• Fam Diego

San Diego Kids Summer Bucket List


Summer is here and the living is easy...especially if you're a kid in San Diego! There are lots of summer buckets lists out there online, but none quite as unique as what San Diego has to offer for the little ones. You'll find over 100 things to do in San Diego on my San Diego Kids Summer Bucket List below. (I even left some out!) And since summer weather pretty much lasts all year long in San Diego, you can use this list throughout the year.

These are grouped generally by activity, so pick one from each section or try to do all of them in one category. It's up to you how you spend your summer, but you don't want to miss out on these epic activities that for some only San Diego can offer.

I know there are a TON more that I could have included, so add in comments what your favorite places in San Diego are to spend the summertime!

Here you go.....

BIG ATTRACTIONS

SeaWorld at night!

Ride the SkyTram over Mission Bay

Sesame Street summer weekend parade

Awe at the Electric Ocean Show

Watch the fireworks shows: 4th of July & Labor Day weekends

Zoo at Night!

Ride the Skyfari Tram over the zoo

Night time parade & special events

Safari Park at Night!

Caravan through the Safari Park

Zipline over the rhinos and try not to scream (ages 8+)

Balboa Park

Play in The Backyard: Natural History Museum, it’s their brand new feature!

Walk inside the Packing Tape Tunnels at the Fleet (2018)

Find the moon rock: Air & Space Museum

See a puppet show: Marie Hitchcock Puppet Theater

Climb on the green dragon: in front of the Mingei Museum (currently out for restoration)

Dance to the Sunday concerts: Spreckels Organ Pavilion

Ride the mini train & grab the Brass Ring on the carousel: just outside of the Zoo

Friday Night Food Trucks & Museums: Balboa Park

Climb the California Tower: Museum of Man (ages 6+) (currently cancelled for retrofitting)

Seaport Village/Headquarters

Ride the carousel

Get locked up: jail cell at The Headquarters

Belmont Park

Eat a Dole Whip

Lots of rides for tots too

Cabrillo National Monument

Climb to the top of the lighthouse

Find sea creatures at the tide pools below

Old Town

Sit in a covered wagon: next to Cosmopolitan

Meet Don & Dulce, donkeys: next to barn

Drink fresh brewed iced tea: American House tea shoppe

Get schooled: old children's schoolhouse

See the slammer: jail cell behind Sheriff's Museum

BEACH FUN

Go to as many beaches as possible, build sand castles with your kids and look for seashells or cool rocks

Go camping on the beach: Campland or San Elijo

See the Sand Sculpting Challenge - this year it’ll be lit up after dark

Make s’mores at one of the bonfire pits on the beach

Watch the sunset with your kids from the beach

Attend a luau on the beach: Catamaran Resort (or watch from the sidelines ;)

Walk down the longest concrete pier on the west coast: Ocean Beach*

Or walk down any other pier: PB, Shelter Island, Oceanside*, Scripps Pier (walk under it for pics), Imperial Beach Pier* (*these have a restaurant at the end of the pier)

Go tide pooling: Scripps Pier, but there are lots of other great spots too!

Play on a Beachside Playground

ENTERTAINMENT

Dance with your kids at a summer concert: Hullabaloo, Children's Discovery Museum concerts, summer concerts. concerts in the park

Watch an outdoor movie

Tour PetCo Park before a baseball game then sit in the family area so kids can play

Catch the $1 Movies! UltraStar, Regal Entertainment, Reading Cinemas

Or $6 movies at the Luxury Cinepolis in Del Mar! (tickets come with kids drink & snacks!)

Touch a crocodile: library’s summer reading program events, County Library

Read a book - join a summer reading program: public library, county library, B&N

Attend a local story time:

public libraries, B&N, SD Model Railroad Museum, SD Natural History Museum, SD Botanical Garden, Pottery Barn Kids, UTC Mall in front of Macy’s (next to the playground & new splash pad), Children’s Museum downtown, Children's Museum Escondido, Warwick’s Bookstore, symphony story time

Draw with neon body paint: Wonderspaces (currently running again this summer with new art installations)

RIDES & TRANSPORTATION

Go on a Cruise:

Bahia Belle on Mission Bay, Ferry to Coronado, Hornblower Cruise, rent a boat on your local reservoir

Ride the Trolley:

there are lots of great stops for kids to have fun, like Old Town, Hazard Center for $1 movies or Little Italy for the Waterfront Park downtown

Ride the Rails:

Take the Coaster Train up to Solana Beach, Oceanside or San Juan Capistrano for the day; each of these stops have kid-friendly activities within walking distance. The Sprinter connects inland North County.

Take a Tour:

We love riding on The Hopper! It's a Double Decker bus (with AC and free snacks!). You can hop on and off anywhere along the route between Old Town, Downtown, Little Italy and more.

Catch the Old Town Trolley Tours, a hop on/off trolley

Ride the SEAL Tour car/boat

Ride the trains:

Poway Train Park

Ride the mini train: Balboa Park

Up in the sky:

Grab lunch while you watch some planes take off: Casa Machado at Montgomery Field in Kearny Mesa, Gillespie Field Cafe in Santee, The Landings at Palomar

Earn your Jr. Pilot Wings from the scavenger hunt: USS Midway

Sit in a fighter jet: USS Midway

Sit in a helicopter: Air & Space Museum or the Zoo (Northern Frontier)

Watch paragliders jump off the cliff: Torrey Pines Glider Port

Ride a carousel:

Balboa Park, Seaport Village, Belmont Park, Legoland

ANIMALS

Horses: Attend a family day at the Del Mar Horse Races

(every Sat 1-6pm, pony rides & lots of other fun kids events

FREE:

Birds: see them for free at the Catamaran Resort (on display 10a-3p)

Seals: see them for free at the Bahia Hotel (feedings at 9a & 2p)

Flamingos: see them for free at the Coronado Marriott Resort

Donkeys: see them for free at Old Town next to the barn

Peacocks: see them for free at Leo Carillo Ranch House in Carlsbad

Wild animals:

Touch a shark: SeaWorld’s touch pools

Feed some wild animals: giraffes & okapi at the Zoo, lorikeets at Safari Park, sea lions & flamingos at SeaWorld

Watch shark feedings: Birch Aquarium

Watch rattlesnake feedings: Museum of Natural History

Feed the ducks at your local lake:

-Poway Lake -Lake Miramar -Chollas Lake Park

-Evans Pond (next to Scripps Miramar Library), sells duck food inside, while you're there stay for a summer reading event magic or juggling show

-Hendrix Pond (Scripps Ranch)

-Webb Park (Rancho Bernardo) - also has turtles in the pond, a paved walking path and is next to Pearl Chinese Restaurant

(no bread please, they prefer corn -cracked, canned or frozen-, frozen peas, duck pellets from pet store, oats -rolled or instant-, rice, birdseed, cut up grapes, or chopped lettuce ;)

EXPLORE YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD

Free craft project: Lakeshore Learning Store, Michael’s, Home Depot

Go to a new playground that you’ve never been to before

Explore a new part of town:

pack a picnic, find a playground, an ice cream shop and a library for the summer reading program events. One of our favorite neighborhoods that has all of these is Kensington.

Play a tune on the Crab Carillon “Musical Bridge”: 25th Street Bridge in Goldenhill

-it plays a palindrome (same tune back and forth), bring a stick, pencil or a pipe with you (it’s on a busy street so it may not be appropriate for all kids)

Dare to walk across the Suspension Bridge: Spruce Street

(depending on your kids it may not be appropriate) And while you’re in the area, walk over to the Quince Street Wooden Bridge and check out a book from the FREE library

Buy yourself fresh flowers at the market while kids play nearby: La Jolla Farmers Market

Walk around a college campus in the summer time: UCSD, SD State, USD, Pt. Loma Nazarene

Visit a California Mission: Mission San Diego de Alcala (east Mission Valley) and its Junipero Serra Museum is at Presidio Park overlooking Old Town, Mission San Luis Rey in Oceanside, Mission San Juan Capistrano

Take a guided Summer Twilight Walk: Mission Trails

Be a tourist: Hop On/Off Trolley, Seal Tours, Hornblower Cruise

Get up high for some spectacular views:

SkyTower at SeaWorld, SkyTram at SeaWorld, SkyFari Tram at the Zoo, Zipline at Safari Park, Birch Aquarium outside patio, Paradise Point Resort observation tower, Torrey Pines Gliderport, Kate Sessions Park, Mt. Soledad

FOOD

Free slurpees on July 11th: 7-Eleven

Share a BOGO Root Beer Float: Old Town Jerky & Root Beer

Try to finish the ice cream flight of 6 mini cones: Hammond’s Gourmet Ice Cream

Eat an ice cream taco: Scooped at Liberty Station Public Market in Pt. Loma

Eat a banana sundae popsicle or a purple yam popsicle: Dixie Pops

Thai Rolled ice cream: IC Monster in Mira Mesa or on Convoy

Track down the ice cream man at a local park for your Bomb Pops

Grab some burgers and tots, while your tots play in the play yard: Station Tavern

Eat lunch over the ocean at one of the restaurants on the piers

Make a wish for Lucky Charms cereal bars: Crafted Baked Goods at the Liberty Station Public Market in Pt. Loma

Eat heart-shaped waffles for breakfast: IKEA

ACTIVE

Rent a surrey (a 4 person bike): Hilton at Mission Bay

Bowl a strike: Kids Bowl Free Summer Program

Try for a hole in one at miniature golf: Boomers

Relax and wind down with a kids yoga class: Hapa Yoga, If I Was a Bird Yoga

Kayak over the leopard sharks: La Jolla Shores (if your kids are old enough)

Go fly a kite: Seaport Village peninsula, Mission Bay next to Hilton, Kate Sessions Park

Jump out their energy at a Trampoline Park: Rockin Jump (has toddler only jump times)

Head inside for some AC at an Indoor Play Area: KidVentures, The Playground (Grossmont Mall), FUNbelievable (Lakeside), Play City (Eastlake), Kidsville (Carlsbad), Child's Play (Temecula)

Climb the best treehouse in San Diego: SD Botanic Garden

Run through the “surprise water” for a nice cool down: Water Conservation Garden

Cool down in one of the many splash pads around the county

(our favorite is Civita on Tuesdays when the food trucks roll in for dinner)

Explore your kids imaginations: New Children’s Museum downtown, Children's Discovery Museum Escondido, Pennypickle's Workshop Temecula

Stargaze or take a Family Hike: Mission Trails

---

About Us

I'm a SAHM of 2 boys, but we rarely "stay at home". They have sooo much energy that we HAVE to get outside to burn it off. Everyday is an adventure; whether we find new places, go back to our favorites or even just a trip to Costco!  

  • Instagram

Follow Us @famdiego

[Disclaimers:

I make a good faith effort to ensure information is accurate, but I encourage you to confirm the details before you act on it. FamDiego is not responsible for any problems that may result directly or indirectly from your or your families' participation in these activities from using this information or while you're at the venues. If your venue is featured here and you would like for me to change anything or to be removed, please contact me right away.

 

*Affiliate Links: I earn a small commission if you link to and purchase a product. It's not much really. Basically it keeps the site going and there may be enough leftover for a short latte once in a while. Affiliate links work by clicking a link and making a purchase within 24 hours. Thanks for keeping the lights on. :) ]