1. San Diego Zoo
The San Diego Zoo is a 100-acre park, housing over 3,700 animals, many of which are endangered. Famous for its size and collection of animals, the zoo also holds many “firsts”. The San Diego Zoo pioneered the open-air, “cageless” exhibit, which recreates natural habitats, allowing animals to feel less confined. Additionally, it was one of the first zoos to house and successfully breed Giant Pandas.
The San Diego Zoo is also the home of one of the first female zoo directors, Belle Benchley, who managed zoo operations from 1925 to 1953, during most of which she was the only female zoo director in the world.
This summer, the zoo will claim another title, opening its Africa Rocks exhibit, which will include the largest man-made waterfall in San Diego, in addition to housing some of the zoo’s most popular animals.
SeaWorld San Diego is the original SeaWorld park and was founded by four University of California Los Angeles (ULCA) graduates. Their initial concept was to create an underwater restaurant, but the concept proved too challenging, so they decided to open the 22-acre marine zoological park instead.
SeaWorld features 26 animal habitats, 20 shows, 11 distinctive experiences, including a beluga or dolphin interaction. The park also has 10 rides, with an 11th ride as part of Ocean Explorer land set to open this summer.
LEGOLAND California Resort is inclusive of the LEGOLAND Amusement Park, Water Park, and SEA LIFE Aquarium. In total, the resort boasts over 60 rides, 7 water slides, 5,000 living creatures, as well as numerous shows, attractions, beaches, and their unique build-a-raft river.
LEGOLAND is perfect for families with kids ages 2 to 12, though all ages are welcome to enjoy the resort.
4. USS Midway Museum
The USS Midway Museum is a historic experience for children and adults. Visitors get to walk onboard and experience what life was like for our military operating one of America’s longest-serving aircraft carriers.
The self-guided audio tour is narrated by Midway sailors, and if stopping at every station, could take up to 3-hours long. Visitors can view 60 exhibits, 29 restored aircrafts, and they can try their hand at either of the two flight simulators.
5. Belmont Park
Belmont Park houses family and adult fun in the heart of Mission Beach. With rides, like The Giant Dipper roller coaster, entertainment that includes laser tag and mini golf, as well as shopping, dining, and bike rentals, Belmont Park has a plethora of entertainment right on the sand.
Aquatica San Diego is perfect for summer family fun. With water slides, a lazy river, pools, a man-made beach, kids zone, and 4-story playground, there’s something for everyone at our local water park.
7. San Diego Zoo Safari Park
Get up close and personal with a live Cheetah; take an African Safari; and venture on the wild side at the San Diego Zoological Society’s Safari Park! This spacious park is home to free-ranging animals in open-air enclosures, many of which are endangered species.
Fun for kids, teens, and adults, the Safari Park houses over 2,600 animals and is home to over 3,500 plant species. It also boasts the world’s largest veterinary hospital.
8. Birch Aquarium
The Birch Aquarium is home to more than 5,000 fish spread throughout more than 60 habitats. In addition to bringing visitors up close and personal to ocean wildlife, the aquarium also offers exhibits that feature cutting edge research from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.
Guests can also purchase tickets to experience various activities, programs, and events, including whale watching and snorkeling with sharks.
9. Balboa Park
Balboa Park is one of San Diego’s most famous draws, boasting over 1,000 acres of park, 15 museums, and the world-famous San Diego Zoo.
There’s plenty to see and experience in this expansive park that hosts more than 14 million visitors each year.
Each of our San Diego hotels is within close proximity to these family-fun attractions. To learn more about our hotels and to book your stay:
Four Points by Sheraton San Diego Downtown
Comfort Inn & Suites San Diego Zoo SeaWorld Area
La Quinta Inn & Suites San Diego Zoo SeaWorld Area
Radisson San Diego Rancho Bernardo
Days Inn Encinitas
Courtyard by Marriott Del Mar Solana Beach