Things to Do in San Diego with Kids
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!
We put together an insiders' guide to the best things to do in San Diego with kids, so you can experience the must see attractions during your San Diego vacation.
Top Kid-Friendly San Diego Attractions
Many of San Diego's must-see destinations are also places your kids will remember for years to come. From fun in the sun to amusements parks and museums, your San Diego vacation will provide entertainment and enlightenment while you and your kids create great childhood memories. Here are the top things to do in San Diego with kids.
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 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".
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's 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.
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.
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.
For a full day of family fun, look no further. Boomers! has it all - from Bumper Boats to batting cages and everything in between. Bring the whole family for a ride on the giant Ferris wheel or let the children wander around "Kid's County Fair," a special area with rides just for kids. You'll love practicing your putting on the majestic greens of the miniature golf course, and don't forget to grab some all-American grub at the snack bar.
Discovery Science Center
Famed for its 10-story Solar Cube, the Science Center has 2 full floors of hands-on exhibits. You'll discover endless opportunities for learning and entertainment as you play a game of virtual volley ball, watch an indoor geyser erupt, or ride out an earthquake in the Shake Shack.
Plus, new shows are always playing at the Center's 4-D theater, and an ever-changing calendar of educational programs and events keeps the excitement rolling in.
5 Kid-Friendly Restaurants in San Diego
San Diego has a surplus of food spots ideal for your family outing. With such a large variety of eateries, there's truly something for everyone and every occasion.
Bread & Cie
Often called the best bread bakery in San Diego, this spot is a great place to pick-up food for a picnic before heading out on a daytrip with your family. Their menu features fruit bowls, muffin baskets, and delicious salads and sandwiches. This fresh-made food is sure to satisfy the taste buds of even the pickiest eater.
Broken Yolk Café
A favorite among natives and hungry travelers, this café serves up a tasty breakfast or brunch. Enjoy high-quality omelets, pancakes, waffles, French toast, or breakfast burritos at this casual and comfortable restaurant. Salads and sandwiches are also available on the lunch menu.
Kids will love the restaurant challenge to finish their meals in an hour or less. Those that complete the challenge get their names engraved on the large wall plaque!
Looking for a place to take the kids for a quick bite? This unique local chain serves up fast food of the highest quality, made fresh to order! You and the kids will love the classic burgers and French fries cut from potatoes right on site.
Finish up with a vanilla, chocolate, or strawberry milkshake made from 100 percent real ice cream.
For an exciting, inexpensive dinner destination, head over to this '50s style rock 'n' roll diner. Tons of memorabilia, sassy waitresses in poodle skirts, and a live DJ playing the decade's hottest hits make this diner a fantastic stop for good grub. A terrific kid's menu provides great options for the younger travelers.
Pat & Oscars
This family restaurant has several locations in San Diego, all of which are very kid-friendly. In addition to the tasty and healthy kid's menu, the restaurant has a great Family Value Meal option.
Value Meals are designed for families with as many as 6 people and offer the best of their menu's pizza, ribs, pasta, and chicken dishes.
Individual or family-sized sides can be added to any Family Meal, so children can enjoy a dish of mac & cheese or mashed potatoes if they aren't up for the main meal.
5 Kid-Friendly Free Activities in San Diego
Enjoy the nearly perfect weather and beautiful sandy beaches of San Diego without emptying your wallet. One of the draws of San Diego is that it's an inexpensive vacation destination with endless opportunities for family fun.
Journey to downtown San Diego's Seaport Village to enjoy a leisurely family stroll along the four miles of beautiful tree-lined paths. Window shop, marvel at the spectacular Big Bay view, or watch yachts as they pass through - all while enjoying free live music. This 14-acre coastal dreamland is ideal for a relaxing afternoon trip.
U.S. Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista
Visit the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista to take a self-guided free tour, or go on a Saturday to get a complimentary tour provided by the Training Center staff. This 150-acre training facility is one of only 3 in the country.
On your excursion, you'll see training fields and tracks, athlete dorms, and the Otay Lake Reservoir. This activity is wonderful for young athletes with big dreams!
Voyage to Point Loma and let the kids explore the tide pools at low tide. Kids will love getting up close to the variety of sea creatures you'll find here. Flowery anemones and scuttling crabs are just a few of the fascinating animals to discover. Don't forget about a stop at the Old Point Loma Lighthouse, located in the Cabrillo National Monument!
No San Diego experience is complete without a trip to Mission Beach. Depending on which part of the beach you hit, have a thrilling adventure or a peaceful afternoon. The kids can play in the sand and collect seashells while you bask in the sun.
Bicycle, rollerblade, or walk along the 3-mile Mission Beach Boardwalk, or get in on the action at the Belmont Park area of the beach, a great place for people-watching.
Torrey Pines State Park
A picnic in the park is one of the best things to do in San Diego with kids. So pack a picnic basket (perhaps stop at Bread & Cie first!) and trek to Torrey Pines State Park for a family luncheon on the gorgeous San Diego coastline.
Kids will be entertained by the daring hang-gliders practicing tricks in the strong winds off the coast cliffs. This 1750-acre reserve is home to a beach and hiking trails that run through wild pine forests, making it a memorable destination.