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It was so great to share these Hidden Gems of San Diego with all who attended the Navy Services FamilyLine/CORE presentation on Thursday October 21, 2021! Below you'll find the slides from my presentation and in a few days I'll come back here to add in links and other information that will be helpful for searching these places and finding out all you need to know to get there.

(Here's the link to my presentation for May 2022)

If you have any questions about these slides, please reach out to me via email (, website 'contact me' or send me a DM through my Instagram @famdiego.

I hope you all discovered some new places to go and things to do. And more importantly, I hope you all choose at least one of these special places to take your family and make some new memories together. Enjoy!

Click these quick links to jump to these sections:





Louis Stelzer County Park

11470 Wildcat Canyon Rd., Lakeside


Bathrooms, lots of parking, playground, mostly shaded, hiking trail (about 40 minutes long).

Strollers: The entry part with the paved flat loop and playgrounds are stroller friendly; the hike is not.


Chollas Lake

6350 College Grove Dr, San Diego, CA 92115


Easy parking up close, walk onto the docks and see all the ducks, walk around the entire lake (about 30-40 minutes), it's an easy flat wide trail. At the end you'll find a Boy Scout Nature Trail (about 10-15 walk). There's a wooden house play structure and some workout/exercise bars. Bathrooms here too.

Strollers: This is stroller friendly if you have an all-terrain stroller. The upper trail is dirt, but it's compact and wide and flat all around.


Tijuana River Estuary

301 Caspaian Way, Coronado (really south of Imperial Beach)


Strollers: This is stroller friendly with an all-terrain stroller if you go to the visitor's center and do the middle trail that's an out and back. If you go around to the perimeter trail, there's a bridge that *I think* has a few steps up & down.


Quince Street Bridge

222 Quince St., San Diego (Bankers Hill)

  1. Park near Quince Street + Fourth Ave

  2. You can either choose to walk 1 block down to Extraordinary Desserts or James Coffee now or at the end of your walk

  3. Walk across Quince Street Bridge across the canyon over to Third St. (There are also some canyon hiking trails below.)

  4. Walk 2 blocks straight ahead and right/north 1 block to the Self-Realization Fellowship

  5. Walk around the peaceful meditation gardens at the Self-Realization Fellowship

  6. Continue on 1 block north and 1 block left/west to the Spruce Street Suspension Bridge. (This is a suspension bridge and it does sway. Make sure little kids are strapped into a stroller or baby wear or hold them tightly; they could easily fall off!)

  7. Walk across the bridge and explore the neighborhood or just walk back the way you came.

  8. You can now reward yourself at Extraordinary Desserts (soups, salads, paninis, etc. too!) or James Coffee.

  9. There's also a Little Free Library at the start of the Quince Street Bridge to drop off a book to donate or pick one up for free!

Strollers: I would say it *could* be stroller friendly if you have someone to help you move the stroller up & down the steps on the Quince street bridge. Guessing there are about 10 steps on each side.

Spruce Street Suspension Bridge

W Spruce St., Bankers Hill

Extraordinary Desserts

2870 Fourth Ave., Bankers Hill


James Coffee

Their To-Go cups are glass jars that you return for a discount off your next order! No single-use plastics here.

2870 Fourth Ave., Bankers Hill




Cabrillo Tidepools

1800 Cabrillo Memorial Dr., Point Loma


Pay to enter State Park. Take first right DOWN the hill towards the ocean into the small lot. Or if that lot is full you can park in the upper lot, but you'll have to walk a long ways. They'll be adding in an extension walkway bridge from the upper parking lot to the tidepools, but it won't be ready for a couple of years.

Strollers: These are not stroller friendly because they're on the beach and over rocks, etc.

La Jolla Tidepools

303 Coast Blvd., La Jolla


Scripps Pier Tide Pools

8650 Kennel Way, La Jolla

Walk about 4 minutes NORTH of the Scripps Pier to find the tide pools. When you're done, grab a bite to eat at Carline's Cafe, that overlooks the ocean.



Point Loma Native Plant Garden

2275 Mendocino Blvd., Point Loma


Park in the nearby residential street and walk in the side gate that you see in the picture. It's free to enter and walk around. There are NO bathrooms here, but lots of shaded picnic tables to BYO lunch. This is a cute place to walk and let the kids run around for about 30 minutes.

Strollers: This is stroller friendly if you're able to get your stroller through the side entry gate as you can see in the photo above. You may have to fold-up the stroller to get it through, but once you're inside it is stroller friendly. The paths are dirt, but it's compact, flat and easy.


Water Conservation Garden

12122 Cuyamaca College Dr. W., El Cajon


One of our all-time favorite places in San Diego. Free parking nearby. Grab a scavenger hunt list at the entrance and return it completed to win a prize. You'll find turtles, koi fish pond, butterfly garden (butterfly releases in the Springtime). Lots of shaded picnic tables, gazebos and amphitheater seating. There's a children's garden with a fun play house. They have lots of events here like yoga in the garden, forest bathing, Mrs. Smarty-plants hosts educational field trips for kids here.

Strollers: Yes this is stroller friendly. There are two places here that have stairs, but you can always take a different stroller friendly trail around it.



Bahia Resort

998 W Mission Bay Dr., Mission Bay


They have 2 rescued harbor seals in their own beautiful enclosure in front of the hotel. You don't have to be a hotel guest to see them; they're right in front of the hotel. There's an airstream trailer with a little coffee shop and a nice relaxing ambiance to sit and enjoy.

Strollers: This is a stroller friendly place.


Coronado Island Marriott Resort & Spa

2000 2nd St., Coronado


You'll find this flamingo enclosure between the hotel and the tennis courts off of Access Rd. It's free to walk around and watch them. Walk out towards the bay on the paved pathway and over to Tidelands Park for the playground. There's a rose garden near the hotel and surrey bikes to rent from nearby the Ferry Landing that makes for a fun day!

Strollers: This is a stroller friendly place.


Leo Carrillo Ranch House

6200 Flying Leo Carrillo Ln., Carlsbad


This is a free historic homestead to walk around with a visitor's center for information. There are lots of peacocks wandering around the property and if you find a peacock feather lying on the ground you are allowed to keep ONE. If you find any more they ask you to bring them to the visitor's center where they sell them to help fund this historic site.

Strollers: This is stroller friendly if you have an all-terrain stroller.



1. Libraries

San Diego Public Library:

San Diego County Library:

Libraries are all over the county and they have a lot of fun programs for adults and kids. They have Summer and Winter Reading Programs (adults can join too!) and when you turn in your reading log you'll win a prize bag with goodies like free restaurant coupons or museum tickets. Each library is different and unique, some offer kids reading programs, yoga, music, etc.

Strollers: Yes, libraries are stroller friendly.

2. Queen Califia's Magic Circle

3333 Bear Valley Pkwy, Escondido


Hours: Tues & Thur 9am-noon; 2nd and 4th Saturdays 9am-2pm

Closed after it rains if it's still wet and closed on Dec. 24 & 31.

This is a free outdoor sculpture garden in the middle of Kit Carsen park. These mosaic sculptures were done by renowned local artist Niki de Saint Phalle.

Strollers: Yes, this is a stroller friendly place, BUT you do have to take a dirt walking trail to get out there so an all-terrain stroller is ideal.

3. FREE Craft Days for Kids

JC Penney

WHEN: every 2nd Saturday 11-12

What you'll get: craft, ID badge & lanyard, collector's pin, master medallion after completing 6 crafts, parents get a 10% off coupon

Home Depot

WHEN: every 1st Saturday 9-12

It's best to register ahead of time. If you walk-up there may not be any available unless they have some leftover from the last month they'll give you. (As of Oct 2021 I don't think they're doing these in-person yet, but I think you can walk-up and get a wood kit to take and make at home.)

What you'll get: wood craft kit, famous orange apron, a collector pin and certificate; supplies are on-site or if you take it To-Go, you'll need some basics at home like a hammer, wood glue and paint


WHEN: mid-month, usually the 2nd weekend Sat & Sun

You'll need to register for these well ahead of time. Registration is usually FULL a month before the next one so plan ahead for these. You may want to save the link and keep checking to see when they open up registration.

What you'll get: wood craft kit



Kids Eat FREE at these local restaurants!

Barra Barra in Old Town: ages 10 and under eat free EVERYDAY

Hamburger Factory at the Poway Train Park: ages 10 and under eat free on TUESDAYS

Mendocino Farms: kids eat free on THURSDAYS

Dickey's Barbecue Pit: ages 12 and under eat free on SUNDAYS

Oggi's Pizza: varies by location



Chula Vista Live Steamers

4548 Sweetwater Rd., Bonita


Free Train Rides! They do accept donations though by cash or Venmo.

HOURS: 2nd Sat & Sun each month between 12-2:30pm

This is in Rohr Park; which a huge park with playgrounds, lots of parking, bathrooms, baseball fields, walking/jogging paths and even a horse corral where you can watch horses run around.

Strollers: Yes you can take strollers to Rohr Park and to ride the train you can park your stroller at the gate.

Family Fun Center

6999 Clairemont Mesa Blvd., Clairemont


This is a fun place to play a round of mini-golf or have some cheap fun. They also have go-karts, water bumper boats, a batting cage and arcade.

Strollers: Yes this is a stroller friendly place to walk around, but not on the mini-golf course.



(I'll update the rest of the information over the next few days so check back soon. :-)

Granite Lion Cellars - I would not advise to take strollers here.

Milagro Winery - I would not advise to take strollers here.

Superbloom at Mission Bay Beach Club - Yes this is a stroller friendly place.

Aubrey Rose Tea House - This is stroller friendly, you could park the stroller at the end of the table.



Torrey Pines Glider Port - I would not advise strollers here.

Pelly's Mini Golf - I would not advise strollers here.

Gillispie Field - You could take strollers here.








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