San Diego Attractions for Kids: Explore Balboa Park

Balboa Park is one of the best places for families to visit in San Diego. There is a plethora of beautiful gardens, museums, cultural spots, theaters, playgrounds, and walking trails within the 1200-acre park. What really sets Balboa Park is all of the activities that are free and family-friendly – the park is a great place to spend the day, the afternoon, or even a couple of days exploring if you have the time! Here’s our list of some of the best family-friendly activities in Balboa Park for a fun family outing.

Free Activities in Balboa Park

If you’re looking for free things to do in San Diego, Balboa Park has enough activities and events to keep you and your family busy for several days! All of the gardens, playgrounds, and walking trails are open to visitors every day, and some attractions are also free.

On each Tuesday of the month, museums and attractions rotate to offer free admission to San Diego residents for “Residents Free Tuesdays.” The deal includes:

  • The Museum of Man
  • Reuben H. Fleet Science Center
  • Japanese Friendship Garden
  • Model Railroad Museum

Some of the museums also offer free admission to active duty military and their family or local college students (with ID). The Veterans Museum and Memorial offers free admission every day for active duty military. Each October during the Kids Free in San Diego event, the world-famous San Diego Zoo, Reuben H. Fleet and other Park museums offer free admission to children as well.

Balboa Park Playgrounds

There are five different playgrounds within Balboa Park, which are a fun and free way for families to relax and get some exercise. Some of the playgrounds are better suited for kids under age 5, while others are intended for ages 5-12. Here are some of the most popular Balboa Park playgrounds:

Pepper Grove Playground: suitable for kids of all ages. It is separated into two main areas. The side designed for children younger than five has a giant sandbox, cushioned floors, slides and swings. The other side, designed for kids five and older, offers a large jungle gym, faux zip line and fun things to spin on.

Sixth Avenue Playground: this is a large play area that kids of all ages can enjoy. It is separated into two main areas. The side designed for kids aged 5 and up is fun and futuristic with loads of obstacles and things to climb on. The other side, recommended for children under 5, has a fire engine-themed jungle gym with ropes, slides and climbing bars.

Morley Field Playground: this medium-sized playground is perfect for kids aged 5-12, families with dogs and those who love playing sports. There are slides, monkey bars, swings and a rock-climbing wall to enjoy. It is surrounded by fun places like the a swimming pool, dog park and tennis courts.

balboa park

Fun Activities for Kids at Balboa Park

Balboa Park Carousel: The historic carousel is closer the entrance of the San Diego Zoo, and is truly an awesome place to visit for families. The carousel dates back to 1910 and is a fun menagerie of animals, and all but two pairs are original with hand-carved European craftsmanship. The carousel is one of the few in the world still offering the brass ring game for everyone taking the 5-minute ride!

A little history of the carousel: the Herschell-Spillman menagerie carousel was made in New York, and shipped to Los Angeles, California. In 1915, it was displayed at the summer resort called Tent City, in Coronado, and then moved up Balboa Park around 1922. It originally was placed at the east of Balboa Park, near the San Diego Natural History Museum, but moved to its current location in 1968 to make way for the Fleet Science Center.

In 2017, the Friends of Balboa Park purchased the historic carousel. As its new owner and operator, they will ensure that it remains an historic park landmark for many more years to come.

Miniature Railroad: The miniature railroad is next to the carousel, and families with young children will likely enjoy both rides. The train pulls out of the station for 3-minute rides around a portion of Balboa Park.

The Marie Hitchcock Puppet Theater is always a hit with the little ones. Founded in 1948, the Puppet Theater is the longest continuous running puppet theater in the United States! Puppet performances are presented throughout the year by a variety of troupes; the theater presents approximately 45 shows a year, with different shows each week (12 shows a week during the winter and 15 shows a week during the summer). The theater boasts 6 rotating resident puppeteers and 2 associate puppeteers, plus occasional guest artists from around the United States. The theater seats 200, and many of productions are “full-stage” using life-size puppets.

The San Diego Model Railroad Museum is the world’s largest operating model railroad museum. This unique museum contains four enormous scale and model layouts, built by separate clubs, whose exhibits depict railroads all over the Southwest. The Museum also features a Toy Train Gallery, complete with an interactive Lionel layout for children and state-of-the-art theater lighting. Your little train-lovers will absolutely love this railroad museum!

Balboa Park Gardens

The dozens of gardens located throughout Balboa Park are lovely places for a picnic or simply to just relax and enjoy the sunshine. Kids can play on the grass, and most of them offer plenty of shade and picnic tables. The Botanical Building is one of the most photographed buildings in Balboa Park and nestled among several of the most popular natural history museums.

The EthnoBotany Children’s Peace Garden is a unique organic herb, fruit, and vegetable garden that honors the memory of George Washington Carver. The space is dedicated to teaching young people about the role of plants in society. Gardening classes are available to schools, youth programs, individuals and families by appointment or on Sundays at 11:30am, and the garden also serves the nearly 6,000 students in the 5th Grade Balboa Park Integration Program.

The Rose Garden, Japanese Friendship Garden, and Zoro Garden are also good options for families. Some gardens are free and some cost money to get in, so be sure to double check on admission before you go.

Where to Eat at Balboa Park

After a long day of fun, the little ones in the group will definitely have worked up an appetite! There are several great places for families to dine at Balboa Park, including casual spots for outdoor activities and quick-and-easy snack carts.

Nosh down on hot dogs, hamburgers, and soft serve ice cream at the Village Grill behind the Natural History Museum. Over by the Fleet Science Center, you can sit outside and enjoy the fountain when you eat at Craveology. They have salads and panini sandwiches, and it’s a fun little spot that’s slightly off the beaten path for a quieter experience. The Alaska Airlines Flight Path Grill is a good go-to spot over by the Air & Space Museum: from chili cheese dogs to grilled cheese sandwiches, there’s yummy comfort food for all palates! You can sit out on the observation deck and watch the colorful planes land at the airport, too. There are also several coffee, snack, and water spots sprinkled throughout the park that you can walk to for a quick pick-me-up.

For more Balboa Park tips and how-tos, visit our explore Balboa Park page!

San Diego Zoo Safari Park Tips For The Family

Whether you are planning a family day in La Jolla or plan to head to a theme park, San Diego certainly doesn’t lack in options. The San Diego Zoo Safari Park is a 1,800-acre wildlife preserve that’s home to over 3,500 animals across 260 species from six continents of the world. A sister location to the San Diego Zoo, the Safari Park offers a much more diverse experience: its most famous feature is the expansive free-range enclosure area that’s home to herds of giraffes, rhinos, antelope, zebras, and buffalo, among other animals! Here is everything you need to know about the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, including helpful tips for visiting families.

Hours & Directions

The Safari Park is located at 15500 San Pasqual Valley Road, Escondido 92027. The park is open from 9am-5pm seven days a week.

Directions from the NORTH (southbound): From Interstate 5 (Orange County, Los Angeles), take the State Route 78 East exit at Oceanside, proceed east to Interstate 15 South, exit at Via Rancho Parkway (Exit 27) and follow the signs to the Park. From Interstate 15 (Riverside), exit at Via Rancho Parkway (Exit 27) and follow the signs east to the Park.

Directions from the SOUTH (northbound): From State Route 163 (downtown San Diego, Mission Valley) proceed to Interstate 15 North to the Via Rancho Parkway exit (Exit 27). Go east and follow signs to the Park. From Interstate 5 or 805 (Mexico), proceed to State Route 163, then to Interstate 15 North, and then exit at Via Rancho Parkway (Exit 27). Follow signs east.

Directions from the EAST (westbound): From Interstate 8 (Imperial County, Arizona) take Interstate 15 North to the Via Rancho Parkway exit (Exit 27). Follow the signs east to the Park.

Parking

Parking at the lot at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park is:

  • $15 per vehicle.
  • $20 for RV parking.
  • Preferred parking is available on weekends and holidays for an additional $18 ($15 + $18 = $33 total to park in preferred parking).

San Diego Safari Park Tickets

  • 1-Day Pass: $56 Adults / $46 Children. Includes Africa Tram, Cheetah Run, and all regularly scheduled shows.
  • 2-Visit Pass: $89 Adults / $79 Children. Includes one visit to the San Diego Zoo and one visit to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park -or- two visits to the San Diego Zoo -or- two visits to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.
  • San Diego GoCard: $209 Adults / $189 Children. The Go San Diego Card is a 3-day, all-inclusive attraction pass with free admission to the San Diego Zoo, San Diego Zoo Safari Park, LEGOLAND®, SeaWorld San Diego, and 35 other attractions.

Best Time to Visit the San Diego Safari Park

The best time to visit San Diego Zoo Safari Park is in the springtime, during birthing season. The busiest times of the year are from June-August and during school vacations. The park offers many nursery exhibits to see the baby animals, including enclosures that let visitors watch them as they take their first steps or are fed from a bottle.

Regardless of the time of year, the best time of day for guests to visit is in the morning as the animals tend to be most active then, before the temperatures reach afternoon highs. Tip: To avoid crowds, plan to visit the park on a weekday if possible.

What to See and Do

There is so much to see and do at the Safari Park, especially at the extensive free-range animal enclosures in the park. The park has 13 habitats and distinct regions.

[image: Facebook]

Tiger Trail

Make sure you grab a map at the Park entrance to help you navigate your way to all of the animals and to see the day’s schedule of entertainment, talks, tours, and attractions. Then start your visit with a trip through the awe-inspiring Tiger Trail, where you can watch tigers play and splash in the water – and if you’re lucky, they’ll walk straight up to the viewing window! When you first enter the Tiger Trail, there’s a little nook off to the right where you climb down netted rope to access a small viewing window. Kids will love feeling like they’re climbing through the jungle to happen upon a tiger like we did, as seen in the above photo! Kids will also love climbing and exploring at the Samburu Jungle gym located in the African Woods section of the Park.

Petting Kraal

Be sure to take your kiddos to the Petting Kraal to touch and brush the goats. Just make sure you don’t have any food on you before you go in––the goats will eat anything! For a list of all the animal encounters available at the Park click here. We love the Lemur Walk and Lorikeet Landing, where you can come face to face with lemurs and lorikeets!

Africa Tram

Definitely plan on riding the Africa Tram, which runs from 10am – 5:15pm daily. It’s a fun excursion through the African field exhibits, and is included with park admission. It’s one of the easiest ways to observe the animals here – the view from the open-air Tram gives kids a thrilling perspective of animals, ranging from giraffes to African rhinos. A tour guide narrates the tram ride with fun and educational facts about animals and what the Safari Park is doing to help critically endangered species. Tip: You can see the giraffes from the tram or from the African Plains’ Kijamii Overlook. For a special experience, feed the giraffes during a Caravan Safari.

The Safari Park has had over 100 births of the Uganda giraffe in their African Plains habitat, which greatly helps with the conservation efforts of this endangered giraffe subspecies.

Lion Camp

After your tram ride, head to see the nearby lion and lionesses in all their splendor. They’ll most likely be lounging under the Acacia tree since the regal felines can sleep up to 21 hours a day. Don’t miss the large glass panels that let you peer into the habitat with the hopes of coming face to face with the lions.

Gorilla Forest

Meander down the Gorilla Trail through the Gorilla Forest where you’ll behold a band of beautiful gorillas. After, don’t miss the gorilla activity center off to the left of the habitat. Kids can see how they measure up to an adult gorilla, watch a video on how the Park cares for the gentle giants and listen to sounds gorillas make.

Posted signs encourage passerby to “shhhh” be quiet because the gorillas don’t like loud noises. This may be a good exhibit to take your kids through after they’ve let off steam elsewhere so they can be quiet around the gorillas.

Elephant Valley

Don’t miss the opportunity of seeing the exquisite herd of African elephants in the Park’s two large exhibit yards. You may see elephants eating a snack, taking a dip in their pond, or watch the young elephants playing in a mud hole. There’s an Elephant Viewing Patio next to Tembo Stadium, but there are plenty of additional vantage points to get a close look at these amazing creatures.

Add-on Experiences

In addition to seeing the animals and regular exhibits, the Safari Park has a wide array of add-on activities including: a zip line, balloon Safaris, campouts, playgrounds, behind-the-scenes safaris, rope climbing through the trees, encounters with animal ambassadors, trike safaris, and customized experiences with personal guides – so you can really make a whole day of fun out of your visit and tailor your experiences to your kids’ interests! Visit the park website for details.

Tips for Families

  • Be sure to bring snacks, water or a water bottle, and a picnic lunch if you don’t plan on buying lunch inside the wild animal park. There are plenty of tables throughout where you can eat the food you brought from home.
  • Wear comfortable clothing and walking shoes, and bring a stroller for younger kids who might get tired from walking around the Park all day. Strollers are also available for rent at the Park.
  • Arrive early, at opening time if possible – temps are cooler and you’ll see more animals out and about.
  • There are four separate play areas, including one “cool zone” with water misters during the spring and summer months. Kids will love these when it’s hot out. The Park also has misting fans on many of the paths.
  • Bring a swimsuit/towel for kids who want to make a big splash in the Savanna Cool Zone.
  • Pack a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen – it can get warm at the Park, especially during the spring and summer months.
  • The park is open even in the rain. In fact, it’s an excellent time to go, when many of the animals may come out to soak it up. And you might feel like the only person in the whole park.
  • Start off walking, and then switch over to the Tram once the little ones start to tire. It’s a good way to break up all of that exercise!
  • Make sure your camera or phone are fully charged to capture lots of great photos!

Regardless of how you spend your day at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, there is truly no other place like it in San Diego. Be sure to check out our San Diego Zoo Guide if you plan on checking that out, as well!

The Farmers Insurance Open Returns to La Jolla January 24th

The Farmers Insurance Open Returns to La Jolla January 24th

The upcoming Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines Golf Course in San Diego is the golf event of the year! It has been held at Torrey Pines every year since 1968. Tiger Woods has confirmed he’ll be playing this year; Woods, who recently turned 42, won eight of his PGA Tour victories at the Torrey Pines Golf Course, including the 2008 U.S. Open. Woods is a clear favorite, especially among locals: keep an eye out for him and you just may score an autograph!

Overview

Opening Day is on Thursday, January 24, and each day through Sunday, January 27 holds a Championship round in the morning. Here’s the schedule breakdown for the week:

  • Thursday, January 24
    • Opening Round, North and South Courses
    • Post Party presented by Harrah’s Resort SoCal at The Fringe
  • Friday, January 25
    • Second Round, North and South Courses
    • Post Party presented by Harrah’s Resort SoCal at The Fringe
  • Saturday, January 26
    • Third Round, South Course
    • Post Party presented by Harrah’s Resort SoCal at The Fringe
  • Sunday, January 27
    • Final Round, South Course

In addition to Tiger Woods, players this year include defending champion Jon Rahm (who won in 2017), Rickie Fowler and Jordan Spieth. Before you go, purchase tickets online at the Farmers Insurance Open website. You’ll also want to familiarize yourself with the parking options available and the detailed Spectator Guidelines. Specific tee times will be updated the night before each event.

History of the Farmers Insurance Open

The tournament (originally called the San Diego Open) was first played in Chula Vista, then moved in 1954 to Rancho Santa Fe Golf Club in Rancho Santa Fe, which had hosted the Crosby Pro-Am prior to World War II. The event was played at Mission Valley Country Club in San Diego in 1955 for one year, then moved to El Cajon in 1956.

In 1968, the event began its present relationship with Torrey Pines Golf Course in La Jolla, a 36-hole public facility owned by the City of San Diego. In the current tournament set-up, players split the first 36 holes between the North and South Courses, then play the final 36 holes on the South Course. In 2008, the South Course hosted the U.S. Open, won by Tiger Woods in a playoff. Today, the Farmers Insurance Open is a PGA Championship tournament known as the “West Coast Swing,” and is organized by The Century Club of San Diego .

Itinerary

6:00 am – Get breakfast! Nearby restaurants include Caroline’s Seaside Cafe open at 8 am, and Farmer & The Seahorse open at 7 am weekdays. The Grill at Torrey Pines also opens at 6 am, situated at The Lodge at Torrey Pines hotel right next to the golf course for a closer breakfast.

7:00 am – Gates Open. If you’re an early bird, now is a great time to get yourself situated and set up your chairs or look for autograph opportunities (Tiger Woods if you get lucky!).

9:00 am – The round opens. You can bring pop-up stools and chairs without their carrying bags, but no lawn chairs or step stools. Times for each of the holes are on the schedule, and the player list is here. Then grab lunch at the event zones found at multiple locations throughout the event. See below for a full list of concession areas and food spots!

3:30 pm – Typically, the day’s round lasts until about 3:30 pm. The Post Party hosted by Harrah’s kicks off after the end of the rounds (Thursday, Friday and Saturday). Enjoy drinks and live music while mingling with other tournament attendees.

Attractions

SERVPRO Fan Village:

  • The Michelob ULTRA Zone: Open to the public, the 30,000-square foot Michelob ULTRA Zone features premium food and drink offerings.
  • Champions for Youth Tent in the Fan Village: Buy an official Farmers Insurance Open “Keep Calm & Torrey On” quiet paddle. All proceeds benefit at-risk youth charitable organizations!
  • Official Merchandise Tent: Shop all Official Tournament gear.
  • Fan-Friendly Expo: Try the latest golf equipment, learn more about special offers from Tournament partners, and engage in interactive displays.
  • The Fringe: Located on the 15th green. Upgrades on site are available at The Fringe entrance so check out what has become our most popular venue with artisan menu choices for purchase and a premium cash bar.
  • The Post Party: When play ends, keep the party going with live music from local DJs and Happy Hour drink specials.

The Swell Coffee Co. Grove (located between the 7th and 18th Fairways):

  • Grey Goose 19th Hole and Flight Deck: The expanded Grey Goose 19th Hole and Flight Deck will feature an all-new elevated viewing deck with panoramic views of the course, a Pétanque course and specialty drinks including the 2018 signature cocktail, the Torrey Breeze.
  • Concessions and picnic benches

Vantage Point (located near the 1st tee and 18th hole of the South Course).

  • Grey Goose La Cantine: Get the morning started with signature Grey Goose Boody Mary
  • Practice Putting Green: Watch the Pros as they prepare to play.
  • Autograph Area: Snag an autograph from your favorite player after the round.
  • Torrey Pines Golf Shop: Buy Official Tournament merchandise and accessories.

 

The PGA Championship Tour continues after the Farmers Insurance Open with the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am in February, the Genesis Open in Pacific Palisades, and the Honda Classic in Palm Beach, Florida in March. Open tickets and tickets for each upcoming event can be purchased at pgatour.com, along with a complete schedule and list of players. Tee times will be announced as each event approaches. The highly anticipated World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational will be held in August of this year in Akron, Ohio; the current American favorite player for that one is Zach Johnson.

Where to See Snow in San Diego County

One of the best things about San Diego County is the fact that you can be at the beach, in the mountains, or in the desert pretty much within an hour’s drive from downtown. And when winter rolls around, particularly December through February, there’s nothing locals want to do more than get out of town and hit the slopes – or simply enjoy a cup of hot cocoa! These five destinations are less than a two-hour drive from San Diego and almost always experience significant snowfall during winter in San Diego. 

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Mount Laguna (1 hour)

At just over 6,000 feet above sea level and 55 miles east of downtown San Diego (about a 1 hour drive), this is one of the most popular places to see winter snow. This is a great spot to cross-country ski, build snowmen, sled or toboggan, or make snow angels; but be sure to take a few precautions before you speed up the mountain.

If the urge strikes to stop along the way, you must pull completely off the road, avoid private property and purchase an Adventure Pass online or at a local vendor for $5 before you go. If there is snow, chains are required and you’ll need to purchase them before your trek up the mountain. The highway patrol sets up check points, that also tend to slow traffic, and you may find yourself in hot water if they catch you without chains. The Laguna Mountain Lodge has reasonably-priced accommodations, a Visitor Center, and Adventure Passes for sale.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Cuyamaca Rancho State Park (1 hour)

In the coldest winters, Cuyamaca Rancho State Park turns into a winter wonderland, completely covered in snow. You’ll find many families flocking here, taking up the relatively small number of parking spots in the Paso Picacho area campground. Both campgrounds offer several hiking trails, including treks to several popular peaks such as Stonewall Peak, Middle Peak, and Cuyamaca Peak. Additionally, there are several free turnouts ideal for kids to stop and play in the snow. If you aren’t looking into snow camping, try nearby Blue Jay Lodge for affordable accommodations. 

Arrive early, enjoy a day in the snow, and drive an additional 20 minutes to eat some warm apple pie in Julian afterwards.

Palomar Mountain (1 hour, 45 minutes)

A windy drive up Palomar Mountain transports you to biodiversity reminiscent of Northern California. Step into the pine, cedar, and fir wood forests and you might forget you’re even in Southern California. While Palomar Mountain is farther than other snow destinations in San Diego (about an hour and 45-minute drive), it is one of the best in terms of snow hikes and solitude. If you plan to hike, double check on whether or not you need an Adventure Pass. As far as accommodations go, you’ll find plenty of camping.  

Take a walk along the French Valley Trail and loop back towards Doane Pond for a beautiful hike through the forest and meadow; or head to the nearby Palomar Observatory for a scenic viewpoint. 

Julian (1 hour, 15 minutes)

Many flock to Julian for their famous apple pies, historic landmarks, and scenic hiking trails, but winter offers an additional appeal: snow! At just an hour and fifteen-minute drive from downtown San Diego, Julian is the perfect destination to travel to to build a snowman, start a snowball fight, or hike along a lightly snow-dusted trail. Parking is usually not an issue, but easiest to find at Jess Martin park, Julian Memorial Park, or William Heise Park. 

Once you’re done playing in the snow, make sure to warm up by stopping at one of their famous wineries or breweries in the downtown area.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Idyllwild (2 hours)

Though it’s the farthest away from San Diego proper, Idyllwild is very much worth the drive for local snow-seekers. It’s a cozy little mountaintop community located above the San Jacinto Mountains in Riverside County, and is known for its quaint downtown filled with boutiques, restaurants, art galleries, and coffee shops. It snows most winters here, and the best time to go is usually in December or January. This particular area is generally much less crowded than Big Bear, Lake Arrowhead, and some of the other larger communities nearby; it’s a great spot for a winter hike, sledding, making snow angels, and cozying up in a local Airbnb to watch the snow fall.

Tips Before You Go

  • Make sure to check weather and traffic conditions before heading up to the mountains.
  • Bring chains in case they are required on certain roads. 
  • Bring a fully-charged cell phone and plenty of snacks for the road, just in case you’re not the only one with the grand idea!
  • Always pack your trash out, and practice the “leave no trace” philosophy; most of these lands are within National Forests and are protected by law.

Where is your favorite place to see the snow in San Diego County? 

The Best Views in San Diego

If you’re born and raised in San Diego, you already know that it’s truly one of most beautiful places on the planet  – people come here from all over the world to lay on our beaches and enjoy the perfect weather all year round. Whether your thing is hiking to waterfalls or sitting on the beach watching the sunset, San Diego is paradise. Here are some of the best views in San Diego, from coastal viewpoints to seaside meditation gardens! Plus, visit our San Diego guides section to explore more fun things to do in each neighborhood.

Torrey Pines Gliderport

Where else can you sit back and watch people fly over the ocean? The Torrey Pines Gliderport sits above Black’s Beach (a clothing optional La Jolla beach) and next to Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve, a coastal state park and community known for its world-class golf course (it hosted the 2008 U.S. Open) and picturesque San Diego hiking trails. While both the golf course and trails have views well worth writing home about, just a little south is the Torrey Pines Gliderport, a city-owned aviation site where paragliders and hang-gliders can launch off the cliffs to the beaches below. It’s a magical spot to take in the scenery and watch San Diego’s finest soar through the sky.

There’s a massive parking lot in front of the glider port that’s free all day, so parking is almost always easy to find.

Mt. Soledad

Mount Soledad is one of La Jolla’s secret spots. It’s a small mountain with a veterans memorial and giant cross at its peak; the memorial itself offers an expansive, panoramic view of San Diego and the coast below, and it’s easily accessible by car. It’s an iconic San Diego spot, partially due to the massive controversy over the constitutionality of the cross — it went to the Supreme Court twice! Parking is easy, although the road from Pacific Beach to Mount Soledad is a popular cycling path if that’s your thing.

Sunset Cliffs

With sheer cliffs bordering the ocean, several decent surf spots, and coastal trails along the bluffs, Sunset Cliffs is one of San Diego’s most picturesque – and iconically Southern California –  areas. As the name suggests, it’s a popular spot if you’re wondering where to catch the sunset, although the beaches below are also a great place to hang out if you’re looking for something a little more secluded than some of our busier beaches.

Local tip: The cliffs are mostly unfenced, so watch your step as you explore the area. There are also a few spots where locals and visitors alike jump off the cliffs into the ocean, but be careful if you join: it’s technically illegal and there are lots of sharp rocks hiding in the water.

Self-Realization Fellowship Meditation Gardens

Incredible views and inner peace await within one of San Diego’s most picturesque gardens. Perched atop the cliffs in Encinitas, a coastal city in North County, the Meditation Gardens are part of the Self-Realization Fellowship Temple grounds. It’s the perfect spot for a thoughtful stroll through lush greenery, and has plenty of benches facing the ocean view. This is an amazing place to take in the sunset, or simply spend a few hours admiring the garden and the views during the day.

If you’re there around lunchtime, head across the street to Swami’s Cafe! It’s a local gem that is well known for its breakfast and acai bowls, making it a perfect place to stop by before or after your garden stroll.

Stonewall Peak

Stonewall Peak is a favorite among San Diego hikers, and for great reason! Julian is a small city in the outermost part of San Diego County, known for its small-town country feel and freshly baked pies. But just a few miles from the sleepy town is the Cuyamaca Rancho State Park, home to several hiking trails with some awesome vistas. We recommend Stonewall Peak, which has a trail that leads up a small mountain via a series of moderate switchbacks. After a 30 minute hike, you’ll arrive at a staircase leading you to the very top, where a breathtaking coastline view awaits.

Go as early as you can manage to see this great view — the view during sunrise is spectacular, plus you’ll avoid the midday heat and the crowds. Parking is at the campground just next to the trailhead and costs $10.

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It was a great weekend for the beach! This is Del Mar City beach 🏖 First time here and it was such a great day to get out and enjoy it. Each of California’s beaches are so unique. They all have a personality. This one included green lawns, and a Amtrak that zipped by every once in a while. The sand was like powdered sugar, and felt so cool on my bare feet. Del Mar is where the Torrey Pines golf course is, which is where they hold the US Open. It’s definitely worth a visit if you are just north of San Diego. I absolutely love discovering new places like this pretty seaside town. Happy Thursday everybody!#nofilterneeded #beach #beaches #beachday #delmarbeach #delmar #citybeach #greenlawns #amtrak #whitesand #feelsgood #unique #personality #beachlove #travel #travels #travelinsta #travelgram #travelinstagram #travelphotography #socal #california #californiaadventure #palmtree #pacificocean

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Powerhouse Park

One of our favorite places to relax in North County is Powerhouse Park, located in the quaint beach town of Del Mar. Both Powerhouse Park and adjacent Seagrove Park comprise Del Mar’s crown jewel, and after you take in the view there, you’ll see why!

The sprawling grassy knolls overlook the beach, making it a popular place to sunbathe or dine al fresco at one of the many picnic tables. To see the full scope of this area, begin at the outer rim of Seagrove Park and work your way down to Powerhouse Park, stopping along the routes to gaze at the sea and surfers below. If you walk past the “Tot Lot” play area at Powerhouse Park, you’ll find a small gateway that leads to a dirt path. Follow that trail to a cluster of benches where you can sit and bask in the sun. Seagrove Park is located off Coast Blvd. in Del Mar.

Coronado Ferry Landing

If you’ve ever searched Google Images for “downtown San Diego”, then you’ve seen the view of the San Diego cityscape lit up, standing tall and bright in front of the water. Those photos were taken from Coronado, a small city on a peninsula in the San Diego Bay, just west of downtown. The peninsula’s ferry landing leads into a waterfront park with restaurants, shops, a beach, and the same incredible view of the city that photographers love, making it an ideal place to spend the day. The view is especially impressive in the evening, when the city turns on its colorful lights and they dance off the water.

The best way to get to the ferry landing is the ferry! The ride is about 15 minutes, and it costs $4.75 each way. It operates regularly from downtown to Coronado from early morning until just before 10:00 pm.

La Jolla Cove

We wouldn’t be able to mention views without mentioning La Jolla Cove! Beautiful La Jolla Cove is a small beach area surrounded by cliffs which boast a beautiful view of the neighboring cliffs and hosts a colony of California sea lions – they make for a fun spectacle to watch as you wait for the sunset. 

La Jolla gets pretty busy in the summertime, especially on the weekends. Our recommendation is to explore the area in the evening on a weekday, or stop by during winter or fall (typically regarded as “offseason” here).

Top Fitness Studios in San Diego

It’s no secret that America’s Finest City is a pretty healthy community; from yoga, barre, and Pilates to boot camp classes and aerobics, there is no shortage of fun ways to work out or hike in San Diego! We’ve rounded up some of the best fitness studios in the County – and what classes they’re known for – so you don’t have to. Here are the best fitness studios in San Diego!

Spark Cycle (Cycling)

Take a seat on a stationary bike, diligently listen to directional advice from your upbeat instructor, and pedal as fast as you can for this indoor cycling, or “spin” class. After taking a class at SparkCycle in La Jolla, it is estimated that riders lose up to 600-900 calories even though the class is only 45 minutes long. SparkCycle offers top-of-the-line Schwinn bikes, QSC audio system, LED lighting, stadium risers for a perfect view, showers for after your workout, free validated garage parking, and passionate instructors. If you don’t want to commit to the all included membership, you can try your first class out for $10.

Core Power (Yoga)

At Core Power, members believe that this workout class not only transforms your body, but also transforms your everyday life mindset. Inside the studio, yogis are pushed outside of their comfort zone and consequently, leave the yoga studio more secure in themselves than when they walked in.

Core Power offers a free week at the multiple locations scattered around San Diego if you’re interested in testing out the waters before buying a membership. Note, there are many types of classes – Core Power 1, Core Power 2, and Sculpt are a few – that differ in levels. If you haven’t tried out yoga before, it is recommended you try C1 before a C2 or Sculpt class. Core Power 1 is a class for beginner yogis and Core Power 2 is a more advanced challenge. Sculpt, on the other hand, is a high-intensity weight training workout where muscle meets yoga and metabolism boosts.

Trilogy Sanctuary (Yoga)

Trilogy Sanctuary holds up to its name — it’s a triple-threat of aerial yoga, an infrared-heated indoor studio space, and an organic, vegan cafe. The stunning La Jolla location boasts a rooftop space with daily aerial yoga classes overlooking the ocean as well as plenty of comfy nooks to enjoy your raw, organic, vegan snacks (that’s a mouthful, literally). And on the rare rainy San Diego day, you can take your indoors, where the temp is cranked up to almost 100 degrees!

Studio Barre (Barre)

Located in Bird Rock, Carmel Valley, Mission Hills, and Encinitas, Studio Barre is all over San Diego and gains popularity each day due to its killer workout and positive effects. Barre is an experience focused on building core strength, improving posture and developing long and lean muscles. Former professional dancer, barre enthusiast, and fitness expert Shannon Higgins founded Studio Barre in 2012. At Studio Barre, there is a new client special which includes one month of unlimited classes for $99.00.

Club Pilates (Pilates)

Club Pilates‘ mantra commends pilates is the path to a fuller, richer, healthier and more satisfying life. Focusing on the functionality of flexibility and strength, Club Pilates classes prepare members to transcend motivation in class out into everyday life. Classes entail “Cardio Sculpt,” “Barre/Reformer Fusion,” “Bootcamp,” and “Stretch.” Moreover, there is a class called, “CP Teen,” which is specifically directed at athletic teenagers seeking to enhance their skills in their competitive sport. Schedule your first free intro class today at one of the many locations, such as Mission Valley, and feel your body transformation first hand.

Orangetheory Fitness (Cardio)

Orangetheory Fitness (OTF) is not a traditional workout center. The vibrantly colored gym offers class-based workouts with varying class sizes – anywhere from 10 to 20 people – and each class incorporates cardio, indoor rowers, weight training blocks, and floor exercises designed to give you fast results. What makes OTF unique is the motivating technology they use to optimize your workout. Each participant wears a heart rate monitor that glows a different color depending on his or her heart rate. Cardiac output is measured with green, orange, and red. Green is the “easy zone”, with orange being ideal, and red nearing danger.

“Work for 1 hour. Burn for 36” is the Orange Theory Fitness slogan. They believe measured success is important. It explains their heart-based interval training workout. They claim that their heart rate training stimulates metabolism and increases energy. According to OTF, their members burn an average of 500 to 1000 calories per 1-hour workout!

F45 Training (Circuit Training)

Every day at F45 is different. From Athletica to Hollywood, the team here has developed 27 different high-intensity circuit workouts that’ll keep you moving and sweating. With two to three trainers per class and exercise demos on TV screens around the studio, it’s easy to follow along. With eight locations in San Diego and La Jolla – and more to come – there are plenty of opportunities to fit in a 45-minute class. What should you expect at your first group fitness workout? A big hug and a “hello mate” from your newest Aussie friends (the company is based in Australia!).

Bodyrok (Pilates)

Bodyrok isn’t your traditional Pilates class, but trust us, you won’t mind! Inspired by the Reformer, the Bodyrok’s signature machine is a remodeled and redesigned version of the original Pilates equipment, so you can get the most out of your workout in the least amount of time. And get ready to pour sweat — Bodyrok’s 40-minute strength-training classes in Del Mar and Encinitas are challenging and will work your whole body as you squeeze, pike, and jump your way to the end.

Barry’s Bootcamp (Bootcamp)

Dubbed “the best workout in the world,” Barry’s Bootcamp classes are a one-hour sweat-fest complete with strength training and cardio intervals. With hill climbs, sprints, and dynamic mode (self-propelled treadmill), running on a treadmill has never been so tough. The floor work focuses on a different muscle group each day, allowing you to develop a well-rounded physique — or at least, avoid leg day (Tuesday). This is a fun one to try if you’re looking for a more regular, intensive workout than yoga or pilates; rest assured, the alternating cardio and bursts of intense anaerobic exercise will keep your heart rate elevated and the sweat coming!

For more San Diego guides, tips, and workout ideas, visit our other blogs or our San Diego guides section!

The Best Concert Venues in San Diego

San Diego has had a great music scene for decades now; and in recent years, it’s only grown! New venues, including the Observatory North Park, have opened up all around the County, and the burgeoning “alt” scene has taken over.

From live jazz and alt-indie rock to hip-hop and funk, America’s Finest City is ripe with live music of all shapes and sizes! Here are the top concert venues in San Diego County spanning from downtown all the way to fun venues and things to do in North County.

Casbah San Diego

2501 Kettner Blvd., San Diego
The Casbah, arguably San Diego’s most authentic rock club, recently celebrated its 25th anniversary. This is a great place to catch big names on their way up the totem pole – legends such as Nirvana, The Arcade Fire, and Rocket from the Crypt have all graced the Casbah stage before hitting it big. The intimate venue (200 person capacity) includes an enclosed smoking patio; a back room with pool tables, pinball and the classic video game Galaga; and a full bar.

The Observatory North Park

2891 University Ave., San Diego
The original home of the North Park Theatre, The Observatory North Park offers a cool, vintage vibe and top acts. Located just behind West Coast Tavern, concertgoers can first enjoy the gentrified North Park neighborhood before rocking to a show. The theatre was built in 1928 and has now been fully renovated to include a new tiered and open floor with room for 1,100 concertgoers.

Belly Up Tavern

143 S. Cedros, Solana Beach
The Belly Up Tavern is a dynamic all-genres club that’s been around for decades, and is a beloved local staple in Solana Beach: one night may be rocking in tribute to Johnny Cash while the next is mellowed out with the singer-songwriter sounds of Donavon Frankenreiter, and it’s definitely the best place to see non-mainstream music acts. Sight lines can be a bit difficult with the odd building layout, but the place definitely has the cool factor down. It also has the flexibility to be the setting for rocking out or providing a more intimate atmosphere depending on who’s performing. Seats aren’t guaranteed at this intimate North County venue, so arriving early is your best bet for a good standing view.

House of Blues

1055 Fifth Avenue, San Diego
A staple in the music scene in most major cities, the House of Blues San Diego is no different.  The House of Blues boasts one of the coolest stages in town, and a restaurant that actually has great food. While it has the reputation for booking some of the biggest acts to come through Southern California (and the best sound system), parking downtown can be a challenge; we recommend arriving with plenty of time to find a spot. There is paid parking available, if needed. The standing-room-only venue can get pretty packed, but you can usually skip the line to get in if you dine at the attached restaurant.

CalCoast Credit Union Open Air Theatre

5500 Campanile Dr., San Diego
Located on the San Diego State University (SDSU) campus, this 4,600-seat amphitheater offers great sight lines and good sound in an open-air outdoor space. It is steeply raked, so be careful walking the aisles. Emerging acts on summer tours are often booked here, and is known for hosting many up-and-coming bands that later turn pro. One thing to note: the cheap seats at the top are concrete and not exactly comfortable, so choose your seats wisely! If you hang outside early enough, you’ll be able to listen to the band do sound checks, which is always a fun bonus.

Humphreys by the Bay

2241 Shelter Island Drive, Shelter Island
With only 1,400 seats, Humphreys by the Bay hosts fun outdoor performances from May through October, when the weather is ideal for its bayfront location. A San Diego staple since 1982, Humphreys Concerts cover the entire spectrum, from rock and jazz to blues, folk, and even comedy. A few things to note before you go: aisles and seats are tightly packed, and there isn’t much room to move. Bar noise can also be aggravating. We recommend arriving early to secure your seat before the crowds get there. Pro-tip: If you have a boat, you can watch concerts for free from the marina!

Sleep Train Ampitheatre

2050 Entertainment Circle, Chula Vista
This giant amphitheater, recently renamed (formerly Cricket Wireless Amphitheatre and Coors Amphitheatre before that) and located in Chula Vista, was a much-needed concert platform for San Diego, enabling a wide variety of mega acts to come to the cit instead of passing up San Diego for bigger concert arenas up north. This 19,492-seat outdoor venue offers ample lawn seating, and the parking lot is ripe for tailgating; the regular seats boast plenty of legroom, too. While traffic access isn’t the best (and the lot can quickly devolve into a total nightmare once the concert is over), it’s a great place to watch your favorite band on a big stage. Large video screens help your viewing if you happen to be sitting behind a tall person.

Copley Symphony Hall

750 B Street, San Diego
Originally opened in 1929 as the Fox Theatre, Copley Symphony Hall (inside the Joan and Irwin Jacobs Music Center) was recently refurbished and is equipped with state-of-the-art digital sound and lighting technology as well as a full-sized Robert Morton pneumatic pipe organ, making it the perfect home for the San Diego Symphony. More than 39 front row seats are available, with another 2200 to accommodate classical audiences of all sizes. It’s definitely San Diego’s classiest music venue, though its downtown setting means that parking can be quite tricky; especially on the weekends. We recommend taking an Uber, or arriving early and splurging for a paid lot.

Viejas Arena

5500 Canyon Crest Dr., San Diego (SDSU)
Also located on the SDSU campus, the 12,000-seat Viejas Arena (formerly Cox Arena) is home to the SDSU Aztec Basketball team and also hosts some excellent events: recent musical acts of note include The Foo Fighters, Green Day, and Trans-Siberian Orchestra. With the stage usually erected at the rear end of the arena, nearly every seat in the house has a prime view, and the steep seat angles offer good sight lines. Although the facility feels more utilitarian than luxurious (it is a stadium, after all), it’s still a fun place for a large group to check out a show on the weekends. Be careful parking anywhere besides the assigned lot – nearby neighborhoods are known for giving out plenty of tickets.

Pechanga Arena

3500 Sports Arena Blvd., San Diego
After more than 8 years as Valley View Casino Center, the venue changed its name to Pechanga Arena in December of 2018 after a partnership deal with Pechanga Casino in Temecula. With several seating areas, including lower level seating, a Players Lounge, and new entrances, this is a massive arena that hosts big musical acts pretty regularly: Miley Cyrus and Taylor Swift have both recently sold out shows.

Music Box

1337 India Street, San Diego
The building once occupied by Anthology has finally been revived into a three-level, state-of-the-art concert venue. The roomy general admission area holds around 800 (compared to the 300 people they could cram in there way back during the Anthology days), opera booths with bottle service, two outdoor patios, bars on two levels, and a private VIP room overlooking the stage. Rest assured, this is not your typical dark, dingy, sticky-floored music venue! From the second floor mural of iconic musicians’ mug shots by a local artist to the massive organ pipes hanging over the downstairs bar, this concert hall is designed to look as good as it sounds.

new years eve san diego

New Years Eve Events in San Diego

We’re officially in the throes of the holiday season, and New Year’s Eve in San Diego is right around the corner! If you’re looking to get out and about for NYE this year, there are plenty of fun events, parties, and happenings going on around San Diego County – from epic hotel parties in the Gaslamp Quarter and downtown to casual craft beer dinners and everything in between. Here’s our roundup of the best New Year’s Eve events in San Diego this year!

Big Night San Diego NYE

Where: Hilton Bayfront

Ring in 2019 at one of the biggest parties in San Diego! The 16th annual Big Night NYE is back with an all-inclusive extravaganza, including unlimited drinks all night, a buffet, and live entertainment at ten different party zones (with eight dance floors) throughout the hotel. Guests are free to roam – beverage in hand – from party room to party room, from the Retro Zone to the Club Zone and the silent disco. About a dozen popular bands and DJs will be playing throughout the gala’s many party areas all evening. At midnight, celebrate with exclusive party favors and a big countdown.

New Years Eve at Tower 23

Where: Tower 23 Hotel; 723 Felspar Street, San Diego
Tower 23 in Pacific Beach is a fun lifestyle hotel situated right on the beach. This year, make your way there to pop, sparkle, fizz, toast, and sip as you ring in the new year! Dine before you dance with dinner at JRDN (there are two seatings, at 5:30pm and 8:30pm), then enjoy live music and sets from local DJs starting at 10pm. Stay overnight with an exclusive discount hotel package, and enjoy a special New Year’s Day brunch the next morning until 3:30pm!

New Years Eve Hornblower Cruise

Where: Pier 1 Hornblower Landing, 1800 North Harbor Drive
This NYE, head to an Old Hollywood-themed Hornblower cruise! This special night will include a fun four-hour cruise around the San Diego Harbor, and feature plenty of free-flowing champagne, a five-course gourmet seated dinner, a live jazz band, New Years Eve party favors, and of course, incredible views of the San Diego coastline! The High Spirits, built in 1929, is a beautifully restored classic motor yacht that’s going to be decorated in the spirit of Old Hollywood this New Years Eve. The upper deck offers a bar and dining room with breathtaking views, making the High Spirits perfect for a themed celebration. Be sure to wear your best black and white ensemble as you step back in time and are swept away by the glitz and glamour of yesterday and a night of fun on the water.

New Years Eve Gala

Where: Hotel Del Coronado; 1500 Orange Avenue, Coronado
Ring in the New Year at The World’s Greatest Legend, a once-in-a-lifetime celebration with dazzling star attractions and awe-inspiring performances at the Hotel Del Coronado. The oceanfront Ballroom will transform into a lavish big top, complete with black tie-clad aristocrats, a delectable five-course feast, open bar, and dancing to the sounds of the Mighty Untouchables. Kick the evening off with Cocktail Hour in the Crown Room from 7pm-8pm, then head to the Ballroom at 8pm for an extravagant dinner, live performances and music, and dancing until 1am. For an extra special experience, be sure to book a room at this world-famous hotel and cap off your evening in style!

NYE Beach Party

Where: Catamaran Resort; 3999 Mission Blvd.
Ring in 2019 at the beach this year! Head to the Catamaran Resort for an all-inclusive evening packed with unlimited drinks and cocktails, festive hors d’oeuvres, four rooms of top-tier entertainment featuring San Diego’s hottest DJs, themed photo booths to create lasting memories, and an epic LED screen midnight countdown and balloon drop. For a five-star evening, upgrade to the VIP Party Boat and cruise around Mission Bay on the William D. Evans. Aboard you’ll find multiple decks of music, two open bars, a dance floor, and casino games, all in addition to the fun inside the Catamaran.

Craft Beer New Year

Where: Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens at Liberty Station; 2816 Historic Decatur Rd.
Go all-out on the last night of the year with an extravagant affair at Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens Liberty Station! Your $99 ticket includes three drink tickets, light bites throughout the night, a celebratory toast pour at midnight (with souvenir tasting glass), two dance floors and live music from DJ Tropixx, a cigar lounge in the movie courtyard, speakeasy room, interactive photo booth, and a midnight countdown and ball drop. Group packages and discounts are available for parties of nine or more.

Black & Gold New Year’s Eve

Where: Maritime Museum of San Diego; 1492 North Harbor Drive
Celebrate the new year in style at the Maritime Museum! Located directly on the San Diego Bay, guests can spend a gorgeous and exciting night in one of the most unique venues in town. The event center located on the historic 1898 Steam Ferry Berkeley will be transformed into a classy lounge, complete with live music and dancing from the era, a 30’ candy and dessert bar, photo booth, party hats and favors, appetizers all night, and a complimentary champagne toast at midnight. Be sure to reserve your tickets early.

NYE at Hard Rock Hotel

Where: Hard Rock Hotel; 207 Fifth Avenue
The biggest New Year’s Eve bash in the Gaslamp Quarter returns this year with Kid Ink and live DJ Pauly D at the Hard Rock Hotel. This year, experience a festive journey to the world’s most epic party cities, including Beijing, Los Angeles, New York, Giza, and Mykonos to ring in 2019. Don your holiday finest and celebrate until long after midnight on three hotel levels and five totally decked-out party rooms. A limited number of Hotel Room Packages are available this year, and include two party tickets and a one-night hotel stay. VIP Bottle Service Packages are also available.

Ball on Broadway

Where: Parq Restaurant & Nightclub; 615 Broadway
Head to Parq Restaurant and Nightclub this New Year’s Eve to dance the night away and bring in 2019 in style! Toast to the new year in an expansive venue featuring 35,000 square feet and two nightclubs as part of a five-room opulent experience. Wander through each room, listening to multiple DJs and enjoying five distinct musical experiences to ring in the New Year. Parq Restaurant and Nightclub is located in downtown San Diego in the Gaslamp Quarter.

2019 Bottoms Up NYE

Where: ALTITUDE Sky Lounge (Marriott Gaslamp Quarter)
Level up your New Year’s Eve! From the lobby to Altitude Sky Lounge, enjoy free-flowing champagne, unlimited well drinks, domestic beers, and two of San Diego premier DJs plus an exceptional selection of gourmet food stations, including a raw seafood and sushi bar, street taco stand, chocolate fountain, carving station, and more. Your top-to-bottom evening will include unlimited drinks and food all night, party favors, a New Years Eve countdown, and live music from various DJs in the lobby and on the 22nd floor. Guests can roam between the San Diego skyline lounge and the lobby all evening long at this epic downtown San Diego hotel party!

Have kids in tow? Check out our kid-friendly New Year’s Eve events in San Diego!

Things to Do in Southern California

Southern California is a great place for vacations regardless of the time of year. There’s gorgeous weather, beaches that are amazing, and all sorts of waterfront attractions that make it rank high on my list of recreation and fun. It offers a plethora of scenic, fun, and most of the time, free things that make visiting Southern California something that needs to be one everyone’s bucket list.

Beaches

With the coast of Southern Cali being so long, you know there are plenty of beaches to explore. You might decide to have a bonfire on the beach in La Jolla, ride the roller coaster at the Santa Monica Pier, or just soak up some rays at any number of other gorgeous beaches.

San Diego Zoo

The landscaping of the San Diego Zoo is amazing, and it features a diverse collection of animals as well as other unique attractions. It’s set on a full 100 acres in Balboa Park and takes about 5 hours to walk through, so plan for a great workout.

The Strand Bike Path

This is great fun for anyone who lives in California or just visiting with their family. It’s a stretch of 22 miles of bike trails along the gorgeous coastline of Southern California, and it’s actually paved! On this route, you will ride past quite a few beach towns and they each have their own attractions and unique look.

Pacific Coast Highway

The gorgeous PCH begins in San Diego and ends in Mendocino County in Northern California. One fantastic route is the drive from San Luis Obispo to San Diego. On this route, you’ll see scenery that is stunning, while also passing through a variety of sites of interest and quaint little beach towns. It also makes for a restorative getaway after a stressful week or maybe if you or a loved one has just come home from one of the Santa Barbara sober living facilities. Taking a break can be a big help as a time to decompress before getting back to the real world.

Griffith Observatory

If you are looking for a good hike, try the trails at this attraction. There are a few miles of steep, short trails that will take you close to the famed Hollywood sign. Aside from a great view of that iconic piece of scenery, there are great views of the surrounding hills and skyline. When you finish the hike, you will be able to take in the night skies at the observatory. This is one of the best spots for getting great night views of LA.

Venice Beach

This beach is definitely a once in a lifetime sort of experience. There are street performers everywhere and the sights can and do differ from one day to the next. You can also pay a visit to iconic Muscle Beach, a prime spot for those bodybuilders in your group.

There are way too many things to list here that you can do and see in Southern California, but the ones discussed here today are a good place to start.

Kid-Friendly New Years Eve Events In San Diego

Looking for New Years Eve events in San Diego that are great for the whole family? We’ve got you covered! There’s plenty for the little ones to do around San Diego County this New Years Eve, from a pajama party at the Children’s Museum to an extravagant ice skating and dinner party at the Hotel Del Coronado. Bring the whole family and make NYE 2019 a night to remember at these kid friendly New Years Eve events and festivities in San Diego! 

NYE Gala at Hotel Del Coronado

Where: Hotel Del Coronado; 1500 Orange Ave., Coronado

Adults can ring in the New Year at The World’s Greatest Legend, a once-in-a-lifetime celebration with dazzling star attractions and awe-inspiring performances at the Hotel Del Coronado. The Del’s oceanfront Ballroom will transform into a lavish big top with black tie-clad aristocrats, a delectable five-course feast, open bar, and dancing.

Meanwhile, the kids and teens get a party of their own from 7:00pm until 12:30am! The night includes dinner, ice skating (ages 8+), special shows, games, s’mores roast, and a midnight toast with sparkling cider. Teens ages 13-17 can also hang out in their own teen lounge and watch movies as they mingle.

NYE at LEGOLAND California

Where: LEGOLAND California; 1 Legoland Drive, Carlsbad

The countdown to 2019 starts early at the grand finale of Holidays at LEGOLAND California Resort during the Park’s annual Kids’ New Year’s Eve celebration party! The night kicks off with special musical performances on the Fun Town Stage and Heartlake City Stage. Then, starting at 6pm, the party moves to San Francisco in Miniland USA, where young lego lovers can ring in the New Year and watch a re-creation of the famous Times Square ball drop, complete with a giant LEGO brick falling 22 feet in the air. Families can enjoy a spectacular fireworks display as the brick drops, lighting up the night sky. All activities are included with regular park admission.

Pajama Jam

Where: New Children’s Museum; 200 West Island Ave., San Diego

Pajama Jam at The New Children’s Museum is back for another year! Bring the entire family and get cozy in your jammies. The night includes New Year’s-themed art activities, games, a dance jam, photo booth, catered dinner, and a fun countdown balloon drop. The parents get a free drink ticket. Pajama Jam provides an opportunity for families to experience the Museum at night with catered dinner, drinks, music and special activities/programs, and also helps raise some much-needed funds to keep the Museum running. The evening kicks off at 5:30p and goes until 8:30. Tickets start at $25.

Rockin’ New Years Eve

Where: Corvette Diner; 2965 Historic Decatur Rd., San Diego

Toast the New Year at the classic 1950s-themed Corvette Diner in Point Loma, San Diego! Enjoy burgers, classic milkshakes, and fries as you listen to live music and a local DJ, play arcade games, and watch a balloon artist work his magic. The party starts early to end with a bang at the Big Apple ball drop and toast at 9:00pm.

Speakeasy Roaring 20s Bash at the Westin

Where: The Westin Carlsbad Resort & Spa; 5480 Grand Pacific Dr., Carlsbad

Dance away the last few hours of 2018 and raise a glass to the New Year at The Westin Carlsbad Resort & Spa’s family-friendly “Speakeasy” 2018 New Year’s Eve Bash! Costumes are encouraged – come dressed to impress in your finest 1920s attire and get ready for a fabulous night that the whole family will enjoy, complete with live entertainment, costume contests, and prizes for Best Dressed Family and Best Dressed Couple. The party kicks off at 6:30pm with a buffet dinner, champagne and sparkling wine, and a decadent dessert bar.

While adults shake it on the dance floor to spins from a live DJ, the little ones can keep the fun going with face painting, ping-pong, foosball, billiards, and an exclusive Gamer Room at the dedicated Kids Party Zone. Guests can also expect the clock to strike midnight twice at this bash – kids ring in the New Year with an exciting balloon drop for the East Coast at 9pm, while adults celebrate with a complimentary champagne toast and main drop at midnight here on the West Coast.

New Years Eve Family Party

Where: Living Coast Discovery Center; 1000 Gunpowder Point Dr., Chula Vista

Join the Living Coast Family to watch the ball drop together under the stars! Bundle up for wild animal encounters, night hikes, and tons more. This is sure to be a New Year’s party your family will never forget! Your event ticket includes: two drink tickets (champagne, beer, or wine for adults with proper I.D.), wildlife animal encounters, DJ music and dancing, trivia and other family-friendly games, interactive photo booth, crafts for all ages including their famous recycled-dog toy, hot chocolate bar, and cookie decorating. Plus, enjoy live coverage of the Times Square Celebration at midnight (9pm PST/12am EST). Be sure to purchase your tickets in advance, as they won’t be available at the door day of.

The NYE Grape Drop

Where: Temecula Town Square Park; 41000 Main Street, Temecula

Though not technically in San Diego, Temecula is about an hour’s drive northeast and a fun way to get out of town for New Year’s Eve! Party like it’s 1999 (or 2019!) and watch the Temecula grape drop at Town Square Park twice: once with the East Coast at 9pm, and once with the West Coast at midnight. There will be plenty of free activities for kids, food vendors, and live music by Danielle Arribe from 6:00-6:45pm, the Frienz Band from 7-8 pm, City Beat Band 8:30-10pm, and Midnight Ride from 10:30pm-12:15am. Radio host Mama Mia from 101.3 will emcee the evening as adults and kids alike ring in the new year at the park.

Skating by the Sea

Where: Hotel Del Coronado; 1500 Orange Ave., Coronado

Glide into year 2019 bundles up and ice skating by the sea with the entire family. Make a day of it by eating dinner at the outdoor patio and gazing at the lights and holiday decorations that adorn the gorgeous Hotel del Coronado. Skate to holiday music, and afterward, little revelers can sip on hot cocoa and take in the lights. Tickets are $30 per person for skating; be sure to purchase tickets in advance on the Hotel Del’s website.

Looking for more adult-friendly happenings this NYE? Check out our roundup of the best New Year’s Eve parties in San Diego!