Planning a vacation to San Diego? Our insiders put together a list of our top things to do in San Diego with kids.
Consider adding a few of these kid friendly attractions to your vacation itinerary.
San Diego is a top-notch tourist destination for families. It is home to world-renowned tourist attractions and museums, so you’ll never run out of places to go or things to do with kids.
Even with 70 miles of picturesque beaches, San Diego maintains a “small town” atmosphere that makes a family vacation feel manageable.
Most importantly, there are plenty of things to do in San Diego that you’ll enjoy no matter how young or old you are!
Save on Admission to Kid Friendly Attractions
Many of these great kid friendly attractions are available on the Go San Diego® Card.
Choose as you go from dozens of top San Diego attractions and save up to 55% off combined admission vs paying at the gate. Or, build your own pass and save up to 20% off.
See all available passes, attractions & prices – Learn more.
This world-famous zoo is at the core of the San Diego experience for visitors of all ages. Pop in on the popular Pandas, discover unusual animals like the binturong, and marvel at Gram the Indian rhinoceros as he paints with his lips.
With over 4,000 animals in 9 habitats, this urban paradise is a must-see for most families.
Visit the San Diego Zoo Safari Park to intensify your zoo adventure and journey to Africa and Asia without ever leaving San Diego. You’ll come face-to-face with giraffes, zebras, and lions as you tour this enormous wildlife preserve.
The African Tram Safari, a relaxing 25-minute tour, is great for kids. The Tram Safari also includes access to the Conservation Carousel, a great alternative for younger children and a fun ride for all.
This San Diego top attraction is part aquarium, part animal show, part amusement park, and a whole lot of fun for everyone. Experience the magic of “One Ocean,” Shamu’s elaborate water show or catch the Sea Lions performing their comedy duo.
Amusement park rides include “kiddie” attractions like “Elmo’s Flying Fish” and “Abby’s Sea Star Spin.” Connect with your family at the place “where worlds connect.”
Drawing millions of visitors from all over the world, this unique theme park is one of San Diego’s most beloved attractions. The park’s 50+ LEGO-themed rides are designed for kids but provide fun for the whole family.
Ride to the top of a Kid Power Tower to view the whole park or voyage over to the Treasure Falls mini-water flume for a splash of adventure.
Of course, you can’t miss Miniland USA, a LEGO recreation of 7 areas of the United States using 20 million of the world-famous building blocks.
San Diego’s only beachfront amusement park is sure to please the entire family with a mix of contemporary and traditional rides and attractions.
The adventure seekers in your family will love riding on “Control Freak,” the roller coaster that allows you to control your own car.
Younger adventurers will enjoy “Krazy Kars,” a kid-friendly bumper car ride. Plus, share family fun at “The Pirates of Belmont Glow in the Dark Miniature Golf,” a state-of-the-art “Black Light” mini golf course.
Combine entertainment with education at this underwater world with more than 60 habitats. Kids will be delighted by exhibits and interactive displays featuring sharks, sea horses, and coral reefs. Parents are sure to love Birch’s incredible ocean view.
Wrap up the day with a sandwich or salad at Splash Café, and stop by the aquarium’s unique gift shop for marine-themed souvenirs.
For dynamic, hands-on kid friendly activities, journey over to the New Children’s Museum in downtown San Diego. The museum’s galleries and studios feature exhibits designed to engage children in interactive artwork.
Help your kids create their own audio and video soundtrack with incredible 3-D sequences in the Design Studio or build a birdhouse at the Paint & Clay Studio.
Workshops at the studios are always changing, but each new class guarantees a fun and educational experience for all.
Any sports-lovers in the family? A tour of PETCO Park is a great thing to do in San Diego with kids who like baseball. Experience the Padres’ dugout as only the players do and learn about the historic Western Metal Supply Co. building.
The “World’s Best Ball Park” is complete with swaying palm trees and a view of sandy beaches that only SoCal can offer.
Kids will love this opportunity to play at being a scientist. This scientific complex full of hands-on things to do and exhibits is sure to delight and inspire the curious.
You’ll get the chance to examine images from the Hubble Telescope, build freeform structures using wooden planks, explore the unseen world of cellular biology through the lens of a microscope, and much more.
Plus, “Kid City” is a great exhibit for the little ones that includes everything from cranes to conveyor belts.
Don’t miss out on the IMAX Dome Theater –the first of its kind! Bonus: one IMAX movie is free with admission.
This local favorite is a fun and kid friendly theme park with a long history in California. In fact, Knott’s is best known as America’s first theme park! And it’s well worth a visit – from world-class roller coasters to exciting water rides, this festive park has plenty to offer children of all ages.
Popular rides include the thrilling Screamin’ Swing and the refreshing Timber Mountain Log Ride. For small children, specialty rides like the Balloon Race and the Huff and Puff are great activities without the scare factor.
There’s also plenty of live entertainment from special guests like Snoopy and the Gang and a Native American dance troupe.
If you’re visiting during the warmer months, pay a visit to the companion attraction, Knott’s Soak City Waterpark. This amazing park is filled with slick slides, thrilling rides, shopping, dining, live entertainment, and more.
You’ll spend a very relaxing day here.
What better way is there to spend a sunny California afternoon than out on the open ocean? Spend the day on a whale watching cruise and you’re bound to have the time of your life.
Learn all about the local wildlife, from sea birds and plants to the seals, sea lions, and, of course, whales.
As a bonus, a naturalist from the Birch Aquarium will narrate your tour, so you’ll get the benefit of expert guidance on this enjoyable journey. While you’re enjoying snacks and beverages, be sure to keep an eye out for the prize – the beautiful California Gray Whale.
If your kids love the ocean and marine life, then snorkeling is a must-do activity on your vacation list. It’s easier and more affordable than diving, and has practically no learning curve.
Spend an entire day scoping out the beautiful and vivid marine life of the Pacific Ocean from the absolute best vantage point – right up close!
Expect to see a variety of sea creatures, from flowing plant life to playful creatures like dolphins and sea lions. Keep an eye out for the girabaldi, the beautiful orange and blue fish that’s affectionately known as the “official marine fish” of the state of California.
This unique attraction combines the fun of shopping with the thrill of ice skating. Take a spin on this decent sized ice rink, located in the center of a popular outdoor mall in La Jolla. Skate rentals are available for children ages 2 and up, so you can bring the whole family!
If you’ve never skated before, or need a refresher, stop by on Saturday mornings for a FREE introductory ice skating lesson. Public skating hours vary, but most are available in the middle of the day.
There you have it – some of our favorite things to do in San Diego with kids.
Plan to add a few of these attractions to your vacation itinerary and we are sure you will have a fun time during your trip to Southern California.
Remember, you can save on combined admission to many of these popular family friendly attractions and more.