The San Diego/La Jolla area not only offers its own unique, seaside experience but proximity to other wonderful attractions in the San Diego area, as well. We are consistently asked about the top family activities in San Diego there, which we think is the premier family vacation destination in the country, so here are some top family-friendly suggestions for your vacation!
San Diego Zoo: Safari Park
To the northeast of La Jolla, you probably wouldn’t expect to drive through and hear the roar of a lion…but that’s exactly what you may experience. The massive Safari Park in Escondido stretches over 1,800 acres of land to home a wide variety of creatures, from lions and cheetahs to rhinos and lemurs.
As a whole, the San Diego Zoo is famous for its bamboo-chomping pandas, winding hills, koala exhibit and much more. The weaving paths that connect and merge throughout the park take you out of the normal crowded zoo experience and, instead, make you feel as if you’re in a close up, tree-filled safari excursion. You can even purchase a “Backstage Pass” to get even closer with some of the zoo’s breathtaking creatures to touch, feed and help train them!
As Lego: the Movie proclaimed in the Oscar-nominated song, “Everything is awesome. Everything is cool when you’re part of a team!” Walk through the doors of LEGOLAND in nearby Carlsbad and this is exactly how you feel about life. There are statues made of hundreds of thousands of Lego bricks and a bright array of colors wherever your head turns. From rides for young ones to recreations of entire cities in Miniland USA, it’s a spot that truly activates the imagination for parents and children alike. In fact, we have found that children ages 2 to 7 actually enjoy Legoland much more than Disneyland, as there are far more rides for them. If you want to make a completely fun filled day, purchase tickets to their water park as well!
Gepetto’s Toy Shop
Enter this quaint toy shop and feel as if you’re in small-town Italy. It has just enough toys that it has everything your child could be dreaming of, but without the overwhelming eye-popping, madness of bigger chains like Toys R Us.
In San Diego’s Downtown & Gaslamp Quarter, you’ll be surprised to find nestled a massive, professional baseball stadium. Built into the downtown itself, you’ll see one side is made up of a red brick building that now houses and shops and restaurants connected with the ballpark. On the outskirts of the arena’s heart is a large grassy hill known as “Park at the Park” during summer time ball games. They offer cheap tickets to buy you a spot on the grass to lay down, eat you cracker jacks and sing “Take me out to the ballgame!” picnic style. It’s an incredible setting that the San Diego Padres are proud to call home.
The La Jolla coastline varies dramatically from 350-foot sea cliffs to jagged reefs to sandstone coves, so exploring its beaches is as unpredictable as it is exhilarating. Further north at the tip of the La Jolla peninsula, Children’s Pool is a shallow cove sheltered by a seawall where seals and sea lions hang out along the shores. Alternatively, La Jolla Shores has a long, wide beach with soft sand, clean water and gentle waves. It is an ideal spot for families. The beach is cozy and comfortable, with a nice picnic area at the adjacent Kellogg Park. La Jolla Shores also offers a large parking lot and free parking on nearby residential streets.
Locals love to play in the water, so join the party and mount a kayak, grab a snorkel, or strap on some scuba gear to explore the region’s stunning marine preserve. With mild surf and warm temperatures year-round, La Jolla’s beaches and bays are an ideal place to try a new water sport or resume an old favorite. Surfing, sailing, and scuba diving are popular, while kayaking is king at La Jolla Shores Beach.
Birch Aquarium at Scripps
Affiliated with the world-renowned Scripps Institution of Oceanography, this excellent aquarium sits at the end of a signposted drive leading off North Torrey Pines Road and has sweeping views of La Jolla coast below. More than 60 tanks are filled with colorful saltwater fish, and a 70,000-gallon tank simulates a La Jolla kelp forest. A special exhibit on sea horses features several examples of the species, plus mesmerizing sea dragons and a sea horse nursery.
FAMILY FRIENDLY EATS
With all of this activity, you’re bound to be hungry. Here are some yummy suggestions by location.
La Jolla Shores
Sushi Mori: Very kid friendly Japanese restaurant. Little ones are given kids chopsticks and do little tricks like make an orange look like a Mickey Mouse. Inexpensive for the area and very casual.
Cheese Shop: Delicious gourmet sandwiches that you can take down to the beach with you. Warning: they have a huge selection of funky, imported candy that’s at kid eye level.
Downtown La Jolla
La Jolla Open Aire Market: Every Sunday from 9:00am – 1:00pm at La Jolla Elementary School, the La Jolla Open Aire Market is free to wander. Browse the selection of artisanal breads, gorgeous flowers, organic fruits and vegetables as well as a variety of fresh food. Loads of food venders are onsite to prepare everything from an early morning burrito to crepes. Should you choose to purchase, feel good that some proceeds benefit La Jolla Elementary School. There are also free family activities on every third Sunday ranging from crafts to holiday-related activities.
Sushi on the Rock: Happy Hour is from 5pm – 6:30 but you’ll need to get there on the early side for a table. There’s a hamburger slider on the menu that’s perfect for kids along with the chicken skewers, edamame (ask for it without salt), sweet potato fries and of course, sushi if they like that.
Smashburger or Burger Lounge: Gourmet burgers you can eat there or take to the beach with you.
The Cottage: Recipient of accolades locally and nation-wide, breakfast, is what The Cottage is known for and is very popular with locals. The light, airy interior and outside patio both provide family-friendly, pleasant dining space. Stay for the oatmeal pancakes, grilled vegetable omelet and Baja chicken hash.
Beaumont’s Eatery: This is a known favorite restaurant in all of La Jolla. Great laid back atmosphere and everyone in the family will love the food. The kids’ mac and cheese is so good that you’re likely to eat anything leftover. They have unique cocktails for the parents too. It’s open for lunch and dinner during the week and also brunch on the weekends.
Well, there you have it. While there are so many fun activities and places to go with your kids in this area, these are some of our favorites. And if you’re looking for a place to stay with a concierge to make a customized plan for your family in the La Jolla area, G2G Members pay around $500/night for a 4 bedroom house near La Jolla Village, but they have also paid to join a private club that affords them lower nightly rental rates. If you would like more information on how to stay in a luxury residence in La Jolla at rates like this, please call us at 678-506-2700 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.