San Diego Attractions: 10 Ways to Keep Kids Entertained

The best San Diego attractions for families tailor to both parents and children. They offer fun activities for all ages while showcasing the best of the area and its culture. Families will find dozens of fun things to do in San Diego, and the city consistently ranks as one of the top places for travel for this reason. However, with so much to do, families may not know where to start. That’s why we rounded up our top 10 favorite San Diego attractions for your family vacation. Check them out.

10 San Diego Attractions for a Family-friendly Vacation

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See San Diego Zoo

Voted the No. 1 zoo in the world, families can’t resist the experiences at San Diego Zoo. Spend the day exploring exhibits including the Australian Outback, Northern Frontier and Urban Jungle. Visitors will see more than 70 animals located throughout the zoo and gardens, and can participate in educational and fun activities. Other things to do at the San Diego Zoo include a guided bus tour, Skyfari ride, playing in designated areas and watching movies in the 4-D theater.

Go Wild With San Diego Zoo Safari Park

One of the most popular adventures in the area is the San Diego Safari Park located in nearby Escondido. The safari park offers families an action-packed experience as they pick their own way to see animals and landscape. Those with smaller children may prefer caravan safari, while teens and adults can flightline or test their skills on the jungle ropes tour. No matter what tour picked, visitors will get an up-close look at more than 60 animals such as birds, cheetahs, giraffes and rhinos, to name a few.

Play at SeaWorld San Diego

SeaWorld San Diego delights families through exhibits, rides and shows. This one-stop amusement park offers year-round entertainment, as well as cares for rescued and distressed animals. Start the visit by seeing more than a dozen family-friendly exhibits, such as the turtle reef, shark encounter and Sesame Street Bay of Play. As visitors make their way through the park, they have the opportunity to also ride a dozen rides. Younger children will love Elmo’s Flying Fish, while adolescents should check out Manta, Journey to Atlantis and Shipwreck Rapids. Guests will also enjoy seeing marine life and getting splashed by the park’s dolphins and sea lions that reside here.

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Let Birch Aquarium Inspire You

Among the top San Diego attractions and our picks for the best aquariums for up-close encounters is the Birch Aquarium at Scripps. The aquarium is located in La Jolla, less than 14 miles from San Diego. Families will see more than 5,000 fish in 60-plus exhibits and interactive activities, such as tank feedings and special shows. Birch also offers special hands-on programs for children that encourage critical thinking and teamwork through a think tank and Explore It guides.

Spend the Day in Balboa Park

Balboa Park has long been a top San Diego attraction as it houses museums, arts and culture, more attractions and outdoor recreation options. In fact, Balboa Park has been named in the top six best public places in the U.S. by the American Planning Association. The 1,200-acre urban center features activities and events for groups of all ages. Take the kids for a ride on the carousel and check out the miniature railroad, both historic gems. Balboa Park also houses five parks and playgrounds, a multipurpose recreation center, golf complex and several gardens spotlighting the area’s natural beauty.

Enjoy the San Diego Botanic Gardens

Nature lovers will also want to visit the San Diego Botanic Garden in Encinitas, CA. The garden is separated into 30 distinct exhibits showcasing plants and animals from all over the world. While exploring the gardens, take the kids to the Hamilton’s Children’s Garden where they can learn about conservation and how to become good stewards of the land. Other hot spots for families include Toni’s tree house, birds and butterflies, and the native plants and native people trail.

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Unwind at the Beach

For fun in the sun, spend the day at La Jolla Cove. This small beach, located between sandstone cliffs, provides visitors opportunities to swim, snorkel, scuba and enjoy the view. La Jolla Cove features calm water and wildlife, both protected for ecological purposes. Guests are welcome to swim, but surfboards, boogie boards and other flotation devices are not permitted. When not in the water, enjoy a picnic with loved ones and take lots of photos. La Jolla Cove also ranks as a top spot for photography.

Catch a Baseball Game

Love a good game? Then head to Petco Park, known to many as a favorite baseball stadium. The park’s design offers a mix of scenery that celebrates the best of sea, sky and diversity of the region. Petco Park serves as the official home of the MLB San Diego Padres and hosts spring training and world baseball championships. Those visiting in the off-season still have plenty to do as Petco Park offers behind-the-scenes tours for groups up to 25 people. Before and after a game, don’t forget to try one of the on-site restaurants and shop for souvenirs.

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Explore With Little Ones

Children kindergarten age and younger will have a blast exploring the New Children’s Museum. The museum works to inspire and think creatively through hands-on exhibits and activities. Parents can interact with their little ones as they explore art installations, studios and workshops. One way they can play is at The Wonder Sound, a labyrinth full of nooks, ropes and passageways. The studios welcome visitors anytime, and kids can create masterpieces with clay, paint and other materials.

Gear Up for Maritime Adventures

The Maritime Museum of San Diego ranks among the top San Diego attractions for its large collection of historic ships, including the world’s oldest active ship Star of India. Museum admission grants access to exhibits that explore maritime history, sailing, technology and San Diego’s Navy. Next, take the family aboard one of the vessels, which include sailing ships, steam-powered boats and submarines. The museum also offers bay and history cruises, ranging from 45 minutes to three hours for an additional price. While planning a visit, also check out the list of seasonal events at the museum, including Family Day, Festival of Sail, Pirate Days and the Parade of Lights.

Get started planning your family’s vacation and check out these San Diego rentals!