Girl With Gorilla at the San Diego Zoo — Photo courtesy of San Diego ZooWhile you could certainly spend an entire day at some of San Diego’s best attractions, dividing your time in the manner we are about to suggest will give your family a taste of what San Diego is known for. This itinerary can also be enjoyed in the reverse, should your kids want to hit the beach first thing in the morning.
Morning: Save some time by printing your tickets at home and arrive at the San Diego Zoo right when it opens at 9:00 am. Head left to the Discovery Outpost where kids can safely pet goats, sheep and pigs in the Children’s Zoo. Thirty special exhibits, housing animals not located in other parts of the zoo, are also here for all ages to enjoy along with some kid-friendly play structures. For a birds-eye view of the property, when it opens at 10:00 am, take the Skyfari aerial tram to the other side of the zoo. See the Polar Bear Plunge, head back toward Elephant Odyssey and weave your way down to the exit viewing pandas and whatever else interests your family along the way.
Lunch: If your kids can handle a late lunch or need a hearty afternoon snack, make Old Town your second stop to enjoy some California history and authentic Mexican food. Relax with one of their famous “fish bowl” margaritas, if you’re so inclined. Most of the restaurants have kids menus and, in fact, kids under 10 eat free all day at Casa de Reyes, should your visit fall on a Monday. Sit on the patio at Cafe Coyote and enjoy watching the ladies make homemade tortillas on the outdoor griddle. Poke around the eclectic shops and historical sites before heading out.
Late Afternoon: Relax off a big lunch by lounging on one of San Diego’s gorgeous beaches. Our year-round temperature averages 70 degrees, which makes a visit to San Diego incomplete without a few hours of sand and surf. Pick a family-friendly beach near where you are staying. For example, La Jolla Shores is a flat, sandy beach with a huge grassy area and playground for the kids. Torrey Pines and 15th Street beaches in Del Mar are family favorites, as are any on Coronado Island. Going later in the afternoon should help (fingers crossed) avoid parking and crowd issues while allowing you to still enjoy a few hours of sunshine.Family On Beach In Front Of Hotel Del Coronado — Photo courtesy of Joanne DiBona
Your best bet to tackle a one-day itinerary is with a car, however, San Diego does have public transportation between taxis, buses and the San Diego trolley. Summer weekends can be particularly busy at any of the popular attractions, which makes hitting them at off-peak times desirable, if you can.