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The Best of Family-Friendly San Diego

Whatever your kids are into, there’s probably a little something to keep them entertained. The question you need to ask yourself as a parent is: how much can you handle? Fortunately, a few of these family-friendly San Diego attractions are (comparatively) parent-friendly, too.

See the Animals

The San Diego Zoo is a no-brainer. However, its sister park, San Diego Zoo Safari Park, offers the opportunity to ride along in an off-road vehicle to see lions, tigers, and elephants in something closer to their natural habitats. SeaWorld delivers dolphins and killer whale shows where you’re likely to get doused with water, while the smaller, drier Birch Aquarium exhibits fish that actually live in the region.

A giant panda eating bamboo at the San Diego Zoo.
There are plenty of animal attractions in San Diego including its famous zoo. Photo © f8grapher/123rf.

Ride the Rides

For action-packed theme-park experiences, check out the rides and games at Belmont Park, right by beautiful Mission Beach. Or make the drive north to Legoland, which smaller kids will especially love. In the summer, bigger kids will enjoy the water slides and wave pool at SeaWorld’s Aquatica San Diego.

Water Sports Camps

If your kids are ready to go beyond the wave pool, sign them up for surf camp days with Surf Diva in La Jolla or Ocean Beach Surf Lessons. To really get ’em going, sample the wakeboarding, kayaking, windsurfing, or sailing at camps offered by Mission Bay Sportscenter.

The tallship Star of India on its 150th anniversary sail in 2013.
The historic Star of India is part of the San Diego Maritime Museum. Photo © Port of San Diego, licensed Creative Commons Attribution.

Planes, Boats, and Trucks

To see life-size versions of the toys kids love to play with, start at the San Diego Air and Space Museum and USS Midway Museum. The ships of the San Diego Maritime Museum skew older, though kids are just the right size to squeeze through a submarine. The Firehouse Museum offers fire trucks galore to explore.

Learn Something Fun

The Reuben H. Fleet Science Center teaches science lessons in the most fun way imaginable. Across the courtyard is the San Diego Natural History Museum, where the learning often involves dinosaurs. The New Children’s Museum engages kids with interactive art installations that stimulate different parts of the brain.

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