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Discover San Diego with children

Why you should keep this chilled out SoCal city top of mind when planning a trip with the kids.

California is brimming with family-friendly destinations that take you far from the spinning teacups and sticky honeypots of Disneyland. When travelling to the sunshine state, take a trip down to laidback San Diego for a relaxing family holiday packed with great food, plenty of museums and generally excellent weather.

Here’s a taste of what there is to enjoy in this easygoing city.


Balboa Park

When in town, make a beeline for Balboa Park. This 1200-acre park in the heart of the city is home to rides, gardens, 14 museums and the not-to-be-missed San Diego Zoo. Pick up a park passport with zoo admission to access all areas and scoot from the koi pond of the Japanese Friendship Garden to the toy trains of the San Diego Model Railroad Museum. The little ones will delight in the zoo’s giant pandas and swinging orangutans and included in admission is access to the Children’s Zoo, offering over 30 animal exhibits specially set up for kids.

Beach time

Make the most of the city’s beautiful climate and glorious beaches by slip, slop, slapping and hitting the surf. Coronado beach is a delightful white sandy beach that beckons for castles to be built and sand crabs to be dug. Calm waters make it a great paddling beach and there are plenty of casual food outlets in the area. Skip over from San Diego via the ferry that leaves every hour on the hour from Broadway Pier.


While technically in Carlsbad, a town 30 miles north of San Diego, the short distance is well worth it for any Lego-lovers in the family. Another destination full of rides, attractions and amusements, your family will be ready to flop on their Lego-themed beds after this adventure-packed experience – lucky there’s the LEGOLAND Hotel on site. Discover the 15,000 Lego models onsite, whizz down 50-foot slides in the Egyptian-themed Dune Raiders and take a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the Lego Movie.



Just a stone’s throw from the Mexican border, there are some wonderful eateries in San Diego that embrace the fun, shared vibe of Mexican cuisine – perfect for family dining. Treat yourselves to fresh tacos, home-made tortillas and delicious beans and rice at hole-in-the-wall Las Cuatro Milpas or stumble upon one of the plentiful options dotted throughout the city’s charming Old Town.

Farmer’s markets

California is peppered with farmers’ markets and San Diego is no exception. Sip on some craft beers and dig into some produce picked up at a local farmer’s market for a relaxing picnic lunch. The seaside pocket of La Jolla has a weekly Sunday market from 9am to 1pm and the local Ellen Browning Scripps Park is an idyllic way to while away the afternoon.


While California sometimes feels like a world away from the rest of the United States, it’s still America so bring it on with some old school BBQ at the most popular joint in town – Phil’s BBQ. Everyone in the family will get a kick out of these real-deal dishes including ribs, pulled pork sandwiches, grilled chicken and salads. Tuck in!


Kid & Coe

Family-friendly accommodation website Kid & Coe has some great local properties in San Diego specifically catered to families on holiday. The retro-styed La Mesa Avenue three-bedroom beach house is a short work from the beach and embodies SoCal’s chilled out style. Equipped with bikes, surfboard, a high chair and a fun outdoor chalkboard, it’s a little piece of ‘60s suburban surfie paradise where you’ll feel right at home.

(Images: Main: JC Winkler ; Balboa Park: Oleg; Beach: Port of San Diego; LEGOLAND: Eric Molina; Mexican: Praytino; Phil’s BBQ: Richard Schwier)

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