Everyone talks about Disneyland and Legoland as being part of San Diego, but what if you don’t want to drive 1 – 1.5 hours (each way) on your family vacation? What are some of the family activities you can do that are right in San Diego? And what if your kids are animal lovers? Well, read on because we’ve got you covered!
SeaWorld – With legendary Shamu and other lively (and sometimes hilarious) animal performances, SeaWorld is a must-do. The park is small enough for kids to easily navigate, and families can see everything in about a day and a half. (Translation: get the 2-day pass.)
San Diego Zoo & Safari Park – San Diego Zoo is often noted as the best zoo in America. I would have to agree, especially for little kids. It’s super stroller-friendly and the habitats are small enough that kids can easily see each of the animals. For those in the camp that believe animals should roam free will prefer the Safari Park. You can walk for miles and maybe not see all the animals because they have plenty of room to hide. Luckily there are guided safari tours with trams or carts to help you get a closer look. Both have very cool events going on all year round.
Coronado Island – The beach by the Coronado Hotel is a beautiful public beach with the historic hotel as a lovely backdrop. Here you can do the standard beach activities – build sandcastles, hunt for shells and chase tiny fish along the shore. The soft sand makes great sandcastles! With the hotel nearby, you don’t even need to pack a picnic lunch… just head to the outdoor hotel restaurant or ice cream shop. And bathrooms are not only clean, they’re fancy.
Birch Aquarium – This is a great interactive and educational aquarium, as it’s also a research center. Unlike most attractions, the snack shack offerings are healthy and delicious. Kids can feed the sharks, touch tide pool critters and learn about the Earth’s oceans. One very cool thing about this aquarium is that the exhibits are mostly creatures found in the Pacific Ocean just off shore. Did I mention that it sits on a bluff that has an incredible ocean view? It’s the perfect perch to watch migrating gray whales… they also have whale watching cruises available.
La Jolla Shores Beach – Right near the Birch Aquarium is La Jolla Beach where you can relax and splash in the waves, as well as find critters in the tide pools. Get there by 2pm if you want to park in the beach parking lot, otherwise you’ll need to walk with all your gear. From late December through mid-April, this is another great spot to watch for migrating whales. There are a few concession stands, and a decent bathroom, but it’s best to grab your lunch at nearby Birch Aquarium or bring your own.