San Diego has it all. Major attractions for the kids such as the San Diego Zoo, Safari Park, Sea World and LegoLand. Then there’s the beautiful beaches of La Jolla. Visit Little Italy for an authentic taste of Italy from local restaurants. Stay at hotels on the bay at Seaport Village where most of the rooms have ocean view of the beautiful San Diego Bay. Explore all the great attractions in San Diego.
San Diego Attractions:
Sea World San Diego
Located in Mission Bay, Sea World is a very popular attraction in the San Diego area. This theme park is more about Aquatic shows and not so much about thrill rides. Kids really love Sea World and this was my favorite place to visit when I was a kid. The aquatic shows begin at regular intervals so you will stay entertained all day as you move from show to show. The weather is usually in the 60’s and low 70’s the entire year because of the location.
Be prepared to get splashed if you sit near the front row during the shows. The training of these beautiful sea creatures is amazing and beyond the mask of aquatic shows and rides are a large group of aquatic animal trainers who may be the best in the world.
Click Rides and Roller Coaster for current rides and Shows and Presentatins for most current shows and times. What I like best about Sea World is their ability to educate and entertain at the same time. The animal shows are amazing and that’s what Sea World is all about, aquatic animal shows. The day goes by fast with so many shows to attend. At certain times, you can help feed the animals.
Best time to visit Sea World is off-season around late Sept, Oct, Nov or early Dec. Avoid holidays if possible. You can see and do so much more on weekday visits. It takes a full day to explore all the attractions.
Add an additional day to do non-traditional things such as:
Dolphin Interaction Program ( You get to actually swim and interact with the dolphins)
Peguin Up Clsoe Encounter – Behind the scene tour
Dolphin Encounter – Opportunity to meet, feed and learn to communicate with the dolphins
The park and restaurants are clean and food can be very expensive so best eat a full breakfast before entering the park. As always, check the operating hours and show up 30 minutes before the park opens to get the best selection of show seats and avoid long waiting lines for rides.
Next door to Sea World Park is Aquactica, Sea World’s version of a Water Slide Park . Great attraction to enjoy all types of cool water slides during summer and early fall months. You can even rent your own private cabana.
Click Sea World Map to Google Map and Direction
San Diego Zoo
San Diego Zoo Zebras
Located in Balboa Park, the San Diego Zoo is the most popular zoo in the country with 3700 animals in 99 acres. A popular exhibit is the giant Pandas. There is an early morning tour where you can watch them eating breakfast.
It takes an entire day to explore the zoo, so wear comfortable cloths and walking shoes. The zoo becomes very crowded by noon so arrive early morning during opening hours.
One day pass cost about $54 and includes guided bus tour, Kangaroo Express Bus, Skyfari Aerial Tram and all regularly scheduled shows.
Buy tickets online and bypass the crowded lines for tickets at the gate.
If you have limited time or not very physically mobile, check out Discovery Cart Tour that tours 70% of the zoo in the convenience of an open cart-bus. The tour takes an hour and cost an additional fee.
Animals are located by zones in the park. Checkout Animal Finder to find your favorite animal.
Safari Park Zoo
Safari Park San Diego – Lion Waking Up
San Diego Safari Park and San Diego Zoo have the same owner. Located near Escondido, just north of San Diego is an 1800 acre open park where animals are free to roam in their simulated natural habitat. Visitors ….. that’s you ….. ride in open air safari trucks or trams through the park viewing the animals in their habitat. This is as close to a safari that many of us will ever come. Animals from all over the world are represented in this park and you are able to view them close-up from the safety of the tram or safari truck. There’s also tours on motorize tricycle bikes and overnight stays.
Check the website to find the most updated Safari Tours
General admission includes a tram ride in the park and experiencing the Cheetah Run. Each safari tour cost additional fees but it’s worth every dollar. You will not walk away disappointed. In my opinion, Wild Animal Park is much better than the zoo experience because you view the animals in a more natural habitat while riding in a tram or open-air truck. The tours are completely guided by a trained tour guide as you learn all about the animals living habits. This park is educational and entertaining.
You can spend a lot of money at this park as general admission is $54 and additional tours cost more money. Don’t wait in long lines, buy tickets online.
Click Safari Park Map to Google Map and Directions
Legoland California Resort is located 20 miles north of San Diego in Carlsbad and is the idea theme park attraction for children under 12. There are more than 60 rides, shows and attraction so you need the entire day to experience this park.
There is a Legoland Water Park and aquarium as part of the overall resort along with two Legoland theme hotels. In addition, there are many nearby hotels with very reasonable rates.
Some rides are for the very young and other rides are designed for older children. Legoland has rides that fit every children’s age range. The best way to enjoy the park is off season and during the weekdays.
Summer weekends are hectic and extremely crowded. As I always recommend, come early. Be the first to enter the park, particularly on the weekday and you will enjoy the entire park without long lines and crowds. Check the schedule carefully for opening days and hours. The park tends to close on Tuesday and Wednesday during off season fall and winter so check the schedule.
Food is touristy and over priced as expected in most theme parks so eat a full breakfast before entering the park.
Go online and save by picking a visit date and ordering your tickets online. “Visiting Anytime” tickets run about $7 more.
Ordering online will save you about $15 as the average same day ticket price is about $103 and Annual Pass start at $159. It cost 15% more to add the Water Park and Aquarium but well worth the extra expense during summer months.
Legoland has many stores inside the park where you can buy Lego toys not available in most stores.
Information for the Legoland Resort Hotel
Information for Legoland Castle Hotel
Click Legoland Map to Google Map and Direction
On the Beach – La Jolla California
La Jolla Beach
La Jolla Beach can be divided into two beaches; La Jolla Shore and La Jolla Cove. La Jolla Beach is beautiful, clean and provides lots of shopping for the entire family with unique and brand name restaurants and stores. Downtown La Jolla is located within blocks of the beach. The beach itself is lined with high-end restaurants and shops. You’ll have lots of things to explore and do.
La Jolla’s scenic landscape, family atmosphere and terrific shops attract many tourist and locals alike. The gentle waves make a great place for beginning surfers, scuba divers and kayakers.
La Jolla Cove
La Jolla Cove is known for its tide pools and is a protected area full of sea life. The cove is small and surrounded by cliffs. Most of what you will encounter will be sea lions and bad fish smell but the experience is worth putting up with the bad smell. During low tide, you’ll be able to see many wonderful sea creatures if you can endure the smell. There’s also swimming, snorkeling and diving in the cove, so be ready for an adventure. There is a large grass park next to the cove with restrooms and picnic facilities, which is why La Jolla Cove and La Jolla Shore make such a great outdoor adventure for the family.
La Jolla Shores
La Jolla Shore is clean and ideal attraction for the entire family. It’s one mile long with jagged cliffs along the bay for a spectacular view with great photo opportunities. The beach is incredibly clean and serves as the launching point for scuba divers and kayakers. Because of the gentle waves, La Jolla shores is a good place for beginning surfers and swimmers who may not be experienced with ocean swimming.
Finding parking can be hectic during the weekend when the weather is good, so arrive early. There is plenty room on the beach despite the large crowds during peak summer season.
Click La Jolla beach Map to Google Map and Directions
Located in Downtown San Diego next door to the Westfield Mall between Broadway / Harbor Drive and 4th / 6th Ave. The Gaslamp District is filled with restaurants, bars and night spots in an area that’s 8 blocks long and 2 blocks wide. The Gaslamp District gets very busy at night and is a social destination for young adults. Because of the high energy nightlife, the Gaslamp District is best explored during evenings. This district is also an easy walk to Petco Park, Convention Center and Seaside Village.
Click Gaslamp District Map Google Map and Directions
Balboa Park and Museums
Balboa Park, San Diego
Balboa Park may be compared to Central Park in New York City. The beautiful weather in San Diego makes Balboa Park an idea place to visit any time of the year. First of all, Balboa Park is known for its natural beauty. There are more than a dozen beautiful gardens to explore including the Botanical Building with the picturesque lily pond and lagoon in the front.
Balboa Park has it all. It’s the home of the San Diego Zoo, major museums, live music, performing arts, beautiful gardens and a Christmas Festival known as December Nights that attracts more than 300,000 people over a 2 day weekend.
Balboa Park has been referred to as the Smithsonian of the West Coast. It has world class museums that are usually not crowded. Click Balboa Museums to learn more.
Click Balboa Park Map to Google Map and Direction
U.S.S. Midway Museum
USS Midway Museum, San Diego, CA
The U.S.S. Midway Museum conducts self-guided audio tour through one of the most historical navy aircraft carrier in U.S. history. Headsets are given at the start of the tour which typically takes 2 to 4 hours to complete. There are experienced tour guides or docents available to answer questions.
Taking this tour is like going back in time and re-living the 40’s and 50’s as a crew member aboard this huge battle ship. The exhibits are amazing and the ship looks operational like I would imagine many years ago.
There is so much to visit to tis attraction including the Flight Deck on top, living quarters, mess hall and Radio Room. Restored aircraft on this ship makes everything look realistic. This tour is not for the mobility impaired which is the only issue I have with the tour. If you’re handicapped or elderly with limited mobility, you will have a difficult time navigating up and down steep stairs and walking into tight hallways. Other than that, the self-guided tour is fantastic.
Tickets are a little expensive at $21 per adult but the experience is worth the cost. Seniors, age 62 and over get a discounted rate. Parking cost between $10 and $20 depending on the day and demand.
Tip: You will have a better touring experience if you visit during the weekdays. Weekends, especially during summer months can be extremely crowded.
Click Midway Museum Map to Google Map and Direction
Seaport Village, San Diego CA
Seaport Village, located in walking distance from the U.S.S. Midway Museum on North Embarcadero is a beautiful small bay area bordering the San Diego Bay that is divided into 3 segments; West Plaza, Central Plaza and East Plaza with unique boutique shops, restaurants and eateries.
Seaport Village boast of 50 plus diverse shops and 17 unique eateries. The main pathway is Boardwalk that stretches one-quarter mile and makes for a relaxing walk. Major hotels such as Marriott and Hilton are adjacent to Seaport Village with great ocean views. You’ll love the smell from local eateries and it’s the perfect way to spend a few hours eating lunch or dinner while taking in the San Diego sunshine.
Click Seaport Village Map to Google Map and Direction
Little Italy, San Diego
Little Italy was once center of the tuna industry but suffered declined many years ago. Today, it’s a quaint, pleasurable area to eat and shop. The area has great restaurants, and almost any place you pick will be a good choice to eat.
Recommend entering Little Italy on India Street between Date and Fir Street. You’ll see the gigantic Little Italy Sign that spans across the entire street. This is a good place to begin your journey.
Spend a few hours browsing restaurants, stores and eateries. The streets of Little Italy vibe with energy and charm. It’s the perfect afternoon stroll, particularly if you’re hungry.
Farmers Market in Little Italy opens every Saturday morning at 8 am and closes at 2 pm. Located in Little Italy at Cedar and India Street … See Google Map. Lots of fresh produce, snacks and art work from more than 150 vendors. The atmosphere is electric and packed with locals and tourist. San Diego is truly the biggest “Small Town” you will ever visit.
Click Little Italy Map to Google Map and Direction