Anytime of year is the right time to visit San Diego with your family. California's Beach City has tons of kid-friendly activities, restaurants and attractions, including the San Diego Zoo, San Diego Zoo Safari Park and SeaWorld. In addition to a never-ending list of fun attractions and recreational options, be sure to check out the many other fun and educational offerings around the county that make San Diego a getaway spot perfect for the whole family.
What could be better than an entertaining park where your kids can experience art, culture and learn something new along the way? The largest urban cultural park in the United States, Balboa Park is often referred to as the "Smithsonian of the West." Its 1,200 lush acres are home to more than 17 museums, gardens galore and the San Diego Zoo. In addition to the Zoo, the park features a massive array of interesting and fun activities for all ages including:
- San Diego Air & Space Museum offers historic and modern aircraft and spacecraft models and replicas guaranteed to delight your future astronaut.
- San Diego Automotive Museum is home to lowriders, motorcycles, vintage cars and more. With a focus on both past and future, this museum is a must-see for curious kids with a penchant for automobiles.
- Check out the San Diego Model Railroad Museum to check out the largest indoor railroad exhibit in North America. This history-rich hub showcases the ingenious American engineering that shaped the development of the United States.
- The San Diego Museum of Us takes a deep dive into anthropology, offering unique exhibits that explore human connections and the human experience. With curations that cover ancient Egypt, the psychology of pets and graffiti art murals (just to name a few), there's something for every kid's imagination here.
- Travel around the world or through time and space in one place — at the Fleet Science Center. Kids can explore the wonder and magic of science in various forms through interactive exhibits designed to fascinate and engage.
- Beautiful works of art from throughout history and around the globe can be found in the heart of Balboa Park at the San Diego Museum of Art. Educational programs are also available for families to make the experience more accessible for burgeoning art lovers.
- The San Diego Natural History Museum is brimming with exhibits that explore the evolution of southern California's rich biodiversity. The unique curations are centered on inspiring a respect and love for nature and the environment.
- The historic Balboa Park Carousel, built in 1910, features all kinds of animals ranging from horses, to ostriches to zebras. After taking a ride on the Menagerie, head to the Balboa Park Miniature Railroad, which can be found next to the carousel.
- There are weekly puppet performances happening at the Marie Hitchcock Puppet Theater, running shows from Wednesday through Sunday.
No stay in San Diego is complete without a trip to the waterfront. San Diego Bay is bustling with activity, as it serves as the homeport for Navy ships, a large sportfishing fleet, thousands of pleasure craft, an increasing number of cruise ships and these maritime museums:
- The USS Midway Museum is a retired aircraft carrier that now serves as a fascinating interactive floating museum.
- The Maritime Museum of San Diego consists of several historic sailing vessels docked along the Embarcadero, including old tall ships, passenger ferries and even a Russian submarine.
Take a peek at what lies beneath the surface of San Diego's waters with interactive marine exhibits and more at these aquariums:
- Discover the amazing creatures that call Southern California home at the Birch Aquarium at Scripps. Come face to face with local leopard sharks, brilliantly colored garibaldi, giant black sea bass and more in their two-story Giant Kelp Forest.
- Enjoy up-close animal encounters with endangered green sea turtles, shorebirds, hawks, owls, sharks, stingrays, jellies and more at the Living Coast Discovery Center, uniquely located on the Sweetwater Marsh National Wildlife Refuge.
- Explore the life of the sea with fascinating educational talks and up-close encounters with sea creatures including sharks, octopi, and rays at the Sea Life Aquarium at LEGOLAND California Resort.
Whether families wish to swim, surf, snorkel, play volleyball or just lie in the sun, there’s a stretch of sand for everyone along San Diego's 70 miles of coastline.
- Mission Bay, a 4,600-acre aquatic playground, is the largest facility of its kind in the world featuring separate, designated areas for sailing, power boating, fishing, swimming and water skiing.
- Coronado Beach is an aquatic wonderland recognized annually by the Travel Channel as the best family beach in North America.
- La Jolla Shores is recognized as one of the most family-friendly beaches in San Diego County according to the Travel Channel.
- Ocean Beach is home to the Ocean Beach Pier and the popular Dog Beach.
- A three-mile boardwalk popular with inline skaters, skateboarders, runners and bicyclists connects Pacific Beach and Mission Beach.
- Mission Beach is home to Belmont Park, featuring its vintage "Giant Dipper" roller coaster, amusement arcades and the Wave House.
San Diego boasts a rich heritage that comes alive at many monuments and historic sites located throughout the county. Be sure to visit:
- The Cabrillo National Monument in Pt. Loma pays homage to the cultural history of San Diego. In addition to some of the best views in San Diego, visitors can learn about the history of California's Beach City.
- Head to Mission San Diego de Alcala in Mission Valley to visit the first California mission, which was founded in 1769.
- Old Town State Historic Park is home to a number of museums that tell diverse stories of San Diego's history. From rumored haunted houses to California's first public school house, Old Town is rich with experience to learn about San Diego's early days.
- Gaslamp Quarter came to life in 1867, and is now home to nearly 100 historic buildings. Take a stroll through more than 15 miles of walkable blocks to experience the classic Victorian era landmarks.