If I compiled a list of my favorite cities, San Diego would be on it. Do your kids want to spend time at the beach? How about spend the day at a theme park? Maybe your children want to learn more about animals and sea life? Or they enjoy watching baseball games? Whether you answered yes to one or all of above, here are 13 amazing things to do in San Diego with kids! My family and I received complimentary admission to many of the attractions listed below, but all opinions are my own. San Diego has been one of our favorite cities to visit for many years.
13 Amazing Things to Do in San Diego with Kids
- See the La Jolla Sea Coves
- Spend a Day at the San Diego Zoo
- Have Fun at LEGOLAND California
- Walk Around and Eat Lunch at Seaport Village
- Relax on the Beach
- Explore the Museums at Balboa Park
- Take a SEAL Tour
- Spend a Day at Safari Park
- Watch a Padres Baseball Game at Petco Park
- Learn about Sea Life at Birch Aquarium at Scripps
- Pretent to Take Flight at the U.S.S. Midway
- Pretend to Set Sail at the Maritime Museum
- Fly a Kite
1. See the La Jolla Sea Cove
One of the most amazing things to do in San Diego with kids is take them to the La Jolla Sea Cove. La Jolla is beautiful, and seals can usually be seen from the shoreline. There are several shops and restaurants nearby as well. Parking can be difficult depending on the time of day, though, so plan on driving around for a bit before finding a parking stall.
2. Spend a Day at the San Diego Zoo
The San Diego Zoo is one of the nicest zoos in the world. It’s also one of the largest zoos. It has every animal you can imagine including panda bears and koala bears. The zoo also has an aerial tram, the Skyfari. Not only is it a great way for you and your kids to rest your feet from walking, but it also has an amazing view. Little ones will especially enjoy the Children’s Zoo.
3. Have Fun at LEGOLAND California
One of the other amazing things to do in San Diego with kids? Have fun at LEGOLAND California. Because everything is awesome 🙂 There’s a reason why we keep going back. From rides, to LEGO build areas, to a waterpark, and an aquarium, kids will have plenty to do. This is a theme park where younger kids won’t feel left out.
4. Walk Around and Eat Lunch at Seaport Village
Walking around and eating lunch at Seaport Village, located near the waterfront, is one of the other amazing things to do in San Diego with kids. We love the ice cream cones from Ben & Jerry’s, and my son loves the vintage carousel. Browse its several shops, unique to California, and while there are sit down restaurants, choose also from available quick service options. The food at the quick service restaurants is affordably priced, especially for families.
The Old Police Headquarters have recently been renovated, and includes the opportunity to view old jail cells!
Conveniently, Seaport Village can also be used as a launching pad for a SEAL Tour (see #7 below) since Old Town Trolley has a location at Seaport Village.
5. Relax at the Beach
Relaxing at the beach is also one of the amazing things to do in San Diego with kids. This is my son’s favorite activity in San Diego. He loves making sandcastles and looking for seashells. There are several family friendly beaches in San Diego like Mission Beach, but our favorites are the Coronado Beach and Carlsbad State Beach.
6. Explore the Museums at Balboa Park
There are several family friendly activities in San Diego, beginning with the kid friendly museums in Balboa Park. It’s the home for museums like the San Diego Air & Space Museum and the San Diego Natural History Museum, as well as the San Diego Zoo. We like the Air & Space Museum because my son is fascinated with outer space and the moon.
Displays include both space suits and the Apollo 9 Command Module. Each area of the museum is arranged by flight eras, allowing kids to see the evolution of aerospace, from early flight to modern age.
Since our son is also interested in dinosaurs, one of our favorite museums in Balboa Park is the San Diego Natural History Museum (theNAT). TheNAT features a lot of exhibits for children, such as an interactive campsite complete with an RV. Other exhibits are specific to California wildlife and for animals now extinct and still living. Kids can also learn about the ecosystem specific to California’s different regions and get a sense of how native animals live in those habitats.
Travel Tip: Avoid limited parking near the museums later in the day (even with parking lots nearby) by opting to park in the Inspiration Point parking lot. Then board the tram to different locations throughout Balboa Park.
7. Take a SEAL Tour
The SEAL Tour, by Old Town Trolleys, is another favorite of ours and one that I highly recommend. It’s a guided sea and land tour, which means the vehicle converts to a boat on water during the tour. Our tour guide was extremely nice, and very funny. Let’s face it – it’s difficult finding a tour that all family members will enjoy.
But the SEAL Tour is one that appeals to all ages. Adults will enjoy learning more about San Diego and the important role that the naval industry has in its economy. Kids, on the other hand, will enjoy seeing sea lions and think it’s cool that the vehicle turns into a boat.
8. Spend a Day at Safari Park
The Safari Park is located in Escondido, which is less than an hour away from San Diego. While it’s affiliated with the San Diego Zoo, it’s a completely different experience. It’s well worth the visit, but due to its location, you will need a car to get there. It’s also very large so plan on spending the entire day there. While the animals are the main focus, there are several other things available for children. For example, there is live entertainment and animal encounters. Additionally, there are several playgrounds scattered throughout the park. And my son, of course, likes to explore them all! Other experiences are available for an additional charge like zip lining and going on a balloon ride. The highlight is the Africa Tram, which is included in the cost of general admission. We truly felt like we were on an African safari, and the scenery is amazing.
Travel Tip: Be sure to get in line for the Africa Tram first thing in the morning. It’s extremely popular. We made it on the second tram for the day and when we returned to the tram station, the line was extremely long.
9. Watch a Padres Baseball Game at Petco Park
One of our favorite ballparks to visit is Petco Park, home of the San Diego Padres. It’s located in downtown San Diego, near the Gaslamp Quarter. Not only is it extremely kid friendly, but it’s also pet friendly. Those who are visiting Petco Park for the first time can get a commemorative pin to celebrate the occasion. Not only does it make the visit more personal, but it’s also a great souvenir to bring back home. This marked my son’s first visit to Petco Park and he loved it. The atmosphere itself is very lively and the fans are some of the nicest I’ve encountered. And as for the ballpark itself, it’s beautiful and well maintained. There’s also several food options available, including kids meals. There’s also an area called Picnic Hill where children can run around and families can picnic while enjoying the ballgame.
10. Learn about Sea Life at Birch Aquarium at Scripps
The Birch Aquarium at Scripps is located in La Jolla, California and near the La Jolla Coves. While there are several fish tanks throughout, there are also touch tanks both indoors and outdoors. It’s an educational and interactive way to get children interested in sea life. At one point, my son was able to hold a starfish which was the highlight of his visit. Overall, it’s a great introduction, especially for younger children, to sea life in a calming environment. Plus, the view (overlooking the ocean) is spectacular.
11. Pretend to Take Flight at the U.S.S. Midway
The U.S.S. Midway is located right down the street from the Maritime Museum. This aircraft carrier houses a collection of every aircraft you can imagine. Kids (and adults) are allowed to go inside some of the aircraft. Feeling more adventurous? Step into a flight simulator! A self-guided audio tour is also available, but we skipped it as my 4-year-old quickly lost interest. Because of its size, the U.S.S. Midway might be overwhelming for younger children. Instead I’d suggest letting younger children explore the different aircraft.
12. Pretend to Set Sail at the Maritime Museum
The Maritime Museum is one of our favorite places to visit, even though I’m not even much of a ship aficionado. Explore several ships displayed, including the Star of India and a replica of a pirate ship used in the filming of Pirates of the Caribbean. Our favorite naval vessel is the submarine. My son loves looking through the periscope (and so do I!).
13. Fly a Kite
One of the other amazing things to do in San Diego with kids is fly a kite. My son learned how to fly a kite during our last visit to San Diego. There are several places to fly a kite, including Mission Beach and near Seaport Village.
Book a Vacation to Southern California
If you’re thinking of booking a trip to Southern California, then please consider booking through Get Away Today by clicking on this link. I’m an affiliate of Get Away Today and layaway plans are available through Get Away Today for Southern California vacation packages, with the first payment beginning as low as $125. Additionally, you can receive an extra $10 off any 2-night or longer Southern California package by using the promo code CACTUS.