6 Places in San Diego to Visit with the Kids

April 26, 2021
jason wolfe
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San Diego is filled to the brim with gorgeous beaches, interesting museums, trendy restaurants, and other destinations that are great for kids! If you’re tired of staying in the house all day, consider taking a little stay-cation with your family! Many outdoor spots and venues are now open with limited capacity. Not sure where to go? No worries. We’ve got you covered. Check out these top 6 places to take your kids to in San Diego now!

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1. San Diego Zoo

Wildlife sanctuary that houses 3,500+ rare and endangered animals

2920 Zoo Dr | Balboa Park | sandiegozoo.org

Does your little one love animals? Take a trip to the San Diego Zoo! This international, non-profit organization is home to wildlife from around the world. Take a peek at the Koalas in the Australian forest. Visit the gorillas in the African forest. Stop by the Asian rainforest to see the majestic tiger. 

Before you head to the zoo, you can visit its kid’s section on the website! This fun, little section features stories about the animals living at the zoo, videos of them playing in their habitats, and interactive games! 

Want to take your experience to the next level? Sign up for one of their safaris! From late March to early May, the San Diego Zoo is hosting a special Spring Safari. Featuring a stunning butterfly jungle, your children will be awed by the beautiful creatures around them.

“The San Diego zoo is by far one of the best zoos around in my opinion. The animals are treated well and given a good amount of space. They genuinely care about the well-being of the animals. The place is huge and you'll get your steps in as well as some leg work going up the inclines. Advance reservations are needed to enter the zoo now including members.” - Yelp Review

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2. San Diego Natural History Museum

Oldest scientific institution in southern California featuring exhibits exploring the past and present

1788 El Prado | Balboa Park | sdnhm.org

Located in Balboa Park, the San Diego Natural History Museum is home to dozens of fascinating exhibits showcasing Southern California’s wonderful history. Its roots can be traced back all the way to 1874, when a small group of naturalists began to study the flora and fauna in the region. Nowadays, the organization engages in scientific research, hosts environmental education programs, and guides hundreds of thousands of people through its famous exhibits. 

The San Diego Natural History Museum is perfect for children, as it expertly blends entertainment and education together. Right now, the museum is closed. However, the San Diego Natural History Museum offers free at-home activities and lesson guides for parents who want to teach their little ones the wonder of science and nature. 

“They have a lot of hands on activities, one of my favorites is a screen that will show you what temperature different parts of your body are. You stand in front of a TV screen and you can see your outline and it's in different UV colors. There is also a small art exhibit upstairs, it's mostly art of nature but it's very cool to see. This is a fun place for adults and kids!” - Yelp Review

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3. Balboa Park

Historical building that was built to celebrate the opening of the Panama Canal

1549 El Prado | San Diego | balboapark.org

Balboa Park, a popular neighborhood in San Diego, is the perfect destination for a little day trip or stay-cation! This vibrant neighborhood houses over 16 museums, numerous performing arts venues, stunning gardens, and recreational trails. 

Want to enrich your child’s cultural experience? Take them to the Spanish Village Art Center or the Timken Museum or Art! Is your little one fascinated by science and technology? They’ll love the San Diego Air & Space Museum! You can find a wide selection of fun and interesting activities for your little one. 

“They have a free botanical garden you can check out and also a free art museum that's near the garden. It's a great piece of San Diego history. You can also find performers in the street and there is just so much to see. The organ pavilion is also there and the houses of the world are also something nice to see. All this pre-pandemic was very quite enjoyable.” - Yelp Review

Purchase a GiftYa card for The Pardo at Balboa Park.

4. La Jolla Cove

Must-see beach destination where you can see some beautiful seals

1100 Coast Blvd | La Jolla | lajolla.com

If you leave near San Diego, you’re bound to visit the beach at some point. San Diego is home to miles of beautiful sandy beaches, but one stands out in particular. La Jolla Cove. Both locals and visitors from around the world have flocked to this beach to see its majestic sea lions and dine at its popular restaurants. 

Have you ever gone snorkeling before? Visitors can head to the Cove area and go on their own snorkeling expedition or join a guided group. Kayaking, surfing, and stand-up paddleboarding are also popular activities here. 

“I came here to see the sea lions and I was so entertained!!! I love that they have certain area marked so no one is trying to get too close. The sea lions get to enjoy their natural habitat. I sat for a good hour just watching them on this rock. They make so much noise! Jumping over each other, catching the waves, snuggling. They are so cute. The coastline/cliffs are also beautiful.  I took many photographs. This is a must-go, just be respectful of the wildlife.” - Yelp Review

5. San Diego Botanic Garden

Lush botanical gardens that will take your breath away

230 Quail Gardens Dr | Encinitas | sdbgarden.org

The San Diego Botanic Garden has finally re-opened! What a better way to get some fresh air by strolling around this popular garden? This 37-acre oasis features four miles of trails and a special children’s garden. 

Before visiting the garden, make sure you print out the company’s scavenger hunt. This fun, little scavenger hunt will encourage your child to look for different plants, fruits, and flowers throughout the garden. The fun doesn’t stop at the garden, however. 

You can also find tons of interesting lessons and activities about gardening from their site!  

“My favorite is the rainforest areas and bamboo ponds, but it's all worthwhile. You'll love the waterfalls! I could spend the whole day there, if I had the chance. Very serene. Most of the plants were vibrant and healthy (as of late September) and only a small section was temporarily closed off for the safety of visitors as the plants drop large cones that weigh anywhere from 8-20 pounds.” - Yelp Review

6. Old Town California

Famous neighborhood that is considered to be the birthplace of California

Take a day trip to Old Town with your kids. Image courtesy of San Diego

Old Town, San Diego | sandiego.org/articles/old-town/old-town-san-diego

Old Town is another popular neighborhood in San Diego. It is a well-known hub of history, culture, food, and art! The neighborhood is also home to a variety of authentic Mexican restaurants. El Agave, Café Coyota, and the Tahona Bar are great places to enjoy some delicious and authentic Mexican food. 

Historical buildings such as the Whaley House Museum and Junipero Serra Museum can also be found here. You can also take your little one to one of the town’s annual events like the free Fiesta Old Town Cinco de Mayo!

“Old Town is chock full of shopping, great eating and haunted places (!!!). So if you're a foodie, addicted to shopping or a ghost hunter Old Town has something for you. Casa de Estudillo is a free museum. There are a number of churches which are unbelievable. The famous Whaley House is here (though closed due to COVID at the moment). Fiesta de Reyes has a variety of shopping and the delicious Casa de Reyes restaurant.” - Yelp Review

San Diego has dozens of fun and exciting family-friendly attractions. Whether your children want to visit the zoo or take a trip to Old Town California, you can find plenty of great destinations to visit together.


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Trae Bodge

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