SeaWorld San Diego Atlantis ride
Photo by Priyadarshini Rajendran

Best places to visit in San Diego with your family

San Diego is a gem of California with so many interesting things to do for families apart from its world-famous beaches. Last year, for Thanksgiving break, we, as a family with two children, went on a road trip to this amazing destination.

With so much to do here, we purchased a San Diego Explorer pass to take advantage of the pass and visit multiple destinations like the San Diego Zoo, Sea World, USS Midway Museum, Legoland and more at a lesser price than the tickets available at the gates of the individual destinations.

1. Legoland

Photo by Priyadarshini Rajendran

First off, we stayed at Oceanside, a cute city near Carlsbad and visited Legoland for a day. The kids had fun building with legos and the rides, while everyone loved the mini cities entirely made out of legos! The coastal cruise ride was especially great as we get to see many attractions like Taj Mahal, Mount Rushmore, Golden Gate Bridge, Empire State building etc. made out of legos displayed on the shores on either side of the boat.

2. SeaWorld

Photo by Priyadarshini Rajendran

The next day, we visited SeaWorld. If you go right at opening time, you will be able to do everything in the park including the rides in one day. Electric Eel, Manta Ray coaster and Atlantis water rides were super cool. Don’t forget to wear a poncho and change into water shoes/slippers when you go on the Atlantis ride, you will definitely get drenched.

There are height restrictions for the rides at SeaWorld, similar to Legoland, so keep that in mind when you are planning things to do at the park. My 5-year-old enjoyed gently touching the sea creatures at the tide pools located right at the entrance of the park. The nature guides are knowledgeable and answered all his questions about bamboo sharks, tiger sharks and many more sea animals.

Also read: Top hiking trails under 5 miles in California

3. San Diego Zoo

Photo by Priyadarshini Rajendran

On the third day, we went to San Diego Zoo as the kids love giraffes. This zoo also has giraffe feeding, so if you plan to do that, look up how to reserve that experience for your visit. Lot of things dynamically keep changing after the pandemic, so it is better to get reservations beforehand. That way, you would be prepared for your visit and have a confirmed slot for the experience.

There is a lot to explore in this zoo and I would suggest that you go on the tour bus first, check out which areas of the park you would like to explore more and go there after getting off the bus. Though you can see many animals from the bus, there are some areas like the aviaries where the bus does not go.

4. USS Midway Museum

Photo by Priyadarshini Rajendran

Then we visited the USS Midway museum and the kids loved getting to sit in those interesting air crafts and learning about their histories. The movie Top Gun had a few scenes shot here, so it was cool to see these spots live. From the top of the ship, you can look down and see a giant statue of a soldier coming home and greeted by his wife. They also have a tour of the top part of the submarine, where a guide explains how they operated during the Cold War.

There is a program for kids to earn their “pilot wings” badges too. Stop at the information booth inside the ship once you enter and ask about the juniors program. They have fun checking off the items on this program list and use that to get a badge at the end of the tour. They also need to take an oath!

5. Cabrillo National Monument and Coronado Island

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We also visited the Cabrillo National Monument and went down to explore tide pools there. We can see Mexico at a distance from here. Next, we went to Coronado Island and the kids had a great time jumping in the “snow” that was blasted out of the pipes at Hotel Del Coronado’s holiday light show event in the evenings. Do not miss enjoying a sunset at Coronado Beach.

Also read: 22 Bay Area Road Trips to take this Spring (Within 5 hours from San Francisco)

6. La Jolla

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Also, stop by La Jolla cove. We saw some seals barking and playing at the shore and the ranger asked everyone to keep a safe distance from the seals.

San Diego has infinite more things to do, some of the post popular ones are:

7. Balboa Park

With 1,200 acres of amazing area, this urban park has 17 museums and many incredible

gardens to enjoy.

8. Old Town San Diego

9. Gaslamp Quarter

10. San Diego Air and Space Museum

11. Torrey Pines natural reserve

12. Belmont Park (amusement park)

13. Birch Aquarium

14. Fleet Science Center

15. San Diego Natural History Museum

16. Mission Beach, Ocean Beach, Coronado Beach, Leucadia, Encinitas and Moonlit beach

17. Point Loma Lighthouse

18. Hop on/off bus tour

With so many things to enjoy with family, San Diego is an amazing vacation spot. Note down these suggestions and plan a memorable trip!

Best things to do in San Diego with kids
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About Priyadarshini Rajendran 201 Articles
Priyadarshini Rajendran is a travel enthusiast, avid reader and a passionate writer. She has a few of her books published and is writing more books. Before becoming a full-time writer, she worked as a software consultant taking breaks for her travels. Her blog is her passion and she writes about travel, books and food on the blog. She offers customized itineraries for South Indian destinations.

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