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Guide to San Diego for Families

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San Diego has a lot to offer families, from stunning beaches and parks to a world-class zoo and other animal attractions. There is enough adventure, nature, and sunshine to keep the young (and the young at heart) entertained. Having enjoyed San Diego as both a child and an adult, I've put together a list of the best spots that families can enjoy together.

Good for
  • Family
  • Art and Architecture Lover
  • Nature Lover
  • Foodie
  • Beach Goer
  • Thrifty Traveler
  • Like a Local

10 Places

3 City Tips

Print
Map

10 Places

San Diego Zoo

Zoos

Balboa Park

Parks, Gardens, Playgrounds

SeaWorld

Theme Parks, Aquariums

LEGOLAND California

Theme Parks

San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Nature & Wildlife Areas, Zoos

USS Midway Museum

Specialty Museums

La Jolla Shores Park

Beaches, Parks

Birch Aquarium at Scripps

Aquariums, Natural History Museums

Extraordinary Desserts

Restaurants

The Mission

Restaurants

parttimetravel's City Tips

  • Whether you're on the beach or in the city, don't forget to pack the sunscreen. The city has earned the nickname "Sun Diego" for a reason.
  • San Diego's proximity to both the beach and the Mexican border has left marks on its cuisine. Try some seafood or a taco stand!
  • Although you can walk around the downtown area, a car is still the best way to get around.
  • Save
    San Diego Zoo
    Zoos
    See more photos
    parttimetravel Says:

    From small animals in the petting zoo to an Elephant Odyssey, the The San Diego Zoo has something to excite everyone. With more than 4,000 animals and a focus on conservation, it has earned its reputation as one of the best zoos in the world.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • Come early to beat the crowds.
    • There are activities, games, and exhibits just for kids. Be sure to check out the Children's Zoo!
    Plan to stay:
    More than 3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #4 of 461 things to do in San Diego
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Beautiful Zoo 06/20/2018
    • Best ZOO in the USA 06/20/2018
    • San Diego Zoo
    Address:
    2929 Zoo Drive
    San Diego, CA 92101
    Phone:
    +1 619-231-0249
    Price range:
    US$52 - US$52
    Other:
  • Save
    Balboa Park
    Parks, Gardens, Playgrounds
    See more photos
    parttimetravel Says:

    Balboa Park is the nation's largest urban park, home to 15 different museums, stunning Spanish architecture, and gorgeous landscaping. It's a beautiful place to take a stroll, experience some culture, or just relax on the grass.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Thrifty Traveler
    • Like a Local
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • History Buff
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • Bring a picnic!
    • There are often artists and street performers throughout the park. Take some time to watch them.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #3 of 461 things to do in San Diego
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Great fun in the sun 06/20/2018
    • Balboa Park in December 06/19/2018
    • Balboa Park
    Address:
    1549 El Prado
    San Diego, CA 92101-1660
    Phone:
    +1 619-239-0512
    Price range:
    US$46 - US$46
    Other:
  • Save
    SeaWorld
    Theme Parks, Aquariums
    See more photos
    parttimetravel Says:

    Home to Shamu, the famous killer whale, SeaWorld grants visitors of all ages the chance to interact with and learn about some of the ocean's most majestic creatures. Watch live animal shows with orcas, dolphins, sea lions, penguins, and more.

    Good for
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Thrill Seeker
    • Senior
    • Family
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • Teenagers will enjoy the thrill rides, and there's a Sesame Street Bay of Play for younger kids.
    From the community
    Ranked #57 of 461 things to do in San Diego
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • The best attraction in southern California. 06/19/2018
    • Loved it! 06/18/2018
    • SeaWorld
    Address:
    500 Sea World Dr
    San Diego, CA 92109-7904
    Phone:
    +1 619-222-4732
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    10:00 am - 10:00 pm
    Other:
  • Save
    LEGOLAND California
    Theme Parks
    See more photos
    parttimetravel Says:

    The land of Lego comes to life here, with 60-plus rides, shows, and attractions, including mini versions of major cities, built, to scale, entirely of Legos.

    Good for
    • Family
    • Thrill Seeker
    Tips
    • With younger kids, enter on the left and travel clockwise. For older children, enter on the right and go counter-clockwise.
    • There's also an adjacent Legoland Water Park and aquarium, should you wish to extend your visit.
    • Legoland is best suited to children aged 2-14 years.
    Plan to stay:
    More than 3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #10 of 77 things to do in Carlsbad
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Legoland 06/19/2018
    • I think we just out grew it 06/19/2018
    • LEGOLAND California
    Address:
    1 Legoland Drive
    Carlsbad, CA 92008-4610
    Phone:
    +1 877-376-5346
    Hours:
    Sun - Thu
    10:00 am - 5:00 pm
    Fri - Sat
    10:00 am - 7:00 pm
    Other:
  • Save
    San Diego Zoo Safari Park
    Nature & Wildlife Areas, Zoos
    See more photos
    parttimetravel Says:

    The sister park of the San Diego Zoo, San Diego Zoo Safari Park offers a unique opportunity to see wild animals roam over 100 acres — as they would in their natural habitats.

    Good for
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Thrill Seeker
    • Senior
    • Family
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • Bring your camera — there are lots of great photo opportunities!
    • The park also has facilities and activities just for kids.
    • The guided tour, which range from behind-the-scenes to a Flightline over the park, are the best way to experience up-close-and-personal viewings.
    Plan to stay:
    More than 3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #1 of 59 things to do in Escondido
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Great Visit 06/19/2018
    • Fun & unique experience 06/19/2018
    • San Diego Zoo Safari Park
    Address:
    15500 San Pasqual Valley Rd
    Escondido, CA 92027-7017
    Phone:
    +1 760-747-8702
    Price range:
    US$52 - US$52
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    9:00 am - 5:00 pm
    Other:
  • Save
    USS Midway Museum
    Specialty Museums
    See more photos
    parttimetravel Says:

    This is your chance to see a decommissioned aircraft carrier. The USS Midway Museum features 60 exhibits, which walk adults and children through the lives of sailors.

    Good for
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • History Buff
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    Tips
    • The audio tours are a great way to learn more of the history.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #1 of 461 things to do in San Diego
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Seeing History 06/20/2018
    • A good place to go for all ages 06/20/2018
    • USS Midway Museum
    Address:
    910 N Harbor Drive
    San Diego, CA 92101-5811
    Phone:
    +1 619-544-9600
    Price range:
    US$23 - US$23
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    10:00 am - 5:00 pm
    Other:
  • Save
    La Jolla Shores Park
    Beaches, Parks
    See more photos
    parttimetravel Says:

    This beautiful beach in upscale La Jolla is consistently recognized as one of the most family-friendly beaches in the country. Its long, crescent stretch of sand is prime for any and all beach activities.

    Good for
    • Beach Goer
    • Thrifty Traveler
    • Like a Local
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • This is a great place for kayaking.
    • There are convenient BBQ facilities, bathrooms, and showers.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #7 of 78 things to do in La Jolla
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Great Destination 06/18/2018
    • Popular beach 06/18/2018
    • La Jolla Shores Park
    Address:
    8300 Camino del Oro
    La Jolla, San Diego, CA 92037
    Other:
  • Save
    Birch Aquarium at Scripps
    Aquariums, Natural History Museums
    See more photos
    parttimetravel Says:

    Set picturesquely on the bluffs of La Jolla, Birch Aquarium has both indoor and outdoor exhibits, with a wide variety of aquatic life.

    Good for
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • Don't miss the massive kelp forest tank.
    From the community
    Ranked #15 of 78 things to do in La Jolla
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Fun place to visit 06/18/2018
    • If you would like a change worth the visit 06/18/2018
    • Birch Aquarium at Scripps
    Address:
    2300 Expedition Way
    Scripps Institute
    La Jolla, San Diego, CA 92037
    Phone:
    +1 858-534-3474
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    9:00 am - 5:00 pm
    Other:
  • Save
    Extraordinary Desserts
    Restaurants (American, Cafe)
    See more photos
    parttimetravel Says:

    As its name suggests, Extraordinary Desserts specializes in really, really good desserts. With dozens of delicious choices, it's a fun place to relax after a long day, or the perfect place to celebrate something special.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Like a Local
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    Tips
    • The cheesecake and banana cream pie are crowd favorites.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #77 of 3,717 restaurants in San Diego
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Amazing desserts! 06/18/2018
    • Awesome deserts, great presentation, good service 06/14/2018
    • Extraordinary Desserts
    Address:
    1430 Union St
    San Diego, CA 92101-3406
    Phone:
    +1 619-294-7001
    Hours:
    Sun
    10:00 am - 11:00 pm
    Mon - Thu
    8:30 am - 11:00 pm
    Fri
    8:30 am - 12:00 am
    Sat
    10:00 am - 12:00 am
    Other:
  • Save
    The Mission
    Restaurants (Mexican, American)
    See more photos
    parttimetravel Says:

    Famous for its breakfast and brunch, The Mission is a local favorite for both savory and sweet options.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Like a Local
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    Tips
    • Come early, as the wait can be 30-45 minutes at peak times.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #14 of 3,717 restaurants in San Diego
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Terrific place for breakfast/brunch 06/19/2018
    • Great food, friendly service. 06/09/2018
    • The Mission
    Address:
    1250 J St
    San Diego, CA 92101-7541
    Phone:
    +1 619-232-7662
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    7:00 am - 3:00 pm
    Other:
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