Where to Stay in San Diego With Kids
Planning on a trip to San Diego with the family? Check out our guide on the most kid-friendly areas in the city.
It’s not hard to see why San Diego has acquired the nickname of ‘America’s Finest City’. With wide sandy beaches, sparkling blue water and a temperate climate all year round, it makes for the perfect city break.
Here at Plum Guide, we’ve got you covered when it comes to planning a getaway. We have all you need to know in terms of where to go, what to do and where to stay. If you’re wondering where to stay in San Diego with kids, we’ve done all the hard work and put together a list of the most kid-friendly neighbourhoods in the city. Once you’ve chosen where to stay, take a look at our collection of homes in San Diego, meticulously chosen by our expert home critics.
Built on a sandbar between the Pacific Ocean and Mission Bay, Mission Beach is a laid-back seaside neighbourhood that’s perfect for families. There’s nearly two miles of oceanfront boardwalk to explore, dotted with restaurants, shops and amusements.
A must-do along the beach is Belmont Park. We’re afraid there’s no getting out of this one – if you don’t suggest it, the kids are bound to spot it anyway. This historic amusement park features a whole range of rides for little ones all the way to the big kids (dad).
Most of the action happens around Belmont Park, but if you’re looking for a slower pace then head down to South Mission Beach. The beach gets wider as you head south, so there’s a whole host of outdoor activities like basketball, volleyball, biking, boogie boarding, surfing, whale watching, sport fishing and scuba diving. We hereby banish the phrase "I’m bored" forever.
My Blue Ocean is situated right on Mission Beach Boardwalk, so it’s not too far to drag the kids home. Plus, there’s a bedroom specifically designed for children that’ll keep them pre-occupied in the moments you need a break. All the best attractions are only a few steps away, but with glass doors leading out onto a huge terrace with a killer view, we don’t blame you if you want to stay put.
Head down to South Mission Beach and you’ll find My Blue Breeze, our luxurious modern-Victorian home. Sleeping up to six people, the house is perfect for families. While it’s hard to tear away from the beach that’s right on your doorstep, it’s the perfect place to come home to. Unwind in the decadent bathtub, relax in the breezy bedrooms and enjoy a barbecue on the terrace.
It wouldn’t be a list of where to stay in San Diego with kids without a mention of La Jolla. This upscale coastal area feels like a village in itself. With a dramatic coastline and far-reaching views, La Jolla is surrounded on three sides by the sea with Mt Soledad in the background (one of the best places to catch the sunset).
You’ll find plenty of kid-friendly cultural attractions like the Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institute of Oceanography, La Jolla Playhouse and the Museum of Contemporary Art. There’s also a whole slew of restaurants and cafes to try out in the area – even for the fussiest eaters.
Speaking of food, Scripps Park is a great place to hang out and have a picnic. Just south of the park is the Children’s Pool. Unfortunately, we hate to disappoint the kids, but it’s no longer permitted to swim here. They should probably change the name. However, if you tell them that it’s a great spot to view seal colonies – these sunbathing seals are an unmissable sight on any San Diego itinerary – then they might just forgive you.
Although full of attractions, the main draw of La Jolla is the coastline. Some of the best beaches include La Jolla Shores, the Cove and Windansea. If you and the family are wanting to try water activities like swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving and kayaking, this is without a doubt where to stay in San Diego with kids.
Our choice of rentals around here don’t disappoint either. Sea Bass Cove is a charming little hut for four people. With an open plan living area and ocean views, it’s bursting with seaside chic. The home is just a short walk from the beach, and near to downtown La Jolla with all its shops and restaurants.
If you’re looking for somewhere bigger, Surf & Shade sleeps up to six guests. The interior is bright and airy, with bold prints and colours and ocean themed decor. But it’s the outdoor living space that really shines. Unwind in the hot tub, relax on the sunbeds or get cosy by the firepit. This is why you come to San Diego, man.
If you’re looking for where to stay in San Diego with kids, Coronado is one of the finest areas of the city. Right across from downtown San Diego, this resort city sits on a peninsula in San Diego Bay. Although only separated by a ferry ride or short drive across the impressive Coronado bridge, the island paradise feels like a world away. With a gentle surf and wide sandy beaches, it’s the one of the most attractive choices for families.
There are countless outdoor activities, from water sports to Venetian gondola cruises. If you need to get the kids out of the sun for a bit, take a stroll down Orange Avenue, the area’s main street where you’ll find shops, restaurants, galleries, theatres and the Coronado Museum of History and Art.
Once a bustling centre for tuna fishing and home to generations of Italian families, Little Italy continues to be a lively neighbourhood bursting with things to do. The central hub of Little Italy is Piazza della Famiglia. This 10,000 square foot plaza is an active community space, so whether it’s markets, concerts or cultural events, there’s always something going on.
If sampling the city's local cuisine is at the top of your list when it comes to things to do in San Diego, Little Italy won't disappoint. Although the kids might be happy with pizza and pasta every night, there’s a ton of choice when it comes to places to eat. It’s packed with all kinds of restaurants and cafes, where top chefs have set up shop right next to old-school eateries.
Looking for an hour of retail therapy away from the kids? You thought we were never going to ask, didn’t you? In Little Italy you’ll find plenty of local boutiques and independent shops, selling everything from jewellery and clothing to crafts and antiques. Make sure to be in town on a Saturday when the Little Italy Mercato takes over – a farmers market packed with goodies to take home. There are also several festivals that take place in Little Italy throughout the year, including the Little Italy Festa and the Mission Fed ArtWalk.