San Diego Family Attractions: 10 Ways to Keep Kids Entertained

The best San Diego family attractions 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 among 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 the top 10 favorite San Diego family attractions. Check them out.

10 San Diego Family Attractions: Things to Do With Children

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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 Australian Outback, Northern Frontier and Urban Jungle.

Visitors see more than 70 animals located throughout the zoo and gardens, and can participate in educational and fun activities. Other things to do at San Diego Zoo include a guided bus tour, Skyfari ride, playing in designated areas and watching movies in a 4-D theater.

Go Wild With San Diego Zoo Safari Park

One of the most popular adventures is 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 landscapes.

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 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 at more than a dozen family-friendly exhibits, such as turtle reef, shark encounter and Sesame Street Bay of Play. As visitors make their way through the park, they can also ride a dozen rides. Younger children love Elmo’s Flying Fish, while adolescents should check out Manta, Journey to Atlantis and Shipwreck Rapids. Guests also enjoy watching marine life and getting splashed by the park’s dolphins and sea lions.

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Let Birch Aquarium Inspire Everyone

Among the top San Diego family 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 see more than 5,000 fish in 60-plus exhibits and interactive activities, such as tank feedings and special shows. Birch Aquarium also offers special hands-on programs 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, family-friendly 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 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 should also visit San Diego Botanic Garden in Encinitas, California. The garden is separated into 30 distinct exhibits showcasing plants and animals from all over the world.

While exploring the gardens, take kids to Hamilton’s Children’s Garden where they 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 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 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 MLB’s 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, try one of the on-site restaurants and shop for souvenirs.

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Explore With Little Ones

Children kindergarten age and younger have a blast exploring New Children’s Museum. The museum works to inspire and think creatively through hands-on exhibits and activities. In addition, parents interact with little ones as they explore art installations, studios and workshops.

One way to play is at The Wonder Sound, a labyrinth full of nooks, ropes and passageways. The studios welcome visitors any time during the day, and kids can create masterpieces with clay, paint and other materials.

Gear Up for Maritime Adventures

Maritime Museum of San Diego ranks among the top San Diego family attractions for its large collection of historic ships, such as 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, check out the list of seasonal events at the museum, including Family Day, Festival of Sail, Pirate Days and Parade of Lights.

Get started planning to visit these San Diego family attractions. Check out these San Diego rentals.