It’s no secret that San Diego is a great place for families. From whale watching cruises and scavenger hunts to San Diego Zoo, the city is home to a wide range of mesmerizing sights and fun-filled activities. There is a very long list of ideas to choose from when it comes to entertaining your kids here, and you can discover 10 of the top things to do with kids in San Diego below!
The cinema remains an old reliable for a reason. A lot of people turn to the cinema for support when it comes to planning birthday parties or escaping the rain (although this reason might be less frequent in San Diego) as it is a win-win for both parents and kids—an easy way to keep an eye on your little ones while also being entertained, and a plan involving popcorn and their favorite on-screen characters is something impossible for children to pass up on. Fortunately, San Diego’s cinemas are taking the movie experience to the next level.
Free to visit and proving extremely popular among tourists and locals, Harper’s Topiary Garden is a green wonderland reminscent of the garden in Edward Scissor Hands. The owners created the garden in front of their house and it features 50 life-sized topiaries shaped by hand. Drop by and challenge the kids to spot the whales, bunnies, elephants, and more inspired by the owners’ travels around the world.
📍 3549 Union St, San Diego
3. Take the kids to the beach
As soon as you mention the word “beach” the kids will be jumping up and down. The thought of running, swimming, building sandcastles, picnics, ice cream, flying kits, and so much more will flood through their young minds. Whether you think they’d like to give surfing a try or would prefer a relaxing day in the sand, San Diego boasts some very impressive beaches.
Although they might reject the proposal initially, packing up the car and driving towards a more tranquil setting will do them some good. Explore some of the best places to disconnect from reality for a spell in California. Surround your family in 120 acres of lush lands in Esalen, book exciting kids activities at the Resort at Squawk Creek (Lake Tahoe) while you enjoy a spa treatment, and more.
5. Take them to a Candlelight concert
If your youngster (8 years old or older) is a fan of music, then these enchanting Candlelight concerts illuminating San Diego’s finest venues make for the perfect evening out. Talented musicians take to the candlelit stage to perform classical takes on some of the greatest music of all time. Book your seats at a holiday special, tribute to Taylor Swift, a performance celebrating ABBA, and more.
This family theme park is guaranteed to be a hit! Between being able to dine with Elmo & friends, discover great rides and attractions, enjoy shows and parades, and attend themed events, Sesame Place is always bringing the fun in San Diego. Keep an eye on their website to confirm opening hours. A single-day ticket costs $89.99 (ages 3-9) and children under the age of 3 enter for free.
📍 Chula Vista, San Diego County
In keeping with the theme of things, we move on to Belmont Park—San Diego’s beachfront amusement park. Their adrenaline will be pumping after a ride on the Giant Dipper roller coaster and the Beach Blaster. And for the adults there are plenty of shops and full-service beachfront restaurants to choose from.
📍 3146 Mission Blvd, San Diego
8. Let them open their minds at a museum
For curious minds and kids with a passion for flight, animals, science, and more, taking them to some of the best museums in San Diego is a great way to let them explore their interests and learn new and fascinating things. Head to the Natural History Museum, Air and Space Museum, USS Midway Museum, The New Children’s Museum, The Fleet Science Center, and more for another eye-opening experience.
9. Visit a 1,200-acre historic urban cultural park
Balboa Park is a place where art, culture, attractions, experiences, park trails, and gardens all come together to offer a unique place for San Diegans. Aside from wandering through a tropical oasis, butterfly garden, cactus garden, visiting the Comic-Con Museum and more, visitors can also behold Cabrillo Bridge, California Tower, and the El Cid Statue. The kids can’t miss out on the chance to ride on the original menagerie carousel at Balboa.
Win their fickle hearts over with a fluffy stack of delicious pancakes. Richard Walker’s Pancake House offers traditional buttermilk pancakes and Farmer’s Table is serving up pancakes with a variety of toppings. Between the chocolate chips, maple syrup, whipped cream, and sugar, your kids will be in their element. Here is a list of some of Secret San Diego’s favorite pancake spots to get you started.