Things To Do in San Diego – Golden Experiences Beyond Theme Parks for the Whole Family!
San Diego, California is a dreamy destination for the whole family! Hip, gorgeous and packed with opportunities all-ages will enjoy, this area of SoCal is one of our family’s most favourite! Even with three full days spent in San Diego, we still didn’t do everything that interested us (our kids are school-age to teen). We can’t wait to go back! In the meantime, here are 10+ Golden Experiences for the Whole Family to enjoy in San Diego!
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Things To-Do in San Diego With Kids of All-Ages
Sea Lion Encounters
Head to La Jolla Cove & Shores for up-close, awe-inducing encounters with Sea Lions and their pups. We’ve listed this experience first intentionally – one of our most unforgettable on our Cali-cation along the Pacific Coast. NOTE: there is no cost to watch the sea lions, although paid parking lines the cove area if you’re driving. As the signs lining the perimeter say, though, keep a safe distance from the wild life. Spring to Fall is pup season – Sea Lioness mamas will do what they’ve gotta do to protect their precious pups.
Your family won’t have trouble finding a blue-tiful beach to dive into. Mission Beach – family-focused with lots of amenities close by, including Belmont Park for old fashioned amusement park fun. Pacific Beach – for hipsters and beach lovers (popular with the college crowd). Coronado Beach – set in front of the iconic Hotel del Coronado, this was one of our top picks for classy beaching. More of the best beaches for families in SoCal HERE.
Tacos por favor!
SoCal has some of the tastiest tacos you’ll ever inhale, and some of the best spot to get them are located in San Diego. The Taco Stand was a collective family fave, or try some of these other recos from the Southern California Taco Tour!
Pause in Palm Tree Paradise
Take a drive down palm-tree dotted avenues for a very Beverly Hills Cop movie scene-inducing memory, or just pause in front of the sky-high wonders lining the beach core for a moment of palm calm.
Try Trendy Treats
Vegan spins on gelato at Bobboi, a freshly made churro haul from The Taco Stand, or a slice of Hula Pie heaven from Duke’s, San Diego is a sweet lovers paradise with lots of twists on traditional treats to indulge in!
Amusement for All-ages Beyond Theme Parks
While theme parks are a big draw for families in and just outside of San Diego (Disneyland among them), parents looking for amusement minus massive theme park visits may find other creative ways to get maximum enjoyment. Lego mavens, for instance, will love the interactive, imagine-and-build stations at Fashion Valley Mall’s LEGO store. Parents may love not having to visit Legoland 😉 If you’re looking for old-fashioned fun, visit Belmont Park at Mission Beach before/after your oceanside adventures. What you may find, as we did, is there are SO many things to-do in San Diego beyond theme parks!
Tastes of Italy Family Tour
Visit Little Italy SD, grab a slice of the best pizza pie in town and/or visit one of San Diego’s top authentic Italian restaurants. Finish your Italian-inspired adventure with a family gondola ride around Coronado Bay. Check out this ‘San Diego Amore: Tastes of Italy Family Adventure in SoCal’ for all our top suggestions – most of them in one of our favourite spot sin San Diego…Coronado Island!
Find Your Favourite Film Locations
Balboa Park, Coronado Island, Old Town State Historic Park, Seaport Village & the USS Midway Museum – all edu-taining spots to visit with the family to learn fun historic facts about San Diego’s most visited spots. See “Best Way to See The Top Family Sights in San Diego” below.
Shop in One of San Diego’s Hot Spots
From outlets to high-fashion, artisan to ultra-luxe, San Diego is a mecca for shoppers of all tastes. Our favourite spots to window shop and grab some unique finds were the open-air locations: 1) The Shops at La Jolla Village and along La Jolla’s Prospect Street with views of the ocean; 2) Fashion Valley Mall in San Diego’s Mission Valley district; and Seaport Village – a 14-acre waterfront shopping, dining and entertainment complex along San Diego Bay (*and one of the stops on the Old Towne Trolley!*)
Soak in Spectacular Sunsets
Radiant and firey-red, no matter what you get up to during the day, plunk your family down at night near a coastal spot to soak in one of these gorgeous balls of beauty. The sunsets in San Diego will pierce your heart and soul and are among some of the most magnificent I’ve ever laid eyes on.
Best Way to See The Top Family Sights in San Diego and Save Your Stamina
There’s only so much parent fuel to go around and family travel is a true test of family stamina. If you like the idea of seeing San Diego’s top family-focused sites with less stress and energy exertion, as well as a go at your own pace itinerary, hopping on the Old Town Trolley is an excellent way to roam and explore all of San Diego’s bests. Buy your 1 or 2-day tickets in advance ONLINE to save some bucks!
Best Way to Save Some Money on Unique Family Activities in SD
If you like the idea of taking your own mode of transportation around San Diego with the fam and building your own itinerary of unique experiences, the GoCity San Diego Pass is THE WAY to bundle some of the best, carefully selected, adventure-filled family experiences in San Diego while also saving you some hard-earned money – up to 50% discount compared to buying multiple family admissions individually!
Belmont Park Ride & Play passes, USS Midway Museum admission (*note – while the Old Town Trolley takes you to this location, admission is extra and would be covered with your GoCity Pass!), the San Diego Zoo & Safari, among lots of others are accessible with your GoCity San Diego Pass.
Why Families Will Appreciate the GoCity Pass
You can choose from (2) pass options: 1) All-Inclusive Pass – Best for if you want to see and experience as much of sunny San Diego as possible; 2) Explorer Pass – Best for if you want to tick off a few firm favorites from your bucket list! Passes can be bought in 1 – 7 day increments to suit your family vacation needs and you’ll have 30 – 60 days to use your passes depending on the type purchased starting from the date of activation. One of the best parts is the convenient GoCity app you can download to your phone for ease of digital-scan admission to the spots you pick – no need for multiple tickets/paper passes to lug around while you wander. Another fam-tastic perk: family travel plans can change and non-activated passes are FULLY-REFUNDABLE within 90 days from your purchase date.
San Diego stole our hearts and a return ticket is on the vision board. Until then, if you have any questions on what to do in San Diego with kids of all ages, drop a comment below or email me your questions. There is SO much for families of all-ages to do in this fabulous area of SoCal.
More California Family Resources
The Best Family Beaches in SoCal – your family travel guide to beach hopping the West Coast that will save you HOURS of time and includes intel from a long-time local (and beloved family member)!
California Dreamin’ Veggie Burgers – a Cali-cation not in the cards this year? Travel with your taste buds!
Keep well, travel safely,
PIN this Family Travel Guide to San Diego for later!