Fun Day Trip Ideas Around San Diego For Your Family

Child Friendly San Diego Coastal Tide Pools

San Onofre Tide Pools
Hermit crabs, mussel bed, Ochre Starfish

Swami’s Tide Pools
Popular with school age children, 45 million year old fossil shells, sea hares, brittle stars and octopi.

Cardiff State Beach Tide Pools
45 million years old that contain fossil clams firmly embedded within.

Dike Rock
Next to pier.  Volcanic rock formations. Star fish, octopus
Shell Beach
Extensive tide pools.  Sea lions just offshore.

Tourmaline Suring Park Tide Pools
Favorite sport for classes of biology students.  Hermit crabs, sea snails, sea urchins, brittle stars, octopus.

Ocean Beach Tide Pools
Next to pier. Shore crabs, hermit crabs and sea anemones, and lots of small chitons.

Point Loma Tide Pools
Most extensive network of tide pool.  Docents available.  Great Owl Impets, hermit crabs, octopus and much more.

Winter Fun

Two of my friends recently took their 8 year old son’s for a day trip to Universal Studios, they said that the Jaws exhibit was still there but it was great to see the new attractions, such as the neighborhood of Wisteria Lane! All had a Great time!

Universal City Walk, Universal Studios, located adjacent to Universal Studio has a plethora of amazing and fun shops plus movie theater’s and restaurants. Eat at Hard Rock Cafe, Buca di’ Beppo or Gladstone’s (great Clam Chowder!) and more – then take the kids Ice Skating at the CityWalk’s Canon Outdoor Ice Rink. Ice Rink is open from Nov. 26th through Jan. 2. City Walk also has holiday concerts. Check website:

Lake Arrowhead has the most beautiful scenery during all seasons. There are many rentals cabins and Bed and Breakfast Inns. During the winter season, their is skiing and snow boarding at Big Bear Mountain and other smaller Ski Resorts. Although it is a small community, Lake Arrowhead has a magnificent village with a movie theater, shopping and ice skating. A great time for an family! Very close to Santa’s Village.

Santa’s Village is located in San Bernardino. Fun for all children, a trip to the North Pole around Christmas time. For information call (909) 337-2481.

Wrightwood is closer in proximity to Santa Barbara, than Lake Arrowhead and also has the small village atmosphere. Mountain High Ski Resort is a main attraction to Wrightwood, but there are many antique shops and restaurants located in the community. Local location to take your children to the snow and go sledding! Stop at the famous Charlie Brown’s on the drive up, located on Highway 138. Charlie Brown’s has been in business for many years and is famous for its ice cream shakes/malts.

Professional Ice Hockey Games or

Summer Fun

Ideas coming soon. Please submit your own as well.

Fun Rest Stops

Suggestions from local parents on kid friendly, convenient stops for play and for eating while traveling to various areas in California from San Diego.

GOING North:

Our favorite trip is to take the Amtrak train from SD to Anaheim for a day and night at Disneyland. It’s easy and stress free. We’ve also made it a 2 night stay and have caught an evening Angels game during the summer! GREAT FUN and a great way to spend family time on the train!

Another day we went to LA which has SO much to do. We enjoyed the California Science Museum (which is also free and fun and educational!) plus the La Brea tar pits. There are many hotels. but the last time we went we stayed at a Comfort Inn, and the service was fine and the location convenient.

Santa Barbara: there is so much to do… just click on the bottom of this website on “view other cities”…and you will see the site…it is a great family town!
San Luis Obispo: We stayed at the Rose Inn, which has free pizza or tri tip dinners on certain nights and enjoyed SLO. We went hiking at Montana de Oro. and walked around the mission. We also stopped in Old Town Arroyo Grande for a break on the way home.

Casa de Fruita in Hollister (near the intersection of Hwy 152 and HWY 156) has a petting zoo, candy and ice cream store, miniature locomotive, panning for gold, and a park and picnic area.

Avila Barn by Avila Beach, just before San Luis Obispo. Great baked goods and petting zoo.

If you are driving the coast on Highway 1 Ragged Point (15 miles north of San Simeon) is a great way to break up the trip. There is a gas station, mini-mart, restaurant, snack bar (great hot dogs!), gift shop and clean restrooms (not to mention an inn.) There is a beautiful look-out point which is a short walk past a large grassy area and pretty gardens – perfect for stretching your legs and letting the kids run around a bit before getting back in the car.

In Atascadero there is a quaint little zoo called the Charles Paddock Zoo. They have two tigers and lots of other great animals. This is way better than stopping at Chuck E. Cheese!! And it’s free if you are a member of the SB Zoo.

Monterey: There’s tons of family stuff to do there: the amazing Aquarium, a children’s museum, gorgeous bike path, hiking, parks, Big Sur coast, etc.
Paso Robles is a good half-way point to stop for food. I’ll confess that we stop at a really cool “”retro”” style McDonald’s complete with free video and computer games. Maybe not the best educationally or nutritionally, but sometimes a 4 hour road trip is cause to bend the rules! I believe there’s also a Carl’s Jr. at the same exit with an outside play area.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium in incredibly kid friendly (and very cool for adults too!) Check out their website for package deals with hotels in Monterey. The Bubba Shrimp was a really fun place to take the kids. We recommend taking a cooler and stopping as you need to on the beautiful drive up. Much easier and much more healthy.

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