01 of 08
Find a Family Friendly Beach
San Diego is a destination custom-made for families. With the pleasant year-round weather, dozens of public parks, 70 miles of beaches and a myriad of family-friendly museums, it has plenty of activities to amuse children of all ages.
Take the Kids to the Beach
San Diego has dozens of beaches, and at some of them, you can rent boogie boards and surfboards, or even a bike.
Coronado Beach is an excellent choice if you're staying in that part of town. La Jolla Shores has wide, gently sloping sand and fewer waves because it's protected in a cove. And nearby La Jolla Cove is tops for great tidepools.
02 of 08
Check Out the Birch Aquarium
Budding oceanographers and kids who love animals 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 seahorses and leafy sea dragons floating in the water.
The Birch Aquarium is a great aquarium, big enough to have lots of interesting exhibits. It's small enough that the kids won't get too tired or lose interest.
03 of 08
Visit Sea World San Diego
Sea World is home to Shamu the killer whale and dozens of other marine animal acts and exhibits. It has lots of shows, a few fun rides and attractions - and some fun touch pools, too.
If you or your kids have seen the film Blackfish, you may have already decided that Sea World isn't for you.
Nevertheless, the families and children we see there seem to be having a great time.
04 of 08
Go to the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park
Allow a full day to see each one if you can.
If you and your kids like zoos and don't mind seeing animals in captivity, you'll probably like the San Diego Zoo. During the busiest times of year (summer) it can be hot during the day - and crowded.
The Safari Park offers a different experience, with fewer cages and a chance to see some animals living together like they might in the wild. It's a long drive out of town and hard to reach via public transportation.Continue to 5 of 8 below.
05 of 08
Explore Balboa Park
Balboa Park is home to a lot more than just the zoo. Lots of families overlook Balboa Park, thinking all the museums there are boring or that the kids wouldn't like it. Besides the museums, there are lots of open, shady spaces where the kids can run and play.
06 of 08
Play at Mission Bay
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.
Belmont Park at the Mission Beach boardwalk 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.
Mission Bay is one of the San Diego's nicest public parks, with lots of shoreline and things to do. If you like water play, that is. Otherwise, you won't find much to keep you entertained. It can also be very crowded on weekends.
07 of 08
Take the Kids to Legoland
Legoland California is just north of San Diego. This park features lots of things made of the ever-popular Lego blocks and is a fun (and quiet) option for smaller children.
Legoland is the best park in California for young children, with lots of rides designed with little ones in mind. Adults enjoy all the Lego creations.
Older children may be bored, especially if they're the type who like roller coasters and thrill rides.
08 of 08
A Few More Ideas
More Places to Take the Kids
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.
More Things You Can Do in San Diego
There's a lot more to do in San Diego. If you're a contrarian traveler who seeks out the undiscovered spots, then don't miss the 9 things you didn't know you wanted to do in San Diego.
If your budget is limited (which applies to most of us), you can have a lot of fun without spending a penny.
Even though San Diego weather is mostly sunny, it might rain in the winter. Here's what to do in San Diego if those raindrops start falling on your head. And if it's summertime when you visit, you'll definitely want to know what to do on a summer night in... San Diego.
Scientifically oriented kids may enjoy the Mount Palomar Observatory.
Nearby Julian, with a gold mine tour and apple pies galore, is old-fashioned fun for the whole family. Not far from there is the Oasis Camel Dairy which is open to visitors about once a month.