Fun Things to Do With Kids in San Diego
Our guide to the best spots in San Diego for a family-friendly holiday.
Visiting San Diego, California with the little ones in tow? Prepare for sun, sand and one of the best family holidays of your life, with some of the most beautiful accommodation thanks to our fastidious Plum Guide home critics.
With this list of things to do with kids in San Diego, you don’t need to worry about planning your trip and instead can focus on more important matters – like which California wine to buy for late nights in the hot tub with your better half while the babies are soundly asleep. (Hey, you can dream).
Hit the beach
When travelling with the little ones, sometimes the most obvious choice is also the best one. When it comes to things to do in San Diego with kids, going to the beach is at the top of our list. The city boasts 70 miles of long sandy beaches and waves perfect for your kids’ first surf lesson. Kayaking is another fun family-friendly beach activity that will have the added bonus of helping to burn your holiday calories. We know your metabolism isn’t what it once was.
Whether you’re visiting in the summer or winter, it’s almost never too cold for at the very least a walk on the sand. Stay at this adorable Plum Guide seaside abode to be in walking distance to the seashore. The barbecue in the back will make for the ideal dinner for the little ones after a long day on the beach.
La Jolla Cove
If you're looking for where to stay in San Diego with kids, you could do worse than upscale La Jolla. After a couple of hours spent raiding the neighbourhood's designer boutiques, reward the kids for their patience with mum and dad’s spending habits with a visit to La Jolla Cove. Pick up a picnic to enjoy on the grass overlooking the Pacific at Scripps Parkway. There are often live musicians performing here who will certainly make the perfect compliment to your al fresco lunch.
Once everyone’s stuffed on sandwiches, take a walk along the cliffs and tell your kids to keep their eyes peeled for seals and sea lions. The beach at Children’s Pool, which is a small protected cove is one of their favourite napping spots. By the way, the views here are generally fantastic so if everybody looks cute enough, this makes a great place to snap some family photos.
Enjoy the posh vibes of La Jolla with a luxurious stay in this charming and fun Plum Guide home, within walking distance to the beach.
San Diego Zoo and Safari Park
Your little animal lovers will absolutely love the San Diego Zoo in Balboa Park and its sister property the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.
The zoo is considered one of the premier zoological centres in the world and is home to 4,000 animals representing 800 species. Don’t miss the Children’s Zoo for the younger babies, where they can enjoy a discovery playground and a petting zoo.
The San Diego Zoo Safari Park is set on 1,800 acres in comparison to the zoo’s 100. The main attraction here is the African Tram which mimics a safari through the African Savannah – basically like the one you considered checking out for your honeymoon but decided you couldn't afford. Your young adventurers will come across rhinos, giraffes and more. On hot days, pack their swimming clothes and let them cool off in the animal-shaped fountains at the Savannah Cool Zone.
If you really want to make dreams come true, choose Legoland when deciding on things to do with kids in San Diego. Unlike most theme parks which feature passive entertainment, rides here are interactive and educational so you don’t even have to feel the tiniest bit guilty.
The Volvo Driving School gives kids an opportunity to play driver within a safe and controlled environment. They’ll learn the rules of the road – the course features stop signs and working stop lights – and good safety habits like buckling ones’ seatbelt.
Your little geniuses can also get involved building and racing LEGO vehicles and programming computerised LEGO robots. If you want to join in on the fun, try the Police and Fire Academy Rescue ride where the whole family hops aboard a fire truck or police car and races other teams to either put out a “fire” or stop some pesky robbers. Competitive parents, this one's for you.
If you visit in the summer, try the water park for wet and wild fun for the whole crew. After a day spent entertaining the kiddos, you’ll love relaxing with a glass of wine and the pristine sea views from this idyllic Plum Guide home.
Journey back in time in Old Town San Diego, the birthplace of California. This historic part of town is where the first Spanish settlers arrived in 1769. Let the kids soak in some history as you wander through the fifteen historic buildings in the area. There are also cute boutiques selling souvenirs, artisanal beauty products and candy if you’re not too worried about the kiddos getting hyper.
For those with non-scaredy cat teens, check out Whaley House, once featured on the show America’s Most Haunted. San Diego’s first house made from bricks, the building is supposedly haunted to this day.
Whatever you do though, don’t miss grabbing a meal in Old Town. There are over 25 restaurants within a one mile radius and the specialty is Mexican food. Don’t be shy either as there’s no place better to recover from a food coma than this swanky pad which would make your perfect home away from home.
The New Children’s Museum
For those with curious little bebes, make sure to plan a trip to The New Children’s Museum when deciding on things to do with kids in San Diego. The institution was designed to encourage children to think, play and create using hands-on exhibitions and artistic activities. Give yourself a break with a cocktail or two while they explore and learn something new – trust us, you’ve earned it.