Looking for fun activities in San Diego with kids? There is so much to enjoy in this beautiful California city, from stunning outdoor activities, through famous tourist spots, to beautiful beaches right next to the beaten track.
What to do in San Diego
Here are our best choices for family activities in San Diego. First, here is a little history of the city.
About San Diego
San Diego was founded in 1769, making it the oldest city in California. San Diego has a lot to love, including its almost perfect weather all year round. It also has more than a fair number of attractive tourist destinations, including 31 lovely ocean beaches 25 miles long off the coast from Sunset Cliffs to La Jolla and a huge 340 parks. The city is also culturally rich, with almost too many museums, galleries and art studios to list in one place.
If your kids are up for it, Old Town San Diego Street Historic Park is a great place for walks and unique shopping. Children will love learning about the world of nature and the diverse wildlife at the spacious San Diego Zoo.
Do you feel pecked? San Diego has a thriving food scene, with lots of opportunities for kids. Be sure to try the Cali-Baja cuisine from San Diego, and adults can try some of the hundreds of craft beer options.
Are you planning to move to San Diego? Thanks to the great surroundings near the Baja Peninsula and the fantastic weather, the city has been growing continuously for more than 200 years. Visit Local relocations from San Diego website to learn more
San Diego, though just hours south of LA, has a much cooler atmosphere than its famous neighbor and is not surprisingly hosting some of the best tourist spots in California. People from all over the world have spent their lives here and in this article we have selected 5 places you can visit on your next trip to San Diego.
San Diego Zoo
Located north of downtown San Diego in Balboa Park, the San Diego Zoo is one of the largest and most famous zoos in the United States, and is known worldwide for its residents. It is a non-profit wildlife sanctuary with more than 3,500 animals, representing more than 650 species and subspecies. If your kids are plant lovers, there’s also a botanical collection with over 700,000 exotic plants.
This huge zoo and safari park is home to rare, endangered and vulnerable animals. Some of the most famous animals currently living at the zoo are giant pandas, which, thanks in part to the San Diego Zoo team, are now listed as vulnerable (rather than endangered).
Other zoo animals that love children include kangaroos, koalas, rhinos, leopards, polar bears, sloths and bonobos. You can even sign up for a behind-the-scenes tour to get a closer look at the day-to-day responsibilities of a caregiver, as well as to have close-up experiences with animals.
The zoo also has fun activities for its visitors, such as the Kangaroo Express bus and Skyfari air tram, along with a host of animals that move freely and make the experience even more real.
USS Midway Museum
The retired aircraft carrier USS Midway, which is permanently anchored at the Navy dock, is open to visitors. During its heyday, it was one of the largest ships in the U.S. military.
In addition to the USS Midway, the museum also has 30 restored Navy sightseeing planes, plus amazing views of San Diego Bay. Children will be busy with over 60 exhibits, including a hangar, a flight deck and under-deck settings. If you have the time, there is an incredibly popular audio tour that brings the history of the ship to light (bring your own headphones, if you can).
San Balboa Park is much more than a green space. It houses 17 museums, theaters, and the world-famous San Diego Zoo. Balboa Park is an open-air city cultural park with enough space to keep children (and adults) busy for days. There are dance classes, gardens, performing arts, museums, shopping, tours and lots of food and drink.
If we take a closer look, there are a dizzying number of attractions here, including the Balboa Park carousel and miniature train, Cabrillo Bridge, California Tower, El Cid stature, Escape The Nat escape room, impressively large Moreton Bay fig house, Pacific Relations International Cottage House, photographic art building , The San Diego Minerals and Gems Society, Sefton Plaza, the Spanish Village Art Center and, of course, the San Diego Zoo.
The Casa del Prado, often referred to as the del Prado, consists of several reconstructed buildings that were originally built for the Panama-California exhibition at Balboa Park in San Diego. It is a workplace and is often a place for weddings, events and activities.
Casa del Balboa is one building in Balboa Park. Originally called the Trade and Industry Building, it was later renamed the Canadian Building, the Palace of Better Housing, and the Electric Building. Today, Casa del Balboa houses the Balboa Art Conservation Center, the San Diego Railway Museum, the Museum of Photographic Art, and the San Diego Historical Center.
Built in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the Gaslamp neighborhood occupies 16 and a half blocks in downtown San Diego. It is a recognizable historic district, with lots of character and charm. It is also known for being one of the most visited places in the city.
The Gaslamp district is probably best known for the city’s nightlife and it is where you can catch the latest theater, comedy or jazz shows, see the most fashionable clothes and people or eat the best cuisine. That has to say that kids can do a lot here.
The Gaslamp district is easily accessible, but children can enjoy a taxi ride. It is probably most suitable for children during the day.
Beaches of San Diego
San Diego is easy city beach, so a visit to the beach is absolutely necessary when you visit it. Some of our favorite kids ’beaches in San Diego are Coronado Beach, Del Mar City Beach, Moonlight Beach, Mission Bay, Cardiff State Beach, South Ponto Beach, La Jolla Shores and Silver Strand State Beach.
Mission Beach is a great choice for families looking to relax, with great sunbathing areas and a bustling promenade along the beach with a café overlooking the sea. It is also a great place for adventurous families who want to surf. Ocean Beach is a chic and relaxed atmosphere, while dog lovers will adore – you guessed it – the dog beach.
Coronado Beach is great for beach volleyball, but it is also home to a unique experience – ice skating! You can skate at Hotel del Coronado, with stunning views of the beach.
Looking for more fun and sunshine in California and the West Coast? Check out this great read:
Do you have any more ideas for the best attractions in San Diego as a family? Let us know!