Most of my out of state friends call me to ask me where to go when they visit San Diego, so this post is for all of you who are wondering what not to miss.
San Diego California is pretty much the perfect place for vacation when you have children. The weather most days it’s just right, between 67 and 75 degrees and sunny.
There is every place you can imagine created to entertain kids: Legoland, The San Diego Zoo, Seaworld and even Disneyland an hour away. But what is a common denominator between all these amazing places? If you’re a parent you know that tickets are very pricey. So you might be able to take them to Legoland or Seaworld or The Zoo, but what are you gonna do the rest of the days in San Diego? Well, this blog is all about the amazing things you can do in San Diego that are either free or not expensive at all. There are so many amazing little neighborhoods that tourists never get to see or experience, as well as many hidden gems.
I put together a series of photos of places I go frequently with my boys and my husband so you can get a better understanding of my city.
I want to start by mentioning some our great beaches. It is an amazing way of keeping kids busy for most of the day.
Coronado Island. Here you can arrive by boat via Downtown San Diego’s waterfront. There are several places that rent bicycles and you can cycle around the island. It is pretty safe because there isn’t much traffic around the residential streets. Then you can enjoy a treat at Hotel Del and get your feet wet at one of the most amazing beaches you will ever see.
Downtown La Jolla has a beautiful area called La Jolla Village. The ocean view is incredible. There are several playgrounds and parks where your kids can run around. There is also good entertainment to watch the seals for free at The Children’s Pool. La Jolla Shores is a great beach as well, it’s very wide so there is plenty of space for the kids to build sand castles.
Windansea. You can watch some of the best surfers in the city ride waves at this beach.
From museums to restaurants and playgrounds. Balboa is one of the largest parks in the country. It is worth spending a full day here. There are several museums catered for kids as well as playgrounds and great restaurants like The Prado and Panama 66.
Have lunch at Panama 66. Very welcoming to families, good food and great beer. Alexander had 2 PB&J’s!
This is a whole development next to the San Diego Bay waterway. You can also spend if not a full day here, a good part of it. NTC playground is one of the coolest playgrounds we have in the city. Have lunch at Stone Brewery or Liberty Public Market. Visit Moniker General to do a little bit of shopping while enjoying good coffee. If you really want to keep the kids busy take them to Kidventures and Corvette Diner.
The San Diego Central Library
There is a kids section at the library that is worth visiting if you are around. There are obviously many books as well as interactive digital tools. There are also reading times for kids, just look them up here.
You might event want to stop at Petco Park to watch The Padres play baseball if they are in season. They have a kids section with a huge sandbox and tickets are pretty cheap, around $10-$15.
The Coaster to Solana Beach
A fun experience for the kids can be taking The Coaster train that departs from Santa Fe Station in Little Italy, to north county. Stop at Solana Beach and walk around Cedros Street. They have amazing little boutiques and galleries. Solo is for sure my favorite.
North Park is this hip neighborhood where a lot of young families live. They have several restaurants with kid areas you can check out. You can go to the free arts and crafts Saturday afternoons at ChuckAlek where you can enjoy a beer while your kids have a great time. Before or after you can stop at Encontro or Waypoint Public to have a nice meal. And please stop by Pigment, this amazing boutique I make any excuse to go to.
You can visit South Park after going to North Park or vice versa. They are pretty close to each other, maybe a 5 minute drive. Here you can walk the streets, stop at Station for a burger. Station is a pretty cool place with a kids area, so its always busy. Visit The Gold Leaf and Junc Boutiques. Then have an ice cream at The Daily Scoop on Juniper or a chocolate dessert at Eclipse bar and bistro.
Located in Downtown San Diego. It is pretty amazing, super modern and ample. Many hands-on activities for the kids. I believe it’s $8 per person to get in.
The San Diego Zoo
The San Diego Zoo if you have the time it is incredible. It is huge, so it will take you all day to see it. The only problem with the zoo, if you care, is that in the summers it is packed. It is honestly hard to walk around. I try to go with girlfriends early mornings in the fall.
The Waterfront Park
The Waterfront Park is located in Downtown San Diego west of Little Italy. It is one of the most amazing parks you will ever visit and it is free! They have a huge area where the kids can splash and a playground with fun and creative structures. If you have the energy take a 20 minute walk to The Headquarters and have lunch at Puesto. Great Mexican food! Don’t forget to walk around Seaport Village after your meal.
The views are out of this world. I can go on and on on the history here, but what you need to see is the views of downtown San Diego and the bay, the light house and visit the cemetery on your way out.
I really hope this answers some of your questions on what to do when you visit this amazing city with your families.
What are some of your favorite spots in San Diego?