Discover San Diego with children

Why you should keep this chilled out SoCal city top of mind when planning a trip with the kids.

California is brimming with family-friendly destinations that take you far from the spinning teacups and sticky honeypots of Disneyland. When travelling to the sunshine state, take a trip down to laidback San Diego for a relaxing family holiday packed with great food, plenty of museums and generally excellent weather.

Here’s a taste of what there is to enjoy in this easygoing city.

Explore

Balboa Park

When in town, make a beeline for Balboa Park. This 1200-acre park in the heart of the city is home to rides, gardens, 14 museums and the not-to-be-missed San Diego Zoo. Pick up a park passport with zoo admission to access all areas and scoot from the koi pond of the Japanese Friendship Garden to the toy trains of the San Diego Model Railroad Museum. The little ones will delight in the zoo’s giant pandas and swinging orangutans and included in admission is access to the Children’s Zoo, offering over 30 animal exhibits specially set up for kids.

Beach time

Make the most of the city’s beautiful climate and glorious beaches by slip, slop, slapping and hitting the surf. Coronado beach is a delightful white sandy beach that beckons for castles to be built and sand crabs to be dug. Calm waters make it a great paddling beach and there are plenty of casual food outlets in the area. Skip over from San Diego via the ferry that leaves every hour on the hour from Broadway Pier.

LEGOLAND

While technically in Carlsbad, a town 30 miles north of San Diego, the short distance is well worth it for any Lego-lovers in the family. Another destination full of rides, attractions and amusements, your family will be ready to flop on their Lego-themed beds after this adventure-packed experience – lucky there’s the LEGOLAND Hotel on site. Discover the 15,000 Lego models onsite, whizz down 50-foot slides in the Egyptian-themed Dune Raiders and take a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the Lego Movie.

Eat

Mexican

Just a stone’s throw from the Mexican border, there are some wonderful eateries in San Diego that embrace the fun, shared vibe of Mexican cuisine – perfect for family dining. Treat yourselves to fresh tacos, home-made tortillas and delicious beans and rice at hole-in-the-wall Las Cuatro Milpas or stumble upon one of the plentiful options dotted throughout the city’s charming Old Town.

Farmer’s markets

California is peppered with farmers’ markets and San Diego is no exception. Sip on some craft beers and dig into some produce picked up at a local farmer’s market for a relaxing picnic lunch. The seaside pocket of La Jolla has a weekly Sunday market from 9am to 1pm and the local Ellen Browning Scripps Park is an idyllic way to while away the afternoon.

BBQ

While California sometimes feels like a world away from the rest of the United States, it’s still America so bring it on with some old school BBQ at the most popular joint in town – Phil’s BBQ. Everyone in the family will get a kick out of these real-deal dishes including ribs, pulled pork sandwiches, grilled chicken and salads. Tuck in!

Sleep

Kid & Coe

Family-friendly accommodation website Kid & Coe has some great local properties in San Diego specifically catered to families on holiday. The retro-styed La Mesa Avenue three-bedroom beach house is a short work from the beach and embodies SoCal’s chilled out style. Equipped with bikes, surfboard, a high chair and a fun outdoor chalkboard, it’s a little piece of ‘60s suburban surfie paradise where you’ll feel right at home.

(Images: Main: JC Winkler ; Balboa Park: Oleg; Beach: Port of San Diego; LEGOLAND: Eric Molina; Mexican: Praytino; Phil’s BBQ: Richard Schwier)

Insure your health when you travel with Medibank travel insurance

Recommended reading - Gluten guide

Guides

Gluten – the good and the bad

What actually is gluten and coeliac disease? Professor David Cameron-Smith dishes up the facts

Read more
Guides

Am I gluten intolerant?

Think you might have a problem with gluten? Take these steps for a diagnosis of your symptoms.

Read more
Guides

The best gluten free eateries

A state-by-state guide to the most delicious gluten-free goodies.

Read more
Guides

Gluten: facts and figures

10 things you might not know about gluten

Read more
Guides

10 hidden sources of gluten

It's not just breads, pastas and pastries. Gluten can lurk in some surprising places.

Read more
Guides

5 myths about gluten free eating

A dietitian busts some popular food myths around gluten free diets, weight loss and coeliac disease.

Read more
Guides

Gluten free school lunch ideas

Think outside the box for gluten free lunches that are colourful, fun and delicious.

Read more
Guides

Easy gluten swaps

A gluten-free diet doesn't have to be dull. Here are some easy swaps for your favourite foods.

Read more
Guides

6 tips for a gluten free pantry

From a separate chopping board to being a label sleuth, here's how to keep your kitchen gluten free.

Read more
Recipes

Spiced tofu and beetroot salad recipe

The gluten free, vegan spiced tofu in this dish is packed with intense flavours.

Read more
Recipes

Pumpkin and pea risotto recipe

Nothing says comfort like a creamy risotto – and this one is as light as it is tasty

Read more
Recipes

Goji nut bar recipe

Full of the antioxidant goodness of goji berries, these snack bars are a delicious winner

Read more

For full functionality of this site it is necessary to enable JavaScript. Here are instructions on how to enable JavaScript in your web browser.