1. Birch Aquarium at Scripps
Located in La Jolla, this aquarium is a great alternative to SeaWorld San Diego for families on a tight budget or limited time. At Birch Aquarium, the focus is on ocean education and conservation. I especially recommend this attraction for families with babies and toddlers who love to get an up close view of tanks filled with glowing jelly fish, beautiful but poisonous lion fish, crabs, sharks and other sea creatures.
2. San Diego Zoo Safari Park
The Safari Park is just as impressive (if not more!) as its more well-known sister property, the San Diego Zoo. It is a whopping 1,800 acres, compared to the zoo’s 100. The “African Tram Safari” is by far the park’s most popular attraction as it takes visitors through a wide-open landscape similar to that of the African Savannah with animals, like lions, rhinos, giraffes and buffaloes. On hot summer days, make sure to bring swimsuits for the kids so they can cool off in the animal-shaped fountains at the Savannah Cool Zone.
3. Maritime Museum of San Diego
Take a tour on unique sailing vessels at the floating Maritime Museum. Steam-powered boats, sailing ships and submarines make up the museum’s fleet of nine boats. Highlighted is The Star of India, the world’s oldest active ship. After your tour, your family is in the perfect location to walk along the San Diego waterfront and eat some delicious fresh oysters at Ironside Fish & Oyster.
4. La Jolla Cove
La Jolla is best known for its boutique shops and upscale restaurant, but “The Cove” is also an excellent place to enjoy the great outdoors. Pack a picnic lunch and enjoy live music on an expansive grassy field overlooking the ocean at Scripps Parkway during the summer. Walk along sea-cliffs and observe California Harbor Seals waddling around on the beach at Children’s Pool. From kayaking to sun bathing, your activity options are endless!
5. Balboa Park
Rich with history and culture, Balboa Park has been a staple of San Diego since 1892. This gorgeous outdoor destination is home to the city’s renowned zoo, 17 museums (including crowd favorites like the National History Museum, Museum of Man, and Museum of Art), botanical gardens, and more! Spend the day enjoying the beautiful weather that San Diego has to offer.