It's true that some San Diegans survive a winter without ever opening an umbrella. The year-round 70 degree weather spoils us, but there are times when it's dreary or sprinkling outside and we need to keep the kids entertained. Get out of the house or hotel and head to San Diego's Balboa Park for a day spent largely indoors. You'll still need a rain jacket and/or umbrella to go between museums, but we promise that you can handle it.
Start by parking next to the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center, which opens daily at 10:00 am. Plan to spend a few hours building skyscrapers with KEVA planks, playing grocery store in Kid City and channeling your inner Einstein through other hands-on science exhibits. Older kids will enjoy the IMAX theater, which plays short movies on a dome screen.
Playing at the Tinkering Studio at Reuben H. Fleet Science Center — Photo courtesy of San Diego Museum Council
Both the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center and the San Diego Natural History Museum (across the way) have casual cafes with pastries, sandwiches, hot dogs and other quick snacks. However, for a more sophisticated lunch that's still kid-friendly, walk down to The Prado restaurant for some famous California cuisine.
On your way back toward the car, stop at the San Diego Model Railroad Museum, the largest scale model railroad museum in the United States, with over 27,000 square feet of displays. If you're tripping over trains and tracks at home, make this a definite stop.
Last but not least, enter the San Diego Natural History Museum. Here, kids will enjoy the dinosaurs and other fossils on display along with hands-on learning. Crank a wheel to hatch a dinosaur egg or learn about our regional geology and geography. The museum hosts a variety of temporary exhibits, such as the currently running Titanic, and upcoming chocolate exhibits. Check the calendar for family activities such as storytime or Wacky Science Sundays.
A little girl enjoying the museum — Photo courtesy of San Diego Museum Council
Admission-wise, there's a few ways to make this a cost-effective itinerary. San Diego residents maximize entry fees by purchasing family admission to one or more of the Balboa Museums. Residents free Tuesdays are another option where one or more of your favorite museums might be free for residents on a particular Tuesday. Kids ages 2 and under are always free of charge.
Visitors (and residents) may opt for the Passport to Balboa Park which provides discounts of over 50% around Balboa Park and varying expiry dates, depending on which pass you choose. The Passport can include the San Diego Zoo and expire in a week or just one day. Also, don't forget to download the Balboa Park iPhone app for directions, hours, pricing and more.
Your kids will be totally exhausted which, perhaps, will provide you with some evening peace and quiet.