Planning a trip to San Diego with your family and wondering which kid-friendly activities to add to the itinerary? With a world-class zoo, year-round outdoor excursions, and museums around every corner, this sunny Southern California city offers something for everyone. If you’re having trouble choosing what to do with your little ones, check out our favorite San Diego attractions for kids.
1. Explore the San Diego Zoo and Balboa Park
San Diego’s world-renowned zoo is home to over 4,000 animals from more than 800 species. The open-air, cage-less exhibits were designed to recreate the natural habitats of the animals that call the zoo home. A visit here is a special experience if you have an animal-loving little one and one of our favorite family activities in San Diego.
Balboa Park is located right next door to the zoo. With 16 museums, several performing arts venues, gorgeous gardens, walking trails, and other recreational attractions, it offers a relaxing respite from the crowded city streets. Plan your day with one of these excursions:
- Snag tickets to the San Diego Zoo in advance so you can skip the long admission lines and spend more time strolling the grounds
- Get an up-close look at the rare and exotic animals roaming the vast enclosures with tickets to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park
- For the ultimate animal experience, get tickets to the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park combo tour
- When you’ve had your fill of critters and creatures, head over to explore the 1,200 acres of natural beauty at Balboa Park
2. Experience LEGOLAND® California
For LEGO-loving little ones, a trip to 128-acre LEGOLAND® is the ultimate attraction in San Diego for kids. With over 60 rides, shows, and exhibits featuring everyone’s favorite building block, you can easily spend an entire day admiring the elaborate structures and engineering your own imaginative creations. To avoid the lines, we recommend purchasing your tickets to LEGOLAND® California in advance.
3. Enjoy the California sunshine at Mission Beach and Belmont Park
The city is known for its warm and sunny weather, gorgeous seaside scenery, and outdoor lifestyle, so it’s only natural that spending some time along the waterfront should be on everyone’s San Diego itinerary. Grab your suit and hit the beach for some boogie boarding, beach volleyball, and old-fashioned fun in the sun. To escape the crowds, we recommend heading to South Mission Beach — the beach here is a little wider and has plenty of room for families to spread out and relax.
The main area of Mission Beach has a nearly two-mile boardwalk where you can rent bikes or roller blades, play a game of mini golf, or hit up the arcade. Kids will also love Belmont Park, the classic boardwalk amusement park that’s home to fan-favorites like the Giant Dipper Roller Coaster, laser tag, a ropes course, and midway games. No matter how you choose to spend your time at Mission Beach and Belmont Park, you’ll find something for all ages.
4. Visit the San Diego Harbor to see the whales and dolphins
Gray whales make an annual journey from the Arctic to the Baja Coast, making a pass through San Diego’s waters on the way. This only happens during the winter months, so if you happen to be in the city during their migration, heading out on a whale watching expedition cruise is one of the most exciting and unique San Diego kids’ activities you can do. An expert guide will narrate as you cruise the waters in search of these magnificent creatures during the 3-hour ride.
If your trip doesn’t happen to overlap with a visit from the gray whales, don’t fret. You can still get an up-close look at the area’s resident seals on the San Diego Seal Tour, where you and your family will board an amphibious vehicle that travels over land and through water.
5. Hit up one of San Diego’s museums
The great thing about museums is they offer something for everyone, making them the perfect activity for any family trip. San Diego is home to several unique museums — let your kids pick one that interest them and head off for a day of exploration.
- For history and nature lovers alike, tickets to the San Diego Natural History Museum in Balboa Park offers four floors of jaw-dropping exhibits
- Grab skip-the-line tickets to the USS Midway Museum and spend the day experiencing a day in the life of a naval officer aboard an aircraft carrier
- Check out the collection of historic vessels, including a Soviet B-39 submarine and an American research sub dubbed the USS Dolphin, at the Maritime Museum of San Diego
- Kids ages 0-10 can explore the interactive exhibits and programs focused on science, art, and world culture at the San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum
- Fly high (or pretend to, at least) among the air and spacecraft exhibits at the San Diego Air and Space Museum
San Diego offers so many kid and family-friendly activities and a trip to this popular California city is a must for anyone who loves sun, sand, and a laid-back vibe. Looking for more things to do in San Diego? PlacePass has unique excursions and experiences for all ages, so your whole family can enjoy all that San Diego has to offer. Not traveling with kids? Check out our tips on things to do in San Diego at night and things to do in Downtown San Diego.