5 reasons to visit San Diego with kids | Best of California Sights | Maple and Marigold

California is one of our favourite holiday destinations with kids. And even though within this beautiful state one is spoilt for choice, we have one clear favourite – San Diego, the city of sea lions, long walks and much happiness.

Visit San Diego with Kids

San Diego often gets overshadowed by it’s more glamorous cousins, San Francisco and Los Angeles. Most people when they plan a trip they focus on attractions around these two cities, after all there are so many to choose from. In our planning I was 100% sure of one thing; I didn’t want to visit SeaWorld. I know, San Diego but no SeaWorld. Crazy, huh! But that’s a discussion for another article.

We also knew that we didn’t have time to include Disneyland. That’s a separate trip on it’s own. So what was left we thought. Well so much I couldn’t believe.  

5 reasons why we love to visit San Diego with kids

The Beach – of course the beach, the powdery sand, the surprisingly warm water, the tiny and large shells that the kids will collect only to plead, “Can we please take this one too, it’s perfect.”  You agree even though you know it’s the first day of the vacation, and there are millions more where these came from.5 reasons to visit San Diego with kids | Best of California Sights | Maple and Marigold

San Diego Wild Animal Safari Park – if you have to choose between the zoo and the park, choose the latter. Even if you don’t *have* to choose, pick the park. World class zoos fortunately exist in many North American cities, Toronto included. But the joy of seeing lions and cheetahs, giraffes and wildebeest in as close as their natural habitat as your kids can get is awesome. Almost as good as a safari in Africa. And if you can see them while on the longest zipline in North America, well nothing like it.

La Jolla – technically also on the beach but no, I am not double counting the beach. La Jolla is referred to as village on the Pacific Ocean. Of course if you can call a luxury town with beautifully maintained homes overlooking the vast ocean along with some of the best restaurants in California a village. And the sea lions – the stinky, ugly creatures that look like your cranky 70 year-old Uncle. The same ones. They are so entertaining that my 4 year old was happily telling us stories about five of them. “Ma, there’s grandma and daddy sea lion and they are trying to get on the rocks with sister sea lions…..” A lot of our stories feature sisters because well, sisters.Top 5 reasons to visit San Diego with kids | Best of California Sights | Maple and Marigold

Old Town City Centre – don’t let anyone scare you away from this quaint, little recreated Mexican village. Admittedly, it is kitschy and a tourist trap but it also gives you a good idea of what life was like when San Diego was established 250 years ago. I was pleasantly surprised by the reasonable prices and the variety at the shops and restaurants. Silver and tin ware, ceramic tiles, artisan food. A number of the houses have been converted into museums. I am not sure why but my kids were most interested in the jailhouse. The WANTED posters, the guns and ammunition and of course the prison cell. The last was most fascinating, small, made entirely of rusted iron, with bars on all four sides with a lock as big as my head!

LEGOLAND – of course. This one deserves a separate article especially since we had to consider the million dollar question – Legoland vs Disneyland.

Aaah, San Diego! We miss you already.

5 reasons to visit San Diego with kids | Best of California Sights | Maple and Marigold