San Diego is a destination custom-made for families. With year-round nice weather, dozens of public parks, 70 miles of beaches and a myriad of museums, there are plenty of activities to amuse children of all ages.
The world-famous San Diego Zoo runs two parks in the San Diego area: the more traditional Zoo, located in Balboa Park, and the San Diego Zoo Safari Park located north of town. Allow a full day to see each one if you can.
Budding Jacques Cousteaus will enjoy La Jolla's Birch Aquarium, where they can see a marine laboratory, learn about products made from things in the sea and watch sea horses and leafy dragons floating in the water.
Sea World is home to Shamu the killer whale and dozens of other marine animal acts and exhibits. And, if your movie-watching kids remember the film about a killer whale called Free Willy, part of it was filmed in San Diego.
During the winter migration, whale-watching cruises are quite popular. Be sure to plan ahead if any of the kids (or adults) are susceptible to motion sickness.
Balboa Park is home to a lot more than just the zoo. Places to explore include the Fleet Science Center and the Natural History Museum.
Other San Diego Activities
Legoland California is just north of San Diego. This park features lots of things made of the ever-popular Lego blocks and is a good (and quiet) option for smaller children.
San Diego has dozens of beaches and at some them you can rent boogie boards and surfboards, or even a bike. Blacks Beach is one of the state's most popular clothing optional beaches. If this bothers you, just choose another beach to visit.
Get into the true Southern California mode of recreation and go roller-skating or rollerblading. The best skating spot for the younger crowd is along Mission Bay, which also has several playgrounds and acres of grass for kite flying. Teens will like the skating action along the Mission Beach boardwalk, which is a busy skating and biking thoroughfare.
Other fun opportunities for water play include jet ski rentals. You can reserve both online through Kijubi.com.
For some old-fashioned amusement park entertainment, try Belmont Park at the Mission Beach boardwalk. It features two restored landmarks: The Plunge, Southern California's largest indoor swimming pool when it opened in 1925 and the Giant Dipper, a restored, wooden roller coaster sporting more than 2,600 feet of tracks and 13 hills.
Old Town is not the best of places for a family visit unless your child is especially interested in history. However, they may enjoy their living history day, or visiting the shops and colorful Mexican restaurants.
Doing It All For Less
Depending on how many of these activities your family wants to take in, you could save some money by getting a Go San Diego Card, a multi-attraction discount card Use this handy guide to find out all you need to know about it.
POLL: What is your favorite place to go with kids in San Diego?
To keep everyone comfortable during the day, all of the tourist areas are well equipped with plenty of restrooms and places to eat. Many San Diego hotels have swimming pools to cool you off after a long day and there are several options that have small suites instead of a traditional room. When you get hungry in the evening, most San Diego restaurants are casual and families are welcome, but call ahead if you're in doubt.