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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

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A wide-angled shot of the San Diego Bay and California, USA

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.

Mission Beach

An amusement ride in Belmont Park, Mission Beach, San Diego, California

An amusement ride in Belmont Park, Mission Beach, San Diego, California

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.

On Mission, Plum Guide home in San Diego, US

On Mission, Plum Guide home in San Diego, US

La Jolla

View from above of waves rolling onto the sand at a beach in La Jolla, San Diego, California

View from above of waves rolling onto the sand at a beach in La Jolla, San Diego, California

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 the spot for you. Our choice of rentals around here don’t disappoint either. This is why you come to San Diego, man.

Coral Sunset, Plum Guide home in San Diego, US

Coral Sunset, Plum Guide home in San Diego, US

Coronado

Close up of plants in front of the sand at Coronado Beach, San Diego, California, US

Close up of plants in front of the sand at Coronado Beach, San Diego, California, US

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.

Balboa & Bacchus, Plum Guide home in San Diego, California

Balboa & Bacchus, Plum Guide home in San Diego, California

Little Italy

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.

L'Italiano, Plum Guide home in San Diego, US

L'Italiano, Plum Guide home in San Diego, US

The Best San Diego Attractions for Kids

San Diego is the perfect destination for your family holiday, with so many attractions to keep the kids entertained. They'll be absolutely spoilt for choice when it comes to deciding what to do, but we've created this small list to give you a head start. Here are the very best San Diego attractions for kids.

  • LEGOLAND California
  • The New Children's Museum
  • La Jolla Cove
  • USS Midway Museum
  • San Diego Zoo
  • San Diego Zoo Safari Park
  • Aquaria: World of Fishes
  • SeaWorld San Diego
  • Belmont Park
  • San Diego Model Railroad Museum
  • Old Town San Diego
  • San Diego Botanic Garden
  • Seaport Village
  • Cabrillo National Monument
  • Waterfront Park
  • Birch Aquarium at Scripps
  • Fleet Science Centre
  • San Diego Air & Space Museum
  • Petco Park
  • Balboa Park
  • San Diego Natural History Museum
  • Torrey Pines State Reserve
  • Maritime Museum of San Diego

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