10 Kid Friendly Activities in & around San Diego

I’m thrilled to share these kid friendly activities in and around San Diego compliments of San Diego mama blogger, Tanya Perez. Be it enjoying the outdoors or providing learning experiences for your little ones, these kid friendly activities are sure to do the trick. They are fantastic experiences for children of any age and a must do for any family in the San Diego area. 

10 Kid friendly activities in & around san diego

1. Mission Trails Regional Park Visitor Center


The Mission Trails Regional Park Visitor Center has many hands-on opportunities for kids. Some of these include creating your own track rubbings, searching for animals on various murals, listening to different birds, and completing a scavenger hunt that you can pick up at the front desk. Once you've explored inside, head out to the amphitheater seating and enjoy a packed lunch. If you would like to continue your adventure, there is a loop trail that can be accessed directly from the visitor center.


2. San Diego Botanical Gardens


The San Diego Botanical Gardens is one of our favorite places to play! There are two incredible children's gardens that offer a wide variety of play opportunities.  Some of the fun includes playing train engineer, digging for dinosaur bones, climbing a tree house, making music, and racing toy boats down a small stream.  Check their calendar for special event days such as ‘Garden Arts & Crafts’ on Wednesday mornings.


3. Ferry Ride to Coronado Island 


You've probably already been to Coronado Island, but have you ever experienced it from the Ferry?  There is so much to see and talk about during the quick 15 minute trip to the island. Your views will include planes taking off from and landing at the airport, the USS Midway, active naval ships, and our incredible skyline. Take a lunch and blanket and enjoy a picnic with a view from Centennial Park. You can also grab a bite to eat at Ferry Landing.


4. Nature Exploration Area in Balboa Park


At the Nature Exploration Area, you can let your kid’s imagination take the lead while they climb, build, dig, and run! A great piece of advice given to me by Wendi McKenna with Move Play Grow was to “give the kids time and they really do get into their own world”. Bring a lunch and hang out while your little explorers make this natural playground their own. 


5. Jack's Pond Nature Center in San Marcos


Jack’s Pond Nature Center is a true gem filled with so much to see and do! It has a playground right outside the front entrance, making it a well-rounded play space. Kids can spend time exploring inside and head out to the playground when their little bodies need to burn off some energy. Bring a packed lunch and you could easily spend a morning or afternoon here. 


6. San Diego Children's Discovery Museum


There is so much to do at the San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum! With a wide variety of activities, both inside and outside, there is something to capture every little explorers’ interests. Build your own ball tracks, water the plants in the garden, visit the chickens, check on your patients in the doctor's office, climb and slide on the ship, and so much more! They even have a smaller tot area designed for little ones that are crawling and learning to walk. There are picnic tables inside and outside, so bring your lunch and spend the day playing. It is important to note that this is a nut-free zone!


7. Fletcher Cove Park

Fletcher Cove

The great thing about Fletcher Cove Park is that it is beachside, extending the play space from the playground to the beach. It is also centrally located in Solana Beach, so if you wanted to grab a bite to eat, get a coffee or maybe even do some shopping, you have plenty of options nearby. You can also add to your adventure by taking the train to the park. Jump on the Coaster and get off at Solana Beach. The station is about two blocks from the park. 


8. San Elijo Lagoon Nature Center

San Elijo Lagoon

Play time with incredible views! San Elijo Lagoon Nature Center makes it easy to enjoy some trail time with even the youngest kids. The Nature Center Loop Trail is short and easy which is perfect for curious explorers that love to stop and examine everything around them. You'll find that you can easily spend a good amount of time here! Keep an eye out for the Coaster that will make its way past the lagoon every now and then. After you walk the trail, head to the Nature Center where there is a reading corner, live snakes and frogs, and several other exhibits. Bring a lunch and enjoy it right outside on the shaded patio.


9. San Diego Natural History Museum

San Diego Natural History Museum

Located in Balboa Park, the San Diego Natural History Museum has more hands-on opportunities for kids than you might imagine. There is so much to see and talk about and they even have a special area dedicated to kids called “Camp-O-Saurus”. You can bring a lunch and enjoy it in Camp-O-Saurus or bring a blanket and picnic outside in Balboa Park. There are great shady spots by the south entrance.


10. Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Visitor Center

Anza Borrego Desert State Park

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, is a great day trip for the family! The visitor center is packed with hands-on opportunities and you can even complete a scavenger hunt while you're there. Don't miss the Discovery Lab! There is an easy trail that starts right at the visitor center and is stroller and wheelchair accessible. There is no shade, so be sure to bring your hats! Bring a lunch and enjoy it on the visitor center grounds or make a stop at Kesling's Kitchen in Borrego Springs (right down the road from the visitor center).

Tanya Perez

Tanya Perez is a San Diego mom to two incredible children. As a stay-at-home parent, she has always looked for ways to make the most of the time that she has with her kids. These experiences provide a variety of opportunities to learn, tighten their bond as a family and create memories that will stay with them always. Her hope is that she can inspire other families to get out and explore together, while providing the insights they need to make the adventure that much more enjoyable. There is really so much to see and do in San Diego!