Newport Landing Whale Watching has been offering whale watching cruises for over 20 years from Newport Bay. Take a whale watching cruise and see giant blue whales, finback whales, gray whales, and more in their natural habitat. With one the largest marine protected parks just outside of Newport Bay, whales and dolphin of all types can be viewed as soon as you leave the bay. Newport Whales offers some of the best whale watching California has to offer!
Belmont Park is a historic oceanfront amusement park on the Bay with a number of different attractions and rides, the most famous of which is the old wooden Giant Dipper Roller Coaster (now a National Landmark!). Other attractions and activities include an indoor swimming pool, an Escape Room, miniature golf, rides, an arcade, rock climbing, and more. Oceanfront restaurants and shopping are also nearby, and the Mission Beach Boardwalk directly in front of the Park makes for a great evening beachside stroll. The nostalgia of years past is combined with more modern attractions at this unique oceanfront park! Belmont Park is a treasured local landmark and a must-see attraction for families visiting San Diego.
LEGOLAND is an amusement park in North County with more than 60 LEGO block-themed family rides, attractions, shows, an on-site hotel, and a waterpark. Designed specifically for families with children ages 2-12, the park is packed with differently-themed “experience areas,” including Ninjago World, “Miniland USA,” (a miniature replica of famous US landmarks composed of nearly 33,000 LEGO bricks), Pirate Shores, and more. If you have any proclaimed LEGO lovers in your family, this spot is definitely a must-see!
The expansive 1,200-acre Balboa Park is one of the most beautiful and highly visited places in San Diego. Home to more than 17 museums, performing arts venues, multiple lush gardens, walking trails, local annual events, and the San Diego Zoo, it truly represents everything for which San Diego is so well-known. As the site of the historic Panama-California Exposition in 1915, the Park is steeped in a rich and long history as San Diego’s premier garden and event space, and even today holds the distinction as being one of America’s best outdoor public spaces. The area is a great destination for families with children, and there are plenty of activities for the entire family to enjoy. If you’re already visiting San Diego and are in the Downtown San Diego area, Balboa Park is a must-see!
The annual San Diego Asian Film Festival is the largest showcase of Asian cinema in the western United States. Founded in 2000, the festival brings West Coast, North American, and World premieres of films from around the world to San Diego each November, and gives audiences unique opportunities to discover international cinema.
La Jolla has been the proud host of the Farmers Insurance Open, a tournament showcasing the best in golf at Torrey Pines Golf Course, since the 1960s. This four-day PGA tournament is famous for a reason, and if you are a golf lover, you won’t want to miss out on any of it.
Autumn in San Diego means warm days, Halloween activities, and of course, pumpkin patches! Each fall, families head out to their local pumpkin patch to find that perfect carving pumpkin; and luckily, there is no shortage of spots to explore. From local favorites to large family farms in Julian and Ramona (some even come with petting zoos), there are plenty of local pumpkin patches in San Diego to choose from.
The Red Bull Air Race is an exciting international series of air races that features the world’s best pilots in a motorsport competition, and combines speed, precision and skill in the air. Showcasing some of the industry’s fastest, most agile racer planes, pilots will often reach speeds upwards of 200 miles per hour. When this event comes to San Diego, it is definitely not one to be missed!
Downtown is the hub of San Diego when it comes to nightlife, the arts, and dining. Within a compact 16-block radius, you’ll find the historic Gaslamp Quarter where Victorian-era buildings and ultra-modern skyscrapers intermingle to create a stunning cityscape. There are more than 100 of the city’s finest restaurants, pubs, nightclubs, and shops, in addition to residential lofts and modern live/work spaces. At night, the area comes alive with theater productions, live music, dancing, and craft cocktails (and of course, a San Diego staple – craft beer).
The Del Mar Racetrack is a historic Thoroughbred racetrack located in the coastal community of Del Mar, California, about thirty minutes north of La Jolla. Each racing season brings thousands of fans from San Diego County and beyond, and the track is also known for its summer concert lineups. The track is unique in that there are two distinct racing seasons each year; the first taking place from July through September and the second, shorter season beginning in November.
Seaport Village is a fun waterfront area composed of more than 70 unique shops, galleries, and restaurants adjacent to San Diego Bay. The nearby Headquarters at Seaport, known for its eclectic blend of classically inspired architectural styles and rich history as the former San Diego Police Dept. headquarters, was recently added with several new upscale restaurants and boutique shops. Both areas offer an array of activities, and are a great way to experience the San Diego waterfront.
The San Diego Zoo Safari Park is separate from the San Diego Zoo, and is more of a wildlife sanctuary. It’s currently home to more than 3,000 animals representing more than 300 species, and encompasses 1,800 acres of land (more than half of which is protected habitat) in northeast San Diego County. One of the best ways to see everything at this amazing wild animal park is to take one of their safari tours, which take you to different field enclosures in an open-air safari truck. Some of them even offer the opportunity to feed the animals! The Zoo Safari Park is a great attraction to visit once you’ve already experienced the Zoo.
Voted the #1 Best Zoo in the World by TripAdvisor, the San Diego Zoo is a treasured 100-year old city landmark. The 100-acre area is home to more than 3,500 animals (including rare and endangered) and a prominent botanical collection with more than 700,000 exotic plants. Additionally, it’s one of the few zoos in the entire world that houses and successfully breeds the giant panda! There are many ways to explore everything the Zoo has to offer, whether you’re on foot, a guided bus tour, or on the overhead gondola lift that provides incredible aerial views of the entire park. The Zoo is a wonderful San Diego attraction for the entire family. For more information on how to buy San Diego Zoo tickets, check out our guide.
SeaWorld San Diego is a theme park, outside aquarium, and marine mammal park all rolled up into one on nearly 190 acres of land along Mission Bay. Visitors can choose from 26 animal habitats and aquariums, 15 rides/rollercoasters, 20 shows, multiple play areas, and 11 special animal experiences during their visit. The park is most well known for its Orca or “Shamu” Encounters and Dolphin shows, but there are plenty of other marine animals to experience! With so many different ways to learn about and experience marine wildlife, families with smaller children will enjoy everything that SeaWorld San Diego has to offer.