Things to do in San Diego With Kids

The colorful entrance of Legoland, California
The colorful entrance of Legoland, California | © EQRoy / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Daisy Dobson
13 July 2020

Life is good in San Diego, and it’s even better for little ones. Culture Trip’s local insiders have highlighted the best things to do in the city with kids including aquariums, amusement parks and beaches.

San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Zoo
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If your little ones are fascinated by weird and wonderful exotic animals, San Diego Zoo Safari Park is guaranteed to bring a smile to their faces. Located around half an hour from downtown, this wildlife sanctuary – sister of San Diego Zoo – houses 3,000 animals with the majority of the land being used for the conservation of endangered species. You can add behind-the-scenes experiences to your day and enjoy zookeeper talks, balloon safaris and animal encounters. It can get pretty hot so make sure to pack plenty of sunscreen and water. Recommended by local insider Lauren Rogers

Birch Aquarium

Aquarium
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The Birch Aquarium is both an indoor and outdoor center that overlooks the glorious La Jolla coastline. The aquarium works in partnership with the Institute of Oceanology to focuses its efforts on sea life conservation. It isn’t huge, but the underwater world will easily fill a few hours of your day. Watch shark feeding time, marvel in the colors of marine life and learn about the herculean efforts the research teams here go through to protect our sea life. Recommended by local insider Lauren Rogers and Hebah Bukhari

Moonlight Beach

Natural Feature
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Moonlight Beach is a haven for the children of San Diego. Watch them surf the waves, build sandcastles or boogie board to their hearts’ content. When they’re done with surf and sand there’s a large playground right on the beach. Nearby shops and bars make it easier for you to run for ice creams, whilst beachside and street parking make Moonlight extremely accessible. Recommended by local insider Lauren Roger

Legoland

Amusement Park
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Which kid doesn’t love lego? Which kid doesn’t love amusement parks? Legoland in San Diego is the stuff of dreams with rides, giant characters wandering the avenues and colorful bricks that you don’t have to worry about standing on. This place is best for little ones over four years old, due to height restrictions on rides. If you want to make even more of a day, the aquarium and waterpark are just next door. Recommended by local insider Lauren Rogers

Belmont Park

Amusement Park
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We’re talking quintessential beach amusement park here. Belmont Park is nostalgic trip back in time to when theme parks were a lot more understated. Kids can come and go as they please with a day pass, or choose single rides in between hanging out on the beach. Tall and small children are catered for with rides and amusements to suit everyone, from the junior train ride to the zip line. The roller coaster is highly recommended. Recommended by local insider Lauren Rogers

Children's Pool Beach, La Jolla

Swimming Pool
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With calm and shallow waves, this is the perfect spot to introduce your little ones to the ocean and help grow confidence in the sea. With a children’s pool, showers and a bathroom on the beach, it is a very popular place with San Diego’s young families. Walk the paved walkway and take some time to spot the seals frolicking in the water. During pupping season the beach (and children’s pool) is overtaken by the animals so it is cordoned off, but you can still watch the fascinating creatures from afar. Recommended by local insider Hebah Bukhari

Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve

Natural Feature
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A natural reserve within a city? Cool. Ditch the skyscrapers and concrete roads for rugged coastlines, unspoiled beaches and pollution-free air. Pop into the visitor center once you arrive and discover a trail that suits your ability and preference. The reserve requests no food and no dogs to ensure the safety of fragile habitats in the reserve, so leave the sandwiches and canine at home. Many species of birds, animals and plants flourish here so keep your eyes peeled. Recommended by local insider Hebah Bukhari

Carlsbad Flower Fields

Botanical Garden
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Each March the arrival of hundreds of acres of bright ranunculus at Carlsbad Flower Field herald the arrival of spring. A glorious mural of color makes for the perfect photo opportunity and the garden fills up fast with people traveling from far and wide to walk among the blooms. Get lost in the sweet-pea maze, marvel at the poinsettia displays and wander through display gardens developed by the San Diego Master Gardeners. Recommended by local insider Hebah Bukhari

These recommendations were updated on July 13, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.