll be rewarded with fabulous views of the dramatic cliffs and the Pacific Ocean.

And while you want a break, there are benches the place you’ll be able to sit again and take within the coastal surroundings. 

View of the cliffs and path with the beach and Pacific Ocean beyond at Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve - one of the great places to get outdoors in San Diego with kids

Mission Trails Regional Park

Mission Trails Regional Park is one other excellent place for households in search of some out of doors journey, with an opportunity to having fun with picture-perfect views of San Diego’s cityscape within the background.

With greater than 65 miles of trails and eight,000 acres of hills and canyons to discover, together with different out of doors actions, there’s one thing for everybody at this city park.

Mountain climbing and biking trails wind by way of the park’s pure areas, whereas playgrounds, grassy areas with picnic tables, and fishing spots are excellent for a day within the nice outside.

And probably the greatest issues about Mission Trails is that it’s solely a brief drive from downtown San Diego – so it’s simple to get to!

Cabrillo Nationwide Monument

A go to to the Cabrillo Nationwide Monument brings historical past to life, with loads of actions for teenagers on this enjoyable household time out.

On this website again in 1542, Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo climbed out of his boat and stepped into historical past as the primary European to set foot on what’s now the West Coast of the US.

In addition to uncover extra about sixteenth century exploration, you’ll be able to go to Previous Level Loma Lighthouse, been refurbished to showcase life within the 1800s with interval furnishings in addition to exploring the park itself.

Observe the Bayside Path for a spectacular panoramic view of the ocean and the town beneath. Mid-January is peak time for recognizing whales right here, however you’ll be able to typically see them in migration season from mid to late December by way of March. Be sure you cease by the tide swimming pools too whilst you’re there too, to see what’s revealed at low tide.

The Cabrillo Monument with the city of San Diego and the ocean seen in the background on a sunny day - visiting is a great option to discover history and get outdoors in San Diego with kids

San Diego Botanic Backyard

For a enjoyable and attention-grabbing day journey with your loved ones, the San Diego Botanic Backyard is certainly value contemplating – regardless of the identify it’s not within the metropolis itself, but it surely’s simple to achieve by automotive.

With greater than 37 acres of gardens, vegetation, and nature trails to discover, there’s one thing for everybody to get pleasure from too. Themed gardens embrace a Japanese backyard, rose backyard, succulent backyard, and a number of other gardens made particularly for youngsters.

The Seeds of Marvel Youngsters’s Backyard is designed for households to attach with nature and is ideal for preschool-age children. It encompasses a dinosaur-themed backyard, playhouse, topiary, and miniature railroad. Throughout most months, it additionally hosts weekly actions in partnership with SAPLinGS – Science Artwork & Play In Floor Area Saves (a program that promotes inventive studying).

The biggest kids’s backyard on the West Coast, the Hamilton Youngsters’s Backyard gives a wealth of studying alternatives for teenagers. Right here, kids could have enjoyable exploring the Unimaginable Edibles part, taking part in large tic-tac-toe, drawing on a large chalkboard, studying about sundials, or climbing an elaborate treehouse.

The San Diego Botanic Backyard can be dwelling to quite a lot of attention-grabbing vegetation and animals, so you should definitely preserve your eyes peeled!

For concepts of extra issues to do on the California coast, try our 10-day Pacific Coast Freeway Itinerary, in addition to concepts for San Francisco with children and visiting Northern California with children

Disclosure: This submit incorporates affiliate hyperlinks – any purchases you make are unaffected however I could obtain a small fee

Photos courtesy of Depositphotos

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