52 Ideas for Family Adventure in San Diego

1. Eat some ice cream along the boardwalk and ride some of the attractions at Belmont Park, like the huge wooden roller coaster, the Big Dipper!

2. Enjoy a variety of ethnic cuisine and live music at the Little Italy Mercato Market, San Diego’s LARGEST farmer’s market, which has hundreds of vendors selling organic produce, fresh flowers, and art pieces!

3. December Nights is an annual Christmas event at Balboa Park that is awaited by all. A huge holiday festival of music and food, and get this, many of the museums are even open for free!

4. The Open Air Fish Market down at the harbor lets you really experience the bustling life of a seaside town. Grab some freshly caught fish for dinner!

Waterfront Park

5. Let your kids splash and play at Waterfront Park’s fountain pool areas, playgrounds, and picnic field!

6. Go flying at Sunset CliffsThis location is known for its adventurous hang gliders, parasailers, and cliff divers!

7. Cool off at Aquatica with a peaceful ride along the lazy river or have an exhilarating adventure on one of their high-speed thrills.

8. Explore the marine ecosystems in Cabrillo National Monument’s protected tidepools! Be sure to also visit the historic Old Point Loma Lighthouse, one of the eight original lighthouses of the west coast.


9. Get down and dirty in the estimated 5 million-year-old Arroyo Tapiado Mud Caves. Search for fossils, but try not to get lost in what is said to be one of the most extensive caves in the world!

10. Catch a film under the stars in the comfort of your own car at the Santee Drive-In Theatre.

11. San Diego has some neighborhoods that are filled to the top with holiday spirit! Visit one of the neighborhoods hosting Christmas Card Lane to be surrounded by amazing Christmas lights and holiday decorations.

12. Revitalize your taste buds in downtown’s Gaslamp area! Indulge yourself in the city life with its many urban cafes, rowdy bars, and shopping boutiques.

13. Filled with diverse marine life, La Jolla Cove’s abundant reefs and caves make it a prime location for snorkeling and kayaking! 

14. Get lost in a field of flowers at Carlsbad’s Flower Fields. This 50-acre vibrant hillside full of blooms happens yearly during the months of April and May!

15. Walk further along the cove to find the adorable seals and sea lions lounging around at the Children’s Pool!

16. Pay tribute to fallen soldiers at Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial, a beautiful monument atop a hill that gives sight-seers a mouth-dropping view.

17. Ride a ferry to Coronado Island where you can go ice-skating outside right next to a beautiful beach!

18. Revisit the past at the historic Old Town San Diego where you can shop and dine in a unique nostalgic atmosphere!

SD Fair

19. Get the best greasy fair foods at San Diego County Fair. Some of our favorites are the Blooming Onion, Triple-Decker Donut Hamburgers, and Deep-Fried Butter. Yum!

20. Release your inner geek at the largest comic convention in the country, Comic-Con International. Hundreds of thousands attend this famous event because it is chock full of celebrity panels, artists, and video games!

21. Catch some waves and soak in some sun at one of San Diego’s finest beaches! And if you want to go to the beach at night, host a bonfire, eat some s’mores, and even go grunion running!

22. Tour the Olympic Training Center and spectate over the intense Cal-State Games, such as archery, BMX, and field hockey competitions.

23. Tour the most-visited naval ship museum in the world! The USS Midway fitted with restored aircraft allows visitors to experience what it was like on a real war battleship! Stop by the HUGE Unconditional Surrender kissing statue right outside the museum!

Mt. Laguna

24. San Diego is known for its sunny weather, but head on up to Mount Laguna or Mount Julian for some snow! Ski, snowboard, and stuff your face with their famous Julian Apple Pie.

25. Try your hand at a potter’s wheel and make/paint your own pottery at Claytime Ceramics.

26. See Mother Nature at work on one of San Diego’s many hikes. Admire the beautiful scenery on an easy paved path, or trek on a more difficult one for our more experienced outdoorsmen!

27. Get away from the coast and skip some rocks, feed some ducks, or have a nice stroll around one of San Diego’s glistening and serene lakes, such as Miramar Lake, Otay Lake, and El Capitan Lake!

28. Want to have a nice scare? Get chased by zombies at the Screamzone held at Delmar Fairgrounds. There is Zombie Paintball, The Chamber, the House of Horror, and a Haunted Hayride.

29. Get out of the house and go on a camping trip at Camp Pendleton’s Camping Grounds next to San Onofre beach!

Seaport Village

30. Do some fine dining and shopping at Seaport Village, famous among celebrities, the waterfront cobblestoned center is a great place to get souvenirs!

31. Bates Nut Farm is a unique rural festival that allows kids to go through hay mazes, pick through a pumpkin patch, and pet some animals every Fall!

32. The Night Market on Convoy is a great Asian cultural experience full of street food, live entertainment, and traditional festive games.

33. Eat some peanuts and hot dogs while watching a ball game at Petco Park stadium.

34. If baseball isn’t your thing, then head over to Qualcomm Stadium where they hold huge football events with firework shows and awesome half-time performances.

35. Jump around in a gym where the floor is a huge trampoline! Skyhigh Sports has several foam pits and rounds of dodgeballs for our fellow athletes to do some flips over!

36. Tour the beautiful campus of Salk Institute where they hold events and presentations that share the wonders of the complex human body.

37. Plunge into the vibrant marine life with Seaworld’s many interactive animal experiences, thrilling water rides, and inspirational shows/exhibits. Get splashed by Shamu!

38. Watch the sunset on the west coast’s longest concrete structure, the OceanBeach Pier. Grub at the OB Cafe or rent a pole and catch your own fish!

39. The San Diego Zoo is one of the biggest and one of the best. Come to see their #1 attraction, their lovable Chinese Giant Pandas!

40. Have an up-close experience at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park where you can get a guided tram tour through fields to see animals in their “natural” habitat!

41. Meditate and find your core at the tranquil gardens of the Self-Realization Fellowship Temple.

42.Follow the sound of rushing waters to the 80 ft tall Cedar Creek Falls! The hike on the way up to the waterfall is often spent bird watching!

43. Tour the beautiful Downtown Harbor and catch its coastal breezes on a pedicab! There are ship museums, short cruises, and the BEST seafood restaurants.

44. Get hands-on with sea stars and stingrays at Birch Aquarium! Let your kids goggle at the huge tanks full of deep sea monsters.

45. Channel your inner child by visiting the huge Lego-themed amusement park and resort, LEGOLAND!

Legoland California

46. Jump on a jet ski or play some volleyball at Mission Bay. Then, if you want to escape the crowds, cross the bay to Fiesta Island and visit the Youth Camp and Aquatic Center!

47. Catch a Broadway show or ballet play at one of San Diego’s regal theaters such as the Chula Vista Amphitheatre, La Jolla Playhouse, and the Old Globe Theater.

48. Awe at Balboa Park’s beautiful architecture and immerse yourself in their culturally rich museums!

49. Feast at Bali Hai restaurant on Shelter Island for one of the best views of the city’s skyline!

50. With its exquisite architectural character, The Headquarters is a restored historic treasure that is full of outdoor entertainment such as fashion shows, concerts, and a weekly farmers market.

Dog beach

51. Are you a nifty thrifter? Kobey’s Swap Meet is a great place for you to trade, sell, and scrummage for hidden treasures.

52.  Help your dog beat the dog days of summer and let him crash through waves and run through the sand leash-free at the designated Dog Beaches in Ocean Beach, Del Mar, Coronado, and Mission Bay.

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