It’s no wonder San Diego is consistently ranked as one of the top travel destinations for families: With some 70 miles of sparkling coastline, scads of world-class attractions and plenty of options for kid-friendly outdoor fun, the region has something for every family member — the youngest ones included.
Here’s a look at some awesome, kid-approved things to do and sights to see all around San Diego.
Beaches and Swim Spots
- San Diego might be famous in surfing circles for its waves, but there are also plenty of protected beaches along the ocean and bays here that are ideal for small swimmers.
- For a great indoor, fresh-water option, check out the historic Plunge swimming pool, part of the popular Belmont Park amusement park along the Mission Beach boardwalk.
- San Diego also offers a host of fun waterparks for all ages to enjoy.
- San Diego Zoo: This world-famous zoo’s marquee kid-friendly zone is the Wildlife Explorers Basecamp, a four-acre wonderland that lets youngsters interact with nature across different habitats and try out such fun features as a rope bridge and a splash pad.
- Sesame Place San Diego: The sole “Sesame Street”-themed park on the West Coast, this kid-centric attraction boasts both dry and aquatic rides, including 11 reimagined water adventures, plus a chance for your kids to meet their favorite characters from the TV show.
- SeaWorld San Diego: The new Rescue Jr. zone at this world-renowned park is packed with animal rescue-themed rides, a splash zone and much more. And there are also kid-sized amusement rides and amazing animal shows.
- KidsFest at Petco Park: The home of the San Diego Padres hosts this lively family event before every Sunday home game, with activities including face painting, interactive games and balloon artists.
- Birch Aquarium at Scripps: What kid doesn’t love seeing such amazing sights as delicate, ghostly jellyfish, playful little blue penguins or fierce-looking sharks? The Birch has all this and more, on a blufftop site with gorgeous views of La Jolla.
- New Children’s Museum: This must-see museum in Downtown San Diego is dedicated to hands-on fun and learning, with such inventive installations as the Whammock! (a climbable sculpture made of hand-braided nylon rope) as well as an ever-changing array of happenings and activities.
- San Diego County Waterfront Park: A family favorite, this park along San Diego’s beautiful Embarcadero boasts expanses of lawn as well as lots of ponds and fountains for the little ones to play in.
- Tecolote Park at Mission Bay: This new addition to San Diego’s awesome lineup of parks offers inventive play structures, cozy picnic areas and more. And it’s right on Mission Bay, which is itself one big aquatic playground — the biggest of its kind, in fact, in the world.
- Mission Trails Regional Park: For an awe-inspiring dose of nature, be sure to visit this 5,800-acre park set amid dramatic hillsides; youngsters will love exploring the wildlife and educational exhibits at the Visitor and Interpretive Center, and there are often kids’ activities on offer.
Balboa Park for Kids
San Diego’s cultural heart and the largest urban park of its kind in America, Balboa Park offers a wealth of fun options for kids and their families — from the hands-on experiences at the Fleet Science Center to the pop-culture wows of the Comic-Con Museum to a whole bunch of free things to do and see.
Looking for a dining spot where kids can enjoy their favorite foods and treats while reveling in fun, family-friendly surroundings? We’ve got 10 of ‘em! Check out our roundup of awesome eateries that both kids and grown-ups will love.
Ice Cream Shops
And if your youngsters have ice cream on their minds, we’ve got a list for that, too! Check out our guide to some of the yummiest frozen treats around San Diego.
Accessibility options/autism programs
San Diego embraces travelers with disabilities. All of our local attractions offer accommodations for disabled visitors, and a number of cultural organizations also offer such accessible programs as “sensory friendly” theater and dance performances. For more information, consult our guide to accessible San Diego.
Kids’ Gear Rentals
Sometimes you just can’t lug everything a kid might need all the way from home to your vacation destination. Don’t fret — San Diego has you covered with such businesses as Toddlers Travels, which rents baby and beach equipment with pickup handily located near the Rental Car Center at San Diego International Airport.
Kids Free San Diego
And don’t forget: San Diego is all about families in October, as the hugely popular Kids Free San Diego program rolls out all month long with fantastic options for kids to eat, stay and play for free. Check out the 100 or so great Kids Free deals, and then make plans for a San Diego getaway today!