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.
Good To Know: My 2 and 4 year olds can walk this on their own, but I bring our stroller because they do get tired easily here since there are a lot of hills. It is stroller friendly and there are lots of shaded places to sit and feed your kids or nurse your babes.
COST: Regular Admission: $14/adults, $8/ages 3-12, Free/ages 2 and under, $2/parking. FREE Admission on the 1st Tuesday of the month. HOURS: 9-5, daily
Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum, Mira Mesa
If you have any airplane-loving kids they will love seeing them up close and personal. They have a large collection of military planes, jets and helicopters spread outside over a a moderate sized area. The flat path is mostly paved and loops around the airplanes.
Good To Know: It’s just the perfect size for my 2 and 4 year olds to walk around the loops without asking me to carry them. It is stroller friendly and there’s a great little patio spot with some shaded benches and picnic tables to feed your kids or nurse your babes.
COST: Free! HOURS: 9-3:30, Tue-Sun
Coronado Ferry, downtown
What better way to get some fresh air than to hop on a boat and cross the bay?! Catch the 15 minute ferry ride over to Coronado, play at the little beach by the ferry landing and walk around to the shops and restaurants nearby. Note that it’s quite a distance from the Hotel Del, so it’s not walkable over there.
Good To Know: I'd definitely bring a stroller and a baby carrier. You may want to pack a beach blanket and some toys for the kids.
COST: $4.75/one-way, FREE/ages 3 and under. HOURS: runs every hour.
City Farmer’s Nursery, City Heights
This is a fun place to take the kids to learn about plants and animals. They have a good children’s gardening selection with little kid-sized hand tools. You’ll find some butterfly-friendly plants, fruit and vegetable plants, edible plants, and best of all for the kids you’ll likely see some chickens or other animals wandering around.
Good To Know: Grab a bite at Nate’s Garden Grill on-site that has some local brews, live music and a kid’s play area.
COST: FREE! Unless you buy something. ;) HOURS: 9-5, Tues-Sun
You can also go for a HIKE, hit the BEACH or hang out in your BACK YARD with some sidewalk chalk, bubbles or your sprinkler.
Don't forget the necessities on your outings! These are our tried & true favorites and have been using them for years*:
This is one of our favorites because it's so slim like a pen it fits anywhere; and because it's free of sulfates, aluminum, triclosan and parabens.
Love the wide-brim on these bucket hats that provides all-around protection. They fit my toddlers perfectly.
SPF 50 with a 1 rating by EWG. Works great for my little red-head and on my fair-skin, plus it smells like papayas - yum!
Thermos Stainless Steel Water Bottles