CALIFORNIA’S BEACH CITY
WHERE BLUE SKIES AND FRIENDLY LOCALS CREATE A WELCOMING VIBE
San Diego, California
If you’re seeking an endless summer, San Diego is the place.
Warm California days, beautiful beaches and a fantastic food scene are waiting.
San Diego Rated One of the Top Family Destinations in America
Whether you love theme parks, state parks or water parks, building sandcastles or beach bonfires, exploring kid-friendly museums or hiking trails, families always have a blast in San Diego. In fact, San Diego is consistently ranked one of the Top Family Destinations in America, and it’s no wonder. With 70 miles of beautiful beaches, world-class attractions like the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park, SeaWorld San Diego and LEGOLAND California, and budget-friendly hotels, dining and activities, there are plenty of family vacation options available. Plus, many San Diego hotels and resorts offer special children’s programs for kids of all ages. From crafts, puzzles and games for younger kids to X-Box 360®, air hockey and sports lessons for teenagers (some even complimentary), the entire family can be entertained from sun up to sun down.
October is for discovery!
It’s never been a better time to be a kid, especially in San Diego. Back by popular demand, Kids Free in October returns for its seventh year.
Activate unlimited recess vibes and unbelievable family savings with Kids Free San Diego—where kids eat, stay and play for free all October long. With more than 100 deals at popular attractions, hotels and restaurants, and special savings on awesome activities, it’s the perfect time to take a sunny getaway to San Diego and activate smile mode for the whole family.
Awesome Attractions for the Whole Family
Adventures wait for kids and adults alike
San Diego is well-known for its world-class attractions that are a heaven for younger kids and teenagers, who may even be surprised by how much they can crank up the fun.
Up-Close and Personal Encounters with the Animal Kingdom and Thrill Rides
San Diego Zoo
Spread over 100 acres of mesas and winding canyons, the San Diego Zoo has been a park-goers delight for nearly 100 years. With over 3,500 animals, it’s an amazing place to view rare and exotic creatures in enclosures that mimic their natural habitats. Kids can touch the woolly coat of a sheep or gentle pygmy goat in the Petting Zoo and meet the animal stars up close with a Backstage Pass tour. Or spend the night at the Zoo and see what happens after the crowds go home and the sun goes down.
San Diego Zoo Safari Park
Find yourself in the middle of Africa, where more than 3,500 rare and exotic animals roam several expansive habitats as large as 100 acres at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park near Escondido. Explore walking trails that bring you face-to-face with animals; view giraffes, rhinos, antelope and more aboard the African Tram Safari; or watch the fastest land mammal as it whooshes by in hot pursuit of a mechanical lure at Cheetah Run. Kids love feeding the birds out of the palm of their hand at Lorikeet Landing; brushing the Boer, pygmy goats and Nubian goats at the Petting Kraal; or hand-feeding a gentle giraffe in the heart of Africa.
Tips for Teens at the Zoo Safari Park:
- Teens can participate in a Photo Caravan Safari jeep excursion into the park’s vast sanctuary for endangered animals. Two- and four-hour safaris serve up tons of unique photo opportunities and the chance to hand-feed giraffes.
- Teens can also take flight on Flightline Safari, the Park’s fast-paced zip line experience that provides aerial views of exotic animals.
- The Jungle Ropes Safari is a great place for teens to challenge themselves with rope bridges to cross, aerial tightropes to navigate, and swinging log steps to negotiate.
- Teens will love to take a ride on the wild side with a two-hour behind-the-scenes tour of Lion Camp and the Park’s cheetah enclosures.
Tips for Younger Kids at the Zoo Safari Park:
- At the Savanna Cool Zone, kids can walk through the palm trees where a gentle mist falls from above and the path leads to a turtle, lion and crocodile. Located next to Lion Camp, the Savanna Cool Zone is a wild way to cool off on a hot summer day!
- Head to the Samburu Jungle Gym, where kids can climb and explore in a safari-themed play area located below Benbough Amphitheater. Parents will love the shade-covered picnic area.
- The Conservation Carousel features 60 animals, some rare and endangered, to ride.
SeaWorld San Diego
SeaWorld San Diego along Mission Bay celebrates the wonders of the sea with spectacular live animal shows starring penguins, sea lions, dolphins and, of course, orca whales. Feed and touch dolphins, and get face-to-snout with polar bears, beluga whales, sharks and penguins. SeaWorld also offers several wet and wild animal interaction programs that bring to life the park’s conservation efforts.
Tips for Teens at SeaWorld:
- Feel the thrill of adventure on the park’s exciting rides: Manta, Journey to Atlantis, Shipwreck Rapids, Riptide Rescue and the new Electric Eel.
- The Dolphin Encounter gives teenagers 15 minutes of hands-on time to feed and practice training maneuvers with the park’s bottlenose dolphins, all without donning a wetsuit. The hour-long Dolphin Interaction Program takes the experience to the next level as teens suit up and hop in the pool with the dolphins.
- Teenagers can also get their feet wet during the 90-minute Wild Arctic Interaction Program when they can meet Arctic animals like barking seals, giant walruses and polar bears before climbing into the water with gentle Beluga whales.
- For the ultimate experience, the Trainer for a Day allows teenagers to work alongside SeaWorld’s trainers as they coach and care for dolphins.
Tips for Younger Kids at SeaWorld:
- Sesame Street Bay of Play combines rides and play areas all themed around Sesame Street characters.
- Sharing a meal next to a killer whale tank with Dine with Orcas is memorable for any age and provides with multiple benefits. Not only does it eliminate the need to search for a table while balancing multiple meals on trays, the distraction of watching orcas swim and train means younger kids will stay put long enough for the adults to finish their meal too.
SeaWorld Aquatica San Diego Waterpark
Located in San Diego’s South Bay, SeaWorld’s Aquatica San Diego Waterpark, features 25 water rides, a wave pool and children’s play area. Rides range from high-speed, adrenaline-pounding thrills to family-friendly and relaxing. The park also offers some animal encounters and is open spring through fall.
Tips for Teens at Aquatica:
- Feel the thrill of the new Taumata Racer, a 375-foot slide with 180-degree swooping turn and tunnel action.
- The HooRoom Run is the steepest drop at the park, going 80 feet straight down.
- Teenagers can also get their adrenaline pumping at Kiwi Curl, a high-speed tube ride with three slides in complete darkness.
Tips for Younger Kids at Aquatica:
- Loggerhead Lane offers fun for the whole family with a 1,250 foot lazy river floating through waterfalls and past a flock of Caribbean flamingos.
- The Walkabout Waters interactive play area offers 4 stories of climbing, sliding fun.
- Designed for the whole family, the Walhalla Wave is a 78-foot slide where large rafts filled with people twist and turn to the bottom.
Through a self-guided audio tour of the USS Midway Museum, narrated by Midway sailors, the honor and history of this decommissioned aircraft carrier come to life. Explore more than 60 exhibits, which incorporate the voices of many who served on the USS Midway and tell of their experiences. Visit the mess deck, sleeping quarters, hangar deck and flight deck, as well as a collection of 25 restored aircraft. The tour of the bridge, chart room and primary flight control is guided by a volunteer, in many cases a navy pilot or sailor who served aboard the USS Midway.
Tips for Teens at the USS Midway Museum:
- Roll, somersault, spin and loop your fighter during a pulse-pounding aerial combat ride aboard Air Combat 360.
- In Flight Avionics, enjoy 5 minutes of simulated flight time as you participate in an F/18 “Screaming Eagles” training exercise. Launch from the carrier, hit your target and land safely to see if you have what it takes to pilot one of these jets.
Tips for Younger Kids at the USS Midway Museum:
- Have an adventure at sea without leaving port. Eat on the mess deck and sleep in the original Enlisted Berthing area during a family sleepover aboard the Midway. Only offered once per year.
Home to more than 60 rides, shows and attractions, LEGOLAND California in Carlsbad features a variety of LEGO-themed entertainment designed for children, including “Mini Land,” which showcases some of the nation’s most famous cities through life-size replicas built entirely from LEGO bricks. To find age-appropriate rides and activities, when visiting with younger kids, head left as you enter the park and travel clockwise. When visiting with older kids, head right as you enter and travel counterclockwise.
Tips for Teens at LEGOLAND:
While LEGOLAND is geared towards the preteen and under crowd, there are a few rides and attractions that will keep teenagers happy and entertained.
- Head to the Imagination Zone where teenagers could spend the whole day, between the Xbox game Space, Lego Robotics activities and Lego building opportunities.
- Good rides for the teen crowd include Lego Technic Coaster, Lost Kingdom Adventure and Knights Tournament.
- The outdoor play areas at Hideaway and Pharaoh’s Revenge are also great fun.
Tips for Younger Kids at LEGOLAND:
- Water Works allows kids to jump on pads to make music play and fountains spray.
- Fairy Tale Brook is an enchanting boat ride through a humorous LEGO version of familiar fairy tales.
- Dig Those Dinos is an interactive area where kids can test their paleontology skills as they dig for dinosaur bones buried in sand pits.
- Swabbies Deck is a play area amid pop-up water jets, playful water fountains and delightful squirt cannons. Bring a change of clothing for this water area.
An extension of the main park with a separate entrance fee, LEGOLAND Water Park features a variety of kid-friendly attractions including a Build-A-Raft river where visitors can custom build their own LEGO® raft, several water slides, a 45-foot-tall tower playground and two sandy beach wading areas.
The adjoining SEA LIFE Aquarium incorporates LEGO® models into a child’s voyage to the depths of the ocean, presenting the wonders of the underwater world to them in a way specially designed for their understanding.
DAY TRIP TO DISNEYLAND
Less than two hours north of downtown San Diego you’ll find Disneyland Resort. Read Day Trip to Disneyland for a few tips and tricks to make this excursion even more enjoyable.
Top 5 Things To Know About Balboa Park
- History:Balboa Park, originally called City Park, used to be 1,400 acres of undeveloped land. Landscaping began in 1892, followed by the construction of water systems and roads through 1910. In 1915, San Diego was to be the host of the Panama-California Exposition. “City Park” didn’t seem like that memorable of a name, so park commissioners invited the public to submit suggestions for the new name. These included San Diego Park, Silver Gate Park, Horton Park and Miramar Park. At last, park commissioners chose the name Balboa Park, after Vasco Nuñez de Balboa, “the first European to spot the Pacific Ocean while on exploration in Panama”.
- Private Events:Weddings, holiday parties and other special events can be held at Balboa Park San Diego. Each museum in San Diego Balboa Park offers different amenities. Depending on the place in Balboa Park San Diego, it may have banquet halls, classrooms, conference rooms, outdoor areas, reception areas or theaters. The cultural organization buildings, city buildings and outdoor park areas each have rules and regulations pertaining to that particular one. Among San Diego attractions, Balboa Park offers an especially wide variety of venue options.
- Gardens: Nature lovers have a lot to see in the gardens at Balboa Park in San Diego. The 1935 (Old) Cactus Garden at San Diego Balboa Park features massive cactus and succulent plants. Visitors will even find exotic African and Australian Protea plants at this area within Balboa Park San Diego. The Botanical Building and the lily pond in front of it are some of the most popular areas that are photographed in Balboa Park – and with good reason. There are over 2,100 permanent plants inside the building and a changing collection of cycads, ferns, orchids and palms. The California Native Plant Garden shows visitors thousands of plants that thrive here in their San Diego habitat.
- Rides:Bring your kids to the Balboa Park Carousel. This fun destination is adjacent to the San Diego Zoo and features plenty of hand-carved animals so that your kid has lots of choices. All but two of the hand-carved animals on the Balboa Park San Diego Carousel are original from 1910! While you’re on the merry-go-round, you can even play the brass ring game. Balboa Park’s Carousel is one of a small number around the world that still have the brass ring game for riders to play. The Balboa Park Miniature Railroad takes families on a fun journey across four acres. The whole trip is a quick and enjoyable three minutes.
- Museums:Learn tons of interesting things during museum visits in Balboa Park San Diego. Visit Centro Cultural de la Raza to immerse yourself in Chicano, Mexican, Indigenous and Latino art and culture. Marston House, originally the home of civic leader and merchant George W. Marston, now welcomes visitors to explore it on public group tours. See folk art at Mingei International Museum, things that people have captured on camera at the Museum of Photographic Arts and mummies at the Museum of Man.
ENJOY Festivals, Parades and More IN OCTOBER 2019
When: October 5, 2019
Pacific BeachFest has something for everyone including a fish taco contest, beach volleyball, craft beer, 5K run, kids activities and music!
When: October 10-13, 2019
Art San Diego features over 500 leading contemporary artists, museum exhibitions, art labs, events, and talks focused on collecting.
When: October 11-13, 2019
The annual Polish Festival in San Diego is a wonderful cultural celebration in Pacific Beach all about Polish culture, traditions and cuisine.
When: October 11-13, 2019
Each Harvest Festival features hundreds of artisans exhibiting American handmade items, strolling entertainment, festival food and a Kidzone.
When: October 12-13, 2019
Just steps from the beautiful Pacific Ocean on Girard Avenue, bask in beautiful San Diego sun while meandering through over 150 handpicked artist booths, for a weekend of fine art, along with delectable wines, craft beers, scrumptious food, and live music.
When: October 15-20, 2019
Be part of the scene with five days to immerse yourself in engaging films, the hottest parties, intriguing panels, celebrity sightings, and industry events.
When: October 15-27, 2019
The San Diego Italian Film Festival showcases the best of new Italian film with a series of premieres ranging from dramas and comedies to documentaries.
When: October 17-20, 2019
WoW Festival is an exhilarating weekend of immersive and site-based work designed to break barriers by moving beyond the boundaries of a traditional four-walled theatre spaces.
When: October 18-20, 2019
Borrego Days Desert Festival is filled to the brim with inspiring art, entertainment, delicious food and drink, and so much more!
When: October 19, 2019
Get ready to rev up your engines as the streets of Little Italy become home to over 40 classic and rare “Italian bulls,” better known as Lamborghinis.
Salt dog Classic Beach Festival
When: October 20, 2019
Held at Seaside State Beach in Solana Beach, this is a family- and pet-friendly music and art festival you won’t want to miss. Great music from local artists will be ringing across the salty shores, with plenty of sun to soak up, and tropical drinks to cool down.
When: October 20, 2019
Since 1989, the Escondido Grand Avenue Festival has brought live entertainment, over 400 vendors, children’s rides and activities, and food from around the world to the tree-lined streets of downtown Escondido.