Things to Do with Kids in San Diego County

Looking for things to do in San Diego with kids? Discover local attractions, hidden gems, kid-friendly restaurants and much more, organized by local neighborhoods in San Diego County. "Out & About with Kids" is a great resource for local families and visitors alike. 
 

North County Coastal 
Cardiff-by-the-Sea, Carlsbad, Del Mar, Encinitas, Oceanside, Solana Beach

N County Coastal
Photo credit: Tony Andrews Photography

Here are a few highlights from these areas! 

San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Reserve & Nature Center
2710 Manchester Ave.
760-634-3026
www.sanelijo.org
Explore the awesome nature center and one-mile stroller-friendly, ADA-accessible trail. Don’t miss monthly family fun days, featuring themed events and Junior Ranger activities.

Batiquitos Lagoon Ecological Reserve
7380 Gabbiano Ln.
760-931-0800
www.batiquitosfoundation.org
Enjoy a stroller-friendly 2-mile nature walk through tidal wetlands and nature preserve. Leashed dogs allowed. Visit the nature center, bring a fishing pole, and don’t forget binoculars for excellent bird-viewing.

LEGOLAND California/SEA LIFE Aquarium
One Legoland Dr.
760-918-5346
877-376-5346
www.legoland.com/california
www.visitsealife.com/california
Don’t miss this family favorite, LEGO-themed park that includes kid-friendly rides, shows and attractions. Aquarium entrance is separate from theme park. Beginning summer 2021, experience new rides, dining, shops and more in The LEGO Movie World, where an immersive world of the hit movies comes to life.

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North County Inland
Borrego Springs, Escondido, Fallbrook/Bonsall, Julian, Mt. Palomar, Poway, Ramona, San Marcos, Valley Center, Vista 
N county Inland  
Photo credit: @coffee.with.tia

Here are a few highlights from these areas! 

San Diego Zoo Safari Park
15500 San Pasqual Valley Rd., Escondido 760-747-8702
www.sdzsafaripark.org
Experience wildlife close-up and in expansive savanna habitats. Take a safari adventure via Africa tram or caravan, and don’t miss the interactive Walkabout Australia habitat.

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
200 Palm Canyon Dr.
760-767-4205
www.abdsp.org
This desert landscape is excellent for hiking, biking, horseback riding and camping. Don’t miss spring wildflower blooms and stargazing; Anza-Borrego is a designated International Dark Sky Park.

Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve
8833 Harmony Grove Rd.
760-632-4212
https://elfinforest.olivenhain.com
Enjoy walking, hiking, biking or horseback riding on 11 miles of trails lined with native plants and wildlife. Interpretive center and guided nature walks available.

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San Diego Coastal
Coronado, La Jolla, Mission Bay, Mission Beach, Ocean Beach, Pacific Beach, Point Loma

SD Coastal
Photo credit: @TheWhitePartyOfFive

Here are highlights from these areas! 

Coronado Ferry Landing
1201 First Ave.
619-435-8895
www.coronadoferrylanding.com
Fantastic views of the San Diego skyline! Great spot for shopping, dining and picnics. Rent tandem bikes, surreys or SUPs, or take a kayak tour of San Diego Bay. For extra fun, take the ferry from downtown.

Coronado Tidelands Park
2000 Mullinex Dr.
619-522-7342
www.portofsandiego.org/where-to-go/coronado
This waterfront park near Coronado Bridge boasts outstanding bay and city views. Take a leisurely walk or bike ride, visit the skate park, fly a kite, and watch the airplanes take off and land.

Birch Aquarium at Scripps
2300 Expedition Way
858-534-3474
www.aquarium.ucsd.edu
Perched above the Pacific Ocean, Birch Aquarium is home to more than 60 stunning habitats and a museum that showcases research discoveries by Scripps oceanographers. Check the website for tide pool feedings and fun events like SEA Days.

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San Diego Uptown/Downtown
Banker's Hill, Hillcrest, Normal Heights, North Park, Downtown, Little Italy, Balboa Park

SD Downtown
Photo credit: @playdatesandpints

Here are a few highlights from these areas! 

Marston House and Gardens
3525 Seventh Ave.
619-297-9327
www.sohosandiego.org/main/marston2.htm
Learn about one of San Diego’s most prominent families (the Marston family). A beautiful example of the Arts and Crafts Movement, this 8,500 square foot home-turned-museum boasts stunning gardens and child-friendly tours. Reservations required.

Axe Ventures
3956 30th St.
619-255-9883
www.axeventures-axethrowing.com
It’s like a game of darts, but not. Super fun for families, but best for older kids with the strength to throw an axe. Also in Oceanside.

Chicano Park
Logan Ave. and Cesar Chavez Pkwy.
www.chicano-park.org
Giant, brightly colored murals celebrate indigenous heritage and immigrant communities. An interactive guide to the art and artists is available online.

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San Diego Central
Clairemont, College Area, Kearny Mesa, Serra Mesa, Linda Vista, Mission Hills, Mira Mesa, Mission Valley, Old Town, San Carlos, Del Cerro, Scripps Ranch, Sports Arena

SD Central
Photo credit: Anne Malinoski

Here are a few highlights from these areas! 

 

Mission Trails Regional Park One Father Junipero Serra Trail
San Carlos  
619-668-3281
www.mtrp.org    
Originally home to the Kumeyaay Indians, Mission Trails offers visitors an escape from city life with over 60 miles of hiking trails, camping and boating, equestrian trails, guided nature walks, visitor center and more. 

Barrio Donas
4714 Clairemont Mesa Blvd.
858-732-0010
Get a taste of Mexican-American culture at this family-owned business offering delicious donuts, tortas and more!

Mesa Rim Climbing Center
10110 Mesa Rim Rd.
858-201-4411
www.mesarim.com
Take the family indoor rock climbing for a unique day of fun! No experience required as basic climbing techniques and safety will be taught. Reservations encouraged for new climbers. Also in Mission Valley.

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East County
Alpine, Campo, El Cajon, Flinn Springs, Lakeside, La Mesa, Santee 

East County
Photo credit: Anne Malinoski

Here are a few highlights from these areas! 

San Diego Air & Space Museum’s Annex at Gillespie Field
335 Kenney St., El Cajon
619-258-1221
www.sandiegoairandspace.org/museum/gillespie-field-annex
A hidden gem for aircraft aficionados! Visit the small hangar to see vintage planes and restoration projects. Free for kids 12 & under.

Children’s Nature Retreat
5178 Japatul Spur
619-320-4942
www.childrensnatureretreat.org
Interact with domesticated livestock and exotic wildlife at this 20-acre ranch. More than 120 animals call this retreat home, including camels, zebras, miniature horses and more. Purchase tickets online.

Heritage of the Americas Museum
12110 Cuyamaca College Dr. West
619-670-5194
www.heritageoftheamericasmuseum.com
Explore the history of the Americas through art, anthropology, archaeology and natural history collections. Leave time to enjoy the tropical gardens and a desert patio.  

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South Bay
Bonita, Chula Vista, Imperial Beach, National City

south bay
Photo credit: @SanDiegoFamilyAdventures

Here are a few highlights from these areas! 

Bonita Museum & Cultural Center
4355 Bonita Rd.
619-267-5141
www.bonitahistoricalsociety.org
Explore local art, photography and artifacts of the Sweetwater Valley region through rotating exhibits, student exhibitions and art classes for kids.

Bowlero
845 Lazo Ct.
619-421-4801
www.bowlero.com
Not your average bowling alley, Bowlero offers an upscale experience for all ages, with 40 black-light lanes, a high-end sports bar, delicious eats delivered to your lane, arcade and more. Also in San Marcos.

Portwood Pier Plaza
940 Seacoast Dr.
619-686-6200
The iconic “Surfhenge” public art structure pays homage to I.B.’s surfing heritage, welcoming local and visiting beachgoers. The area also offers bike paths, shaded picnic tables, a tot
lot, grassy areas, nearby shops and restaurants and pier access.

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Updated: May 2021

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