Wouldn’t it be amazing if you could spend an entire family vacation relaxing by the beach? While it sounds ideal, it’s not realistic for those traveling with kids. The beach can only provide so much entertainment. Instead, turn your trip into an exhilarating learning experience by visiting these eight educational things to do in San Diego.
Your kids will love the hands-on activities, historic landmarks, and wild adventures and you’ll love all that they learn. It’s a win-win vacation for everyone!
Let your kids explore their creative side at the New Children’s Museum. Photo via the New Children’s Museum / Facebook.
The New Children’s Museum
For interactive activities and endless learning, bring your family to the New Children’s Museum. This particular museum focuses on art-related activities with the goal of promoting creativity among kids. In addition to the mesmerizing and engaging art installations, the museum also offers art projects, labs, and activities for kids and adults alike to enjoy.
Currently on display is the Sketch Aquarium, where ocean drawings come to life! You do not want to bypass this interactive exhibit that’s making waves (literally) throughout San Diego.
Your kids will discover an underwater world at Birch Aquarium at Scripps.
Birch Aquarium at Scripps
Speaking of aquariums…
Instead of sitting by the ocean, why not learn about the thousands of animals and plants that live in it? Boasting more than 5,000 fish in 60+ habitats, it’s no wonder that Birch Aquarium at Scripps is one of the most popular educational things to do in San Diego. Watch as your kids learn about everything from sea turtles to seahorses in a single day. Don’t forget to catch the shark tank feeding!
From giraffes to cheetahs, your family can experience it all at the San Diego Zoo and San Diego Zoo Safari Park.
The San Diego Zoo and San Diego Zoo Safari Park
Do your kids love animals? I bet they do. All families should visit the San Diego Zoo and San Diego Zoo Safari Park. After all, what trip would be complete without visiting these iconic San Diego attractions?
At the zoo, your kids can learn about the entire animal kingdom while coming face-to-face with their favorite animals. With more than 650 species onsite, you’ll have a wild time exploring everything the zoo has to offer. But the animal fun doesn’t stop there.
At San Diego Zoo Safari Park, your entire family can embark on a one-of-a-kind safari and learn about endangered animals from around the globe. For an exceptional safari experience, use these quick tips.
Learn about life aboard the USS Midway at this one-of-a-kind museum in San Diego.
USS Midway Museum
Also among the many educational things to do in San Diego is the USS Midway Museum. Guests can climb aboard this historic naval aircraft carrier and experience a day in the life of a sailor. The museum has onsite docents who have served in the Navy and even served on the USS Midway. Your children will love walking around the ship, checking out the flight simulators, talking to the sailors, and listening to the self-guided audio tour.
Check out restored historic vessels at the Maritime Museum of San Diego.
Maritime Museum of San Diego
For even more historic and nautical fun, bring your family to the Maritime Museum of San Diego. This intriguing museum has a global reputation for exceptional vessel restoration and captivating educational exhibits.
Kids can explore historic vessels including a 1914 tall ship, an 1898 steam ferry, and an accurate replica of an 18th century Royal Navy frigate. The museum also hosts revolving special exhibits and festivals all year long for even more fun. What’s even better than touring these vessels? Sailing in one! For an additional charge, the museum offers various sailing experiences including whale watching tours.
Enjoy hands-on science activities at the Fleet Science Center. Photo via Fleet Science Center / Facebook.
Fleet Science Center
Do you have a science-obsessed kid on your hands? If so, head over to the Fleet Science Center for a world of immersive learning opportunities. From IMAX movies to self-guided exhibits, the Fleet Science Center has everything a science-loving kid could possibly want. Your child can learn about the science behind constructing a building, discover the cells of the human body, create their own inventions, and more all in one place.
With so much to do, see, and learn, it’s easy to see why the Fleet Science Center made our list of exciting educational things to do in San Diego.
By Robert Arends (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Cabrillo National Monument
The Cabrillo National Monument is one of the top tourist destinations in San Diego. The statue commemorates the moment Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo became the first European to step foot on North America’s west coast in 1542.
Your first thought might be, “Sure, it’s an iconic landmark. But what can my kids learn from a statue?” The answer is: a whole lot. There is far more to do at this historic area than stare at a finely constructed statue.
At the southern end of the park, you’ll find the low tide pools. Here, your children can get a glimpse at the aquatic life living below the water. Tide pools are made up of three different zones: splash zone, the middle intertidal zone, and the subtidal zone. With different aquatic species living in each zone, your children will go on an adventure trying to find and identify each species they discover. From crabs to sea urchins, there’s a whole universe to be explored in the Cabrillo National Monument tide pools.
While at the monument, your family can also see the Old Point Loma Lighthouse that has watched over the bay since 1855. Although the lighthouse no longer operates, guests are invited to learn more about the history of the San Diego Bay and the famous lighthouse.
17 museums. Multiple performing arts venues. Tons of gardens and trails. One educational experience.
Once you step foot in Balboa Park, you’ll see why it is arguably one of the top educational things to do in San Diego. Noted as “where culture, science, and nature collide” the park boasts 17 museums, several performing arts venues, spacious gardens, various trails, and other educational attractions.
Your family can easily spend more than one day exploring all that the park has to offer, from the Japanese Friendship Garden to the San Diego Natural History Museum (theNAT). For the ultimate experience (and best savings), I recommend purchasing the Go San Diego Card.
Visit San Diego for the Best in Educational Fun
Clearly, there isn’t a shortage of educational things to do in San Diego. From soaring in a flight simulator to coming up close with a giraffe, the learning opportunities are endless. Start planning your educational San Diego adventure by visiting Reserve San Diego today.
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.
Beach days are the best!
1) 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
San Diego Zoo is one of the only zoos in the world with pandas
2) 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.
Balboa Park is one of the prettiest in America
3) 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
View seals in their natural environment at La Jolla Cove
4) 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
5) 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.
Hand up for fun!
6) 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
7) 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.
Kids can’t get enough of the Birch Aquarium: Birch Aquarium/Facebook
8) 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.
The beach and sea cliffs of Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve
9) 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
10) 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.
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.