Family Attractions in San Diego

San Diego is known for its perfect climate, perfect scenery, and perfect beaches but it’s actually also a perfect place to take your family. San Diego is just jam packed with attractions for the entire family that are exciting, educational and relaxing.

Probably the most famous attraction in San Diego is the zoo. Touted as one of the largest, most progressive zoos in the world, the San Diego Zoo houses more than 4,000 animals and 800 different species stretching over 100 acres. For those who aren’t able to explore the entire park on foot, a guided tour bus will take you through 75 percent of the park and a sky gondola that will give you a unique perspective on the zoo. Rather than simple cages with animals inside, the zoo is segmented into habitats where you can see several different animals and plant life that would cohabitate in their native environments. The animals are definitely the highlight, as they would be at any zoo, but the San Diego Zoo also treats plant life as important exhibits as well and tends to many rare plants.

Adult Giraffe (Explored)Creative Commons License photo credit: tinyfroglet

Giraffe from the San Diego Zoo

Working in tandem with the San Diego Zoo is the San Diego Zoo’s Wild Animal Park with more expansive enclosures that do an even better job of replicating the natural habitat of its captives. The free range enclosures allow for guests in trams to travel through the exhibit and see the animals up close and personal, if the critters so desire. But if you’d like a really unique view of the animals and the park, try the tethered balloon ride, an experience that for many is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Again, much like the traditional zoo, the botanical exhibits are just as fascinating and endangered as the animal inhabitants. And if your kids are big fans of SpongeBob SquarePants then they’re in for a pretty exciting treat, the recently installed 4D SpongeBob SquarePants ride is a break from the sun and outdoors and gives little ones a bit of a break.

Sticking with the animal theme for one more family attraction, Sea World San Diego, the original Sea World, began in 1964 as the brainchild of four UCLA graduates. The park has grown since its inception and now covers 189 acres, features two roller coasters, two water rides and fish, fish and more fish. This park is so full of excitement and fun that you will need at least an entire day to go exploring. And don’t let the fish steal the show, the dolphins and otters at Rocky Point Preserve are a favorite for many, but other mammals fight for attention at flamingo cove and the Budweiser Clydesdale Hamlet. There are also arcade games and other attractions for a break in the animal activity.

For a hands-on experience that’s one-of-a-kind, try the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center and Planetarium. The Fleet is designed to give its guests a real experience that will resonate for a long time, if not a lifetime, by being hands on as much as possible. There are more than 100 interactive science exhibits in five different galleries. There are also traveling exhibits that offer new and unique experiences. Not to be outdone by all of the theme parks in the San Diego area, the Fleet has a few rides of their own which offer a little education with the thrills. Inside the fleet is the world’s first IMAX Dome Theater, which encompasses viewers in the experience. This is also where the planetarium shows are held, including the monthly Sky Tonight show which begins inside and then moves outside for actual telescope viewing.

The San Diego Natural History Museum also offers great family fun experiences for everyone, especially if you like dinosaurs. Since its inception in 1874 the museum has carried the mission of interpreting the natural world through research and education. Still functioning as an active research institution, you’ll often find school groups touring the museum. If you want to avoid these groups the museum recommends coming after 1pm when things have quieted down a little bit. The exhibits rotate with regularity so go often and see something new each and every time.

The San Diego Air and Space Museum is another great way to spend a day with the family. The San Diego Air and Space Museum is affiliated with the Smithsonian and nationally recognized as one of the country’s premier aerospace museums. Visitors can expect to learn a considerable amount aviation history, beginning with a replica of the Montgolfier brothers’ hot air balloon from 1783, the first manned vehicle to rise above earth. After this awesome spectacle, you’ll be whisked through the next 200 and some years of aviation history with a look at virtually everything that has ever flown.  And if you’re a trekkie (or trekker, whichever you prefer) then you simply must stop now because the Star Trek Exhibition is only there for a limited time and features some really great memorabilia.

For a screaming good time, Belmont Park is packed with excitement and fun for the whole family. And the best part is that Belmont doesn’t have the extra bells and whistles that the other local theme parks do, no stuffed mice walking around, no toys that must be bought because they’re tied in to the park, just straight up fun for all. Belmont Park is a throwback to amusement parks of the past with its restored Giant Dipper wooden roller coaster and the boardwalk location. Experience the joy of pure, unadulterated fun they way it used to be.

San Diego is a great place to take the family, there is just so much to see and do including parks and beaches and shopping excursions and almost anything you can think of, and that’s just in San Diego proper. A short trip outside of the city and there’s even more entertainment and excitement for everyone; theme parks, the movie industry, water parks, historical landmarks and not so historical places that are a must to visitors. So pack up the family and head to San Diego for an incredible vacation.