One hundred aces, 3,700 animals, and over 650 species – this is the San Diego Zoo. A true modern marvel, the zoo is one of the finest in America and should be a part of any San Diego vacations nearly impossible to see it all during one day, so it is best to have a plan of action before you enter the park. Come along as I guide you on how to make the most of your day at the zoo.


Getting Started

The San Diego Zoo offers a guided bus tour that covers 70% of the park. I suggest hopping aboard this tour to get an overview of the park before you take to the pavement. Tours depart starting at 9 am, and last about 35-45 minutes. The open air upper deck of the bus has the best animal sightseeing, so try to sit there if you can. During the tour, you’ll get to see Elephant Odyssey, Africa Rocks, Outback, Urban Jungle and Northern Frontier. I was impressed with the views of polar bears, giraffes, elephants, and lions. Plus, the tour lets you see some areas of the park you might not have time to traverse to during your day. After all, this park is massive.

The San Diego Zoo

All the Animals

Once you have a good overview of the park, it’s time to get an up-close look. Grab a San Diego Zoo map, then head to Panda Canyon.  It is an absolute must visit as the San Diego Zoo is one of the only four U.S. zoos home to these amazing mammals. Visit this attraction first thing as it is extremely popular. A baby panda born July 29, 2012, currently calls the zoo home too. If that doesn’t make you hightail it here I don’t know what will. Fill your camera with multiple “aww-inducing” shots. Then head to other areas not seen on the tour such as Lost Forest.

There are a lot of winding, hilly trails within this area but it’s worth the trek. I’m absolutely crazy about apes, so the stoic gorillas and acrobatic orangutan’s were amazing to see. At the time, the orangutan had a baby leading to infinite cute sights. In the Lost Forest, you’ll also want to hit the Tiger Trail. The open viewing areas here provide excellent observation and photographing points. Head to the hippos next. They might be hiding, but look for them. When you find them, you’ll wonder how you missed them as they are some of the largest hippos I’ve ever seen!


What’s Included with San Diego Zoo Tickets

At the Zoo a SkyFari ride is included in your one day San Diego Zoo tickets. I used it to traverse have the park in 4-minutes, and save myself some walking. Take it to the Northern Frontier to see the polar bears swim and play in their large water enclosure.   There’s still a lot to see at the Zoo, but you’re probably feeling a bit tired from all the walking. Luckily, the Kangaroo Express Bus is available in this section of the park. The Express Bus lets you hop on and off at five different stops throughout the Zoo. Just wait at one of the stops for a bus with a green Express banner to arrive, about every 15 minutes. Use the bus to see lions, elephants, giraffes and more. Don’t forget about the koala bears either!


The San Diego Zoo

Discover More

This exceptional Zoo provides an in-depth look at a diverse array of animals. With exhibits designed in a natural form and a lush botanical garden surrounding much of the park, a true habitat-inspired atmosphere thrives. Explore the San Diego Zoo for a closer look at the wild side.

Keep in mind, the earlier in the day you visit the better. The sun won’t be as warm, which many of the animals seek refuge from making them less lively. Plus, the lines and crowds aren’t as bad early in the day so you can get even better views of the animals at the zoo.

Visiting San Diego soon? If so, SeaWorld is most likely at the top of your vacation itinerary. As the premier aquatic park on the West Coast, it welcomes millions of visitors each year. Not only can you get up close and personal with amazing marine life, you can also experience incredible shows and attractions designed with families in mind.  To make the most of your day at the park, be sure to use these SeaWorld San Diego tips.

SeaWorld San Diego Tips: An Insider’s Secrets

1. Buy your tickets in advance
Not only will get to save (Reserve San Diego currently has discounts of $20!) but you can skip the will-call lines and go straight to the turnstiles. Instant access to the park guaranteed!

seaworld San Diego tips

2. Make Time for Feedings and Shows
One of the most helpful SeaWorld San Diego tips is to schedule your activities around the shows. After all, these are some of the best ways to discover more about the marine life at the park. Pick up a show schedule when you arrive at the park or browse the offerings before you arrive. I also recommend stopping by Pacific Point and Manta to get a feedings schedule, so you can feed sea lions and bat rays by hand during your day at the park.

3. Bring a Waterproof Camera
Let’s face it – you’re at an aquatic park and might get splashed a time or two.  Especially at live shows at Shamu Stadium, where the Splash Zone makes the performance even more fun.  Watching the reactions of your kids is a better memory than trying to keep a fancy camera dry. Even at other aquatic attractions a waterproof camera, disposable or otherwise, comes in handy.  You never know when the animals you’re viewing might make a splash! Note:  The splash zone of shows is the first 13 rows at Shamu Stadium.

4. Meet and Greet the Shamu and Crew Characters
They are easiest to catch between 9am-Noon near the front entrance of the park. In addition, you can meet the Sesame Street characters in the Bay of Play after each Sunny Days show. Be sure to grab a park map to get a full list of the park’s character encounter times during the day of your visit.

5. Prepare Properly for Water Rides
Riding Journey of Atlantis?  Choose your seats carefully as the front seat of the ride will get you soaked! You’ll also get wet on Shipwrecked Rapids, but that should come as no surprise considering the name. I suggest bringing some expensive ponchos with you as you’ll fork over a lot for the plastic protectors at the park.


6. Beat the Heat at Cool Zones
It can get hot during sunny California days.  Cool off at attractions like Wild Arctic, Penguin Encounter, Turtle Reef, Shark Encounter and one of three indoor aquariums.

7. Eat Breakfast Before You Arrive
There are delicious breakfast spots located in neighboring Mission Beach.  The Mission Café is a bustling, friendly option with exceptional French toast.   With a full belly, you can start your day off right and save lunch for later in the day.

8. Slather on the Sunscreen
SeaWorld San Diego tips aren’t just about saving money or skipping lines. They’re also about keeping you safe! Be sure to pack sunscreen in your bag so you can reapply as needed throughout the day.  There are shade spots at the park, but most of it is open and sunny.  Which means, you’ll want to avoid a sunburn – the worst vacation companion!

9. Save on Drinks
SeaWorld doesn’t allow outside food, but you can bring in outside water bottles.  Freeze some the night before to drink throughout the day.  If you’re a soda drinker, invest in a $7.99 cup you can refill throughout the day for $1.


10. Arrive Early for the Shows
To get the best seats, arrive 30 minutes early for the shows.  Especially at productions like Sea Lions Live, where Clyde and Seamore perform hilarious pre-show antics.

11. Get your Hand Stamped
Do this when you arrive at the park to ensure you can come and go from the park as you please.  The more flexibility you have with your day, the more enjoyable it will be.

12. Purchase a Quick Queue Pass
If you’re visiting the park during it’s peak times, such as summer or the holiday season, purchasing a Quick Queue pass is a good idea. Why? Because it allows you front-of-the-line access to Journey to Atlantis, Wild Arctic, Shipwreck Rapids, Bayside Sky Ride and Manta. Upgrade to the Premier Pass for reserved seating at SeaWorld shows (excluding Madagascar LIVE).

Keep these SeaWorld San Diego tips in mind to have the best day ever at this amazing aquatic park. With these helpful hints and tricks, you can stay focused on the fun at SeaWorld San Diego CA, knowing you’ve got the inside track on what to do, where to go and what to see.

Find out more about visiting SeaWorld »
Ashley is Reserve Direct’s travel expert, visiting San Diego to find the best travel tips, money-saving deals and insider information. With over 10 years of experience in first-hand-travel adventures, she shares her stories, advice, and current events to help you stay in the know.

Did you know San Diego is a haven for whales during the winter season? Each year, beginning in December, over 20,000 gray whales make the long journey from Alaska to the warm waters of Southern California. Female whales give birth to their calves during this time, and stay for several months ensuring their young have time to grow strong for the trip home. All of this makes whale watching in San Diego a popular activity, with viewings available from both land and sea.

San Diego whale watching

San Diego has over 70 miles of coastline directly in the migration path of the whales. In order to see these majestic creatures from the shore, check out:

  • Birch Aquarium at Scripps
  • Torrey Pines State Reserve
  • Cabrillo National Monument


To view these impressive mammals up-close, go on a San Diego whale watching tour. Recommended excursions include:


Reserving a San Diego whale watching tour allows you to not only get close to the migrating grey whales, but you can also experience the ocean of the southern coast as well as gain access to expansive views of the San Diego skyline. In addition, these tours are led by knowledgeable guides who inform you of the whale’s migration habits as well as interesting facts about whales and other marine life. Most of the whale watching in San Diego tours also include a sighting guarantee which means if you didn’t see a whale on your trip you can visit again free of charge!

Not visiting during the winter season? No worries! You can still view whales in San Diego during the summer season. From mid-June through September, the largest creatures on Earth – Blue Whales – can be found of the southern coast. In fact, these endangered mammals form the largest group of blue whales in the world with 2,000-3,000 whales journeying here each year. They’re easy to spot, too, as they spout a 30 foot column of water from their blowhole signaling their location. In order to see the blue whales, a tour is necessary as they tend to stay further from the coast than their grey whale cousins. The Hornblower Summer Whale Watching Adventure comes highly recommended. In any event, in any season, you can view whales in San Diego.

Whale watching in San Diego is a prime activity choice for those of all ages. Add a tour to your vacation itinerary for a scenic yet educational experience.

Ashley is Reserve Direct’s travel expert, visiting San Diego to find the best travel tips, money-saving deals and insider information. With over 10 years of experience in first-hand-travel adventures, she shares her stories, advice, and current events to help you stay in the know.


If you’re searching for a place to vacation with the kids, stop! You’ve found it in San Diego, California. With weather that’s wonderful year-round, engaging entertainment options and a family-friendly vibe, this vacation destination does not disappoint. Accordingly, it’s a favorite city for parents and kids to play. Use this list to hop, skip and jump your way around SoCal experiencing the best things to do in San Diego for families.

Plan your vacation around these things to do in San Diego for families.

Family Beach ThinkstockPhotos-478212466

Beach days are the best!

The Beach

This one’s kind of a given, right? San Diego has miles of sunny and sandy coastline just begging to be visited. Parents like the fact several San Diego beaches are super family-friendly, too. With that in mind, here are a few kid-approved beaches:

  • Silver Strand State Park
  • La Jolla Shores
  • Oceanside


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San Diego Zoo is one of the only zoos in the world with pandas

San Diego Zoo

One of America’s best zoos is located here. And it’s can’t miss! With world-class animal exhibits, including rare pandas, parents will enjoy this outing just as much as the kids. Be sure to go on the guided bus tour, great for getting an overview of this 100-acre zoo. To learn even more expert tips for visiting San Diego Zoo, watch our insider video.

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Balboa Park is one of the prettiest in America

Balboa Park

San Diego Zoo is technically located within Balboa Park, but there’s a whole lot more to see here. Home to 14 museums and gorgeous gardens, you can easily spend a whole day exploring with your family. Highlights for families include:

  • San Diego Natural History Museum: animatronic dinosaurs
  • Reuben H. Fleet Science Center: hands on science exhibits
  • San Diego Air & Space Museum: Dress up like an astronaut


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View seals in their natural environment at La Jolla Cove

La Jolla Cove

Upscale home and shops surround La Jolla Cove, but the real gem of the area is its cove. The picturesque cove, and its surrounding sea cliffs, have a large population of sea lions. Get out and mingle with them. Your kids will flip! And you’ll probably take about 100 photos. I know I did!


Cabrillo National Monumnet: By Ctorbann, via Wikimedia Commons

Cabrillo National Monument

The Cabrillo National Monument is a fun way to give your kids a hands-on history lesson. Tour the museum highlighting the first expedition to San Diego as well as Point Loma Lighthouse. In addition, the Point Loma Tide Pools are nearby. Kids love checking out the scenery and the sea life there.

legoland-california-land-of-adventure-cargo-ace RSZ

Hand up for fun!

LEGOLAND California

If you’re kids are young, and love LEGOs, you’ve got to go to this theme park. It was created with them in mind, with everything from hands-on exhibits to kid-sized rides. Moreover, there’s an on-site water park perfect for those hot San Diego days.


Up close experiences are a signature of SeaWorld

SeaWorld San Diego

You’re near the ocean, so why not learn about it at SeaWorld San Diego? This marine park has immersive exhibits dedicated to sea life. Thus, you can explore penguins, sea lions, dolphins, sea turtles and more. Combine this with exciting shows and rides and you’ve got one of the top things to do in San Diego for families.

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Kids can’t get enough of the Birch Aquarium: Birch Aquarium/Facebook

Birch Aquarium at Scripps

This La Jolla aquarium is another way to get an ocean education in San Diego. There are touch pools and tanks with up-close views of moon jellies, sharks, lion fish and more. All of this means families with babies and toddlers will especially enjoy Birch Aquarium.

Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve

The beach and sea cliffs of Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve

Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve

Torrey Pines is stunningly beautiful and one of the best showcases of the natural beauty of San Diego. For this reason, it’s one of the best places to get outdoors in SoCal. There are eight trails to trek, with the Beach Trail and Razor Point trail two favorites. You can easily make a beach day of it here, too, as the Beach Trail has beach access.


The USS Midway is educational yet fun for kids

USS Midway

Located along Navy Pier in downtown San Diego, USS Midway Museum features the longest-serving U.S. Navy aircraft carrier of the 20th century. Kids will get a kick being aboard this real life carrier, where they can engage in activities like listening to real pilot conversations during Desert Storm, climbing in bunks, and more.

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Bonus: Catch a Game

If your family are baseball fans, why not catch a game in San Diego? Petco Stadium, home to the San Diego Padres, does a top notch job of creating a unique atmosphere for ball games. Not only is weather pretty much always optimal, the stadium serves food key to the San Diego culinary scene. Think burritos, barbeque and pizza. Couple that with a better-than-most craft beer selection and you’ve got an activity sure to please every member of the family.

Which Things to Do in San Diego for Families Are For You?

With this list of the top 10 things to do in San Diego for families you’ve surely found a few perfect for your vacation. Did we miss a favorite San Diego activity? Let us know what your family loves to do here and we’ll be sure to include it in our list.

Ashley is Reserve Direct’s travel expert, visiting San Diego to find the best travel tips, money-saving deals and insider information. With over 10 years of experience in first-hand-travel adventures, she shares her stories, advice, and current events to help you stay in the know.

As the first park to fuse amusements with marine life, SeaWorld San Diego has long been a staple of the San Diego vacation scene. It’s easy to see why as the park manages to create real, amazing experiences through shows, encounters and rides. If you’re planning a trip to SeaWorld San Diego, use this complete list of must-do SeaWorld attractions as a check-list. It’s an easy-to-follow guide detailing the best SeaWorld has to offer.


Clyde gets in the groove at Sea Lions LIVE

10 Must-Do SeaWorld Attractions

1) Sea Lions LIVE
Of all the sea life at SeaWorld, the Sea Lions are my favorite. They have such personality. This show is a riot, with the stars – Clyde and SeaMore – giving a whole new meaning to slapstick comedy.

2) Wild Arctic
Right here in sunny San Diego you can experience the chill of the Wild Arctic. It starts with a perilous, motion-simulated helicopter ride before landing at base camp. There, you’re surrounded by real life arctic animals like polar bears, walruses and beluga whales. Totally cool.

3) Dolphin Point
Dolphins are seriously smart, which in turn makes them seriously fun to watch. They easily take commands from trainers, almost yearning to please (and get that fish!). Watch as they whirl, twirl and spin through the lagoon pools at Dolphin Point. Then, stick around for a presentations by trainers where you might even get to touch a dolphin!

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Manta features wild-but-mild thrills

4) Manta
To get your coaster fix, be sure to ride Manta. It’s the park’s signature coaster, winning over guests with its wild-but-mild thrills families can enjoy together. Top speeds are a smooth 43mph. Likewise, there are twists, turns, and drops, but no upside down loops. Bonus: You can touch, and even feed, a sting ray in the area surrounding the ride.

5) Journey to Atlantis
Part coaster, part water ride, Journey to Atlantis has long been a favorite of mine. Why? Well, you get two thrills for the ride wait time of one. The first part is a daring log flume drop. Then, barrel down a twisting track as the roller coaster curves kick in. After, view stingrays and leopard sharks in the adjoining aquarium.


Turtle Reef really amazes

6) Turtle Reef
Sea turtles are mesmerizing to watch. These graceful, ancient creatures are on full display at Turtle Reef. In total, there are over 60 swimming amongst other tropical fish and sea creatures.

7) Penguin Encounter
If you didn’t get enough of the Arctic before, you can double down at the Penguin Encounter. There are over 300 penguins, and over seven species at the Encounter. This is due to a successful captive breeding program, one of the only in the world.

8) Dolphin Days
After visiting Dolphin Point, you probably fell in love with dolphins. SeaWorld attractions excel at connecting people with their ocean environments. This is epecially true at the Dolphin Days shows. Watch as they glide through the water and jump through the air, alongside trainers and pilot whales. Once the show is over, you can enhance the experience by adding a dolphin encounter.


Go ahead a touch a ray!

9) Explorer’s Reef
Kids and adults alike will say “Wow!” at Explorer’s Reef. Immersive and engaging, the Reef provides real hands-on experiences with stingrays, brown-banded and white-spotted bamboo sharks. I also recommend visiting the Tide Pools. There, you can touch star fish and sea urchins.

10) Bayside Skyride
Unique to the San Diego Park, the Bayside Skyride is a gondola ride that doesn’t get as much love as it should. The 6-minute ride over Mission Bay is a scenic route worth the detour.

You’re all set! Pack these 10 SeaWorld attractions into one day at the park to experience the best of SeaWorld San Diego.

Ashley is Reserve Direct’s travel expert, visiting San Diego to find the best travel tips, money-saving deals and insider information. With over 10 years of experience in first-hand-travel adventures, she shares her stories, advice, and current events to help you stay in the know.

Do you want to explore San Diego, but aren’t sure where to start? With the Go San Diego Card, you’ll be able to visit the quintessential San Diego attractions—all at a discount. Attractions include the SeaWorld San Diego, LEGOLAND® California, San Diego Zoo, Belmont Park, Birch Aquarium, San Diego Safari Park Zoo, USS Midway Museum and more.

Go San Diego Card

San_Diego_Harbor_Cruise_(38836)It’s easy to use the Go San Diego Card as it’s extremely flexible. Admissions come in bundles of 1, 2, 3, 5 and 7 days, with over 40 options to choose from. Plus, the 3-day, 5-day, and 7-day passes included SeaWorld San Diego as a bonus attraction, adding even more fun (and savings!) to your time in Southern California. To use the Go San Diego Card, you’ll first need to decide which pass is right for you.

San_Diego_Zoo_(74331)For my recent trip, I opted for the 3-day pass as I would only be in the city for an extended weekend. It gave me the maximum benefit at a minimum cost, saving me over 50% off of gate price. I knew in advance I wanted to visit the San Diego Zoo, SeaWorld, Knott’s Berry Farm, Balboa Park Museums, go on a harbor cruise and kayak with La Jolla Kayaks. That’s a lot to do in three days, but I was up for the challenge! However, you can choose to visit as many attractions you want or feel free to take your time at each. The choice is yours! Also, if you’re more the spontaneous type you can totally choose your attractions on-the-go.

You can receive your pass one of two ways:

  • Balboa Park 463680953Instantly on your mobile device and via email. Just print out your pass or display it right on your mobile device.
  • Via mail.


How exactly does the pass work? It’s super easy. The pass is activated at the first attraction you visit. Then, just keep your pass on hand to Knott_s_Berry_Farms_(95196)visit any of the other San Diego attractions available through the Go San Diego Card.

With the Go San Diego Card you can visit multiple attractions for one low price. It’s perfect for families, for couples and for solo travelers. It’s a choose-your-adventure pass that lets you experience the best of San Diego.

Ashley is Reserve Direct’s travel expert, visiting San Diego to find the best travel tips, money-saving deals and insider information. With over 10 years of experience in first-hand-travel adventures, she shares her stories, advice, and current events to help you stay in the know.

San Diego, California is famous for its waterfront – especially The Big Bay. The San Diego Bay is 34 miles of scenic open waters line with restaurants, shops, attractions, marinas and quaint parks. Spend time exploring this area on foot, but before you do take a San Diego Harbor Tour with Hornblower Cruises.


One of the longest running harbor cruise company in San Diego, Hornblower offers the best sightseeing on the bay. You can choose between a one or two hour tour, each of which is professionally narrated. I opted for the two hour San Diego Harbor Cruise excursion as I wanted the get the full scope of the bay. Covering all of the highlights of The Big Bay, sights seen include:

Harbor Island: The park-like setting of Harbor Island serves as the waterfront gateway to downtown San Diego. The “island” includes several marinas which harbor thousands of small boats, as well as several restaurants, two high-rise hotels, and Harbor Island Drive Park.


Shelter Island

Shelter Island: Shelter Island is 1.2 miles long and only a few hundred feet wide, and isn’t an island at all. The single street of Shelter Island Drive runs the length of the Island and connects it to the mainland. Created to accommodate the larger ships of the Navy and serve as a shelter for boats in harbor, this entire section is Polynesian themed.

Point Loma: This seaside community is a hilly peninsula surrounded by the Pacific Ocean. Historically, it is defined as the landing place of the first Europeans to come ashore in present-day California.


Point Loma

Cabrillo National Monument: Cabrillo National Monument is home to the Point Loma Lighthouse and looks back at San Diego’s nautical history.

North Island Naval Air Station: Located at the north end of the Coronado peninsula, NAS is home to several aircraft carriers of the United States Navy. It is part of the largest aerospace-industrial complex in the United States Navy and is the official birthplace of Naval Aviation because the Navy’s first aviator, Lieutenant Theodore Ellyson, and many of his colleagues were trained here.


Coronado Bridge

Submarine Naval Base: Current commands at this naval base include Current major commands onboard include Commander Third Fleet, Naval Mine and Anti-Submarine Warfare Command, Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command, and Submarine Squadron Eleven.

Coronado Bridge: The distinctive curve and soaring sweep of the 2.1 mile Coronado Bridge was the first structural conquest of San Diego Bay, joining the Island of Coronado and City of San Diego.


Star of India

Naval Base Shipyard: Sometimes called 32nd Street Naval Station, this is the largest base of the United States Navy on the West Coast. It is the principal port of the Pacific Fleet, consisting of 54 ships and over 120 tenant commands.

Star of India: Star of India is the world’s oldest active sailing ship. She began her life on the stocks at Ramsey Shipyard in the Isle of Man in 1863. Retired in 1926, she was not restored until 1962–63 and is now a seaworthy museum ship home-ported at the Maritime Museum of San Diego.

These are just a few of the sights you’ll see on the two-hour tour of San Diego Bay. I highly recommend taking the cruise to get a perspective on the San Diego’s famous Big Bay. Sit back, relax, soak up the sights, listen to the narration for interesting facts, and even grab a snack or beverage if you’d like. The tours are offered throughout the day, from 10am-5:30pm. Choose the time that works best for your vacation. Do a later tour if you can, as it’s a great way to see the sights during the day as well as dusk – great for picture taking!

Ashley is Reserve Direct’s travel expert, visiting San Diego to find the best travel tips, money-saving deals and insider information. With over 10 years of experience in first-hand-travel adventures, she shares her stories, advice, and current events to help you stay in the know.

Kids love San Diego! If it’s not for the world famous attractions such as the San Diego Zoo, SeaWorld or LEGOLAND, it’s for the beaches, parks and activities throughout the county. San Diego has a lot to offer tiny travelers. Here is my guide on how to keep your beautiful children happy and smiling. Add these things to do with kids in San Diego to experience family fun at its finest.

Birch Aquarium FB

Birch Aquarium/Facebook

1. Birch Aquarium at Scripps
Learn about the curious land under the sea as your kids explore exhibits and activities led by professional oceanographers. The Birch Aquarium sits on the La Jolla coast, and offers kids various experiences such as think tank interactive projects, animal feeding times, and animal interactions. In October, kids 12 and under enter free at many San Diego Museum Council destinations.

2. Waterfront Park
This new park sits at the Embarcadero in Downtown, San Diego and offers kids many swings, jungle gyms, and fountains. Parents can hang out of the benches as the kids monkey around on the gym, or hang out on the lawn as the kids splash in the fountain that is specially designed for the amphibious type.

Belmont Park

Belmont Park

3. Belmont Park
This historic amusement park was meticulously built on the beachfront, and offers kids rides, games, an artificial wave for surfing, and lots and lots of pizza, ice cream and burgers. Get your kids an unlimited fun wristband as you lay out by the beach, or enjoy drinks and food at The Wavehouse, home to the only artificial wave machine in San Diego.

4. Balboa Park
San Diego’s main urban park is sprinkled with museums, gardens, and theaters. There are many kid-friendly activities offered throughout the year. The Ruben H. Fleet Science Center is home to America’s first IMAX Theater that shows educational programs every day. Buy a ticket to the theater, and you and the kids can play in the interactive exhibits within the museum. On Sundays at 2pm, the World Beat Center offers kids a free African Dance class, and the San Diego Junior Theater has relatable shows for kids at the Casa del Prado Theater.

Corvette Diner

Corvette Diner

5. Corvette Diner
For an unforgettable dining experience, make sure to take the kids to the Corvette Diner, a restaurant suitable for all ages. Guests are transported to a time of poodle skirts, Elvis, and HUGE beehive hair. Several times throughout dinner, the staff will stop what they are doing, and dance in synch to the 50’s jams played by a live DJ.

As I reminisce back to when we went on family vacations, I couldn’t thank my parents enough for all of the fun activities and learning experiences they offered to me. Traveling has since been such a huge part of my life, and I know how important it is to explore the world, its people, and new and interesting experiences. Have fun at these things to do with kids in San Diego, and cherish the enthusiasm and thirst for exploration of a child.

Bianca is a San Diego native, and prides herself on her knowledge of her city. As a professional tour guide, she offers food and drink tasting tours through her company: So Diego Tours. With 8 years in the tourism industry, she brings you updates on how to make the most out of your time, money and energy in her city.

Planning on visiting SeaWorld during your San Diego vacation? I recently went to the park and discovered an educationally entertaining attraction full of aquatic amazements. In addition, I learned some of the best ways to see the park and the top things to do during a day at San Diego SeaWorld. Let’s dive in!

DSCF2184Situated along the mission bay area, San Diego SeaWorld blends the discovery of aquatic life with a natural, coastal environment.   Pick up a map when you enter, taking note of the shows performing and which you plan to see. Shows are a definite must, so be sure not to miss these. Depending on the day of your visit, the shows operating will change.   However, One Ocean and Sea Lions LIVE are my two personal favorites. If you’re traveling with children, the Madagascar: Operation Vacation stage show should be on your show list too. Your kids won’t forget partying it up with Alex the Lion!

DSCN1200To get a true 360 degree overview of San Diego SeaWorld hop aboard the SkyTower. I think this is a great way to start the day as you gain perspective of the entire park, and then can take off to your next attraction with a good layout in mind. This is SeaWorld, so the aquatic attractions are the real highlight and I visited those first.   To get a feel for the north, Wild Arctic is your ticket. Home to beluga whales and polar bears, the exhibit was designed very well with ample viewing areas and the detailed workings of an arctic research station on display throughout. There is a simulator ride here, but it’s an optional addition. Continuing the northern exposure is Penguin Encounter. A glided walkway and viewing gallery lets you view almost 300 penguins of species like Emperor penguins, and smaller Adelie, Gentoo and Macaroni penguins. Some are located outside too, so you can get even closer to these adorable birds.

DSCN1242Dolphins are marvelous creatures you can’t help but be in awe of, which is why I stayed at this area of the park for a while. Watch them swim, play with trainers and eat lots of fish! You’ll get up-close, unobstructed views ideal for picture taking and memory making. Pacific Point teaches the difference between Sea Lions and Seals, and home to one of the most camera-ready sea lions ever. Posting on his rock, soaking up the California sun, he was a sight to see! Aquariums at Sea World San Diego display exotic creatures like sea turtles, sharks, tropical fishes and an array of other sea life. Stroll through these and delight at the underwater views. Of course, I had to see Shamu and you will too! The underwater viewing area is expansive, but try not to tour this area right after or before a show as its very busy then.

DSCF2301Rides are yet another aspect of a day at SeaWorld. With Manta being their biggest thrill, it was top priority. The fast speed, swooping twists and turns, and quick dives simulate the moves of a sting ray. After the ride, I stop by to touch a manta – slippery but friendly! A trip aboard the Bayside Skyride is recommended as you get stunning views of Mission Bay. Vast blue ocean stretches out before you as you gain perspective on the park and its coastal setting. If you’re up for a splash, water rides like Journey to Atlantis and Shipwreck Rapids are for you. Speeding roller coaster inspired water flumes and runaway rafts create adventures you’ll want to have during summer days at the park.

DSCF2190A couple of more tips to keep in mind: Order your tickets in advance. Reserve San Diego SeaWorld tickets are kiosk ready, with a bar code ready to scan at the entrance of the park. No waiting in the ticket line for you. If you dine at the park, pick Shipwreck Reef Café. The fun, castaway flair of the café makes it a favorite, as does the better-than-normal theme park food. And one more thing, bring a waterproof camera so you can get those wonderful aquatic shots with nor worry of splash.

Ashley is Reserve Direct’s travel expert, visiting San Diego to find the best travel tips, money-saving deals and insider information. With over 10 years of experience in first-hand-travel adventures, she shares her stories, advice, and current events to help you stay in the know.

Some people go to theme parks for the shows, and some people go to escape to a fantasy world, but I go to theme parks mainly for the rides and junk food. That might not be the best pairing, but somehow, it gets me right in the heart. I love a good thrill!  If you do too, follow my personal guide to the best rides at Knott’s Berry Farm.

Xcelerator Knotts

The Xcelerator

1. The Xcelerator

Without a doubt in my mind, The Xcelerator is hands-down the best ride at Knott’s. It’s fast, and the drop is really high. It starts off going from 0-82 MPH in 2.3 seconds up hundreds of feet before diving straight down. Your stomach will drop, you might lose your breath and maybe your eyesight for a split second, but the adrenaline rush is unparalleled!


2. The Silver Bullet

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Silver Bullett

My second favorite ride is The Silver Bullet. It reminds me of a cartoon bullet that goes crazy chasing its victim all around. You’ll flip, twist, turn, and drop. The ride is inverted, which means that your feet hang; so don’t wear your flip-flops on this one. Within 2 minutes, you will have gone upside down 6 times!


3. Timber Mountain Log Ride

Timber Knotts

Timber Mountain Log Ride

My third favorite ride is the Timber Mountain Log Ride. As you ride in the log, you’ll pass scenes of a 19th century lumber camp. The characters are extremely real looking, and you won’t want to blink in case you pass something funny. The sounds, smells and sights take you back in time, and the drop at the end is just the icing on the cake! I didn’t get as wet as I thought I would, which was a bonus.


4. Supreme Scream

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Supreme Scream

I also really love the Supreme Scream, which is a tower with a ring of seats around it. You sit as the ride slowly pulls you up to 252 feet in the sky. The views are amazing from up there, and then you drop all the way down. Actually, it’s more like being power launched down. You will feel weightless for a couple of seconds, but it’s also a weird feeling because you’re not just falling, but literally being pushed down. It’s exhilarating!


5. Montezooma’s Revenge

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Montezooma’s Revenge

My fifth favorite ride is Montezooma’s Revenge. This ride is near and dear to my heart because I would ride it time and time again when I was a kid. You’ll go 0-55 MPH in 3 seconds straight into a loop straight up, and then come down the way you came, backwards to another straight up stop before ending. I love the feeling of going backwards, the flips, and the speed of this rollercoaster.



Wave Swinger

6. The Waveswinger

I have to say after all of the crazy loops, twists and turns, I also like to relax and feel free on rides. The Waveswinger is amongst my favorites because it makes me feel as though I’m flying. The ride is a huge contraption with swings suspended from the top. It starts to turn quite fast, and pushes your individual swing up and up. If you close your eyes, and put your arms out, it’s like you’re flying!

After all is said and done, I love rides. Whether I’m at the county fair, or a theme park like Knott’s Berry Farm California, I’m going to do my best and ride every single ride available to me. It’s difficult to do that at Knott’s because there are so many rides. You can get a fast pass to make the wait go faster, and if you can, visit during the slow season when school is in session. Otherwise, just go and make a list of the rides you think you’ll love the most. I hope my list helps you plan your visit!

Bianca is a San Diego native, and prides herself on her knowledge of her city. As a professional tour guide, she offers food and drink tasting tours through her company: So Diego Tours. With 8 years in the tourism industry, she brings you updates on how to make the most out of your time, money and energy in her city.