Being the second-largest city in the state of California with a pleasantly mild climate year-round, San Diego is one of the best places that offers an abundance of fun things to do with kids — especially if it’s looking for outdoor activities. However, if you’re not a nature person fret not because we’ve also got you covered with a variety of indoor adventures you can take advantage of the next time you visit America’s finest city. So, without further ado here’s a list of fun things to do with kids in this beautiful place – San Diego, California.
Related: 40+ Fun Things to Do with Kids in Los Angeles
Beaches & Bays
Mission Beach, one of San Diego’s busiest beaches, is about two miles long and is bordered by a lengthy boardwalk that offers a variety of family-friendly rental stores, restaurants, and activities. If you prefer a more relaxed experience, stay on the south side of the beach, as Belmont Park—which is later on this list—is where much of the beach’s activity is concentrated.
The entire family may enjoy a wide range of on- and off-land activities at this 4,600-acre water wonderland. Take a watersports class or rent equipment from the Mission Bay Aquatic Center if you’re feeling brave. If you’d prefer to stay on dry land, play volleyball at Crown Point or take a picnic to one of East Mission Bay Park’s endless grassy parks and playgrounds.
A huge park on the lake, Fiesta Island is a well-liked location for special occasions including youth camps and charity walks. Dogs are permitted off-leash, and campfire rings may be found everywhere around the island’s coastline.
La Jolla Cove
La Jolla Cove, a favorite of both locals and tourists, offers everything from kid-friendly activities and beachside eateries to gorgeous sunsets and amazing sea lions. In addition to many other activities, you may snorkel, scuba dive, ride along the coast, travel to Ellen Scripps Park, and see marine life in tide pools.
Children’s Pool Beach in La Jolla
Although the modest beach’s original purpose was to provide a safe swimming area for families and kids, it has evolved into much more over time. You can swim, snorkel, or simply laze around in the sun as the helpful lifeguards watch over you. You should be aware that the Children’s Pool is closed to the public from December 15 through May 15 each year since it is seal pupping season. You are free to see the seals outside the shore, though, from a safe distance.
Coronado, an island, has some of the most breathtaking beaches in the San Diego region. You’re sure to discover the ideal location for you and your family, from the canine-friendly North Beach to the top picnic sites at Silver Strand State Beach and many more nearby and in between.
Visit Ocean Beach to discover the unique, genuine beach village of San Diego. a place to go for local brewers, beach rentals, sophisticated or informal beach restaurants, and unique local stores.
Related: Southern California’s Best Beaches For Families
San Diego Museums and Historical Buildings
Old Town San Diego
Old Town provides both tourists and locals with an extraordinary step back in time with its 32 restaurants, 10 hotels, 100 boutique stores, 36 museums, and historical attractions. Everything is close enough for you to walk between visiting the eerie Whaley House Museum and dining on authentic Mexican food in a same day. If you do decide to go to Old Town, be sure to check their calendar since you might be able to attend one of the many events that are conducted there all year long.
Cabrillo National Monument
Showing off the regional history of the area is an important goal for many national parks, and Cabrillo National Monument is no different. You may take a family tour of the Point Loma lighthouses, see the Women’s Rights Virtual Exhibit, go to the Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo Monument, and even see some local marine life in the tide pools during low tide.
The New Children’s Museum: Think. Play. Create.
The Children’s Museum of San Diego was the name of the institution’s 1983 La Jolla debut. In 1993, it relocated to a warehouse in the city’s center and became the Children’s Museum/Museo de los Nios. The Museum was reopened in 2008 under the name The New Children’s Museum, with the emphasis on contracting modern artists to produce interactive art pieces for kids to explore.
Our structure. The New Children’s Museum is a striking, multi-level, 50,000 square foot structure that features a number of translucent, flexible sections that open up to the outside world and clearly display the building’s architecture and construction. The dynamic facility was created by visionary and award-winning architect Rob Wellington Quigley and is one of California’s first green museums.
San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum
A vital component of learning is interactive encounters. There are four distinct program categories at this museum: Experimentation (science, math, engineering), Exploration (world cultures, history), Imagination (theater arts, visual arts, music), and Discovery (outdoor space featuring gardens, environmental science, world cultures, arts). Every exhibit and program is created with the assistance of museum specialists, educators, and childhood development specialists to ensure a wide range of skill development and concepts that are in line with California’s Common Core curriculum for science, math, English language arts, visual and performing arts, and social science. A child’s capacity to succeed in school, jobs, communities, and as parents is increased when they spend time at the museum, which fosters important life skills like creativity, self-assurance, and curiosity.
Through interactive exhibitions and hands-on programming, they stimulate kids’ creativity and inquisitiveness. Children can engage in creative problem solving, critical thinking, hands-on inquiry, and experimentation via play in a setting free from judgment and where there are no right or wrong answers.
Maritime Museum of San Diego
The Maritime Museum is made up of a collection of ships and displays open for public visitation and is well known for restoring, operating, and maintaining antique ships. And if you’re searching for a water adventure, they have plenty of options for you to pick from, such as the amazing San Salvador Sailing Adventure and a Tall Ship Adventure Aboard Californian.
USS Midway Museum
The USS Midway was the longest-serving aircraft carrier of the 20th century before it was donated to the 501(c)3 nonprofit San Diego Aircraft Carrier Museum organization in 2003 and then reopened as the USS Midway Museum in 2004. Visitors are welcome to explore one of the numerous historical displays on board the USS Midway, take part in various activities, and even spend the night as a member of the Snooze Crewz.
California Missions of San Diego
Visiting one of the two California Missions in the county should definitely be on your schedule if you want to get a taste of Spanish culture while you’re in San Diego. The largest of the 21 missions in California, the Mission of San Luis Rey was founded in 1798. Mission San Diego De Alcala was established in 1769 by Father Junipero Serra and is the following structure.
San Diego Natural History Museum
The Nat is a major attraction in Balboa Park that showcases the rare biodiversity and natural heritage of Southern California and Baja California.
The Nat is home to San Diego’s only Foucault pendulum, a giant-screen theater, and five floors of exhibition space. The Museum cultivates in visitors of all ages a lifetime passion of learning about nature and the environment through its permanent collection, special exhibitions, numerous educational programs, and the opportunity to witness scientists at action.
San Diego Model Railroad Museum
The San Diego Model Railroad Museum is a wonderland for young and young-at-heart alike, with more than 27,000 square feet of tracks, trestles, and locomotives. The museum is one of the biggest centers in the country for recognizing the creativity, skill, and imagination involved in model railroading. It is the only recognized model railroad museum in the nation. The whimsical Toy Train Gallery is sure to make people grin, while four fascinating layouts are based on real historic railway lines.
Tuesday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., the museum is OPEN. In Balboa Park, across from the lily pond and close to the Prado restaurant, on the lower level of the Casa De Balboa structure, is where you’ll find the museum. Entry is available at the door, but tickets are also offered online.
San Diego Attractions & Parks
SeaWorld San Diego
Now, if you’ve ever visited San Diego, it’s likely that you’ve either been to Sea World, driven past it, or at the very least heard of it. Many of Southern California’s most up-close-and-personal animal encounters may be had at this 189-acre parcel of property, which is home to hundreds of creatures including adorable Sea Otters and killer whales. Additionally, Sea World has rides and rollercoasters for visitors of all ages if you enjoy a little bit of excitement.
San Diego Zoo
The 100-acre world-famous San Diego Zoo is a zoo renowned for its unique experiences and rich, naturalistic environments. Among many other activities, you can stroll around the botanical gardens, ride a tram for a short cut over the Zoo’s soaring trees, interact with live animals, watch a show, or join a guided tour. Just remember to put on sunscreen and put on some comfy shoes.
Belmont Park, which lies in the center of Mission Beach, is a popular place that should not be missed if you ever find yourself around. The park offers a ton of family-friendly entertainment. Riding the Giant Dipper roller coaster, riding the Beach Blaster, ziplining, playing a game of mini-golf or lazer tag, going karting, getting some food, and, of course, lounging on the beach are all popular pastimes.
As San Diego’s cultural hub, Balboa Park is home to 17 museums and cultural organizations that display collections that include local San Diego history, the history of transportation—including railroads, planes, and automobiles—as well as the arts and cultures of communities around the world. The Park museums offer free general admission to residents of the City and County of San Diego and active military members on a rotational basis during each month. The Fleet Science Center, the San Diego Air & Space Museum, the Japanese Friendship Garden, and the Timken Museum of Art are a few of Balboa Park’s most well-liked attractions (which is always free).
If you’re looking for a fun getaway built for families with kids between the ages of 2 and 12 then Legoland is your best bet. In addition to the Park’s SEA LIFE aquarium, Water park, and several onsite hotels, its theme park is filled with more than 60 kid-friendly rides, shows, and attractions.
San Diego Zoo Safari Park
Covering over 1,800 acres of land and being home to over 3,500 animals, the San Diego Zoo Safari Park is your best option if you want to take a walk on the wild side while visiting the San Diego area. Whether you and your family choose to walk freely around the park or go on one of the many guided tram and safari encounters, you’re gonna have a good time.
A New Sesame Street Theme Park Is Now Open In San Diego
San Diego is now home to a brand-new theme park modeled on everyone’s favorite street. Family-friendly rides, water activities, an interactive Sesame Street neighborhood, parades, live performances, and meet-and-greet opportunities with all your favorite Sesame Street characters will be available at the new Sesame Place theme park.
The Flower Fields at Carlsbad Ranch
The rolling hills of North San Diego County have been transformed by Mother Nature into one of the most impressive and well-coordinated displays of natural color and beauty in the entire globe for more than sixty years. The Giant Tecolote Ranunculus flowers that cover about fifty acres of The Flower Fields at Carlsbad Ranch® in Carlsbad, California, bloom for roughly six to eight weeks every year, from early March through early May, bringing the renowned fields back to life.
Seaforth Boat Rentals
The oldest boat rental, charter, and tour business in San Diego is Seaforth Boat Rental. Since 1976, we have operated as a family-owned business. We provide every service imaginable related to the water. From 14′ fishing boats to 56′ yachts, we have a large fleet. You can choose from a wide range of people-powered boats for tours, cruises, and personalized excursions, including sailboats, powerboats, jet skis, and more.
Activities & Events in San Diego
Typically in San Diego Whale watching season runs from mid-December to late April, during which some 20,000 Gray whales migrate through California waters. However, if you’re particularly interested in seeing Blue Whales you want to take to the waters sometime between mid-June through September. While there are a plethora of whale watching services in the San Diego area SD Whale Watch has been offering year-round whale watching longer than anyone else.
Check out these 5 Tips For Whale Watching In Southern California
The Old Globe Theatre
The Tony Award-winning Old Globe has served as San Diego’s premier cultural institution for more than 75 years and is one of the nation’s top professional regional theaters.
Take a San Diego Harbor Cruise
The most stunning way to experience the best of San Diego is on a flagship harbor cruise. On a leisurely cruise, take in the sights, sounds, and stories of the bay while getting a special perspective on San Diego that comes only from the ocean. Your knowledgeable guide will narrate amusing facts and tales about the events that shaped our city’s distinctive waterfront. With three levels, comfy indoor and outdoor seating, 360-degree views, and an onboard snack bar providing snacks, sodas, beer, and wine, our luxury ships are equipped with all the latest amenities.
San Diego County Fair
Also known more generally as the Del Mar Fair, the San Diego County Fair is an annual event that takes place in Del Mar, CA. While the dates for this year’s fair haven’t been published yet the fair typically takes place during the peak of summer. If you visit you can expect plenty of carnival games, delicious food, animal encounters and more.
Gator By the Bay
This year from May 6 – 9, 2021, Spanish Landing Park will be hosting San Diego’s annual Gator by the Bay festival, a.k.a the Mardi Gras in May festival. Here you can expect southern cuisine, Louisiana cooking demos, New Orleans style jazz, dancing, and much more fun for the whole family.
Taste of December Nights
Taking place at Inspiration Point Way at Balboa Park from Friday, December 4 – Sunday, December 6, the annual December Nights has ushered in the holiday season for the last 40 years. However, this year due to pandemic conditions the City of San Diego is offering a Taste of December nights where popular food vendors and trucks from previous years’ festivities will offer local favorites in a drive-thru setting from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Miramar Air Show
Annually, the Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego hosts the Miramar Airshow. The country’s largest military aviation show is a three-day affair typically in September.
Along with the U.S. Navy Blue Angels, the air show will feature the F-35B performance from the Marine Corps, the rare Marine Air-Ground Task Force demonstration, the F-22 Raptor demonstration team from the Air Force, Aaron Fitzgerald’s Red Bull Helicopter, a 5G Technology Expo, and more.
Related: The Best Southern California Air Shows to Attend This Year
San Diego Pride Weekend
Attracting around 250,000 people annually, San Diego Pride Weekend is undoubtedly one of the largest annual events that happen in the city. This year Pride Weekend will be taking place from Saturday, July 17, 2021 – Sunday, July 18, 2021, and will feature interactive virtual gatherings, a full in-person event, and a mid-road of both live streaming content with scaled back in-person events.
San Diego Comic-Con
Since 1970, the San Diego Comic-Con International has been a yearly multi-genre entertainment event and comic book convention in San Diego Convention Center.
The world of comic book conventions has centered around Comic-Con over the years.
The baseball stadium Petco Park is located in the heart of San Diego, California. The San Diego Padres of Major League Baseball call it their home field. The park has also used as a location for rugby, soccer, golf, and concerts. South of J Street, the ballpark is located between Seventh and Tenth Avenues.
Shop & Eat
Located in Downtown San Diego, this 14-acre waterfront shopping, dining, and entertainment complex designed to look like a 20th-century seaside harbor is home to 54 one of a kind shops, 13 casual dining eateries, 4 fine dining waterfront restaurants, and is a popular destination for locals and visitors. And while the food and shopping are mainstays of Seaport Village, the village also hosts a variety of events ranging from live music to holiday events to workshops on an array of subjects.
San Diego’s Embarcadero
Seaport Village’s fish markets and other gift shops make the Embarcadero a popular stop for cruise ships. Chic restaurants and shops may be found at The Headquarters, a former police command center. Attractions at the nearby USS Midway Museum, a former navy aircraft carrier, include flying simulators, restored aircraft, and life-at-sea exhibits. Ocean views can be found at Waterfront Park as well as the two Embarcadero Marina parks.
Liberty Public Market
The West Coast’s newest bustling market, Liberty Public Market, is open seven days a week and offers more than two dozen craftsmen, their gourmet masterpieces, organic produce, handcrafted goods, exquisite wines, and local beer. You can either let us cook for you or get everything you need to make your own special supper. We create straightforward, flavorful recipes that highlight Southern California’s agricultural riches and many culinary influences using only the freshest ingredients. For all of your everyday shopping, visit the Market. Visit us for lunch. Visit during happy hour. Dine outside. Explore Liberty Public Market for a while.
All that aside, if you’re still looking for more fun things to do in the SoCal area be sure to check out the following posts:
Botanical Gardens in Southern California
Guide to Southern California Zoos & Aquariums
Socially Distanced Places for Kids in Southern California
Fun Things To Do With Your Kids In San Francisco