We love San Diego. It's like Perth, Australia, our home town, but everything is always open. If you haven't been, highly recommend.
Off to sunny San Diego with the little ones? Happy days! When you've exhausted the sand and sea, here are some fun alternative pastimes to consider.
A Day at Kit Carson Park
Kit Carson Park in Escondido boasts one hundred acres of developed park attractions with 185 acres preserved as natural habitat. In addition to gorgeous hiking trails and a playground, you can arrange a barbeque in a shaded picnic area with tables, have a picnic beside one of three ponds, take in a concert at the outdoor amphitheater and visit the new sculpture garden: Queen Califia's Magical Circle, the only American sculpture garden by the internationally acclaimed artist, Niki de Saint Phalle.
A Visit to the Children’s Museum in downtown San Diego
Your kids can explore the museum’s immersive installation, The Wonder Sound, where kids are encouraged to climb, crawl, slide, read, explore, observe, learn, and engage. Experience three floors of interactive event space – complete with open studios, garden views, expansive gallery spaces and outdoor terraces. Plan your visit to the museum here.
Ghost hunting at the Whaley House
In addition to being one of the most historic buildings in San Diego, the Whaley House has earned its reputation as America's Most Haunted. Spirits believed to inhabit the historic home include Thomas Whaley and his wife Anna, their daughter Violet, their great-granddaughter Marion, their fox terrier Dolly Varden, and of course "Yankee Jim" Robinson. The Whaley House also illustrates how San Diegans lived in the 19th century, making it one of the most interesting, important, and historically valuable structures in the city. Schedule a daytime visit here.
Visit to the local Farmer’s and Flea Markets
Who can resist a vintage flea market? Not your kids! San Diego is full of interesting flea markets year round where your kids will find small, inexpensive treasures like antique dolls and cars, and a whole lot more. And on any given day, you’ll find a host of open air Farmers Markets. The region is home to more than 6,500 farms, and agriculture is the region’s fourth largest industry. In fact, San Diego County has more small farms than any other county in the nation. To help you plan your cultural day out in San Diego (and cut down on travel time) check out this handy list of flea and farmers' markets in advance.
Climb aboard the Balboa Park Miniature Railroad
The Balboa Park Miniature Railroad takes a 3-minute, ½-mile trip through four acres of Balboa Park. The train is a model G16 - now a rare antique with as few as fifty currently remaining. Operated by the San Diego Zoo Department of Transportation. You can also take a spin on the park’s carousel. The park offers many different adventures for families with children and is just minutes from downtown San Diego with free admittance. Plan your visit here.
Visit the San Diego Zoo
Show your kids rare giant pandas, cuddly looking koalas, reptiles of various shapes and sizes and many more interesting species. The San Diego Zoo is home to more than 4,000 rare and endangered animals representing more than 800 species and subspecies. The Children’s Zoo features more than 30 special animal exhibits and activities designed with the younger visitor in mind.
Take off at the Air and Space Museum
The San Diego Air & Space Museum lets your kids stand beneath a model of the Montgolfier brothers’ hot air balloon of 1783 - the first manned vehicle in recorded history to break the bonds of gravity and lift humans above the Earth. Rare specimens of aircraft suggest the excitement of air combat in the World War I Gallery. Visit the aircraft restoration and replica reproductions at the Gillespie Field Annex. And check out the Low Speed Wind Tunnel. Check out the interactive museum map here.
Free family fun at Mission Trails Regional Park
One of the largest urban parks in the United States, Mission Trails Regional Park has been called the third Jewel in the City of San Diego Park System, encompassing 7,220 acres of both natural and developed recreational areas. With nearly 60 miles of trails, boating on Lake Murray, camping at Kumeyaay Lake, numerous informative hikes, and a state-of-the-art Visitor and Interpretive Center, and family art classes, Mission Trails Regional Park has something to offer everyone.
Check out the Hamilton Children’s Garden at the San Diego Botanic Garden
Part of the San Diego Botanic Garden, the Hamilton Children's Garden is all about discovery, outdoor education and learning. The site centers around a huge tree house that emerges from a banyan tree. This is no normal tree, partially fabricated, partially real, this tree is specially designed for kids. At the base, children can crawl through the roots of the tree to discover worms and snails. Climb one level up the rope ladder to look at the bark, birds and butterflies. Another level up showcases the full tree house experience, and if you dare there is a crow's nest that looks out over the whole site.
Applaud fine theater at The La Jolla Playhouse
La Jolla Playhouse, a Tony Award-winning professional non-profit theatre, is located in the San Diego coastal suburb of La Jolla, California. Its mission is to advance theatre as an art form and as a vital social, moral and political platform by providing unfettered creative opportunities for the leading artists of today and tomorrow. With a youthful spirit and eclectic, artist-driven approach, the Playhouse cultivates a local and national following with an insatiable appetite for audacious and diverse work.
Hollie Jones is a professional writer from Hoboken, New Jersey. She blogs with her best friend Ivy about travel, lifestyle, arts and interior design.