My Top 12 Recommendations for Families in San Diego

San Diego is undeniably a great place for families.  Here are my 12 favorites at the moment.

12.  Belmont Park:

There is something for every age here.  Rides, arcade, places to eat, shops, and it’s right on the boardwalk along the Pacific Ocean.


11.  Waterfront Restaurants:

Eddie V’s

A great location for restaurants on the water is Prospect Street.  I like Eddie V’s (steak) http://eddies.comand George’s At the Cove  (Each of the three levels is a different menu, I like the casual dining on the top deck), as well as Dukes (fish tacos and the hula pie are my favorite).  Look up the menus and make a reservation!


10.  Beach House Grill (Formerly known as the Wavehouse):

This fun restaurant is located on Mission Beach and part of the Belmont Park I mentioned above.  It’s literally right on the sand, outdoors.  Where else can your kids play in the sand right at your table?   There are cabanas for larger groups and picnic tables under umbrellas.

The Mission Beach Boardwalk runs right in front of this place and I recommend taking a stroll before or after eating.  It’s a flat concrete sidewalk so maybe bike or skate?!?


9.  Beaches:







There are soooo many beaches to choose from in the San Diego area.  When my family moved  here from Arizona, our realtor gave us a book about all the beaches in San Diego.  I made it a goal to visit every beach in the book between Oceanside and the SilverStrand, (off Coronado).  Which beach is my favorite?  Whichever beach is the closest.  There isn’t a bad beach among them!  I do love Torrey Pines State Beach if I can park on the 101 Highway because then my car is right there and I can get stuff as needed.  No time limit on the parking either.  If Im at home, I go to the beach at my condo because nothing is easier than that!  Sometimes I like to go to the bay, especially if I will be paddle boarding.  I like to walk at all of the beaches.  Whichever beach you visit, try to stay for sunset.  I love the beach at dusk and it’s great lighting for photos!



8.   Tidepools:

If it’s low tide, search out some tide pools.


7.  Parks:

Sometimes all you need is a grassy area for kids/ pets, or a picnic while other times you prefer a playground.  There are plenty to choose from.  My favorites are Fanuel Park in Pacific Beach.  It’s at the bay and has a playground.  Kate Sessions Park is large and has a view of the bay, it also has a playground and a large grassy area.  Leashed dogs are allowed.  If you are looking for a large grassy area for running around, Ellen Scripts Park at LaJolla Cove has the best views.  There are numerous other neighborhood and beach parks if you are in a different area of the city.  You won’t have to go far to find one.


Bring some chalk for coloring on the sidewalks.


6.  Old Poway Park:


As the name suggests, this is in the community of Poway.  If you have a family member that likes trains, this is a MUST,  but even if you don’t care that much about trains, this is still a beautiful park.  There is a train ride that runs on the track all around the park but it isn’t always running so check the website ahead of time. There is a playground, a museum and a restaurant.


5.  Ride bikes on the SilverStrand:

This is a great place for families to ride because there is a flat, separate paved bike path that is not just a bike lane on the street but has a patch of land between the bikes and the cars.  You can rent bikes in Coronado if you don’t have your own.  This path goes all the way from Coronado to Ocean Beach but if you rent for an hour, you won’t go all the way.

For another option, rent a bike at the ferry landing on the San Diego side of Coronado and ride the sidewalk that takes you to the Coronado Bridge.  (not on the bridge, no bikes are allowed on the bridge)


4.  USS Midway Museum:

You will find this floating museum in the San Diego Harbor, not too far from the airport.  It is a real naval aircraft carrier.  There is something for all ages on this vessel.  If you have older kids, grab one of the self-guided tour headphones.  There are retired aircrafts on the flight deck, some you can board.  You can see where seamen slept and ate.  This closes at 5:00 PM and takes a few hours to see everything.


3.  Peer off of a Pier:


These photos are both taken from Crystal Pier.  You can fish on it, bait is available for purchase on the pier.  You can even rent a room and spend the night right on it! Or just walk to the end and take a look at the surfers below and look back to the shore for a change of view.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~2.  Hike Torrey Pines:

I know this is on all my lists of things to do in San Diego but I cant leave it out today either.   It is a beautiful walk and it can be tailored  to fit your family from driving or walking up the hill, to a variety of trails with different inclines and distance.   The easiest trail being the Guy Flemming Trail, the most challenging is the Beach Trail, wihich is also the most rewarding.  The ten year old boys I nanny have walked up the hill and down the beach trail to the beach and back along the shore to our car parked on the 101 highway.  They were worn out by time we got back though!  You can look up a trail map here:

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 1.  Flower Hill Promenade in Del Mar:

Flower Hill is a shopping center and you would never guess all these goodies were tucked inside of from the outside.    As you wander from store to store, you come upon several play areas for kids.

This playground is located outside of the Geppettos Toy Store.


There is also a play area for older kids or adults.

You will be amazed by the unexpected vignettes tucked here and there.  I mean, seriously, I would like to meet the people who decorated because I know I would love them!


 The stores are pretty high end, I just go right to the sales and even then it needs to be a special occasion.  They do have a Sun Diego and a Whole Foods just to keep it real.

There are many places to eat but I recommend the Flower Child.  It has a healthy menu, indoor and outdoor seating and guess what?…another play area for the kids.  There is a small table for them, a chalkboard wall and a rug with toys for them to play with while you enjoy your lunch.


Even if you don’t have children with you, this is a great place to meet up with friends because there are several coffee shops and random seating areas, all beautiful, of course!


That completes my countdown of my top 12 things to do in San Diego.  Let me know if you try any of them!




Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *