It's not just the nearly perfect climate that draws people to southern California. In addition to the 77-and-sunny weather, families will love the wide range of kid-approved San Diego attractions and sites. We've rounded up the best family-friendly things to do in this SoCal city.
This world-famous habitat is one of the best zoos across the globe and a can’t-miss outing for families. Not only do animals of all kinds abound from the four corners of the earth, but the zoo provides innumerable ways to view and encounter them. Mini train rides, aerial trams and guided bus tours are just a few of the possibilities, and a host of special experiences — like kids playing ‘zookeeper for a day’ — are also popular.
Once a long-serving aircraft carrier during the 20th century, the USS Midway today is a floating museum of cool spaces and amazing experiences. While most of the fun is tied to into a self-guided tour that lets visitors explore everything from officers’ quarters to an engine room, children can also try their hand at a flight simulator, watch videos or climb into the cockpit of an on-board aircraft.
San Diego County is loaded with beautiful beaches, and this beckoning stretch of sand in Torrey Pines is one of the best. Watch surfers tackle the waves, splash in the swimmer’s area or beachcomb beneath the eye-catching bluffs along the sand. Bird-watching is another favorite activity here.
This 12-acre historical venue is the site of the first Spanish settlement on the West Coast and home to several handsomely restored structures from the 19th century. More importantly it is home to plenty of fun, including shopping for everything from homemade taffy to handcrafted jewelry, delicious Mexican dining and live Mariachi bands. A historic museum dedicated to Father Junipero Serra and one of the state’s only officially designated haunted homes (the Gallows House) are other interesting offerings.
This awesome attraction will be especially savored by kids 12 and under, and is worth the trek to nearby Carlsbad. The spacious theme park inspired by the wildly popular children’s building blocks is split into nine sections, which range from the patriotic Miniland USA to the exciting Pirate Shores. Legoland is also home to a robust water park, and the expansive Sea Life aquarium neighboring Legoland is a big family draw as well.
A sprawling urban park in the middle of town, Balboa Park is home to theaters, museums and plenty more — including the aforementioned San Diego Zoo. Visitors will also find almost 20 gardens to explore, plus a Frisbee golf course, carousel, a puppet theater and numerous other family-friendly possibilities.
Kids won’t soon forget a visit to this famed attraction, where you can watch sharks, sea lions and killer whales in action — and even get hands-on with sea-life ranging from sharks to crabs. Thrills and chills are also on tap with rollercoasters, water rides and other theme park fun.
Set right by the beach, this longtime local lure includes an old-timey wooden coaster and many other thrill rides, plus a laser maze, zip line, rock climbing wall and even a 7D theater. A three-level ropes obstacle course is another favorite with the young ones, and casual eats include cheap carnival munchies plus the bustling Beach House Grill.
By Zach Chouteau