Over 32 million people visit San Diego each year and it is easy to see why. The amazing weather, gorgeous beaches, excellent dining, and overabundance of entertainment make this city a top tourist destination from around the world.
Growing up, my family would come to San Diego at least a few times every year. Now that I live only an hour away, my own little family gets to go and play there often. I love seeing my kids creating many of the same memories I did as a kid and we have also discovered many new adventures over the years.
Today I would like to share with you some of our family’s favorite things to do in the San Diego area.
Point Loma– There is so much to love about the Point Loma area of San Diego. The lighthouse, the tide pools, and Sunset Cliffs are some of my most favorite. Make sure you try to visit the tide pools near low tide so you can explore more. If you miss low tide, wait till closer to sunset and head over to Sunset Cliffs for a stunning stroll along the bluffs. If you get hungry while you are in the area, head over to Hodad’s for some the of the best hamburgers you will ever eat!
Downtown San Diego- There is something about the San Diego harbor that just makes me feel so happy inside. I have so many wonderful memories there as a kid and I just keep making more as an adult with my own kids. One of my most favorite places to be downtown is right on the harbor. We love to park around Seaport Village and first explore the shops and waterfront. My kids LOVE climbing the trees there and could honestly be there for hours!
From there you have two options, you can go north towards the harbor or south towards the stadium. If you walk along the waterfront south past the convention center, cross back over towards the Petco Park Stadium and have lunch or dinner at Tin Fish. Don’t worry, they have more than just fish and your kids will be happy with their chicken strips or hot dogs. This would also be a good time to hit up a Padres game or you can just go back to Seaport Village and climb some more trees 🙂
If you head north up the waterfront from Seaport Village, you have so much fun ahead of you. The amazing U.S.S. Midway is parked right along the water front and you can buy tickets to tour the ship. If you can’t spend all that money, it really is neat to see just from the waterfront and you can take a picture by the famous Unconditional Surrender statue right by it.
Keep heading up the waterfront till you get to the totally super fun Waterfront Park. This place is so much fun for all ages of kids! It has super cool climbing structures, unique slides and so many fun water features so make sure you pack your swimsuits!
If you are feeling really ambitious, you could continue walking a few more blocks to the Crack Shack for some super tasty fried chicken, eggs, salads and more. If the walk back would be too much, hop on one of the local trolleys for a fun ride back towards Seaport Village.
Another magical spot, Coronado is a total gem in San Diego. While most people get there by crossing over the infamous blue bridge, one of my favorite ways to get there is by the ferry. It is just a short ride across the bay and a blast for the kids to be on the boat. Once you are there, a good place to start is by renting bikes from Bikes and Beyond. One word of advice, I know those little surrey bikes look like a lot of fun, but they are quite limiting if you want to really explore the island. Get everyone their own bike and a bike with a child seat for young kids. Then you can really explore the amazing neighborhoods around the island. The houses have so much personality and are amazing. Navigating through traffic can be tricky so make sure you have a map if you are not familiar with the island. We like to meander through the neighborhoods over towards the Hotel Del and then make our way back towards the bike rental.
If you drive over, you may want to park near the Hotel Del and spend some time at the beach. It is so beautiful and the sand dunes are a lot of fun too if the sand is not too hot. You can also rent kayaks or paddle boards to play in the bay from Ray’s Rentals. Great places to eat on the island are Miguel’s Cocina Mexican Food and Village Pizzeria. For treats try Bottega Italiana Gelato, Extraordinary Desserts, or even just the Fuzziwig’s Candy Factory.
Belmont Park at Mission Beach
Believe it or not, the Giant Dipper at Belmont Park was my first ever roller coaster ride when I was 7 years old. This iconic white, wooden roller coaster is still providing squeals and thrills along with a ton of other fun entertainment in the park. Your family could easily spend a couple of hours here! There are a ton of dining options around here as well.
La Jolla means “the jewel” and this city has definitely earned its title. La Jolla has some of the most beautiful coastline. While many people are aware of the Cove and the Shores beach, there are many other beautiful parts of this coastal city. One of my favorite spots is Scripps Coastal Reserve. Explore the Knoll, the Bluffs or the Shore of this beautiful coastline. There are several paths to choose from and it makes for a wonderful family outing.
Our family spends a lot of time in Encinitas. Our favorite beaches are here and there is also a lot of great food options. Some of our top picks for food in this area are Pizza Port, Leucadia Pizza, Swami’s Cafe, Handel’s Ice Cream, VG’s Donuts, the Leucadia Donut Shoppe, Kotija Jr’s Taco Shop and there is a Taco Stand here too!. Another fun thing to do in Encinitas is Annie’s Canyon. This awesome little hike is easy enough for young kids and grandma and grandpa too 😉 An ideal day in Encinitas for us would be an early morning surf session at Pipes Beach (for my husband), donuts for breakfast, a family hike in Annie’s Canyon, acai bowels from Swami’s and taco’s for lunch, an afternoon at Moonlight or South Ponto Beach, Leucadia pizza and salads for dinner, and some Handal’s ice cream for dessert.
Oh bring on summer!