9 Fun Stops For Kids Along Highway 101 in San Diego County

Moonlight Beach along the Highway 101
Moonlight Beach along the Highway 101

Moonlight Beach is just one of the places your kids will love along Highway 101

Growing up, my dad always wanted to “take the coast” home. In San Diego local speak, this meant driving along the Highway 101 versus taking the freeway. In fact, when my husband and I moved to Los Angeles for a brief four years, it was this exact stretch of road that had us asking, “Why did we ever move out of San Diego?!” Hence, we moved back. In other words, the coast highway is a gorgeously scenic route that is worth taking a drive. And if you feel like stopping along the way, here are some fun for the whole family stops to check out along Highway 101:

1. Harbor Fish Cafe

Let’s start at the north end of the Highway 101 in the town where I grew up, Carlsbad. Enjoy the very walk-friendly sidewalks along the ocean to work up an appetite and fuel your family at Harbor Fish while you catch the sunset. Go for the fish and chips while enjoying surfers and sunset views.

Where: 3179 Carlsbad Blvd, Carlsbad, CA

2. Moonlight Beach

Just as the hot weather hits, the snow cones start calling! Head to the recently renovated snack shack at Moonlight Beach in Encinitas to pick your favorite ice flavors, then enjoy pushing your kids in the swings or watch a volley ball game or two all the while seeing the waves crash along the shore. Locals Hint: Starting in October/November, the sand hills are usually back and San Diego’s very own version of “sledding” is to grab an actual snow sled or boogie board and watch your child’s delight as they glide down the sandy “mountain.”

Where: Encinitas Blvd, straight to the water.

3. Lumber Yard

No visit to San Diego would be complete without souvenirs! Check out this seaside set of shops, including every local’s favorite kid’s store: Magical Child. Pick up a unique gift that will entertain your child on the trip home, then grab some hot chocolate from Chuao and enjoy it next to the fountain as you toss coins to make their little wishes come true.

Where: 967 S Coast Highway 101, Encinitas, CA

4. The Self Realization Center

First stop at Java Depot for what my kids call “monkey hot chocolate” since they attach a plastic monkey to the cup or grab smoothies from Swami’s Café. Once finished, walk over to check out the amazing plants, Koi fish and views from The Self Realization Center. With so much to see and easy to navigate, it is often an afternoon favorite for our family to visit. Also, it’s great practice in learning to be quiet as they do ask that you “keep it down.”

Where: 939 2nd St, Encinitas, CA

5. Swami’s Tide Pools

Just a short distance down the highway from The Self Realization Center is one of the top surf spots. Even better for small kids than watching the waves is searching for sea urchins in one of the many tide pools at low tide.

Where: Coast Highway, Encinitas

6. Bull Taco

True, this is an eating spot on a camping ground, but it’s a family favorite for a spectacular sunset dinner. Perched high on a cliff, enjoy 360-degree ocean views, including of La Jolla. Grab an ice cream at the camp store to finish off your delicious tacos and burritos. Local hint: pull onto the campgrounds and let them know you just need temporary parking for dinner. Or park on the coast highway and enjoy a nice walk back to the car with ocean breezes after filling those tummies.

Where: 2050 S Coast Highway 101, Cardiff, CA

7. Fletcher Cove

A gorgeous beach just two blocks in from the 101,  start your day with breakfast at the ocean view restaurant Naked Café, followed by some play time at the Fletcher Cove park play structure, then head down to the beach to collect shells. Just when you start to feel you have sufficiently worn out your wee ones, finish off the day with some lunch at the popular Pizza Port. Oh! And if you have train lovers, be sure to check out the station across the street.

Where: Solana Beach, CA – where Lomas Santa Fe meets the water

8. Torrey Pines

For a great hike in San Diego with kids, check out the easy trails along one of the most beautiful stretches of coastline. Enjoy the wild flowers and the beauty of the Torrey Pine trees. Head to the ocean after to cool off while splashing in the waves.

Where: 12600 N Torrey Pines Rd, La Jolla, Ca

9. Birch Aquarium

It’s difficult to match the view from this fun for all ages aquarium atop a bluff overlooking the ocean. Stop by to see the Octopus and “hall of fishes,” then head to the hands on exploration area for kids. And when you are ready to have your breath taken away, step outside and enjoy the tide pool display all the while taking in the magnificent views.

Where: Birch Aquarium at Scripps – 2300 Expedition Way, La Jolla, CA

With so much to do and see along one of the world’s most scenic highways, your kids are sure to be requesting “let’s take the coast” and Highway 101 in no time, too.

> Discover more of Historic Highway 101 in San Diego

Nick Karvounis

Top Things to Do in San Diego – March 14 – 17, 2014

Run, swim, and bike your way across Coronado Island!

Your friends will be green with envy when you tell them you’re heading to San Diego this weekend.  With so many great attractions and events, there’s something for everyone; you won’t need the luck of the Irish to have a good time.  Check out these top things to do in San Diego during this festive weekend!

St. Patrick’s Day Celebrations

St. Patrick's Day parade in downtown San Diego

The St. Patrick’s Day Parade is always a fan favorite!

There’s a party and then there’s a party on St. Patrick’s Day.  Celebrate with friends across the region at some of San Diego’s annual events including Irish 4 A Day – St. Paddy’s Eve Party Hop, shamROCK Gaslamp Block Party, St. Patrick’s Day at the Glass Door, St. Patrick’s Beer Train Tour, and the St. Patrick’s Day Parade & Festival.  Read more on our St. Patrick’s Day blog.

Balboa Park STEAM Family Day

Balboa Park STEAM Family Day in San Diego

Kids — and adults — will have a hair-raising day at Balboa Park.

This one’s for the kids – and adults too!  This week-long festival takes place at various locations throughout the region. On Sunday, March 16th, enjoy Balboa Park STEAM Family Day, where more than two dozen institutions in the park gather to present park-wide events. Enjoy hands-on activities, crafts, a butterfly release, storytelling and much more.

Where: Balboa Park
When: Sunday, March 16,
Cost: Children 12 & under free with paid adult admission
>Read more about the schedule of events at Balboa Park STEAM Family Day

SUPERSEAL and SEAL Sprint Triathlons

Coronado Island is host to the SUPERSEAL triathlon

Run, swim, and bike your way across Coronado Island!

This one’s for the athletes… and the dreamers.  There’s no more spectacular setting than Coronado Island for an intense triathlon competition.  The course was designed by Navy SEALs who train on the island, so expect a rigorous race.  The SUPERSEAL consists of a 1,500-meter swin, 40K bike ride, and 10k run.  For the less-adventurous, the SEAL course is shorter with 500-meter swim in Silver Strand State Beach Bay, 20k bike ride, and 6k run.  Whatever you choose, good luck!

Where: 1100 Orange Ave, Coronado, CA 92118
When: Sunday, March 16, 2014
Cost: $100 – $245
>Read more about the triathlon on Coronado Island

Bike Tour through scenic Borrego Springs

Borrego Springs two-wheeled bike tour!

It’s a flat terrain course, but still a challenging 80-mile ride in Borrego Springs!

We’ll start with a caveat on this… the terrain is mostly flat.  But you still have to be in shape for this spectacular scenic bike ride through Borrego Springs.  Choose from 27, 40, 67, or 80-mile paved road courses while enjoying the beautiful mountains in the distance.  Don’t miss the landmark prehistoric metal sculptures too!

Where: Borrego Springs High School, 2281 Diegueno Drive, Borrego Springs, CA 92004
When: Saturday, March 15, 2014
Cost: $49
>Read more about this great two-wheeled Tour of Borrego

Art Above San Diego

Porto Vista Hotel hosts the annual Art Above San Diego fair

Enjoy a spectacular view at sunset during this elevated art fair!

This event at the Porto Vista Hotel literally elevates your art collection.  Enjoy a breathtaking view of San Diego’s Big Bay during sunset while sipping champagne on the rooftop terrace.  This open-air contemporary art fair features works from San Diego’s local emerging artists and galleries.

Where: Porto Vista Hotel, 1835 Columbia Street, San Diego, CA 92101
When: Saturday, March 15, 2014
Cost: $5-$10 donations requested
>Explore more about the Art Above San Diego fair

More Top Things to Do in San Diego


5 Must-do Family Adventures in Balboa Park

Spreckels Organ Pavillion

Perched high up on my father’s shoulders back when I was four years old, I remember the excitement of walking around Balboa Park. With so much to see from performing artists to the lily pond in front of the Botanical Building, even picnicking on the grass was a delight all of its own. Now that I am a mom of five, I continue to treasure the beautiful scenery, the iconic Cabrillo Bridge east/west entrance, gardens and so much more. And that’s before ever stepping foot inside one of the many museums and attractions! Over the past few decades (yes, I’m aging myself), I’ve also narrowed down some favorite spots that are frosting on the cake of family adventure.

Here are five must-do family activities in Balboa Park:

1. Marie Hitchcock Puppet Theater

Marie Hitchcock Puppet Theatre on Balboa Park

Escape into the world of fairy tales and adventure with marionettes at the Marie Hitchcock Puppet Theatre

Truth be told, I didn’t find out about this delightful show for the whole family that features marionettes, hand, rod, and shadow puppets, until one of my kids was invited to a birthday party there a few years back! With two shows daily Wednesday-Friday and three on weekends, be sure to pop in for some entertainment for all ages!

> Find out more about Marie Hitchcock Puppet Theater

2. Balboa Park Miniature Railroad

Balboa Park Miniature Railroad

All aboard the Balboa Park Miniature Railroad’s G16 – now a rare antique with as few as fifty currently remaining

Located just outside of the zoo, I used to always beg my mom to let us ride on this train! Now, I beg my kids to let me go on…kidding…kind of! The 3-minute ride around the tracks is a must and don’t miss a ride on the classic 1910 carousel, too!

> Find out more about the Balboa Park Miniature Railroad

3. San Diego Model Railroad Museum

San Diego Model Railroad Museum

It’s the model of miniature railroad museums

And speaking of locomotives, this is another gem I learned about when invited to a birthday party here: the train museum! Watch as the mini-trains travel through large layouts, with four set-ups choo-chooing along at once in a 28,000 square foot space!

> Find out more about the San Diego Model Railroad Museum

4. Reuben H. Fleet Science Center

Gravity Well - Reuben H. Fleet Science Center

Hands on fun for all ages can be found at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center

It’s hard to narrow down the must-see museums, but if you are short on time and could only choose one, this would be it! A definite field trip favorite when I was in elementary school, it’s a treat to see my kids enjoy the hands on exhibits all the while learning. And if you have the time, be sure to catch the IMAX theater located in a giant dome that makes you feel like you are in the movie! An absolutely incredible experience, it’s also great for a date night for parents if you can squeeze one in.

> Find out more about the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center

5. Spreckels Organ Pavilion

Spreckels Organ Pavillion

Sunshine, plenty of seating and good music make the Spreckels Organ Pavilion perfect for a family afternoon

One of the world’s largest outdoor pipe organs (no, really!), this is a must-see (or is that hear?). Be sure to check the schedule but shows are generally on Sundays and a great place to rest after enjoying all the above attractions.

> Find out more about the Spreckels Organ Pavilion

Truly, there is so much to do and see in Balboa Park it was hard to narrow down my top picks. With activities the family can enjoy together, be sure to park (ahem) your family here!


New Year’s Eve Celebrations for Kids in San Diego


Keeping the kids awake past midnight on New Year’s Eve can sometimes be a recipe for disaster, but luckily, several venues around San Diego offer a range of family friendly events that allow you to toast your tots and still make it back by bedtime. Whether you prefer to go budget-friendly or big-time, here’s a short list of options that will help make it a joyous transition to 2014.

Kids’ New Year’s Eve at LEGOLAND


Ring in 2014 at LEGOLAND’s family friendly New Year’s Eve Celebration

Kids ring in the New Year as if they’re smack dab in the middle of New York’s Times Square at LEGOLAND’s New Year’s Eve party. The event features a full lineup of live kids music and an early evening countdown that culminates with its traditional LEGO brick dropping and a giant fireworks display.

Where: One LEGOLAND Drive, Carlsbad, CA 92008
When: December 31, 2013
Time: 10:00 AM to 7:00 PM (6:00 PM countdown & fireworks)
Cost: Included with admission
> Find out more about Kids’ New Year’s Eve at LEGOLAND

New Year’s Eve 50’s Themed Sock Hop Bash

New Year's Eve Sock Hop

Step back in time as we move forward another year at a 1950’s style Sock Hop

Put on your poodle skirt and lace up those saddle shoes for this 50’s theme Sock Hop Bash at Sheraton Carlsbad Resort & Spa in coastal North County.

This family focused fete includes a buffet style dinner and dessert bar, a live DJ, and a special Kids Party Zone complete with a “Gamer Room” that includes XBox Kinect, Dance Central, racing games, and Wii. Kids will also enjoy face painting, traditional table games like air hockey and foosball, plus their very own dance floor. The Kids Club Party Room counts down the New Year with a balloon drop at 9:00 PM.

Where: Sheraton Carlsbad Resort & Spa 5480 Grand Pacific Dr, Carlsbad, CA  92008
When: December 31, 2013
Time: 6:30 PM to 12:30 AM (Kids countdown at 9:00 PM)
Cost: $90 Adult (18+); $45 Child (13-17); $30 Child (4-12) Free for Ages 3 and under. Prices increase after December 30, 2013.
> Find out more about New Year’s Eve 50’s Themed Sock Hop Bash

Kids New Year’s Eve at Hotel del Coronado

Skating by the Sea at the Hotel del Coronado

Skating by the Sea at The Del!

While the grownups toast champagne in the Hotel Del’s beautiful Crown Room, kids will be having a ball of their own with dinner, beach games, a bonfire and enjoying the resorts Kidtopia, a fun-filled facility catered specially for kids 4-12.

Where:  Hotel del Coronado 1500 Orange Ave, Coronado, CA 92118
When:  December 31, 2013
Time:  7:00PM to 12:30 AM
Cost:  $300-$330 Adults; $100 first child 4-12 $60 each additional
> Find out more about New Year’s Eve at the Hotel del Coronado

Pajama Jam: New Year’s Family Night Out

New Children's Museum Pajama Jam

Taking place the Saturday before New Year’s Eve, the New Children’s Museum hosts a zany Pajama Jam where both kids and grownups sport their jammies and bunny slippers while they boogie down to live kids music from Clint Perry & The Boo Hoo Crew, enjoy a delicious dinner from local restaurants, participate in New Year’s themed art-making activities and of course, a balloon drop.

Where: 200 W Island Ave, San Diego, CA 92101
When: December 28, 2013
Time: 5:00 to 8:00 PM
Cost: $35 Adults; $25 Children; Free under 2 yrs. (includes parking & hosted bar)
> Find out more about Pajama Jam: New Year’s Family Night Out

John’s New Year’s Eve Party and Horn Parade

John's Incredible Pizza Company

Let the kids play all night at John’s Incredible Pizza Company

For a more low-key approach, head to John’s Incredible Pizza Co. where kids of all ages will enjoy celebrating the New Year with an evening of pizza, games, rides, and a special Horn Parade for those that can make it to midnight!

Where: 3010 Plaza Bonita Rd, National City, CA 91950
When: December 31, 2013
Time: 7:00 PM to 1:00 AM (Horn Parade at Midnight)
Cost:  $20-$35 Adults (13+); $15-$30 Child (3-12)
> Find out more about John’s New Year’s Eve Party and Horn Parade

Kids New Year’s Eve Party at City of Coronado Public Library

Kids at the Coronado Public Library

Have some early NYE fun at the Coronado Public Library

This hour-long event is free to the public and offers games, crafts and a piñata all leading up to the countdown! If you’re in the Coronado area, be sure to check it out.

Where: Coronado Public Library 640 Orange Ave, Coronado, CA 92118
When: December 31, 2013
Time: 1:00 to 2:00 PM
Cost: Free
> Find out more about the Kid’s New Year’s Eve Party at the Coronado Public Library

What are your family plans for this New Year’s Eve?


New Year’s Eve Celebrations for Kids in San Diego

LEGOLAND California's New Year's Even Celebration for Kids

My kids love celebrating NYE and each year they have every intention of staying up until midnight watching the fireworks or banging pots and pans. But it never works out that way; they get tired and cranky and frankly so do we! Luckily, many of San Diego’s attractions have thought of this and offer day and early evening New Year’s Eve celebrations for kids.

Kids’ New Year’s Eve at LEGOLAND

LEGOLAND California's New Year's Even Celebration for Kids

LEGOLAND Rings in 2013 with a bang.

Like the famous Times Square party, Kids’ New Years Eve features a kid’s concert and countdown to the new year followed by a huge LEGO brick dropping 22 feet into 2013 and a dazzling fireworks display. Brick and fireworks start at 6:00 PM.

Jungle Bells at the San Diego Zoo

Jungle Bells at the San Diego Zoo

Spend New Years Eve at Jungle Bells at the San Diego Zoo

During the three-week Jungle Bells Celebration, the San Diego Zoo is transformed into a magical winter wonderland. Guests can enjoy a nightly tree-lighting ceremony, lighted animal displays throughtout the park, live animal shows, storytelling, and bell ringers. Open until 8:00 PM on New Year’s Eve.

SeaWorld San Diego

SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration runs through January 5th. Park stays open until 9:00 PM and features SnowWorld, “Shamu’s Christmas” show, The Polar Express 4-D Experience and nightly fireworks.

More New Year’s Eve Celebrations For Kids

New Year’s Bash – Beats, Patterns and Rhythms!

On Friday, December 28th, The New Children’s Museum will party all-day with music and dance performances, hands-on art workshops, live graffiti art and a member’s only celebration. This way you can celebrate the New Year with the kids on Friday and reserve Saturday for the adults!

John’s New Years Eve Party and Horn Parade

Book your spot at John’s Incredible Pizza Co. in San Diego’s South Bay so you can sit back and relax while the kids tire themselves out with an all-you-can-eat buffet all night long, along with drinks, rides and prizes. At midnight, the excitement continues with the IncrediBear Horn Parade and the ball drop on the big screen.


Balboa Park’s December Nights – Two Nights of Holiday Magic – December 7-8, 2012

Organ Carolers - Balboa Park's December Nights
Organ Carolers - Balboa Park's December Nights

Music, food, drinks, rides and more! Find some Holiday Cheer at Balboa Park’s December Nights

Balboa Park’s December Nights – the city’s annual holiday gift to the community – promises to be bigger and better than ever this year. The 35th annual two-day celebration is the city’s largest free festival, expected to draw at least 300,000 this year.

December Nights is as close as San Diego gets to becoming a winter wonderland. Balboa Park is decked in twinkling lights and silvery garlands. Fanciful Christmas trees abound and the aromas of multi-cultural holiday treats waft through the air.

Free Entry into the Museums

For the occasion, park museums open their doors to the public, free of charge, from 5:00 until 9:00 PM both evenings. Many present special holiday programs. Kids will be awed by the elaborate gingerbread constructions at the Mingei International Museum and can join in holiday-inspired craft projects at the San Diego Air & Space Museum. All ages will be enthralled by the amazing bell ringers who perform at the San Diego History Center.

Things to Do During December Nights

Santa Lucia Procession - Balboa Park's December Nights

Enjoy a traditional Santa Lucia Procession in the California Quadrangle in front of the Museum of Man

Festivities are family friendly, multi-cultural and staged throughout the park. The San Diego Civic Youth Ballet will perform excerpts from “The Nutcracker” on the Casa del Prado Stage. Steps away, on the California Quadrangle near the San Diego Museum of Man, revelers can see the Santa Lucia Procession and children’s choir performances. Dozens of singers, dancer and musicians will take to the stage at the Organ Pavilion.

Youngsters will have the opportunity to visit with roving Santas and can pose for a photo in The Old Globe courtyard with Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas! At the Marie Hitchcock Puppet Theater, they can see puppets come to life in an adaptation of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol and they can join with San Diego Junior Theatre students singing holiday songs. A series of children’s holiday movies will run nonstop both evenings in the theater at the San Diego Hall of Champions. There also are plenty of carnival rides to keep the younger set entertained.

December Nights are prime time for holiday shopping. Find great gifts at museum stores, from Spanish Village Art Center artisans and at a wide range of arts and crafts booths.

December Nights Food Options

House of China Food Prep - Balboa Park's December Nights

Sample delicious delicacies from around the world including traditional dishes from the House of China.

Hungry? December Nights is known for its mouth-watering range of food and drink offerings. The International Cottages of the House of Pacific Relations offer traditional holiday foods from a smorgasbord of nations: Think empanadas, eggrolls, aebleskiver, samosas, fried plantains, pierogi, bourekas, baklava, paella, even mashed potato stew.  Many museums offer tasty treats: Find roasted chestnuts at the San Diego Art Institute, yakisoba at the Japanese Friendship Garden, hot toddies at the Hall of Champions. In addition, numerous food vendors sell an array of yummy holiday delights – from melted Swiss raclette to fresh-baked gingerbread cookies. The 21+ set can sip a locally crafted brew at one of several beer gardens.

Getting to December Nights


With so many attending December Nights, parking can be tougher than fitting down a chimney. Shuttles are provided from PETCO Park (where parking will cost $5), the County Administration Building and several City College Parking lots offering free parking. Carpooling with all your friends is a must!

> Balboa Park’s December Nights Parking Map

Public Transportation

Since parking can be a little rough, consider saving yourself the hassle and taking public transportation. Ride the Orange or Blue Trolleys to the City College stop on 11th Avenue and then either hop on the Number 7 bus or enjoy a brisk walk up park. From Hillcrest, Uptown, Mid-City, Normal Heights, City Heights, and North Park communities take any bus to University Avenue and Park Blvd and transfer to a special Route 7 shuttle heading to Park Blvd.

Alternative Transportation

Want to relax without worrying about which stop to get off at or if you can get to the parking spot before it’s gone? Consider taking a taxi or using the posh Uber private driver service.

If you are close enough, try getting some fresh air and cycling into Balboa Park. There are plenty of bike racks throughout the park. The biggest bike racks can be found by the entrance of the San Diego ZooPlease remember to be safe and to wear a helmet and reflective vest, and to use front and rear blinking lights.

Balboa Park’s December Nights General Information

Location: Balboa Park
Dates: December 7-8, 2012
– Friday, December 7: 5:00 to 10:00 PM
– Saturday, December 8: 12:00 to 10:00 PM
Cost: Free

And be sure to bundle up. While San Diego may better known for sandmen than snowmen, it can get downright chilly here on December nights!


Discover, Explore and Play at the San Diego Botanic Garden

San Diego Botanic Garden Hamilton Children's Garden Sign

During the entire month of October, kids can eat play and stay for free in San Diego with over 100 kids free offers from San Diego museums, restaurants, hotels and attractions. Participating attractions include all the kids’ favorites: SeaWorld, the San Diego Zoo, LEGOLAND and the New Children’s Museum. But don’t overlook the opportunity to introduce youngsters to attraction they may not yet know – such as the San Diego Botanic Garden in Encinitas, home of the largest interactive children’s garden on the West Coast.

San Diego Botanic Garden’s Hamilton Children’s Garden

San Diego Botanic Garden Hamilton Children's Garden Sign

The botanic garden’s 1-acre Hamilton Children’s Garden is fertile ground for growing young minds – a great place for nurturing a child’s love of nature. It includes 14 themed sites – ranging from a butterfly garden to a rhythm garden, where kids can make music playing nature’s instruments.

Flora at the San Diego Botanic Garden

Youngsters can make mud pottery in Art’s Garden,  practice their ABCs at the alphabetical Spell and Smell Garden and be awed by fruits, vegetables and flowers growing from bales of hay.

Kids Climbing a Tree at the San Diego Botanic Garden

A favorite destination is the massive kid-friendly tree house that combines a man-made trunk, with living trees that kids can explore from roots to canopy through tunnels, walkways and rope ladders.

Explore Even More With Over 36 Acres of Flora

Beyond the Children’s Garden there are 36 more acres for exploring – with plants and trees from 15 geographic regions, including Central and South America, Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, the Canary Islands and Mediterranean regions. Visitors can wander everything from an “undersea” succulent garden that simulates a coral reef to a tropical rain forest. There are herb and topiary gardens – and of course, plenty of native plants and trees.

There’s also a small gift shop, a plant shop, a snack bar and the Children’s Garden has picnic tables.

Location: 230 Quail Drive, Encinitas, CA 92024 (map)
Hours: Daily – 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Cost: $12 for Adults. During October, each paid adult gets to bring along two kids, 12 or younger, for free – Click Here to Download the Kids Free CouponAdd $2 for parking (except cars with four or more passengers get in free).


Take the Kids Fishing in San Diego

Kids fishing at the docks
Kids fishing at the docks

Spend a day with the kids fishing.

With kids spending more and more time in front of Smart phones or desk computers and less time in the outdoors, organizations throughout the country have taken on the task of getting more kids involved outside.

One of them is the Take Me Fishing movement at, an excellent source for parents seeking guidance on how to get their kids into fishing.

Those who have tried know it’s not easy prying their sweaty little palms away from their mobile phones or computer games, but maybe, just maybe, the tug of a fish on the other end of the line will hook a kid for a lifetime of great fishing experiences.

What I’ve learned about taking kids fishing is that you have to take them somewhere where they’ll catch fish or at least get lots of bites and action. There’s never a guarantee in fishing. It’s not called catching, but there are ways to ensure that they’ll at least get into some biting fish.

My best bets are a lake or pond when bluegill are biting or a sport boat when there’s good action on smaller fish like mackerel, bass or bonito hitting.

A few years ago I took golf writer Tod Leonard out from the U-T San Diego newspaper. His son, Casey, was new to fishing. We went to San Diego Bay with fishing guide Jeff Stock, and it was a very successful trip. Casey outfished us all, knowing just the right time to set the hook and start reeling. Tod and Casey had a fishing memory of a lifetime. And that’s what you want when you take a youngster fishing.

San Diego Bay can be a great place to take a kid. So can places like Lake Murray and Santee Lakes. Keep it simple. Use light gear, not kiddy stuff, but good light gear like a spinning rod and reel. Lower Otay Lake has a very healthy population of bluegill, and they can be found close to the shoreline in the summer months. recommends keeping kids busy with other activities when the fish aren’t biting. Try and teach them about the nearby environment they’re in by pointing out birds or other animals around them. Teach them knots or the difference in lures that they’ll use and why they use them. If you’re on a boat, teach them nautical terms such as the boat’s stern, port side, starboard and bow. Teach them how to cast. There is no more valuable skill an angler can have than making a great cast. Work with them closely on this and then let them try on their own.

It’s not easy these days getting a young boy or girl to give up the instant gratification they get from computer games and switch to fishing, a pastime that often requires patience, but it’s worth a try. The best thing you’ll hear later is, “Gee, Dad, when are we going fishing again?”

> Find More Family Friendly Travel Guides for San Diego

Brent Bernasconi

Calling All Kids – Let the Kidvasion of San Diego Begin!

Get ready for the ultimate family vacation! During the entire month of October, kids eat, stay and play for free throughout San Diego. Take advantage of great deals at over 100 participating partners including Amtrak, world-class attractions, museums, hotels, restaurants, surf companies, tour companies and more.

> Find Over a Hundred Kids Free Offers in San Diego This October

Brent Bernasconi

San Diego Fun in the Rain

I know most people don’t like it (especially San Diegans), but every once in a while it rains in San Diego. Trying to tan on the beach may not be the best option but there are plenty of other fun and exciting things to do throughout the county. Here are just a few ideas of things to do until the sun comes back out.

> Check out our update post on inside fun during a rainy day in San Diego

Balboa Park in the Rain

Balboa Park in the Rain. Photo Courtesy of Balboa Park

It’s Raining Culture

There are tons of great museums and cultural institutions throughout the county and almost all of them are indoors. The entire family can spend a whole day exploring the museums of Balboa Park and staying dry (minus the time it takes to move from museum to museum). Pick up the Balboa Park Passport or Stay-for-the-Day Pass that provides admission to multiple museums and saves you money at the same time!

For those with little ones, stop by The New Children’s Museum in downtown San Diego for hours of hands-on fun. If you are staying in the North County, the San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum sneaks in education with interactive exploration. A few other options include the Birch Aquarium at Scripps in La Jolla or the Museum of Making Music in Carlsbad.

During the week you can also stop by one of the great local libraries for some fun kid oriented activities or to just pick up a book and relax.

Coronado Brewing Company Fireplace

A Warm Fireplace on a Cold Day at the Coronado Brewing Company

Dining in the Rain

Okay, you probably don’t want to actually dine outside in the rain, but there are plenty of restaurants and pubs in San Diego that allow you to enjoy the sound of rainfall while staying warm. The Coronado Brewing Company is one of my favorite places to grab a bite to eat with a local craft beer as the rain falls outside. Ask for a table next to one of the fireplaces and then just stare out the open windows and enjoy.

If you are looking for a warm caffeinated beverage, pop in to a local coffee shop and warm yourself up. Many of these places also offer free wi-fi so you can get some work done or like San Diego on Facebook.

A Storm of Exciting Blockbusters

It is almost a San Diego pastime to catch the latest blockbuster film while the skies pour down on us. Fashion Valley’s movie theater has 18 screens so you are sure to find something everyone can enjoy. If you are in downtown, Horton Plaza’s multiplex is a great option for a mid afternoon movie followed by some shopping and dining. No matter where you are in the county, you can always find multiplex theater nearby.

Tell us in the comments below, what is your favorite thing to do during a rainy day in San Diego?