San Diego with Kids

San Diego USA & Canada


San Diego with kids is a top recommended vacation. The pleasant year-round climate makes it easy to explore the many outdoor parks, beaches and famous attractions. Steeped in history, the visit can be educational as well as exciting.

Why San Diego with kids?

  1. In spite of being the 7th largest city in the United States, city planners have worked hard to keep the small town feel and keeping it easy to navigate.
  2. World famous amusement attractions and museums abound. You will likely run out of time before experiencing each one. For that reason San Diego is a must return to destination.
  3. The area has over 70 miles of shoreline dotted with picture-perfect beaches.
  4. There are numerous things that are free such as picnicking in Torrey Pines State Park, tidal pools to enjoy aquatic life, walking tree lined streets in small villages to enjoy the Spanish themed architecture in Old Town.
  5. There are plenty of family-friendly budget conscious food eateries to keep everyone supplied with energy for your visit.

Things You Need to Know When Getting Ready to San Diego with kids:

  • If flying, you will more than likely arrive at the San Diego International airport 10 minutes from downtown. Hop on The Flyer for a mere $2.50 to ride downtown and connect with the trolley system.
  • When traveling to San Diego with kids, expect to pay an average of $100 a night for hotels. For a city this size, that is an economical price. Plenty of hotels are located near all the favorite attractions.
  • Advance hotel reservations are highly recommended, to get better locations for the best prices .
  • Rent a car for the easiest way to enjoy your visit. San Diego is easier than most large cities to navigate. It is a sprawling city so having a car ensures being able to enjoy the scenery and travel at your leisure.
  • The airport is host to all the top brand car rental companies.
  • Ample parking is available at most popular attractions. Please note downtown areas are metered parking.
  • The climate of San Diego a coastal city is pleasant year-round.
  • Locals warn that May and June are cloudy-days months. September and October are known for being the hottest months.
  • The area is served by Amtrak train service. Check their website for the latest information


Our 4 Top Recommendations:

Balboa Park

conservatory of flowers, balboa park, san diego, ca

conservatory of flowers, balboa park, San Diego, CA

Also known as the “Smithsonian of the West” due to the large number of museums and cultural institutions it hosts, the Balboa Park is a must-see when taking the kids to San Diego. For sure at least one of the museums (Photographic Arts, Mingei International Museum, Reuben H. Fleet Science Center, Air & Space, Automotive, Hall of Champion Sports, History Center, Model Railroad, etc.) will be interesting for a family visit.

After that, the Carousel and the miniature train await for you with fun, special moments. And the kids permanent need for fresh air and an open place to run will be well met by the park’s paths and gardens (Japanese Friendship Garden, Palm Canyon, Rose Garde, Florida Canyon Native Plant Preserve, Desert Garden, etc.).

Important to Know When You Are Taking the Kids:

  • Check the museums’ websites for schedule details and online booking;
  • If possible, save a full day for this attraction, activities and attractions are plenty;
  • Perfect for all ages, due to the large variety of possible things to do – you can have a stroll on a quiet alley, visit the exhibitions, have lunch or a coffee and a cake, just anything you can imagine.


Birch Aquarium

Photo by Falashad / cc-by-2.0


Opened daily for visitors from all around the world, this stunning attraction proudly aligns all modern aquariums, offering children not only exhibits of the underwater world, but also numerous “touch and learn” experiences.There are over 60 tanks of water, covering habitats from the coldest ocean waters to tropical areas. Kids will be thrilled by the colorful coral reefs and tropical fish, the seadragons and other seahorse species, or the interactive hall presenting spectacular movies about whale sounds and communication.

Important to Know When You Are Taking the Kids:

  • Except regular, permanent activities and exhibitions, various programs/ workshops are available daily; check the schedule to book online;
  • In live animal displays, aquarists show visitors how sharks or lobsters are fed – don’t miss it!
  • Free parking for a three hours stay;
  • Outdoor excursions and special events can be organized upon request;
  • There is an incredible view over the Ocean if you go to the Tide-Pool place.


Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve

Torrey Pines State Reserve

Photo by Jpt004 / CC BY-SA 3.0

Perhaps you expect San Diego to be a crowded, modern city, with lots of noise and skyscrapers, and some little parks here and there. You couldn’t be more wrong: San Diego is a city full of natural areas and wild life. And Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve is such an example.

There are plenty activities you can do, from hiking and biking to birds seeing. Miles of virgin beaches and pine trees forests, as well as a lagoon (protected as it constitutes a vital habitat for migrating seabirds) make the visitors believe they have entered a new world.

Important to Know When You Are Taking the Kids:

  • There are 8 miles (over 12 kilometers) of trails, with different lengths and difficulty levels, but some of them are also accessible by strollers;
  • Guided tours are available in weekends and major holidays;
  • Animal paw marks (squirrels, mule deers, raccoons, etc.) are marked all over the Reserve, to challenge kids to discover the species living there;
  • Due to conservation purposes, there are strict rules inside the Reservations – read them carefully and explain them to the kids;
  • Have something to eat before, as only water is allowed within, no other drinks or food.


San Diego Zoo Safari Park

San Diego Safari Park Entrance

Photo by Takinzinnia / CC0


Compliment your zoo experience by including a trip to Africa. It is a wildlife preserve. This 33,000 acre enclosure provides visitors with up close yet safe encounters with the wild life of Africa. The 25 minute Safari Tram will be a relaxing and enlightening adventure for all.

Important to Know When You Are Taking the Kids:

  • The Safari Park is off-site of the zoo but is a short and easy drive.
  • Have a discussion with small children about the animals they may see to avoid any surprises or fears.
  • Strollers are available for rent to visit the exhibit and activities.  They are on a first come basis.
  • Do not attempt to do both the zoo and the Safari Park in one day. Both include so many attractions and activities it would not do justice to split your time in one day. Plus the children will get tired because the areas are quite large.
  • Be sure to research the website for the daily activities such as the cheetah run, the lemur walk, children must be 5 or older, or the balloon safari to give the visit it fullest potential.

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