San Diego's Top Kid-Friendly Attractions and Eateries

Travel Advisor Gillian Spatz in a purple dress outside house with green walls.
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Gillian Spatz

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  • San Diego

  • Family Travel

  • Active Travel

  • Arts & Culture

  • City Travel

  • Kid-friendly

  • Outdoors

  • Foodie

Kids at North Harbor Drive, San Diego
Curator’s statement

San Diego, California, is my go-to for family outings, steeped in memories at places like the San Diego Zoo and The New Children's Museum. This city merges playful learning with its relaxed coastal vibe, a combo that delights both young and old. Its dining scene, rich with child-friendly spots, perfectly complements the array of joyful experiences on offer. Let's explore some of our favorite standout activities and welcoming eateries in San Diego.

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Where to stay in San Diego

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Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego

On the streets of Downtown San Diego, this property offers ocean views and provides easy access to Southern California’s vibrant culture and natural beauty – beaches, restaurants, shops and entertainment venues.

Fora Perks
  • Hotel credit

  • Welcome amenity

  • Breakfast daily.

  • Upgrade & extended check-in whenever possible.

Pendry San Diego

Handsome newbie in the Gaslamp Quarter with oversized rooms that overlook the city or bay, with a lively bar and restaurant.

Fora Perks
  • $100 resort / hotel credit.

  • Breakfast daily.

  • Upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.

Omni San Diego Hotel

A lively hotel connected to Petco Park, complete with a pool, two restaurants and a spa.

Fora Perks
  • When you book Omni Hotels & Resorts through your Fora Advisor, you will enjoy exclusive Omni Select Partner benefits. Your advisor will be pleased to give you more details.

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Travel Advisor Gillian Spatz in a purple dress outside house with green walls.

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Things to do in San Diego

zoo-sandiego-travel-guide

San Diego Zoo

Immerse your family in the wild wonders of one of the most famous zoos in the world. With over 3,500 animals of more than 650 species, the San Diego Zoo is a must-see for any child interested in the animal kingdom.

The New Children's Museum

A vibrant space where children are encouraged to experience the arts through play and creative exploration. The museum's hands-on exhibits aim to inspire young minds across a spectrum of disciplines.

LEGOLAND California

This LEGO-inspired park offers interactive rides, a water park and the SEA LIFE Aquarium, perfect for the construction enthusiast and adventurer alike.

Birch Aquarium at Scripps

Explore the mysteries of the ocean and engage with a variety of marine life at this public exploration center for Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego.

San Diego Air & Space Museum

Future pilots and astronauts will marvel at the history of flight, from the earliest balloons to the modern spacecraft.

Belmont Park

This historic oceanfront amusement park features classic and modern rides, arcade games and mini golf, promising fun for the whole family.

San Diego Model Railroad Museum

Train enthusiasts young and old can appreciate the intricate model displays and interactive exhibits at this museum dedicated to railroad history.

Cabrillo National Monument

Combine history with natural beauty. Visit the statue of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, learn about California's discovery and enjoy tide pooling in the nearby rocky intertidal zones.

Day trips

La Jolla Cove (13 miles from San Diego): Just a short drive from downtown San Diego, La Jolla Cove offers a picturesque seaside experience with its clear waters and abundant marine life, ideal for snorkeling and diving. It's also a part of the larger La Jolla Underwater Park Ecological Reserve, ensuring protected and vibrant sea life.

Julian (60 miles from San Diego): Nestled in the Cuyamaca mountains, Julian is a quaint historic town renowned for its apple pie and gold mining history. This mountain retreat is perfect for those looking to enjoy a cooler climate, charming antique shops and the fresh aroma of orchards.

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park (86 miles from San Diego): As California’s largest state park, it offers visitors stunning desert landscapes, wildflower displays in the spring, and a network of hiking trails. It’s an exceptional place for photography, stargazing and understanding the diverse desert ecosystem.

Places to eat & drink in San Diego

Corvette Diner is a 1950's styled diner.

Corvette Diner
Step back in time with a classic 50s diner experience, complete with arcade games, a lively atmosphere and a menu that's sure to please every member of the family.

Phil's BBQ
For a taste of San Diego's best BBQ in a casual and lively setting, Phil's is a destination where the whole family can indulge in delicious, finger-licking goodness.

The Crack Shack
With a focus on chicken and eggs, this all-day eatery provides outdoor games and a laid-back space ideal for a family meal out.

Lucha Libre Gourmet Taco Shop
Offering a playful wrestling theme, this colorful taco shop delivers bold flavors and a vibrant atmosphere that's sure to capture the kids' imaginations.

Station Tavern
Simple, good food in an outdoor setting with a children's play area makes this South Park spot a relaxing place for parents and a fun space for kids.

Pizza Port
Delicious pizza, a variety of craft beers for the adults and an assortment of arcade games make Pizza Port a hit for a family night out.

Puesto
A creative take on Mexican street food with a menu that includes kid-friendly options, Puesto provides a festive and fresh dining experience.

Seaport Village's Frost Me Cafe & Bakery
Located in the picturesque Seaport Village, this café and bakery serves up delicious cupcakes, sandwiches and more in a family-friendly waterfront setting. It's a sweet spot for a relaxing treat after exploring the village.

Need to Know

Looking for more travel inspiration? Check out my guide, 8 Enchanting Family-Friendly Experiences in London.



Travel Advisor Gillian Spatz in a purple dress outside house with green walls.

Travel Advisor

Gillian Spatz

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This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to San Diego.