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10 Coolest Airplane Spots for Kids in San Diego

Our MASTER PLAYLIST has all the fun places for kids to play in San Diego! Search by:


(coming soon)

Fun places for kids to see airplanes in San Diego


From museums to open-cockpit days and even small regional airport restaurants with a view...your airplane-obsessed kiddos will be all smiles here!


I'll be adding to these OFTEN, so keep checking back for updates.

And let me know if you have anything else to add.



2001 Pan American Plaza, San Diego, CA 92101


The San Diego Air & Space Museum at Balboa Park has a large collection of airplanes: old ones, new ones, fighter planes and biplanes. Only a couple of these allow you to actually get inside, but just being surrounded by their large presence above and all around you is quite inspiring, especially for budding little pilots. Don't miss the space collection with the real life Apollo 9 Command Module and my favorite is the piece of moon-rock on display.

KIDS WILL LOVE the short 4D movies, flight simulator, climbing inside the helicopter and picking out a new favorite book or toy from their gift shop.

OPEN daily 10-4:40

COST $13-$23


There's a cafe in the very back with outdoor patio seating, right underneath the SAN flight path.

CLICK HERE for all the details, features, amenities, deals, parking, what's nearby, tips & more!


📍 335 Kenney St., El Cajon, CA 92020

📞 619-258-1221

This Aerospace Museum in El Cajon is part of, but different than, the San Diego Air & Space Museum in Balboa Park. This is their "additional exhibit space offsite in El Cajon used for its growing collection, as well as a storage and restoration facility. Located at the northeastern corner of Gillespie Field, visitors can view various aircraft, including many examples of military jets, private sport aircraft and small racing planes."

👧🏻 KIDS WILL LOVE seeing all the aircraft.

🕰 OPEN Tue-Sat 9-4:30

💵 COST $5, Free for ages 11 and under


Grab a bite at the nearby Gillespie Field Cafe.


📍 910 N Harbor Dr., San Diego, CA 92101

📞 619-544-9600

This aircraft carrier has been decommissioned and given a new life welcoming guests to walk around and explore what life was like onboard. Tour the galley (kitchen) where cooks used large industrial mixers to make meals for thousands of crew. Lie down on their bunks and see if you could sleep on this ship. Walk through the command centers (kids will love sitting in the captain's chairs and pushing all the inactive! buttons), the hospital ward and even go onto the hangar deck & flight deck outside to tour the airplanes.

👧🏻 KIDS WILL LOVE doing the Junior Pilot Activities and earning their wings at the end! The gift shop is a great place to pick up any aircraft related books, toys & apparel too.

🕰 OPEN daily 10-5

💵 COST $18-$26, FREE for ages 5 and under, active duty military, law enforcement, fire fighters and reservists


Grab a bite, some coffee or a treat at the onboard Cafe 41 & The Jet Express.


(relocating to the Irvine Great Park in Aug 2023)

📍 Miramar location permanently closed in 2021

📞 tbd

This wonderful military aircraft museum was a San Diego favorite, but they closed the Miramar location permanently in 2021. As of March 2022, the latest update is they've found a new space at Hangar 296 at the El Toro Hangars near the Irvine Great Park in Orange County. This new location is expected to reopen there around August 2023!

👧🏻 KIDS WILL LOVE climbing into a ton of fighter jets, helicopters and other military aircraft on their scheduled open cockpit days. However, on most other days, it's really fun to walk around and get up close to these military jets.




You'll find a lot of other fun kid-friendly activities nearby at the Irvine Great Park!



These regional airports have on-site restaurants where you can grab a bite, sit back, relax and watch the planes come and go. These are the perfect spots for kiddos to come fill their bellies and enjoy all the action.

These are one of my favorite activities to do on a low-energy day to get out of the house, but the kids still have fun and it's an easy low-key day out for everyone to enjoy.

5. Gillespie Field Airport - Santee

📍 2015 N Marshall Ave., El Cajon, CA 92020

📞 619-448-0415

Sit outside on the casual patio and order breakfast or lunch while you watch the small planes take-off and land at the Gillespie Field Cafe in El Cajon. It's a little tricky for kids to actually watch the planes land & take-off because the runway is beyond a few rows of parked aircraft, but they can see the planes as they're up in the air.

They have a good kid's menu with everything your kids would love. Menu

Breakfast options range from oatmeal & pancakes to omelets & breakfast burritos.

Lunch choices include 7 kinds of salads, soups, chili, 8 kinds of sandwiches, burgers & chicken tenders.

You could even just go here for dessert on a birthday or other special occasion since they have pie, ice cream, sundaes, milkshakes, brownies and even root beer or pepsi floats!

👧🏻 KIDS WILL LOVE eating with some live entertainment of watching the planes come and go.

🕰 OPEN daily 8-2

💵 AVERAGE FOOD COST $10-$14, depending on what you order and kid's meals are only $6-$7!!


Breakfast is served until 2pm! What's better for kids than pancakes for lunch with a side of airplanes?!


6. Montgomery Field Airport - Kearny Mesa

📍 3750 John J Montgomery Dr., San Diego, CA 92123

📞 858-292-4716

My favorite place to bring kids for lunch or dinner and watch the airplanes is Casa Machado in Kearny Mesa because it overlooks the airport at Montgomery Field. The restaurant is on the 2nd floor so kids have excellent views of the runway from here and the windows are big and low enough for littles to look out from.

Casual Mexican fare is served inside or on their covered/enclosed patio. You'll only get a window seat if they're available; otherwise kids can walk out to the patio and watch from there while they wait for food to arrive.

👧🏻 KIDS WILL LOVE looking out the windows from the 2nd floor with excellent views of the runway.

🕰 OPEN Mon-Thur 11a-9p, Fri 11a-10p, Sat 10a-9p & Sun 9a-9p

💵 AVERAGE FOOD COST $13-$16, but portions are huge to plan to share


Go for your child's birthday and they'll all come out singing & dancing with a free scoop of vanilla ice cream, while the birthday child wears a sombrero. Sign up for their Birthday Club to receive a special surprise.


7. Palomar Airport - Carlsbad


📍 2198 Palomar Airport Rd., Carlsbad, CA 92011

📞 760-929-0200

Watch airplanes take-off from the floor-to-ceiling windows inside this modern restaurant at The Landings at the Palomar Airport in Carlsbad. The runway is easy to see from the window-view tables, but since seating is first-come-first-served, there's no guarantee you'll get a window seat, especially at prime time. There's a large outdoor patio seating too, but the views aren't as good as they are from inside.

You'll find a great choice of more upscale foods and from what we've personally had they're all delicious! If you feel like a drink, they have a great selection of cocktails, beer & wine too. A few brief menu listings include coconut shrimp, ahi tuna stack, meatballs, gourmet flatbreads, salads, gourmet burgers (including a peanut butter burger!), fish & chips, lobster roll, panko mahi...juuust to name a few. Oh, and the desserts are just as amazing.

For the kids, their options are mac & cheese, burgers & chicken strips; unless they've developed those gourmet tastebuds for the regular menu. Menu

👧🏻 KIDS WILL LOVE watching planes while they eat.

🕰 OPEN Mon 11a-3p, Tue-Thur 11a-7:30p, Fri 11a-9p, Sat 8a-9p, & Sun 8a-3p

💵 AVERAGE FOOD COST not listed


They have live music every Wed-Sun; this would make for a great date-night spot. ;) [Note that for dinner on Fri & Sat: they don't take reservations, seating starts at 4:30pm for first-come-first-served, all parties must be present to be seated, and they have a min spend of $30/pp.]


📍 3225 N Harbor Dr., San Diego, CA 92101

📞 619-400-2404

Ok so this one is a given! But if you've got a flight booked, kids will love looking out the windows to watch the planes taxi down the runways, land, take-off, but my kids love watching the workers load the luggage onto the airplanes. Plus there are lots of restaurant options at each terminal, too many to name here.

👧🏻 KIDS WILL LOVE taking a flight! And watching all the business that goes on with airport life.


If you're picking someone up from the airport and you've got kids with you, don't wait in the cell phone parking lot...instead drive across the street to the Spanish Landing Playground! It's on the bayside, behind the Harbor Island Marina so you've got beautiful views of the water, boats coming & going, a nice beach to play on or paved pathways for wheels or walking. So let the kids play while you wait for that arrival phone call. [This is a paid city parking lot, so make sure you feed the meter or use the pay machine, but it's worth it here.]

Spanish Landing Park: 📍 3900 N Harbor Dr., San Diego, CA 92101 📞 619-686-6200


📍 2800 Torrey Pines Scenic Dr., La Jolla, CA 92037

📞 858-452-9858

📲 @flytpg

While technically there are no "airplanes" at this spot, there are "airborne" activities going on here. So glide your way over, or just drive; it's probably safer with the kids. This is one of San Diego's most thrilling and unique hidden gems, so be sure to put this on your San Diego Bucketlist! This is open to the public and you'll watch paragliders and hangliders basically run off the cliff and catch some air to glide on.

They offer tandem flights if you're feeling brave enough. (I did this in Seattle and it's one the scariest & coolest things I've ever done, but doing it over the ocean would be incredible!) Sometimes they have a falconry guide that will let you hold and work with their falcons (they love to glide in the wind too!).

In between gliders, you can go for a quick cliffside scenic hike overlooking the ocean (stay back from the edge and heed the warning signs), grab a picnic table or spread out your blanket for a BYO snack OR grab something to eat from their Cliffhanger Cafe. This is a full-service deli-cafe with sandwiches, fresh salads, soups, fruit & snacks.

👧🏻 KIDS WILL LOVE watching the brave gliders float through the air and hopefully they'll see some falcons too.



On weekends Sat & Sun from April-September there's live music from local bands. Check their event calendar to see who's playing.

📲 CLICK HERE for all the details, features, amenities, deals, parking, what's nearby, tips & more!


📍 MCAS Miramar

📞 858-307-6000

Over 50 aircrafts will be displayed, including modern day military aircraft, warbirds & civilian makes to walk around and tour. But the highlights will be the 16 amazing performers who will thrill you with their aerial talents and stunts, including the famed Blue Angels, the US Army Golden Knights, US Navy Leap Frogs, Red Bull Air Force wingsuits, aerobatics teams and several others.

👧🏻 KIDS WILL LOVE seeing the flyovers and aerial stunts!

🕰 OPEN Fri-Sun, Sept. 23-25, 2022 from 8-5 (rain or shine)

💵 COST FREE for parking, admission & "blanket seating"; while there's a charge to reserve "Preferred Seating".


These flyovers will be loud, especially for little kids' ears. Be sure to bring noise cancelling headphones for them, and/or earplugs even for yourself.

📲 CLICK HERE for the schedule, parking, food, FAQ's of what's allowed and not allowed & more!


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