There are so many amazing things to do in San Diego with kids. You could spend a month exploring the city and still not see everything! Plus there is the Donut Bar which has the best donuts San Diego has to offer – and I guarantee you will want to go back more then once to try all the flavors! And did we mention the San Diego breweries yet?! So many to pick from and so little time.
With out further ado here you go our list of 12 things to do with kids in San Diego and yes it includes the best breweries to stop at when visiting San Diego (where you can bring the kids), desserts in San Diego, our favorite San Diego beaches, the best San Diego attractions and more!
Table of Contents
- Desserts in San Diego
- Waterfront Park
- La Jolla
There are so many attractions in San Diego to take your kids to. It can be overwhelming! We have put together our list of what our family enjoyed to help you narrow down your list and enjoy this fun city!
The San Diego Seal Tour is a great way to get out and see the seals that the area is so well known for and also to go in a bus/boat! The tour is extra fun since you first start out in the boat on land. Yup you read that right the boat drives on the road and then drives straight into the water.
Prior to going into the water the guide does a great time telling you about the lakefront in San Diego and pointing out all of the points of interest. Then once in the water the information continues with a great overview of all the buildings and areas you pass as you head out to find the seals.
We all had so much fun being in the bus/boat and seeing the seals!
Taking a tour of a city when you get there is a great way to give yourself a nice overview of where you are visiting. We have always been pleasantly surprised that we see a part of the city we may not have normally visited. Plus we get to learn so much about the locations from the knowledgeable guides.
The Old Town Trolley Tour is a hop on hop off trolley. However we decided we would stay on for the whole ride so that we could take in the city before deciding if we wanted to hop off at all. It worked out really well and was great with the kids since everyone was comfortable and enjoyed being able to look out the window at everything we passed.
We highly recommend taking a tour when you visit a new city and History Tours of America always do a great job!
In all honesty we have been to so many zoos that we normally skip them when we come to a city. But there was no way we would skip the San Diego Zoo. I mean come on now, it is THE zoo. We looked up the San Diego Zoo animal list and were definitely most excited to see the Panda Bear!
The Zoo did not disappoint! It is HUGE and around every turn there is something else cool to see. The volunteers were super helpful and took lots of time to talk to us at some of the animal habitats to answer our questions and tell us about the animals. Did you know the first open heart surgery on an Orangutang was performed at the San Diego Zoo?
The animals that stole the show for us were the hippos! We just happened to catch it when the zoo keeper was giving them some water out of the hose so the sleepy giants were super active. It was amazing to watch them through the glass and see them move all around in the water. They really are beautiful creatures.
We ended the day the perfect way by taking the Skyfari and aerial tram that takes you from the back of the park up to the front. We couldn’t see many animals from the tram but it was still a fun ride for tired feet. You may also want to check out the San Diego Zoo safari park.
The USS Midway is one of the United States longest-serving aircraft carriers. It is a massive ship with more then 60 exhibits and 29 restored aircrafts. We had heard from friends that had visited that you could literally spend a whole day here exploring. There was that much to do. The ship sits right in the San Diego Bay.
They were right! There are multiple levels to the ship and so many buttons and hands on things for the kids to do that you will be there for hours. I always like visiting somewhere that realizes kids like to touch things to help them learn and explore. The USS Midway was perfect for that!
If you want you can also catch a presentation where they take you up where the captain of the boat use to sit. And yes the kids can sit in the captains seat like they are driving the boat! There are also multiple planes where they can sit in the cockpit and pretend like they are flying.
We all learned so much when we were here and the WWII Veteran volunteers were all very helpful and more then willing to answer the kids questions. You can also walk to the Seaport Village from here to grab a bite to eat when you are done.
We were super excited to visit Legoland in Carlsbad, California – just up the coast from San Diego. We love the Legoland in Florida so we couldn’t wait to check this theme park out plus our youngest was really in to Ninjago so he couldn’t wait to visit that area of the park!
We were there in the winter so the Legoland water park area wasn’t open and unfortunately a lot of the other rides were closed due to maintenance. Sometimes coming in the off season isn’t a good thing. But even with that we still had a great time and we found plenty of things to fill our day! The kids really enjoyed the rides, the shows, and all of the Lego structures in the park.
Legoland is one of our favorite parks to visit since you don’t get the craziness that is Disney. Instead the park is very manageable and easy to do in a day. Plus it is perfect for our kids ages – 9, 7, 7, and 4. I have had people with teens say their kids love going too!
This nonprofit discovery center is there to provide environmental education related to coastal resource conservation. You park in a parking lot and bus takes you over to the center. Once there you can see the sharks, visit the sting ray touch tank, and see the bald eagles they have there.
It is a small facility but the programs they did were well done, it is a pretty area, and lots of opportunity to learn! It is a little ways outside of San Diego in Chula Vista.
We had a great time visiting the Reuben H Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park and actually ended up going twice while we were in San Diego. (Our reciprocal membership made this possible) It wasn’t the largest Science Center we have been in but it had a great collection of hands on activities for the kids – including a Lego section and was very family friendly.
Our favorite part was the Tinker Lab where the kids eyes lit up when they saw tons of cardboard and other fun materials they could use to build whatever they wanted. We ended up spending most of our time down there with cardboard and a hot glue gun!
Like the Science Center it wasn’t huge but was a nice place to go to explore and learn about the area during one of the rainy days we had when we were in San Diego. It didn’t have quite as many hands on activities for the kids but there was definitely enough to keep them occupied for a few hours.
Desserts in San Diego
You can’t come and not try the best donuts San Diego has to offer and they have a lot to pick from! You can easily make a map and draw out a plan to try a different donut each day or you can go with our top picks.
Donut Bar – Don’t miss it! Donuts as big as your head, french toast donut (this isn’t on the menu so be sure to ask for it), coffee, and alcoholic beverages if you are interested – it is a bar after all.
Donuts Plus – Good old fashion donuts. No frills just go donuts. Plus they are open 24 hours!
A few other options are Golden Donuts and OB Donuts. There are so many places to choose from in San Diego that they do kind of start blurring together. But I can guarantee that Donut Bar in downtown San Diego will stand out!
This was a nice surprise for our kids and Craig and I liked them too! They have ice cream sandwiches that you can pick what you want as the sandwich part and inside. They were REALLY good.
Highly recommend making a stop here with or without the kids :)!
Had to throw this one in since between all the fun we were having in San Diego we did still have to work! One of the realities of full time family travel is we still have to make a living . . . but it isn’t that bad when you can work from a Starbucks, and since we are in San Diego we can be outside, or at any time of the day you like since our business is location independent!
Are you interested in starting your own Virtual Business So You Can Travel Full Time With Your Family or just want more flexibility in your work day? Learn more here.
Interested in learning more about us and our lifestyle of full time travel (we sold our house and bought an RV in May 2014 and have been on the road ever since) check out our Start Here page.
You can’t come to San Diego and not go to the beaches! What we loved about the San Diego beaches on the Pacific Ocean was that there was a different vibe and feel from each of the beaches that we visited.
We could get the upper class feel of Coronado, the down home feel of Mission Beach, or the surfer hipster vibe at Ocean Beach. We loved the variety and really enjoyed spending time at the beaches in Southern California!
We had no idea that San Diego was filled with so many amazing breweries! And the best thing is the majority of them are family friendly and some of them are even dog friendly.
We had a lot of fun going as a family to the multiple breweries throughout San Diego where we enjoyed a craft beer and the kids had a rootbeer or soda while we all played a round of Jenga. Yes the breweries have games for the whole family to play!
Some of our favorites were Mission Brewery (dogs welcome), Tiger Tiger Brewery and Belching Beaver. All of these were family friendly.
We had a lot of fun at this awesome park in downtown San Diego. The kids had fun playing on the park equipment and there were some unique things like a surf board type thing they could balance on and this spinning thing that they spent a lot of time at!
What I liked best is it is by the water so the view is amazing. Plus there is a fountain that the kids can actually run in. I did verify this with some of the workers there and it was totally fine for them to go run and around in it!
When in San Diego make sure to make your way up to La Jolla to walk along the beach and to see the seals at the Children’s Pool. The La Jolla cove is a really beautiful area and an amazing place to see the seals, walk around, people watch, take in the scenery and if the water isn’t to crazy go for a swim. Learn more about seeing the Seals or Sea Lions at Tips for Family Trips.
For more on La Jolla be sure to check out La Jolla Mom.
As you can see there are LOT of things to do in San Diego. We were there in January and it was colder and wetter then we were hoping for. If we go again we would go in the spring or fall not in winter.
If you want to take a road trip while you are there then head up to Disneyland for a night! Here is a great list of Disneyland hotels.
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