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Discover 11 of the most interesting and fun things to do in San Diego with kids.
Planning a family vacation could be a tiresome job. Specifically, if you have kids who want to explore more every single second of the day. Going through the books and the Internet, kids want to live up to the experiences and have fun at the same time. If you are taking your kids on a vacation to San Diego then you would not have any issues in planning. It is one of the most family friendly destinations in California.
San Diego is a hub for fun activities and places to visit that would grab any kid’s attention. On any given day with your family, you can go sightseeing, enjoy toddlers playtime at the Balboa Park, engage school age kids in the fascinating museum and theme parks and indulge teenagers with all the attractions of a big city while having amazing food.
Here is a list of curated ones, to have an exciting and wholesome experience for your children irrespective of their age group. Plan your family travels with our list of the top things to do in San Diego with kids.
Top Things To Do In San Diego With Kids
1. San Diego Zoo
Kids love animals and they love going to zoos. San Diego Zoo is the perfect place for them to make friends other than the pets that they have at their homes. Children read about all kinds of animals in their books. At a tender age, they are not only curious about different living beings on this magical blue planet, they would love to know more about them. A visit to the world famous San Diego Zoo is one of the best possible things to do in San Diego with kids and one they will never forget.
San Diego Zoo in Balboa Park is filled with all kinds of animals. It is specifically designed and made for children. Therefore, the designs, the statues, the staff and the entire zoo has been spread in a fun way to enhance the interaction between the two kinds.
- Timings : 9 AM to 5 PM daily
2. San Diego Safari Park
Just alongside San Diego Zoo, there is a San Diego Safari Park for more personal interaction between the children and the creatures from the animal kingdom. The Safari is spread in an area of 1800 acres across the land. There is an abundance of animals in this area quietly living in the habitat they are most suitable with.
For an easy understanding and comprehension of the animal world, children love to visit these Safari Parks. Animals like Zebras and Giraffes are mostly friendly. So, a small rendezvous with them personally while they feed on the leaves of their favourite trees is magically enticing for kids.
The difference between San Diego Zoo and San Diego Safari Park is that the zoo contains animals from Australia, Asia, South America and Central America. On the other hand, the Safari Park contains animals from the Savannah regions of the world like African and Asian Savannahs.
- Timings : 9 AM to 5 PM daily
Every kid loves Lego. The small pieces that they can join and break according to their imagination. The toy stores around the world have little Lego counters in their shops so that children can sit and make their shapes and enjoy building things with other children. One fine day if all of these kids are being told that there is a whole world filled with small Legos and everything around them is made of little Legos, they would not only love the adventure but it would be fun and memorable for them.
Located in Carlsbad (North San Diego County), Legoland is just the place for these kids. Here, the imagination of these kids can have no limits. For those who used to consider Legos as just a small piece, the children can see the whole building and cars made of Legos which would open the gates of their imagination. It is considered a heaven for toddlers and preschoolers.
- Timings : Saturday & Sunday – 9:30 AM to 6 PM; while on Thursday, Friday & Monday – 10 AM to 5 PM
SeaWorld is a fun place in San Diego for both kids and adults. It is also one of the best places to visit in San Diego with kids. The SeaWorld is an animal theme park but is different from the world of Zoos. It has an oceanarium, marine mammals and both freshwater and saltwater animals in it. Introducing the sea world to the kids would be adventurous for them. Understanding the different kinds of fishes after watching Finding Nemo and knowing the world which covers the maximum part of Earth is not only fun but an overwhelming and mind-boggling experience for the young ones.
The San Diego SeaWorld has 2 Water rides and 5 roller coasters in its area. So, if you think the fun can only be limited for the kids, you can most certainly be wrong about it. While your kids can spend some time in the blue world, you can have some fun on the rides.
- Timings : Friday to Sunday – 10 AM to 7 PM; while from Monday to Thursday – 10:30 AM to 5 PM
5. Living Coast Discovery Centre
While the kids witness the water world at the Sea World. The Living Coast Discovery Centre enhances the experience of interaction and educates the visitors about the marine animals and how they live lives. The friendly staff at the Discovery Centre helps the visitors in being friends with the animals and also educates them about the life-span, the behaviour, and also the day to day living of the aquatic beings. The highlight of the Living Coast is the play by Dolphins and whales where children simply befriend them and interact with them.
- Timings : Thursday to Sunday – 10 AM to 5 PM
6. San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum
Children love the world when it excites them every moment. Parents want to encourage them in doing the same considering that would only help them in complete growth. The San Diego’s Children’s Discovery Museum has the same objective but with a fun and colourful twist. The daily ongoing educational exhibits for children are a way of telling students how education can be entertaining.
The museum can be booked for 2-6 hours and has the capacity for 250 people at a time. You can organize an educational event or join one. You can also surprise your kids by organizing a birthday event for them. Social interaction and fun learning would be a good experience for them.
- Timings : Tuesday to Saturday – 9 AM to 12 PM, 1:30 PM to 4:30 PM
7. Birch Aquarium at Scripps
Many destinations in San Diego can enlighten kids about the blue world or the Kingdom of Aqua man. Birch Aquarium at Scripps is one of those, where children of all ages can have fun and witness the lovely coral life and aquatic animals right into their ecosystem. The Aquarium is an educational institution for Oceanography in California state. But kids can learn a tremendous amount of information while they see the Ocean world.
- Timings : 9 AM to 5 PM daily
8. San Diego Air and Space Museum
If San Diego has places to educate you about underwater life, it also has a place to familiarize you and your kids with outer space and the endless wonders that it contains. It is one of the largest aviation museums in America. It also has a collection of many original reproductions of historic aircraft and spacecraft, which can entice curiosity among children.
The Museum has been divided into several sections accordingly thus giving kids a clear map of all the machines and the engines used in different periods. There are ancient machines, a section for World War I and World War II each as well as modern machines.
- Timings : 10 AM to 4:30 PM
9. Old Town San Diego
Old Town San Diego can be an adventure hub for kids with over 50 exclusive stores and more restaurants. The Old Town a Scavenger Hunt, haunted houses and graveyards, museums, Balboa Park etc. An entire day for kids would not be enough to roam around this colourful place in San Diego. The most interesting part about this area is, there is something for everyone here. You can find numerous fun activities for your five-year-old, your teenagers and yourself as well.
The tramp ride, the Candy Shops, the Candle and Soap Making, Trolley tours, Sheriff’s Museum etc. add more fun for the kids and adults alike. There are various Historic sites in this area as well. A few of them are Wells Fargo Museum, The Seeley Sable, Mason Street Schoolhouse, Mccoy House and The Historic State Park.
10. Snorkel or Swim with Leopard Sharks
After educating themselves about most things via books or the internet, kids love some adventure in their free time and that is when this amazing spot of San Diego come to help you. This may be for the kids who are older than 12 but is something that they would love the experience of and remember always. Snorkelling is a fun activity for adults but teenagers can participate in it too.
Every year, in the summer season, Leopard sharks come to visit at the La Jolla Shores in San Diego. Hence this could be a call to the adventurous times for your teenagers. The instructors and divers are always available at the spot to help you and guide you through the experience for a friendly and safe adventure but it would be one of a kind for your kids.
11. Sesame Place San Diego
The cartoons and animated characters whom kids watch only in the virtual world cannot only come to life here but also shake hands with them and dance around. The Sesame Place at San Diego is just the kind of fun-filled and adventurous theme park for the kids. It has multiple rides, water parks and parades, and shows of their favourite characters and comics here at one place. They can dress as their favourite character and meet the other mates; they will love the fun that they are going to have at Sesame Place. This is a great place to visit in San Diego with kids.
- Timings : Check the most accurate timings here
Where To Stay In San Diego With Kids (San Diego Hotels For Families)
Before planning your activities in San Diego, you need to find a great place to stay. For a stress free and memorable visit to San Diego with kids, we recommend these family-friendly hotels in and around the city.
Hotel del Coronado : The Hotel del Coronado is a historic hotel located right at the beach. It offers luxurious facilities and world class services in a charming Victorian style atmosphere. Many of the kid friendly attractions such as the San Diego Zoo, Safari Park, SeaWorld and Old Town San Diego are closely located to the hotel. It also has a huge outdoor pool with sun loungers and pool toys, a fireplace, picnic area, spacious garden and water sport facilities available onsite. Kid friendly meals and buffet at the restaurant in the hotel adds more convenience to the families coming with kids. This hotel is located at a distance of only 6kms from the San Diego Airport.
Catamaran Resort & Spa : This is a great 4-star Polynesian themed resort hotel in an excellent location close to the shores of the Pacific beach. It is the most kid friendly accommodation in San Diego. Additionally, it offers lovely rooms with beautiful views, an outdoor pool, a full service spa, beachfront lounge, private beach area, games room and an onsite dining restaurant. Skates, bikes and water sports rentals are easily available at the resort.
Legoland Resort : Legoland is one of the must visit theme parks while you are visiting San Diego with kids. It also has a fabulous resort that can really make your and the kids stay very fascinating. The best part about it is also that you get to choose from a selection of fully themed rooms – Pirate, Kingdom, Adventure, Knights and Dragons themes. This resort and theme park adventure at a single place can make for a perfect and memorable getaway for kids in California. The Legoland Resort is located at a 45 km distance from the San Diego Airport.
What To Pack For A Visit To San Diego With Kids
- Good Walking Shoes
- Cross Body Bag
- A Reusable Waterbottle
- Cute Travel Journal : For kids to fill in
- Travel Stroller or Baby Carrier
- Sunglasses and sun screen (a must during summers.)
We hope you enjoyed this quick guide on the best things to do in San Diego with kids. Do let us know which activities on this list have caught your attention for the kids the most.
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