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10 Kid-Friendly Activities in San Diego
With beautiful beaches, sunny weather, and loads of outdoor activities, San Diego, California, is a great choice for a family vacation. Here, travel experts at Smart Destinations, creators of the Go San Diego Card, recommend their favorite family-friendly places to visit and things to do in San Diego. All of the attractions listed below offer free admission with a Go San Diego Card.

The Museum of Making Music presents an interactive journey through a century of musical instruments and innovations that helped shape American popular music. The museum displays over 500 vintage instruments and features an interactive area where visitors can play on over a dozen instruments like electric drums, a digital piano, and electric guitars. Also look for special events like Musical Story Time for Kids! Open Tuesday through Sunday.

Birch Aquarium at Scripps showcases a stunning variety of Pacific marine life in more than 60 habitats. Through interactive displays and multimedia, visitors learn about sharks, seahorses, living coral reefs, and more. Kids will enjoy touching tidepool creatures like hermit crabs, and sea anemones in living tidepools. Open daily.

San Diego Zoo, kids can view rare and intriguing wildlife from nearly every region of the world. Winding pathways take visitors through a 3-acre experience at the San Diego Zoo's largest and most elaborate animal habitat. Monkey Trails and Forest Tales, located in the Heart of the Zoo, takes guests on a two-level excursion into Asian and African forests featuring some of nature's most imperiled wildlife. Open daily, but hours vary.

Located north of San Diego, Legoland® California features more than 50 rides, shows, and attractions. Kids can sail on the high seas in a pirate galleon, test their bravery in a Medieval-themed attraction, and join the Legoland Fire Service as they race to put out a burning building at Fun Town Fire Academy. Open daily from Memorial Day to Labor Day and Thursday through Monday the rest of the year.

For more outdoor fun, take the family on a whale watching excursion. San Diego Harbor Excursions offers a three and a half hour whale watch that allows close-up views of the mammoth California gray whale. Bring your camera to capture these awe-inspiring creatures or the gorgeous views of San Diego Harbor. Operates December to March (weather permitting).

San Diego's only beachfront amusement center, Belmont Park is the home of the historic Giant Dipper rollercoaster. Belmont Park was once abandoned but has been reborn as a shopping, dining, and entertainment center in the tradition of old-fashioned family fun. Rides include Chaos, a random three-dimensional rocking, rolling, and rotating motion; Vertical Plunge, which drops riders three stories to the ground; the new twist on bumper cars, Krazy Kars; the classic Tilt-A-Whirl; and the Liberty Carousel, an antique reproduction from the golden age of amusement parks. Hours change seasonally.

Spread across 33 acres, Knott's Soak City is San Diego County's largest water park. Pacific Spin, the park's newest attraction, includes a 132-foot long tunnel that drops riders 75 feet into a six-story funnel (yikes!). Visitors can enjoy the Coronado Express group raft ride, and little surfers can play in Gremmie Lagoon. Open daily Memorial Day through Labor Day and weekends in September.

Located in Balboa Park, the San Diego Hall of Champions is the country's largest multi-sport museum with three floors of memorabilia covering baseball, football, and more. The museum offers a state-of-the-art theatre, the Breitbard Hall of Fame, and an interactive media center where sports fans can try out their sports broadcasting skills. Open daily.

Little athletes will also enjoy touring Petco Park, home of the San Diego Padres baseball team. Tourists get to visit "writer's row" in the press box, learn about the historic Western Metal Supply Co. Building, and explore the Padres' dugout, bullpen, and warning track. An interactive guided tour describes the ballpark's special features and takes tourists behind the scenes to check out areas that few visitors get to see. Hours change seasonally.

If you need a break from the heat, then head to Ice Town La Jolla, which offers indoor ice skating and skate rental for children ages 2 and up seven days a week. Ice Town is located inside the UTC mall, so you'll also want to save some time for shopping, too.
About the Author
Susan Johnston is currently the copywriter for Smart Destinations, a travel company headquartered in Boston, MA. Smart Destinations is the leading provider of technology-based packaged travel products and services to the tourism industry. The company creates multi-attraction passes and other products that make it easier and more affordable for tourists and business travelers to plan and enjoy their vacation.
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