Our Spring Break Trip: My Guide On Family-Friendly Things to Do When Visiting San Diego

We had an amazing spring break and per your requests, I put together a guide on family-friendly things to do in San Diego based on our trip! It was our first time to America’s Finest City and it definitely did not disappoint! So many fun things to do as a family. I’m sharing our Airbnb, theme parks we visited, leisure activities and restaurants we dined in. Along with what I recommend and one thing we wished we did if we could go back.



La Jolla Cove


Where We Stayed: Our Airbnb

We rented an Airbnb in the vibrant North Park neighborhood. We loved that it was walking distance to some great restaurants but not too far of a drive to the theme parks and beaches. *This is not sponsored – we just love using Airbnb or VRBO on family vacations.

The craftsman style home was cozy, clean and we felt right at home. Here’s the listing for our Airbnb along with images from the site.

Tour our 3 bedroom, 1 bathroom Airbnb


My Guide to Family-Friendly Things to Do in San Diego

Where We Ventured: Theme Parks and Zoo

*Note, we visited when most schools in San Diego were also on their spring break which meant the parks and zoo were busier than usual.

Legoland: while we’ve been to a few theme parks, we’ve never been to Legoland. Because it was spring break, the very long wait times for rides and food did steal some of the fun. But overall our kiddos were troopers.  This park is catered towards younger children so we wanted to visit before Ava (our soon to be 10 yr old) grew too old for the rides. While most said the long wait times are normal year round, someone shared that they went a week before Thanksgiving and the wait times were much shorter. All in all, we’re glad that we went because our kids are Lego fanatics. It was really neat to see all the things built out of Legos!

San Diego Safari Park: I polled my IG community between the Zoo and Safari Park after our visit and more than 6o% said they preferred the zoo over the park. We went to the park and while some things were really neat to see, we felt a little underwhelmed. We paid an extra $95 a person for the safari tour but our kids actually loved the free Amtrak tour much more. The big difference was that we got closer to the animals with the paid tour. If you’re on the fence about the extra cost, I would opt out.  The good thing is that we felt at least our money was going towards conservation so it wasn’t a lost.

SeaWorld: this was all three of our kids favorite out of the four. The lines weren’t bad at all. There was so much to do.  I, unfortunately, didn’t get the full experience. For our first ride, the kids voted on the Tidepool Twist.  PSA – if you get motion sickness like I do, DO NOT go on this ride! I was so excited about being here that I completely didn’t realize how badly this ride would take me out.  However, I made the best of it and Brian being the amazing dad he is, took the kids on all their requested rides. I still can’t believe that our little Livy (7 years old) went on the Manta!  A few recommended their waterpark, Aquatica, but it closed in 2021.

Belmont Park: this was a quick stop as we passed through to Mission Beach. It’s a super cute historic amusement park where you don’t have to pay for entrance but rather buy tickets for the rides. It was fun to walk around.

*tip for all any amusement park and zoo visits.  Pack lots of snacks and water to keep the littles occupied while waiting in lines and bring your own lunch if possible!


Where We Ventured: Leisure Activities


Balboa Park: great place for kids to play and picnic between the museum hopping.

Air and Space Museum: there are lots of museums around Balboa Park.  This was our top pick and the kids loved it! A great place to explore and learn. Brian majored in aviation so our kiddos are obsessed with aviation and space.

Old Town: if you want great Mexican food, stop here! There are lots of Mexican restaurant options with high ratings so you can’t go wrong.  We had lunch at Miguel’s and the fresh chips and salsa were the biggest reward after a long day of exploring – we were hungry! It’s a great place to walk around, shop and grab coffee or ice cream.

La Jolla Cove and Beaches: we loved this area! Minus the “stinky” sea lions as Jack called them, everything about this town was so dreamy. The scenery, shops, restaurants and beaches will make you fall in love with it.  We’d moved there in a heartbeat if we could snag that dream $17M home overlooking the ocean that we saw in a listing 😉

Coronado Island: this is another dream town. We visited when it was raining off and on. I wished we stopped in at the Hotel Del to explore but didn’t have time. However, we did walk around the little downtown, strolled along some quaint streets while dreaming about buying one of the homes and had an amazing lunch at The Henry.

Mission Beach: it was very chilly when we stopped here but the kiddos loved walking around the beach searching for shells. There are lots of little beach shops with very affordable shirts and sweatshirts if you’re looking for that kind of memento.

Little Italy: after our Mission Beach adventure, we arrived in Little Italy. Parking is pretty tough so I’d recommend the public parking.  After circling around, we decided it was smarter to pay $22 to park at a nice public parking ramp. Of course, there are lots of Italian restaurants. If you’re around on Saturday, I hear that their farmer’s market is a must!

North Park: this was our Airbnb’s neighborhood. There are lots of amazing restaurants along 30th street. We enjoyed the walkability and cute homes.

Gaslamp District: we drove by on a Friday afternoon but it was pretty quiet. While I can see the appeal with all the different shops, bars and restaurants, a lot of you said it wasn’t very kid-friendly.

So what did we miss?

These were other recommendations of things to do in San Diego from my IG community:

    • Cabrillo National Monument/Park
    • Seaport Village
    • Sunset Cliffs in Point Loma
    • Hotel Del Tour
    • Torrey Pines State Park
    • San Diego Zoo
    • USS Midway Museum 


Restaurants: Where We Ate


In & Out: does this count as a restaurant LOL? We had to introduce our kiddos to this California staple. They liked it but didn’t think it was as good as Culver’s.

Bangkok Spices – Thai food in North Park: loved the food and cozy atmosphere. Highly recommend the fried rice – one of the best I’ve had!

Miguel’s Cocina Mexican food in Old Town: they brought out baskets of fresh tortilla chips and salsa right away so we knew it was going to be good! We all loved our food, even picky eater Jack!

Blue Ocean/Harumama – Japanese food in La Jolla: the food was good but the great ocean front view made it better. It’s all indoors so you won’t get a whiff of the sea lions.

Bobboi Natural Gelato in La Jolla: the gelato was excellent!

Encontro – American food in North Park: very kid-friendly and we enjoyed the food and service. Brian was asked “does anyone ever tell you that you look like some actor?” She was referring to…you guessed it, Paul Rudd haha

So Saap – Lao food not too far from North Park: this was off the beaten path but worth it if you’re looking for authentic Lao food. Our family pretty much had a feast and I’m still dreaming about their spicy papaya salad (tum mak hong).

The Smoking Goat – French-American food in North Park: we went for dinner and the food + service was excellent! We enjoyed the atmosphere and even indulged in three different desserts!

The Henry – American food in Coronado Island: the space was beautifully designed and the food + service was really amazing! I had the most delicious refreshing salad with the Seared Tuna Chop. Even the kids menu had great options. Jack ordered the buttered noodles with roasted chicken and 10/10 recommend.

Sogno Di Vino – Italian food in Little Italy: obviously, there are tons of Italian restaurants in Little Italy. We didn’t make reservations ahead of time and they were all booked. However, we were relieved to book one at Sogno Di Vino with a 4.5 star review. When we entered the restaurant, it looked like chaos and the atmosphere was very underwhelming.  To our surprise, they took us through a hallway into another part of the restaurant that looked better in scenery.  The food was good but next time, I’d love to book another highly rated restaurant in advance. But overall, this is a great family spot. *Tip: make a reservation!

Little Italy Food Hall: it was cold when we visited Little Italy and our reservation wasn’t for another 1.5 hrs. We stumbled upon this food hall off the common area.  It was the perfect place to sit and order some drinks while we waited.  They have different food options as well if you’re not in the mood for Italian.

Salt & Straw – handmade ice cream in Little Italy: this was recommended to us so we stopped in and the kids thoroughly enjoyed their ice cream!

Snooze – breakfast food in Del Mar Heights: while this is a chain restaurant, they always deliver in service and great breakfast! Very family friendly. Their Bloody Mary’s are some of my favorites, especially the Thai Bloody!

Other Restaurants My Instagram Community Recommended for San Diego

  • Underbelly
  • Cuatro Milpas
  • Puesto
  • Menya Ultra – Ramen
  • Mikes Tacos
  • Colimas
  • Wise Ox

One of my followers was very passionate about San Diego restaurant recommendations but I wasn’t able to read it until we were towards the end of our trip. So I want to share it here because I really appreciated it:

Pacific Beach 

  • Costa Brava $$- pb I think maybe I took you there Spanish tapas 
  • Miss Bs coconut club $$- brunch
  • Oscars Mexican seafood $- tacos
  • Fig tree cafe $$- coffee/brunch

Ocean Beach 

  • Mikes taco $- best tacos 
  • Wonderland $$- view and sunset cocktail

Bankers Hill/Mission Hills/North Park 

  • Trust $$$- upscale traditional food
  • Fort oak $$$- steakhouse 
  • Menya ultra $$ – best ramen 
  • Extraordinary desserts $$ – cake
  • Azuki sushi $$$
  • Wolf in the woods $$$ – small wine bar/share plates 
  • Great Maple $$ -brunch, maple bacon donuts
  • Buona forchetta $$- Italian, Naples style pizza
  • Piachere mio $$ – Italian best pasta (my wedding dinner location)
  • Wise Ox $ – this is a butcher but fresh meat great sandwiches and breakfast sandwich 
  • Black market $- coffee/ chocolate raspberry scone 
  • Mr trustee $- homemade ice cream

Little Italy

  • Kettner exchange $$$ – rooftop share plates, great cocktails
  • Born and raised $$$$$ – dress code,steakhouse, could go just for happy hour 
  • Craft and commerce $$$ – craft cocktails, go in the back for a speakeasy 
  • Bencotto – $$$$ fancier Italian 
  • Further: oceanside
  • Wrench and rodent sushi 
  • Jeune et jolie – $$$$$ Michelin star excellent food


I also created a highlight on my Instagram profile of our trip. The one place I wished we toured was the USS Midway Museum but other than that, I think we hit up as much as we could in one week. We truly had the best time and would love to visit again. Hope you enjoyed reading and found my guide of family-friendly things to do when visiting San Diego helpful!

If you liked this post, you may also enjoy reading these:



Sweetest Regards, Patti