San Diego is one of the most family-friendly destinations in the United States, drawing visitors from all over the world. Read on to learn about 12 of San Diego’s best attractions for children, ranging from Balboa Park to the USS Midway Museum.
Birch Aquarium at Scripps
Located on a clifftop overlooking the Pacific Ocean, the aquarium features more than 60 exhibits, recreating the environment of fish and invertebrates from Mexico to the cold waters of the Pacific Northwest. Exhibit highlights include the Hall of Fishes, Shark Shores, the Giant Kelp Forest, and the Infinity Cube.
San Diego Air and Space Museum
Situated in Balboa Park, the San Diego Air and Space Museum’s ethos is to preserve, inspire, educate, and celebrate the world of aviation and space travel. From its replica of the 1783 Montgolfier brothers’ hot air balloon to the Navy F6F Hellcat, the museum houses an extensive collection of rare aircraft, including military exhibits from Korea, Vietnam, and World War II.
Offering a beachfront location, Belmont Park has it all, with a wide range of roller-coaster rides and amusements for children. Highlights include the Giant Dipper Roller Coaster, the Beach Blaster, Krazy Kars, the Vertical Plunge, and the Liberty Carousel. Other attractions include the Coconut Rock Wall, Tiki Town Mini Golf, a zipline, and the Xanadu 7D Theatre. For adults, there are several restaurants, cafes, and boutiques.
San Diego Botanic Garden
Featuring 37 acres of majestic gardens, the San Diego Botanic Garden aims to encourage people of all ages to connect with nature. Offering a temperate climate year-round, San Diego Botanic Garden is comprised of nearly 30 uniquely themed gardens featuring endangered plants from around the world.
Possessing 17 restaurants, dozens of bespoke boutiques, resident artists, and a wide variety of events throughout the year, Seaport Village draws visitors from around San Diego and beyond. Attractions include resident face painters, henna tattooists, caricature artists, balloon artists, and a hand-carved carousel that dates back to 1895.
Old Town San Diego
Step back in time in San Diego’s Old Town, with its rich history and authentic cuisine. Old Town San Diego State Historic Park provides stagecoach days with games and activities to keep the whole family entertained. The Tequila Factory offers great food, and its rooftop location features stunning views across the San Diego Bay. The Whaley House tells the story of Thomas Whaley, a pioneer who settled in California during the Gold Rush and left an indelible mark on the town. Upstairs is a theatre that has hosted lively entertainment from the 1800s to the present day.
Aquatica San Diego Water Park
This family water park offers a wide range of rides and slides to keep children entertained. Attractions include the Hooroo Run, featuring 80 feet of enclosed and open-air slides, as well as the Kiwi Curl, the four-person Tassie’s Twister, the Walhalla Wave, and Woohoo Falls. The facility also has numerous restaurants and shops, as well as the newly opened Flamingo Encounter.
USS Midway Museum
The USS Midway is a decommissioned aircraft carrier that was the longest-serving of the 20th Century. Around 200,000 sailors at a time lived aboard this aircraft carrier. The USS Midway played a vital role in several breakthroughs in naval aviation and assisted in several large-scale humanitarian missions.The museum, which is situated on the aircraft carrier, opened in 2004. Today, it welcomes over a million visitors annually and is the most popular US naval warship museum.
A fusion of science, art, nature and culture, Balboa Park features 16 museums, numerous performing arts venues, gardens and trails, and several major tourist attractions, including the world-famous San Diego Zoo. Stretching across 1,200 lushly planted acres, Balboa Park encompasses a variety of cultural institutions that will appeal to visitors of all ages.
San Diego Safari Park
Offering visitors an unforgettable journey through a diverse range of carefully recreated habitats, San Diego Safari Park gives visitors an opportunity to view the world’s most rare and endangered species. Visitors will see rhinos, gorillas, zebra, lions and tigers. Other lesser-known creatures include the dik dik, gerenuk, okapi, and duiker.
A celebration of the Lego toy brand, Legoland California is a theme park with over 60 rides. Highlights include the Dragon Coaster and the 10-million gallon Legoland Water Park. The site is also home to the Sea Life Aquarium.
San Diego Zoo
San Diego Zoo Global operates this 100-acre, world-famous zoo, along with the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. A nonprofit organization, San Diego Zoo Global is the world’s largest zoological membership organization and possesses over a half-million members. The San Diego Zoo is home to over 3,500 rare and endangered animals across 650 different species and subspecies. It also comprises a botanical collection exhibiting over 700,000 exotic plants. Committed to saving rare species, San Diego Zoo Global offers expertise in conservation science and animal care. In 2017, the zoo was honored by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums with its North American Conservation Award.