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The Best Family San Diego City Guide!

San Diego City Guide has done ALL the hard work so you don’t have to with this ULTIMATE San Diego City Guide to print & use!



08 Jul | read

If you are ready for some sun, sea, surf, seafood, and an all round great time, then get ready because we're about to explore San Diego! This Californian city is so full of energy, you might not want to leave.

This is why we're so excited so share with you are San Diego City Guide, featuring our "Top 9 Family Attractions" , which are just the tip of the iceberg in when it comes to the family fun you can enjoy in this great city.

So make sure check out our entire San Diego DC City Guide that we've carefully put together especially for you, so all you have to focus on is having a great time!

Main Image Credit & Copyright: John Bahu

Image Credit & Copyright: Brett Shoaf & Artistic Visuals

In this San Diego City Guide, we share with you our top 9 things to do with kids in this beautiful California city, plus some really fun experiences that will bring out the child in anyone who visits! 

We understand that budgets are often a factor when traveling with children, so also in this San Diego City Guide we share some really fun FREE things to do that won't break that bank!

Are you wanting to know how to get around San Diego without a car?  Not a problem! We offer up some tips to help you navigate around the city without any issues, plus we also share some really fun facts about this California favorite that might just surprise you! 

If you want to get a little bit further out of San Diego for the day, our San Diego City Guide shares one of our favorite day trips, AND we let you know some famous faces who started life right under the San Diego sun.

So whether this is your first trip saying "Yes, I'd love to go to San Diego"! or maybe you have lived in the city all your life but you never took the time to explore and you wonder "What is there is to do near me in Sn Diego?", then keep reading because we have the top 9 things to do in San Diego with kids...and so much more!

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Whilst San Diego officially became part of the USA in 1848, the city and region has quite a history before that!

Described as the "birthplace of California", the area was once home to the Native Americans such as the Kumeyaay people who were living in the area up to 12,000 years ago! Before that, it was the people of the La Jolla complex (also known as the Shell Midden people) who lived on the lands. 

Spanish explorers claimed to have visited the area in the 1500s, long before Europeans settled in the area in 1769 when a fort and missions were established. 

For several decades after the San Diego's incorporation, the then-town remained reasonably small however during the 1880s when development really began, growth was rapid and then even more so after World War II. Entrepreneurs and business owners really thrived, and today San Diego is the 8th largest city in the entire country! 

Anyone who visits San Diego today will find a beautiful blend of cultures, languages, and traditions, and that is what makes the city so special (that and the beautiful beaches and sunshine!) so why not head there yourselves on your next family day out and see first hand what makes the city so special!


Image Credit: / Matthew Baldwin

Sam Diego has so many fun things to do with the family, you really will be spoilt for choice! Love animals? Don't miss the iconic San Diego Zoo and San Diego Zoo Safari Park - one location, but hundreds of beautiful animals! If it's animals AND thrills you enjoy, you have places such as SeaWorld San Diego where there really is something for every family!

San Diego might be a city, but there is still plenty of park fun to be had, including the iconic Balboa Park complete with 17 museums!  From the San Diego Natural History Museum, to the San Diego Air & Space Museum, San Diego Automotive Museum and even the super cool Comic-Con Museum, there are plenty of learning opportunities for kids!

With so many fun things to do in San Diego with the family, you'll soon have that itinerary filling up! So kids, which attraction will you visit first?

Image Credit & Copyright: Edelweiss - Melanie Stocker

If you find yourself without a car, or just need a break from being behind the wheel, getting around the city center or exploring the coast of San Diego can be easy on public transportation. 

First, let's explore The Red Trolley! This is perfect if you're in and around downtown San Diego. Once you spot the iconic bright red trolley you'll know you're in good hands. This service offers convenient services from key locations including downtown, Old Town, San Ysidro and more.

There are three trolley lines that service the downtown San Diego communities and beyond that run an average of every 15 minutes, and fares are inexpensive!

For more information, visit the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System.

Another fun way to get around San Diego is catching the Old Town Trolley. Taking an Old Town Trolley Tour will allow you to see the main tourist areas of the city, including Old Town, Seaport Village, Little Italy and Balboa Park. 

Then you have the public transportation systems!

For bus schedules and information, visit SDMTS.
For bus schedules and information for San Diego's North County, visit BREEZE.

Don't forget that there is now a new way to get around and that's the PRONTO card and app. PRONTO (which replaces the old Compass Card system) is handy when you're riding the San Diego Trolley, a bus or the Coaster train.

For more information on getting around San Diego, check out!

Top 9 Things To Do in San Diego!

Whether it's Marvel you love, or Stranger Things, or just pop culture in general, there is nothing more exciting than visiting a comic con where you can meet your favorite stars of film and TV, pick up some really cool collectibles and meet others who love what you love!

Of all the comic cons in the world, Comic Con International San Diego is one of the biggest, if not THE biggest and is an amazing experience if you're in the city during its run.

Make sure you take your camera, because you will want to capture all those memories!

Image Credit: Comic Con International: San Diego

Our Top 9 Fun Things To Do With The Kids In San Diego

Our Top 9 Fun Things To Do With The Kids In San Diego

Located in Balboa Park just minutes from downtown, San Diego Zoo is one of the most popular things to do with kids in the city! Not only can you see some of the most beautiful creatures that walk our planet, but the zoo offer a range of events and activities that make your family day out extra special!

You can get an up-close view at the Animals in Action Experience, or enjoy an hour long guided tour on the Discovery Cart Tour, or you might want to enjoy a VIP look at the zoo with your own personal guide! With dining and shopping too, San Diego Zoo has everything you need for that WILD family day out! 

Image Credit: San Diego Zoo

It's time for kids to learn, have fun, create AND be inspired on their trip to The New Children's Museum! This museum JUST for kids is a new model of museum focusing on stimulating imagination, creativity and critical thinking within children through inventive and engaging experiences all with contemporary art.

Here, playful and inquisitive kids can enjoy 50,000 sq ft of fun across multiple levels, all of which aim to make them the best THEM they can be! Kids, are you ready to get creative and have a fun day out? Let's go!

Image Credit: The New Children's Museum

The history of aviation and space travel is truly remarkable, and you can uncover it all at the San Diego Air & Space Museum! Here, the whole family can journey through the history of flight, from seeing first hand a hot air balloon from 1783, through to the first manned vehicle that took humans above the Earth!

Also at the museum, kids can see real life specimens of aircraft from various wars, including Spitfires and Skyhawk jets. AND you can get up close to incredible space age technology that shows just how incredible the future can be!

Image Credit: San Diego Air & Space Museum

Welcome aboard America's Living Symbol of Freedom at the USS Midway Museum! At this iconic San Diego attraction, kids can experience the excitement of America’s favorite aircraft carrier museum with their very own eyes through their various indoor and outdoor exhibits.

Kids can see what really goes on below deck, hear stories of The Midway and those who served on it, and even see real life aircraft up close in the HUGE hangar exhibit! Don't miss the fun activities you can enjoy at the USS Midway Museum either, including a flight simulator and theater shows!

Image Credit: USS Midway Museum

Are you ready to experience the excitement of taking to the open oceans? The Maritime Museum of San Diego restores and celebrates operating historic vessels, and it's here you can see one of the finest collections of historic ships in the world - including the world's oldest active ship: The Star of India!

Enjoy a public tour around the ships and exhibits, and in fact the Maritime Museum of San Diego was named one of the top three maritime museums in the entire world so this impressive museum should be on any San Diego itinerary with the family!

Image Credit: Maritime Museum of San Diego

The wonders of the world are on display at the San Diego Natural History Museum! Here, kids can learn all about what makes our planet so special and unique, plus uncover creatures - past and present - who have walked the Earth.

Kids can meet dinosaurs who roamed millions of years ago, and see real life critters and creepy crawlies in the Living Lab. They can discover what lies beneath the ocean, and see some pretty impressive minerals and gems! They can even explore what might be right in their very own backyard! An exciting and eye opening experience in San Diego for all families!

Image Credit: SDNHM

Vroom Vroom! Car loving families will love the San Diego Automotive Museum, which the story of the social and technological history and future of motorized vehicles. Kids can explore their various collections and exhibitions, and even extend their learning experience through the educational programs offered.

This fun museum has actual automotives on display, so kids can see with their very own eyes some of the most iconic and inspiring vehicles and motorbikes, including a 1947 Cadillac! Get those motors running on that next family day out in San Diego!

Image Credit: San Diego Automotive Museum

Are you ready to explore the wonders of the ocean at the Birch Aquarium at Scripps! This popular aquarium is perched on a bluff overlooking the twinkling Pacific Ocean, and features over 60 habitats of fish and invertebrates from the warm, tropical waters of Mexico, to the cold waters of the Pacific Northwest...and beyond!

Families can also enjoy a number of experiences too, from behind the scenes tours, summer camps and pier walks, plus plenty of fun seasonal events across the year! A great family day out where kids can learn all about conservation too.

Image Credit: Birch Aquarium

Amazing animals, thrilling rollers and even the new Sesame Place with dry rides and one of the largest wave pools in the USA - yes, we're talking about SeaWorld San Diego! Here, kids can have a world of fun as they come face to face with some amazing creatures like the walrus, the sloth and the beautiful dolphin!

If it's thrills and spills you love, there are plenty, plus a host of presentations, activities and dining to create an exciting family day out in San Diego! 

Image Credit: SeaWorld

Famous San Diegans!

 Family Days Out: City Guide

Cameron Diaz

Cameron Diaz is an American actress, author and entrepreneur. In 2013, she was named the highest paid actress over 40. As of 2018, her movies have grossed over $7 billion worldwide.

Her films includes Charlie's Angels, The Mask and There's Something About Mary.

Image Credit: David Shankbone

 Family Days Out: City Guide

Adam Driver

Adam Driver is an American actor, most known for his work on the TV series "Girls", as well as his role as Kylo Ren in the Star Wars franchise.

A former Marine, Driver has received multiple awards and nominations, including two Academy Award nominations.

Image Credit: Gage Skidmore

5 Fun San Diego Facts

5 Fun San Diego Facts

Impress your friends with your amazing San Diego knowledge!

  • San Diego is home to the largest and most popular comic con event in the country - the aptly named Comic Con International: San Diego!
  • The delicious California Burrito was created in San Diego!
  • Still on food, the now nationwide Jack-In-The-Box fast food chain began life as a drive-through hamburger stand in San Diego!
  • San Diego's Clairemont High School was the inspiration for the 1982 film Fast Times at Ridgemont High
  • The infamous gunslinger Wyatt Earp lived in the Horton Grand Hotel for seven years!

Free Things To Do in San Diego!

Old Town San Diego

Old Town San Diego

Located in the historic heart of San Diego is Old Town! Created all the way back in 1769, this was California's very first settlement (and only a mission and a fort started it all!). Today, you can wander through lush gardens or check out one of the many speciality shops, and if you love authentic Mexican food you're in luck!

Old Town has a number of historic sites, and it's here you'll also find Old Town San Diego Historic Park where you can experience life from the early Mexican-American period of 1821 to 1872!

Image Credit: Old Town San Diego

Stroll Along Mission Beach Boardwalk

Stroll Along Mission Beach Boardwalk

For that classic boardwalk beach town experience, head to San Diego's Mission Beach! Here, you can enjoy nearly two miles of stunning oceanfront boardwalk where you can take in the magic of the ocean, and utilise the numerous rental shops and even visit Belmont Park!

Also at Mission Beach you'll find a fun boardwalk amusement park (featuring the super cool Giant Dipper Roller Coaster originally built in 1925), along with mini golf, bumper cars, an arcade and even rock climbing, but these activities have an additional cost.

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Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

For nature lovers out there, why not spend the day at the largest state park in California - Anza-Borrego Desert State Park! Here, you can explore 500 miles of dirt roads, as well as 12 wilderness areas and so many miles of hiking trails you might just have to spend a week to ensure you can really experience the wonders of the California Desert.

Also at the park you'll come across wildflowers, cacti, and incredible sweeping vistas. Those eagle-eyed family members might even see golden eagles, roadrunners, kit foxes, bighorn sheep, mule deer and even the red diamond rattlesnake! First port of call should be the visitor center, where listening devices for the hearing impaired are also available.

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Explore Balboa Park

Explore Balboa Park

Balboa Park is one of the most visited parks in the city, and when you visit you'll see why! The park is free to explore, with some beautiful Spanish Colonial Revival architecture, and is home a number of attractions to enjoy, as well as 17 museums!

Whilst the attractions often have an admission fee, select museums do offer free admission on Tuesdays for San Diego residents) and seven spectacular gardens are free daily - and the Timken Museum of Art is always free!

Image Credit: Balboa Park

Immerse Yourself in Chicano Park Art!

Immerse Yourself in Chicano Park Art!

Chicano Park is located in San Diego's oldest Mexican-American neighborhood, and is also a National Historic Landmark. It's also home to the largest collection of outdoor Chicano murals in the world, making a creative and inspiring day out for the family!

Across seven acres, you can enjoy seeing over 80 paintings, dotted with sculptures, gardens, playgrounds for the little ones and picnic tables to enjoy some lunch. Throughout the year the park hosts music festivals, and even Aztec dance events. If you're there in April, a stop during Chicano Park Day is a must where boutiques, craft coffee, galleries, and emerging art await!

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San Diego Vacation Travel Guide | Expedia

A Fun Day Trip From San Diego!

Halfway between San Diego and Los Angeles, you'll find the stunning, artistic and beautiful beach town of Laguna Beach! Perfect for beach lovers, art lovers, nature lovers and everyone in between.

At only about 80 minutes from San Diego, Laguna Beach is Southern California's premier coastal destination and is one of Orange County's hidden gems.  Here you can enjoy seven miles of coves and beaches, with tide pools and sea caves to explore, and even home to 20,000 beautiful acres of protected wilderness so if you love adventure, this is the day trip for you!

Whether you'll be packing those flip flops, hiking shoes, or surfboards, the magic of Laguna Beach awaits!

Image Credit: VisitLaguna

Laguna Beach was settled in the 1870s after becoming part of the United States following the Mexican-American War in 1848, After the war, settlers were encouraged to the area by the Homestead Act as well as the Timber Culture Act. This granted 160 acres of land to anyone who planted 40 acres of trees.  In Laguna Beach, it was the eucalyptus trees!

It was in 1871 that the very first homestead was occupied, and the community expanded during the 1880s. 

Laguna Beach was officially founded in 1887 and ultimately incorporated as a city in 1927.

Long before the Laguna Beach that we know today, the area was the site of a prehistoric paleoindian civilization. Later, the indigeneous people in the area were the Tongva.

With the creation of the Laguna Beach Art Association in 1918, Laguna Beach has solidified its reputation as one of the top creative and artistic communities in California.

Here’s our top 4 Laguna Beach things to do:

We hope you found this content useful! Please share with your friends, and if you have any comments, or want to let us know what we can do to further help you find fun days out with the family, then just email our team at [email protected]!

Let's get the family adventure started!

Lisa Written by

Lisa has been a content writer for Family Days Out for nearly 10 years, and a keen travel writer for nearly 20. She loves experiencing the best of a city, discovering the many things to do and immersing herself in the culture, and sharing these experiences with others through her writing.

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