7 Less-Crowded Places for Kids


Who’s trying to avoid the flu this season??? It’s getting so bad that I’m almost scared to take my kids anywhere “germy”! But, I still need to get them out of the house so they can run off all of their energy. So that means pretty much anywhere outside, where hopefully not a lot of kids will congregate, and maybe a place with a little bit of nature to get some fresh air.

We're usually out and about weekday mornings and find these places to be less crowded than your typical San Diego Kids Hot Spots like the Zoo or indoor play areas. (The exception to this is on weekends, school breaks or summertime.) What's better than a non-crowded place for kids to run around? Most of these are FREE! Some have a "free" day of the month, but avoid those days because they're usually crowded. Just pay the admission and avoid the extra germs and crowds if you can...at least until this horrible flu season is over.

Here are a few places around town where you’ll likely catch us during the next few weeks; which is the peak of flu season. Disclaimer: I’m not saying you can’t catch the flu here, so don’t rely on these places to completely avoid it. ;) And just a friendly reminder to wash, wash, wash your hands, all. the. time; especially before eating. Now get outside and enjoy some fresh air and beautiful scenery with your kiddos!

Japanese Friendship Gardens, Balboa Park (pictured above)

We love coming here to see these beautiful gardens and get some fresh air in the middle of the city. My kids love to see the koi fish swimming and most of all they love to jump across the rocks in the middle of the streams to get to the other side. You can walk around and over the steams too if you have a stroller, but it’s way more fun to jump the rocks.

Good To Know: My 2 and 4 year olds walk this on their own going down the hill to the bottom, but I bring the stroller because they always want to ride it back up. Bring your muscles if you have 60 lbs to push in a double stroller. Or put one in a baby carrier and push 30 lbs in a stroller. ;) It is stroller friendly and there are lots of places to sit and feed your kids or nurse your babes. Bathrooms are located at the top and bottom of the trail.

COST: Regular Admission: $10/adults, $8/students, seniors, military, FREE/ages 6 and under! FREE Admission on the 3rd Tuesday of the month for San Diego Residents/Military.


HOURS: 10a-7p, daily

Miramar Reservoir, Scripps Ranch

This place provides a nice change of scenery with gorgeous lake views that'll make you forget you're still in the city. Load up the bikes, scooters and roller skates and hit the almost 5 mile paved trail that goes around Lake Miramar. Or, you can just hike the lower dirt trails that are closer to the lake. It tends to be hotter there so bring plenty of water and make sure to only go as far out before your kids get tired, or else you'll have to carry them all the way back. ;) There's a bridge that goes across the dam, but it's at the very western point of the lake. So if you want to cross the dam with kids in tow, start out going west/left on the trail or else they might not make it all the way around.

Good To Know: My kids definitely wouldn't make it around the entire lake, but you can just go out and back for as long as your kiddos will last. It's stroller friendly and there are some picnic tables around the lake. Bathrooms are located at the start next to the parking lot, but there are some porta potties around the lake too.

COST: FREE!


HOURS: dawn-dusk?

Water Conservation Garden, El Cajon

This is one of our favorite places in all of San Diego! This is a great spot to introduce a little bit of nature into your kids education. They have name markers at every plant species and a lot of educational signs to teach your kids about various things, like plants, animals and even dinosaurs. The walking trails are flat and even so they're perfect for little feet.

Good To Know: My 2 and 4 year olds walk this on their own as it’s fairly flat and level all the way around. There are a lot of great rest stops for them along the way if they get tired. It is stroller friendly and there are lots of shaded places to sit and feed your kids or nurse your babes. Bathrooms are located at the entrance/exit, so be sure to go right when you get there.

COST: Free!


HOURS: 9-4, daily

San Diego Botanic Gardens, Encinitas

This is another great spot to introduce your kids to some nature. There are some name markers at most plant species, but most of all there are a lot of different places for kids to play. Like a really large sand pit with trucks and shovels, the most amazing tree house ever that you can climb up inside, a musical garden, some water features that kids can play with and a model train that you can activate. <