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What to do in San Diego with kids

Planning a trip over spring break?
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In case your plans include sunny San Diego, here is a guide for what to do in San Diego with kids. At least this is what we did. And we count it as one of our best family trips so far.


We wanted desperately to fly, but could never find a good enough deal on air fare for all 6 of us. Strategies that saw us through the hours and hours on the road were declaring the car a “NO FIGHTING ZONE.” Sounds simple, but it worked. Whenever someone would start to stir up a fight, someone else would call out: “Wait a minute! This is a no fighting zone!”

Another car strategy was playing virtual hide and seek. I would pick a place in our house to hide–like the kitchen utensil drawer or behind the couch. The girls would ask questions until they found out where I had chosen to hide.

We also played, “Who am I?,” ate cheese sticks, and stopped in St. George for the night.


When trying to decide what to do in San Diego, put Sea World at the top of your list. Every inch of that park–from the Shark Encounter to Turtle Reef, from the Journey to Atlantis Ride to the Riptide Rescue, from Sea Lions Live to Shamu Rocks–is fantastic. It was the one park that made the 40 year olds down to the 4 year olds completely happy.

It is expensive–but you can get killer discounts on park admission through the AAA motor club. Or watch for the free family magazine around town once you are in San Diego–we even found helpful coupons in there.

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San Diego Zoo is not something you can do in an afternoon. To make the most of the park and your money, plan to stay the entire day. All transportation around the zoo is included in your park ticket, so start out riding the double decker bus tour to see the whole zoo and decide where you most want to spend your time. We had a lot of fun taking silly photos at the mammal and arctic attractions. The San Diego Zoo web site is full of short movies for kids about different animals. Before the trip, my 4 year old and I watched the sweetest movies about baby panda Yunzi. When we met him in real life, it was like meeting a celebrity.

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Lego Land is a big draw for what to do in San Diego. My sister in law score us discount Lego-Land coupons off of E-Bay. (Did you know you could do that?) It got us in for half the price. My girls are not big Lego fans, but we loved the mini world and the Star Wars exhibits. We also spent a long time in the Lego-Land water park riding the lazy river. Food prices were staggering. I wish we had brought our own. But my favorite part of this visit were Apple Fries. Worth the whole price of admission.

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As un-accustomed to the beach as we are, there are a few things we didn’t understand when we got to LaJolla Beach. The quiet part of the beach where no one has their towels is quiet because it is for SURFERS ONLY. It’s better to know that up front than to have the life guard climb down the ladder to move you. It is also good to plan on sand. Everywhere. For days and days.


@TM_Erica said that the USS Midway Museum is a not to be missed tourist attraction and she was so right. Last day of the trip, we literally spent hours exploring this ship. It is a literal “city at sea” turned into a museum. I have never seen anything like it. We saw where the navy slept, ate, watched movies, got their hair cut, stored their clothes, landed their airplanes . . . it was awesome. If you are close by, don’t even question. Just do it.

There is lots more information on San Diego here at their visitor’s center. For our family, San Diego offered a perfect vacation.


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