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Best Things to Do in San Diego with Kids

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San Diego is full of kid-friendly activities, perfect for families looking for a fun and memorable vacation. From the world-famous San Diego Zoo to Legoland California and the USS Midway Museum, there’s something for everyone in this seaside city! This article will take you through 12 things to do in San Diego with kids. With all of the exciting things to see and do, you’ll be sure to have a memorable experience in this charming city.

A collage of the best things for kids in San Diego.

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Top 13 Kids Activities in San Diego

Whether you’re looking for a day out with the kids or a weekend of family fun, San Diego has something to offer!

With its warm climate, beautiful beaches, and abundance of kid-friendly activities, it’s no surprise that it is a popular destination for families.

Book a San Diego Vacation Here.

In this article, my family will be sharing our top picks for kid-friendly activities in San Diego.

From discovering local wildlife at the San Diego Zoo to exploring Balboa Park, there’s plenty of fun to be had – so read on to find out more about what San Diego has in store for you and your family!

Two kids in front of the entrance to the San Diego Zoo.

Available Hotels In San Diego

San Diego Zoo

The world-famous San Diego Zoo is not to be missed! From getting close to gorillas, pandas and giraffes to discovering exotic creatures from around the world, there’s something for everyone at this amazing zoo.

San Diego Zoo Tips

✔️ Wear Comfortable Walking Shoes

This zoo is one of the largest in the world, and that can mean a lot of walking (sometimes uphill). Make sure you wear comfortable shoes and mentally prepare yourself. Because there is so much walking, you’ll want to bring a stroller for little ones.

✔️ Arrive Early

It’s always best to arrive early in the morning when it’s less crowded and your kids can explore without waiting in long lines. You can also beat the crowds by visiting during weekdays instead of weekends. And often, the animals are more active earlier in the day.

Map of the San Diego Zoo.

✔️ Ride the Hop-On Hop-Off Bus

Also included with your admission ticket is the ability to ride the Kangaroo Bus which has 4 stops around the zoo and is a great way to get from one area to another. This is a great option for families with older kids.

✔️ Take the Bus Tour

The bus tour is a great way to get around the zoo and see things from another perspective. It’s also a great way to take a break from all of the walking. The tour is included with the price of admission and is on a double-decker bus! The line looks intimidating, but does move relatively quickly.

✔️ Ride the Skyfari Ariel Tram

This aerial tram takes you over the zoo from one side to the other, and provides great views of animals and the city of San Diego. It’s a fun way to get around the zoo and is included with admission. The line can be long, so plan on waiting for it.

Two Kids on the sky tram at the San Diego Zoo.

✔️ Pack Snacks

The San Diego Zoo allows you to bring in outside food. My family will often pack a lunch to enjoy during our visit and we always bring small snacks and water bottles. There are food options available at the zoo as well. My kids really like the waffle ice cream cones and sundaes as a special treat!

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Entrance to Sea World San Diego.

SeaWorld San Diego

Sea World San Diego is perfect for a family day out. From watching the whale and dolphin shows to getting up close with beluga whales and sea lions, it’s a great way to spend the day.

My family loves exploring all of the marine life exhibits and trying new rides like Journey to Atlantis or Wild Arctic.

For adventurous kids, there are also many roller coasters and thrill rides. Be sure to check height requirements before you visit to avoid tears if your little ones don’t measure up.

But, there are also many rides for young kids too! Check out my article that goes into detail about Sea World with kids here.

Three kids in front of Atlantis at Sea World San Diego.

Tips for Visiting Sea World with Kids

✔️ Do Your Research

Find out ahead of time what shows and attractions are most important to you. You can even find out show times beforehand to help you plan your day.

✔️ Pack Small Snacks

According to Sea World’s website, outside food and beverages are not allowed to be brought into the parks. However, I have had success packing a few small snacks for my little kids with me. You may or may not have the same experience.

Food prices tend to be high inside Sea World, so my family usually packs a lunch and leaves it in the car. We take a break during the day to head back to the car and eat it. That way we can spend money on going out to dinner. Check out my favorite restaurants in San Diego here.

A sea lion and trainer on stage at SeaWorld San Diego.

✔️Dress Appropriately

If visiting during the summer months, be sure to wear sunscreen and hats as much of Sea World is outside. Wear comfortable shoes and clothing, as you will be doing a lot of walking.

The fall, winter, and spring can be chilly in San Diego, so be sure to check the weather forecast before visiting to know if you will need to dress in warm clothing.

✔️ Arrive Early

Arriving at Sea World when it opens is a great way to get through the lines faster and enjoy the park without as many crowds.

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Three kids at the entrance of the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

San Diego Zoo Safari Park

The San Diego Zoo Safari Park is truly an amazing animal sanctuary. From the moment you enter, you feel like you’re in another world. There are many different habitats and animals to explore, from elephants to giraffes to rhinos.

You can take a narrated tram ride around the park or visit on foot and get up close with animals like cheetahs and zebras. My family loves to explore the aviary, or even feed some of the animals in the petting areas.

The Tiger Trail in the San Diego Safari Park.

San Diego Safari Park Tips

✔️ Bring a Lunch

Just like the San Diego Zoo, the Safari Park allows you to bring in outside food and drink. Take this opportunity to save a few bucks and pack your own lunch.

✔️ Pack a Camera

The Safari Park is beautiful and you’ll want to take lots of pictures. There are tons of different animals and views that make for great photos, so make sure you have a camera or your phone ready.

✔️ Dress Appropriately

The Safari Park can get hot in the summer months, so be sure to dress accordingly. Wear comfortable shoes and clothing, as you will be doing a lot of walking.

If visiting during the cooler months, check the weather forecast so you can dress in warm layers.

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Entrance to USS Midway Museum in San Diego Bay.

USS Midway Museum

The USS Midway Museum is a great way to learn about American naval history. You can explore the aircraft carrier and see what life was like during WWII, Korea, and Vietnam.

My family loves walking through the different decks and seeing all of the exhibits. The flight simulator gives you a realistic experience of what it’s like to fly a plane. There is even a special scavenger hunt designed for kids.

A child at the USS Midway Museum in San Diego.

USS Midway Museum Tips

✔️ Go Early

The USS Midway Museum tends to get crowded during the summer months, so arrive early if possible. Going first thing in the morning will also help you beat the heat and avoid long lines.

✔️ Take a Tour

Guided tours are available throughout the day and they provide lots of interesting information about the ship and its history.

✔️ Pack Lightly

As with Sea World, outside food and beverages are not allowed to be brought into the USS Midway Museum. If you want to bring snacks for your kids, opt for a few small items such as granola bars or crackers.

Entrance sign for Old Town Sand Diego State Historic Park.

Old Town San Diego & Old Town Trolley Tours

Old Town San Diego is a great place to learn about the city’s history. There are lots of old historic buildings, museums, and shops to explore. My family loves taking the Old Town Trolley Tour – it’s a fun way to get an overview of the area and see some of the major sights.

We also love walking around the old buildings and checking out the shops. It’s a great way to soak up some of San Diego’s unique culture and atmosphere.

Cosmopolitan Hotel in Old Town San Diego.

Old Town San Diego Tips

✔️ Wear Comfortable Shoes

In Old Town, you will be doing lots of walking – so make sure to wear comfortable shoes!

✔️ Visit During the Day

Old Town is a great place to visit during the day when you can explore all the shops and attractions. It’s best to avoid visiting at night because most of the experiences close around 5:00 or 6:00.

✔️ Plan to Eat Out

There are so many great restaurants located in Old Town, so check out restaurant reviews and enjoy a delicious meal! One of our favorite restaurants in Old Town is Miguel’s Cocina.

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A child with a bucket of sand on the beach in San Diego.

Go to the Beach

San Diego has some of the best beaches in the country, so consider spending the day soaking up the sun and playing in the sand! Mission Beach, Ocean Beach, and Pacific Beach are both popular spots for surfing and sunbathing.

One of our favorite beaches is Coronado Beach, located on Coronado Island. Half of the fun of visiting Coronado is driving over the really tall bridge. My kids always love that drive. You can also take in the beautiful Hotel del Coronado, an iconic San Diego hotel.

Hotel del Coronado in San Diego California.
Hotel del Coronado

San Diego Beach Tips for Kids

✔️ Pack Plenty of Sunscreen

Make sure you have plenty of sunscreen to protect your skin from the sun. Sunburns are no fun!

✔️ Bring Toys and Games

It’s always a good idea to bring beach toys and games when visiting the beach with kids. Building sand castles, flying kites, and playing Frisbee are all great activities that the whole family can enjoy. Get these collapsable sand buckets here from Amazon that are easy to pack and take up little space in your suitcase.

A child with a bucket of sand on the beach in San Diego.

✔️ Pack Snacks or a Picnic

Pack snacks and drinks in a cooler so you’re not tempted to buy expensive food from beach vendors.

✔️ Bring Beach Towels or a Beach Blanket

If you’re going to the beach, check out these beach towels and blankets that repel the sand. They are really cool!

Entrance to Legoland California.

Legoland California

Legoland California is a great place for families with kids ages 2 to 12. My family loves exploring all the different themed areas, rides, and attractions. One of our favorite things to do is to watch the Lego Movie 4D showing in the park’s theater.

My kids love all of the LEGO building stations located around the park, especially the one where you get to build a boat and sail it!

Lego decoration at Legoland California.

Legoland California Tips

✔️ Pack Comfortable Shoes

Be sure to wear comfortable shoes if you plan on spending the whole day at Legoland – you’ll be doing lots of walking!

✔️ Arrive Early

Try to get to LEGOLAND 20-30 minutes before the park opens. This can help you beat the crowds so you can ride the popular rides before the lines get too long.

A child and his dad in a boat ride at Legoland California.

✔️ Bring Extra Clothes for Kids

Be prepared for spills and accidents by bringing along an extra set of clothes for your kids. There are also a few splash pad areas in the park to keep you cool on hot days, so it’s nice to have dry clothes for your kids.

✔️ Consider a Stay at the LEGOLAND Hotel

Not only is this hotel LEGO-themed, but it is just steps from the front entrance to the park and hotel guests get to enter 30-60 minutes before the park officially opens!

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A child looking at the ocean in La Jolla Shores.

La Jolla Shores

This area is a great place to check out some Sea Lions in their natural habitat! La Jolla Cove is also a popular spot for snorkeling, scuba diving, and swimming.

La Jolla Shores Tips

✔️ Check the Tide Conditions Before You Go

It’s important to check tide conditions before visiting La Jolla Cove so you can plan ahead. If the tide is too high, some of the beach access points may be blocked off.

A child looking at sea lions on a rock in La Jolla, California.

✔️ Bring a Camera

The views of the cliffs and ocean are amazing, so don’t forget to bring your camera!

✔️ Wear Water Shoes

If you plan on swimming, make sure you wear water shoes or sandals. The rocks in the area can be sharp, so it’s best to protect your feet.

A child in a museum at Balboa Park in San Diego.
Museum in Balboa Park

Balboa Park

Balboa Park is the largest urban cultural park in the United States. It’s a great place to spend the day exploring all of its attractions, gardens, and museums. My kids love riding on the vintage carousel and taking in the views from the California Tower.

Balboa Park Tips

✔️ Bring Snacks

If you plan on spending the whole day at Balboa Park, be sure to bring plenty of snacks and drinks.

✔️ Look for Free Admission Days

Some of the museums at Balboa Park offer free admission on certain days of the week. Check their websites for more information.

✔️ Check out the Summer Concerts

Every summer, Balboa Park hosts a series of free concerts in its central plaza area. This is a great way to spend an evening listening to some live music!

A family standing by the San Diego Seal Tour bus/boat.

Seal Tour San Diego

The Seal Tour is a fun way to get out on the water and see some of San Diego’s iconic wildlife! You will board your boat, that can also drive on the land, in Seaport Village and will then take a short tour of the city, followed by a cruise into San Diego Bay where you can possibly see some sea lions!

The tour guides are knowledgeable and will teach you all about the marine life in the area.

The San Diego Seal Tour Bus/Boat.

Seal Tour San Diego Tips

✔️ Dress for the Weather

Be sure to check the weather before going on your seal tour – the temperature and wind can change quickly on the water.

✔️ Bring Binoculars

Binoculars can be helpful in spotting wildlife during your tour, so don’t forget to bring a pair!

✔️ Book Early

If you want to guarantee a spot on the Seal Tour, it’s best to book your tickets as far in advance as possible. The tours can fill up quickly, especially during the summer months.

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A child at Belmont Park in San Diego, California.
Belmont Park

Belmont Park

Belmont Park is a beachfront amusement park in San Diego with rides, games, shops, and restaurants. My kids love the Giant Dipper roller coaster and the classic boardwalk-style games. They also love climbing the giant rock wall!

Belmont Park Tips

✔️ Bring Your Own Food

Most of the food options in Belmont Park are overpriced and not so great. So it’s best to bring your own snacks and drinks if you can.

A boy on a climbing wall in Belmont Park in San Diego, California.

✔️ Check the Ride Heights

Before going on a ride, make sure to check the height restrictions. Some of the rides may not be suitable for younger kids.

✔️ Bring Cash

Most of the attractions and games in Belmont Park require cash, so make sure you bring enough with you. There are ATMs available but they charge a fee.

A child in front of stores in Seaport Village in San Diego, California.
Seaport Village

Seaport Village

Seaport Village is a great spot to spend an afternoon shopping, eating, and exploring the area. The village has over 70 shops and restaurants that line the waterfront. My family always enjoys taking a stroll around the harbor and checking out all of the unique stores!

Seaport Village Tips

✔️ Be Ready to Walk

Seaport Village is spread out over 14 acres, so be prepared for a lot of walking. Wear comfortable shoes and bring a water bottle if it’s a hot day.

✔️ Bring Cash

Most of the stores in Seaport Village are cash only. There are ATMs available but they charge a fee, so it’s best to bring enough cash with you.

✔️ Check out the Free Events

Seaport Village hosts a variety of free events throughout the year, such as live music and art shows. Check their website for more information.

View of the baseball field at Petco Park in San Diego.

Petco Park

Petco Park is the home of the San Diego Padres baseball team and is located in Downtown San Diego. It’s a great place to go for a game or just to explore and check out all of the attractions. My family loves visiting Petco Park and watching a game from one of its amazing seats!

Petco Park Tips

✔️ Don’t Bring a Bag

Bags are not allowed inside Petco Park, so leave yours at home or in the car.

✔️ Purchase Tickets Early

If you’re planning on going to a game, it’s best to book your tickets far in advance. They can sell out quickly and prices can go up as the date gets closer.

A child with ice cream in a baseball helmet at Petco Park in San Diego.

✔️ Check the Weather

If going to a game, check the weather so you can be prepared with a jacket if it will get cold.

✔️ Feed Your Kids Ahead of Time

There is food available for purchase in the park, but it can be expensive. I like to feed my kids ahead of time and then buy them a less-expensive treat during the game.

✔️ Check Out the Playground

One of the things I love about Petco Park is the playground! It is located behind left field and is a great place for kids to burn off some energy, while still enjoying the baseball game.

Two kids at a baseball game at Petco Park in San Diego.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the best kid-friendly activities in San Diego?

San Diego offers a variety of kid-friendly activities, such as the Seal Tour San Diego, Belmont Park, and Seaport Village. All of these offer plenty of fun for kids and adults alike!

Are there any free attractions for kids in San Diego?

Yes, there are a variety of free attractions for kids in San Diego. These include Balboa Park, Seaport Village, and the beach.

Is San Diego a safe place to visit with children?

Yes, San Diego is generally a safe place to visit with children. However, it’s always important to use common sense and stay aware of your surroundings.

Is there public transportation in San Diego?

Yes, San Diego offers a variety of public transportation options such as buses, trolleys, trains, and shuttles. These are all great ways to get around the city and explore the area.

Are there family-friendly restaurants in San Diego?

Yes! There are many kid-friendly restaurants in San Diego. Some of our favorites are Pizza Nova, Miguel’s Cocina, Phil’s BBQ, and the Crack Shack. Read more about the Best Places to Eat in San Diego here or watch the video here!

More Places to Visit in San Diego

  • Maritime Museum of San Diego
  • Cabrillo National Monument
  • Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve
  • San Diego Natural History Museum
  • Fleet Science Center
  • Birch Aquarium

Kids Free in October

If you happen to visit San Diego in October, there’s a Kids Free in October program that offers discounts and free admission to many attractions. This is a great way to save money on your vacation!

Book a San Diego Vacation with Kids

For your visit to San Diego, I recommend booking with my travel partner, Get Away Today. I always use them to book our Disney vacations, but they specialize in San Diego vacations as well!

They offer vacation packages that include discount hotels and tickets. And if you book a 2-night or longer Southern California vacation, you can use my coupon code: Clubhouse10 to save even more! Check out their layaway plan and pay for your vacation over time.

Visit to check prices or give them a call at 855-GET-AWAY and tell them Mommy Mouse Clubhouse sent you!

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Final Thoughts

San Diego is a great place to explore with your family! With so many fun things to do and places to see, it’s no wonder why people love visiting this city. I hope these tips help make your visit even more enjoyable!

More San Diego Tips

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