My family recently visited San Diego for a week. We were able to get away and end our summer on a great note spending quality time together with my husbands parents. We chose San Diego because we wanted beaches, good food and attractions that catered to younger families. Our boys are 1,2 and 6 so we wanted to make our trip as memorable as possible for them without overwhelming them (or us). I am certain we chose the bast spot for our family to visit and our boys had the time of their lives! Here are some of the fun things we did along the way:
If you’re visiting San Diego, chances are you’ll end up downtown at some point, and there’s so much to do with the kids! I love to include some learning on our family trips, so a stop by the USS Midway aircraft carrier was a must. We picnicked in the park right next to the ship and told our boys all about it. Because we had two young toddlers we skipped going aboard this time but it’s an amazing piece of US history to check out with your family! A definite must is a harbor tour from Hornblower Cruises! They offer a variety of tours, but we chose the one hour north bay harbor tour because there’s a better chance of seeing the sea lions. It was a fun and informative hour along the north side of San Diego Harbor, floating by the North Island Naval Air Station, the Star of India (my kids called it the Pirate Ship), the Maritime Museum AND the Sea Lions! My boys loved seeing the sea lions, but the winning sight to see was the F-22 fighter jets all lined up on the Naval Base! Such a cool sight to see. My favorite was the gorgeous view of the downtown San Diego skyline.
What would a trip to San Diego be without a visit to the San Diego Zoo?! This world famous zoo is a sight to see and a must if you’re in the area. If you’re only spending one day there, plan on getting there right at opening to get the most out of your day. We were there for most of the day and still did not see everything…the zoo really is that big! The best planning we did was to end our day at the back of the park and ride the free Zoofari back to the front to finish out our day. It’s a lot of walking (especially for the kiddos!) and to get that rest while getting some last glimpses from a different angle was perfection. Our local zoo is puny compared to the San Diego Zoo, so my boys were able to experience animals they’ve never seen before and learned so much in just one day. The star of the show in the kids eyes was the baby gorilla running around with his mom. He was the cutest thing! He ran all over playfully and the other gorillas seemed to love him as much as the kids did. Our tips: Bring a stroller that folds up compact (so you can bring it on the Zoofari and not have to go back to get it), bring a LOT of water, wear very comfortable shoes, watch the map-it’s easy to get lost, and
We really enjoyed taking our boys to Sea World in San Diego. They’ve never had the opportunity to experience marine life up close and they absolutely loved every second of it. They were in awe of the Orca Whales, but we are pleased that Sea World has chosen to discontinue their One World Orca show starting in September to focus more on education about Orcas and conservation efforts. There are many wonderful aquariums and exhibits throughout the park, but by far the favorite of our boys was changing into their bathing suits to play in Sesame Street’s Bay of Play. It’s filled with so many water features, climbing courses and jumping areas. If you have kids with you, be sure to pack the suits for them to splash around and get soaked! Our best tip? Buy your tickets online ahead of time. You can save up to $30 per ticket, and you can also purchase meal plans that will save you a ton if you’re planning on being there the whole day.
This might have been the highlight of our San Diego trip. My boys had been talking about it for months, and as a little girl who played Legos growing up who now has three Lego loving boys, this was also a dream moment for myself! The BRAND NEW Ninjago Ride earned a tied spot for best ride in the park (as chosen by my 6 year old son). He couldn’t decide between that and the Driving School, but I have to say that collectively as a family we all thought Ninjago was the BEST. This 3D ride is for all ages (no height minimum!) and your 4 seater car works together to defeat the Great Devourer by ninja chopping (which throws ninja stars). We were all giggling with delight-especially my 2 year old. This interactive game/ride is so much fun and worth the long wait for sure!
Driving school tied for best ride according to my son. Your child can earn their Legoland license by driving through the streets of Fun Town. They are fully in control of their Lego car and can stop for gas, go through stop lights and learn to share the road. You are able to purchase the official license with their photo on it after the ride is over, so fun!
Make sure to check out Miniland and all of the amazing Lego sculptures of cities, landmarks and even the Star Wars death star!
If you decide to spend a few days in Legoland (which we recommend because it’s the same price to go one or two days0and sometimes you can get up to 5 days for the same price online!) make sure to get a park hopper ticket and spend time not only in Legoland but spend a day in the Legoland waterpark as well. We had a blast but felt like one day in both parks was too chaotic and that one day in each park would be the best option. The waterpark is worth checking out for sure though so don’t miss it!
One must stop for family dining is the Corvette Diner. We stepped back in time and were greeted with the most fun atmosphere and delicious food. There is an arcade attached to the restaurant that made our wait for a table pass by quickly, and the fun decor with a nostalgic feel and neon lights kept the kids busy looking around. DO NOT pass up on the milkshakes-probably the best I’ve ever had in my life.
There are so many breweries in San Diego, but we were most excited to go to Stone Brewing World Bistro-one of our absolute favorites. At over 23,000 square feet, we were told it’s the largest restaurant in San Diego! The environment is relaxed and the outdoor area is perfect for families to enjoy the delicious food and house made beer! Don’t miss it-it’s a great stop.
We happened upon Barbarella in La Jolla and fell in love with the beachy feel of this small italian restaurant. We loved that their hours are from breakfast until “The last person goes to sleep o’clock”-definitely our type of place. We ordered the Margherita Pizza and Ravioli and it hit the spot and filled us up. Highly recommend this gem in a fun beach town!
Of course the beaches were calling our names, and we visited both La Jolla Shores and Moonlight beach. Both are amazing for families for different reasons. Moonlight beach has a wonderful playground on it as well as plenty of parking, while La Jolla Shores offered the warmest water we’ve ever encountered in California and flat sand for the kids to play on.
We loved our stay in San Diego, make sure to check out SanDiego.org for more family friendly ideas!
We received complimentary visits for some of the places mentioned for review purposes, but all opinions are my own.