Sunshine, mild weather and beautiful beaches are fantastic reasons to visit San Diego. The city is full of children’s attractions to keep families busy, but Southern California’s laid-back atmosphere makes for a relaxing visit. Tourists usually head straight to the San Diego Zoo and SeaWorld to see fantastic animals and sea life. The scientific discoveries continue at Balboa Park and the Birch Aquarium, while the New Children’s Museum gives kids a chance to explore the world of creativity and imagination. Legoland and Belmont Park are popular places for a fun day at an amusement park. Whatever the sights, a family vacation in San Diego will leave everyone happy with plenty of fun in the sun.
Read also: Top Tourist Attractions in San Diego
1 Discover Amazing Animals at San Diego Zoo
A top destination for families with children of all ages, the San Diego Zoo is one of the most impressive anywhere. The zoo is home to an incredible diversity of animals and partners with the San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy to support the protection of endangered species. What sets the San Diego Zoo apart from others are its cage-free enclosures that mimic the wilderness. In this environment, animals can move around much as they would in nature. Visitors will be impressed by the wide range of species – from tigers, flamingos and grizzly bears to porcupines, camels and koalas. Among its most famous residents are the giant pandas. For a truly amazing experience, take part in the Early morning with pandas. This two-hour small-group tour provides access to the giant panda viewing area before it opens to other visitors for the day. Families with children will also appreciate the convenience General Storethe KidStoreand guided bus tours. Aerial tram attractions offer a fun way to see the landscape and animals from a bird’s eye view.
Address: 2920 Zoo Drive, San Diego, California
Official site: https://zoo.sandiegozoo.org
2 Watch Dolphins at SeaWorld
This 200-acre amusement park is famous for its aquatic shows and carnival rides. SeaWorld also has an aquarium and is home to adorable marine mammals, including sea lions and sea otters. One of the resident sea lions even performs in a live action for a musical TV program. Children can also touch and feed dolphins on the Dolphin Interaction Program and view the famous killer whale, Shamu, in an underwater viewing area. For more excitement, hop on one of the water rides. The Shipwreck Rapids and Journey to Atlantis are exciting attractions for children that meet the height requirement of 48 tall Wild Arctic Ride is a jet helicopter flight simulation ride for children at least 42 cm tall or enjoy the scenery from above Bayside Sky Ride or from the top of the Skyscraper.
Address: 500 Sea World Drive, San Diego, California
Official site: https://seaworldparks.com/en/seaworld-sandiego/
3 Swing, slide and swim at Balboa Park
Families can enjoy the beauty of Balboa Park, a beautiful and expansive outdoor space with 17 museums, playgrounds, a swimming pool, 19 different gardens and more. The Children’s Ethnobotany Garden is an organic garden of herbs, fruits and vegetables, dedicated to the memory of George Washington Carver. Created to educate youth about the importance of plants and the environment, the garden offers gardening classes on Sundays or by appointment. Balboa Park also has five playgrounds for parents to choose from depending on their children’s ages and interests. For children of all ages, the Pepper Grove Playground is a good choice. The Bird Park in Upas is specially designed for toddlers with a rubber floor with cushions. The Morley Field Playground has slides, climbing frames and swings that are great for children aged five to twelve. Nearby the Morley Field Playground are other fun attractions including a swimming pool, cupcake shop, tennis courts and cafe. To discover the most whimsical playground, head to the area outside the Mingei International Museum to explore the Dragon Playground Sculpture.
It is also at Balboa Park Reuben H. Park Fleet Science Center, a fantastic place to get kids interested in learning about science. This science center offers hands-on activities and eight interactive galleries along with interesting temporary exhibitions. The center’s Kid City and Tinkering Studio are great for children under five. Families can also enjoy entertainment at the center’s massive Dome Theater and get snacks at Galileo’s Café.
Address: 1875 El Prado, Balboa Park, California
Official site: https://www.rhfleet.org
4 Admire the colorful marine life at Birch Aquarium
In La Jolla, about 13 miles from San Diego, the Birch Aquarium is part of the world-famous Scripps Institute of Oceanography at UC San Diego. The aquarium has an amazing variety of sea creatures native to the Pacific Ocean. Discover an array of fish, invertebrates, sharks, seahorses and a coral reef teeming with inhabitants. Interactive multimedia exhibits showcase the findings of oceanographic explorers. The Birch Aquarium also has daily animal feedings that allow visitors to watch sharks grabbing their prey and lobsters emerging from rocks to gather their food. For more interactions with the sea creatures and for beautiful ocean views, head to the open-air Tide-Pool Plaza.
Address: 2300 Expedition Way, La Jolla, California
Official site: https://aquarium.ucsd.edu
5 Spark the Imagination at the New Children’s Museum
This unique museum collaborates with contemporary artists to create unique art installations. The exhibits include playhouses, clubhouses and climbable towers. Children can interact with the exhibits and play actively as they would at home. The museum also displays thematic exhibitions and original works of art, all designed to arouse children’s curiosity.
Address: 200 West Island Avenue, San Diego, California
Official site: www.thinkplaycreate.org
6 Feed giraffes in the safari park
At the Safari Park, children can see beautiful safari animals roaming in wide open spaces as they would in the wild. The Safari Park keeps the animals in special enclosures and offers tours in open-air trucks that feel like an authentic safari experience. The safari tours offer up-close views of Asian and African safari animals, such as tigers, lions and rhinos. A special Kids’ Caravan Safari offers a chance for children to feed giraffes.
Address: 15500 San Pasqual Valley Road, Escondido, California
Official site: https://www.sdzsafaripark.org
7 Walk with Life-Like Animals at Legoland
Legoland theme park is a 35-minute drive from San Diego and offers plenty of attractions, including dozens of rides, giant Lego installations, and entertaining shows. The Lego creations are made entirely of Lego bricks, such as the 32-meter-long Lego dinosaurs and the Enchanted Walk with lifelike Lego animals native to the area. Legoland also has many popular attractions. Little children will love the Fairy-Tale Brook boat ride through a stream, with fairytale scenes along the way. Older children enjoy the Pirates Shore water rides and the Lost Kingdom Adventure expedition in the adventure land.
Address: One Legoland Drive, Carlsbad, California
Official site: https://www.legoland.com/california/en/
8 Ride Roller Coasters at Belmont Park
Belmont Park is a fun seaside amusement park complete with roller coaster rides, arcade games and carnival food. Belmont Park offers something for everyone, with a range of attractions from old-fashioned rides to adventurous rock climbing activities. The Giant Dipper roller coaster ride is for exciting older children who meet the height requirement of 50 centimeters tall. The Beach Blaster and Control Freak rides are for children at least 48 centimeters tall who enjoy fast rides. Other attractions include mini golf, bumper cars, the FlowRider surfing simulator and the Sky Ropes adventure course. Belmont Park also has a boardwalk where you can enjoy San Diego’s mild weather. The 30,000 square foot boardwalk has several beachfront restaurants with beautiful ocean views.
Address: 3146 Mission Boulevard, San Diego, California
Official site: https://www.belmontpark.com