There are plenty of things to do with kids in San Diego, with over 70 miles of gorgeous coastline, beautiful state parks, hiking trails, and tons of kid-friendly attractions and restaurants. The problem won’t be finding something to do, but yet finding a way to do them all. To help narrow down your choices I have compiled a list of my Top 40 Things to do with Kids in San Diego… the BONUS? Half of them are FREE!
Top 40 Things to do with Kids in San Diego (20 are FREE!)
1 La Jolla Cove (FREE)
La Jolla is one of those spots in San Diego that just really has it all. There’s sea lions in their natural habit, sunsets that don’t disappoint, and tons of activities from kayaking to snorkeling. Not to mention the museums in town and the cute boutiques that line the streets.
Find more information here https://www.lajolla.com
2 Balboa Park
This isn’t just any ordinary park. Balboa offers over 17 museums, 9 centers dedicated to the performing arts, a carousel, a miniature railroad, and even the San Diego Zoo. It’s safe to say there’s always something going on here.
Find more information here https://www.balboapark.org
Legoland in Carlsbad is must do for any family with kiddos under 10. There’s water cannons to shoot, the chance to earn a driver’s license, and a Dragon roller coaster that’ll take you soaring through the sky. Legoland has added on the additions of a water park and the Sea Life Aquarium, making it even more worth it to spend the day here.
Get your discounted passes here www.shopsmartcard.com
4 Petco Park
Petco can boast being one of the most family friendly ballparks. It’s so fun to catch a Padres game here and if you sit in the “Park at the Park” section, tickets are only $10-$17! It’s not only cheap, but gives your little ones the chance to run around the grass while you watch the game. For the true sports fans Petco Park also offers tours guided tours every day, multiple times a day.
Find more information here http://sandiego.padres.mlb.com/sd/ballpark/
5 Coronado Island
One of my absolute favorite things to do with kids in San Diego is to head to Coronado Island. Drive here across the bridge from busy downtown San Diego and you’ll suddenly find that you are in a laid back beach town straight out of a book. That’s what makes Coronado one of my absolute favorite places in San Diego. There’s tide pools to explore, kayak and surrey bike rentals, delicious food, and you just have to stop at Mootown Creamery for a sweet treat.
Find my Ultimate Guide to Coronado with Kids here for more inspiration for your weekend.
6 Gaslamp Quarter (FREE)
Gaslamp is the heart of San Diego with its renovated Victorian architecture, boutiques, and art galleries.
7 San Diego Safari Park
You probably know about the zoo, but have you visited the Safari Park yet? It’s a great place for the whole family to learn about animal conservation efforts and see first hand how we can help endangered species. Their tram ride makes it feel like you’re out on the African Sahara and there’s tons of animals to see. Older kids might like to check out the Flightline, the Safari Park’s own fast-paced zipline experience. Or for a staycation that makes you feel like you are in a whole new world check out the park’s Snore & Roar Campground. Although, I’m not sure I would get much sleep with the sounds of the jungle going on all night- ha!
Find discounted tickets here www.shopsmartcard.com
8 Torrey Pines Natural Reserve (FREE)
An overlooked family-friendly activity in San Diego with kids in tow is hiking. Torrey Pines is one of our favorite places to hike with the kid. There are over 8 beautiful trails to explore, this is the perfect spot for any level hikers to take in some natural California beauty. Try the Guy Flemings Trail it’s only ⅔ of a mile long making it perfect for little ones. Don’t forget to pack your swimsuits because the beach below has lifeguards on duty, showers, and restrooms. We like to pack a lunch and make a day out of it.
Find more information here https://torreypine.org
9 Belmont Park
Admission and parking are free, meaning you can just stroll along this little beachfront amusement park if you’d like. Of course, if you’d like there are all kinds of rides that you can purchase individual tickets or an all day wristband for.
Find more information here http://www.belmontpark.com
10 Del Mar Racetrack
Kids get in free on the weekends (adults are only $6) + they have tons of free kids activities to do! Check out the schedule to find out when their Family Fun Weekends are this summer.
Find more information here https://www.dmtc.com
11 Seaport Village (FREE)
Seaport Village is a great spot for a family stroll. You can check out over 50 unique shops and eateries. Check out their calendar to see what events they’ve got going on.
Find more information here http://www.seaportvillage.com
12 Sea World
While there’s been a lot of negativity surrounding Sea World lately, it can still be a great stop for the family. If animal shows aren’t for you there’s fun rides and some pretty awesome aquariums. Looking to step up your game? Try the Wild Arctic Interaction Program where families get to meet barking seals, giant walruses and polar bears before climbing into the water with gentle beluga whales.
Get discounted SeaWorld Tickets here www.shopsmartcard.com
13 San Diego Natural History Museum
It’s always cool to find museums that are kid friendly and interactive enough to keep the munchkins attention, and the Natural History Museum does just that. Check out the 3D films that are included with entry here!
Find more information here http://www.sdnhm.org
14 The San Diego Botanic Gardens
*free the first Tuesday of the month
The Botanic Gardens are great place to spend nice afternoons. You can walk around the trails for awhile and eventually end up in Hamilton Children’s Garden, which is a really unique playground. Make sure to check the website for all the kids activities available.
Find more information here http://www.sdbgarden.org
15 San Diego Model Railroad Museum
Maybe not everyone is a train enthusiast, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy the really cool miniature train models at this museum. They’re super detailed and fun to walk around and look at.
Find more information here http://sdmrm.org
16 Browse a Farmer’s Market (FREE)
Farmer’s Markets are a great place to pick up some fresh produce and show the kids where their food comes from. There’s ton of great options in San Diego and varying days of the week.
Find more information here http://sdfarmbureau.org/BuyLocal/Farmers-Markets.php
17 San Diego Museum of Man
The Museum of Man is super engaging and has tons of exhibits from the creation of beer to the evolution of humans. It’s a great place to drop in with the family.
Find more information here http://www.museumofman.org
18 Mt Woodson (Potato Chip Rock) (FREE)
- Mt Woodson (Potato Chip Rock) (FREE)
If you’re up for a hike, this has become one of the most insta worthy spots to get up to. Just make sure to pack plenty of water and snacks.
Find more information here https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/california/potato-chip-rock-via-mt-woodson-trail
19 USS Midway Museum
Visiting the USS Midway is an awesome way to get up close and personal with a naval ship. It’s cool to show the kids how our navy lives their daily lives from the mess hall to the engine room.
Find more information here http://www.midway.org
20 Coronado Summer Concert Series at Spreckels (FREE)
Summer nights in Coronado are breezy and perfect to set down a blanket in the park and listen to some live music.
Find more information here http://coronadoconcert.com/coronado-concert-2017-schedule/
21 Dive In Movies at The Pearl
*free but don’t forget to make reservations!
Come chill out at this poolside lounge and watch a movie like Jaws or Grease. There’s food and a bar on site.
Find more information here http://www.thepearlsd.com/divein/
22 Mission Trails Regional Park (FREE)
Mission Trails is a great place to get out and enjoy nature as a family. Check out their schedule for days full of family activities.
Find more information here http://www.mtrp.org/emtday
23 Summer Movies in the Park (FREE)
San Diego offers movies in a couple of different parks around the city. There’s one every Friday and Saturday. It’s a great way to spend a relaxing evening.
Find more information here http://www.summermoviesinthepark.com/moviecalendar/
24 San Diego Zoo
All zoos are a great chance to get out of the house and walk around somewhere other than a park, but the San Diego Zoo is world class with beautiful trails winding around the park to explore.
Find more information here http://zoo.sandiegozoo.org
25 Imperial Beach Sun and Sea Festival (FREE)
These artists make crazy detailed sculptures out of sand and you can walk along the beach to see them.
Find more information here https://ussandsculpting.com/
26 Liberty Station
Liberty Station is a modern public square with trendy restaurants and artisan shops. Their food hall also hosts over 30 artisan food vendors.
Check their event schedule and eatery listings here http://libertystation.com/
27 Moonlight Amphitheatre
This is known to be San Diego’s #1 outdoor theatre. This summer the theatre company is putting on The Little Mermaid. We’re super excited to see it and you should be too!
28 Waterfront Park (FREE)
Image Credit:Courtesy of county of San Diego
Waterfront Park is located right along the harbor with a large grassy area to hang out AND over 830 feet of interactive fountains to be played in. It is perfect for cooling off in after touring the USS Midway or the Maritime Museum. Bring a change of clothes for the kids and head to Little Italy when you are done for a full day of family fun!
29 California Surf Museum
Learn the surf history and culture of California at this cool museum. Bonus- it’s FREE on Tuesdays.
Find more information here https://surfmuseum.org
30 Carlsbad Lagoon
If you’re looking for water activities this is the place for you. They’ve got everything; boats, kayaks, stand up paddleboards, aqua cycles, and jet skis.
31 Cabrillo Monument & Old Point Loma Lighthouse (FREE)
These attractions being right next to each other is the perfect excuse to spend the day taking the scenic walk of Point Loma. AND, they both offer some pretty incredible views.
32 Kit Carson’s Park & Queen Califa’s Magic Circle (FREE)
This may not entertain you for a full day, but it’s totally worth it to stop at this sculpture garden done by a renowned artist, Niki de Saint Phalle. There’s also a surrounding area with duck ponds, a skate park, hiking trails and playgrounds.
Check here for the sculpture garden hours https://www.escondido.org/queen-califias-magical-circle.aspx
33 Bonfire at Mission Beach (FREE)
Bonfires on the beach are a great way to end long, hot summer days. Grab some marshmallows, a blanket, and a log and head to Mission Beach with the family.
34 Art Galleries at the University of San Diego (FREE)
This a fun place to go look around and see up and coming local artists.
Find more information here http://www.sandiego.edu/galleries/exhibitions/
35 Picnic at Presidio Park (FREE)
Having a picnic is always a good idea, but it’s even better when you can pop a bottle of champagne on the beach while having one. At Presidio Park and select other parks in San Diego alcohol is permitted from 8 am-8 pm. Date night!
36 Birch Aquarium at Scripps
Cool off with the kids at this beautiful and interactive hands-on aquarium. Beyond the exhibits you will find educational shows, engineering challenges & more. We love watching them feed the different marine life. Check the feeding times here before you go.
37 Check Out the Cool Kid-Friendly Dining in San Diego
Hit up Breakfast Republic in Ocean Beach for a fun themed atmosphere and delicious Cinnamon Roll Pancakes. Or head to Bo-Beau’s Kitchen Garden for happy hour. The kids will love the retrofitted school bus they can climb around on and the chalkboard wall is perfect for your aspiring artists.
38 Iron Mountain Trail (FREE)
Head to Poway and check out the popular Iron Mountain Trail. This one may be best for older kids as it is 5.8 miles but if your kids like to explore they will be just fine. Just be sure to pack plenty of water, sunscreen, and snacks.
Find more information here http://www.sandiegohikers.com/Hiking-Trails/Iron-Mountain-Trail.html
39 Visit the Secret Swings in La Jolla (FREE)
Kids love a good secret and the Secret Swings in La Jolla are the perfect scavenger hunt type experience for kids of all ages. Simply head to Instagram and search the #SecretSwings to try and discover the coordinates of the famous Secret Swings. Check often as the location is ever-changing.
40 Catch a Sunset at Scripps Pier (FREE)
Pack a picnic, or hit up a local’s favorite, we recommend The Taco Stand, and head to the Scripp’s Pier. There are plenty of picnic tables on the grass above the beach. And, the sunsets here never fail to amaze me.
What Are Your Favorite Things to Do with Kids in San Diego?