10 family-friendly summer day trips in San Diego

Oceanside Harbor
Have a splash in Oceanside. | Photo via Canva

Summer’s coming, school’s almost out, but San Diego fun is still in session. With June right around the corner, we’re getting pretty anxious to plan a local daycation

These 10 seasonal activities are great for the whole family, often free or offering reduced rates for children. Best of all, you can do them in a single day — so you can have some summer fun without using all of your vacation time.

San Diego County Fair ferris wheel + swings
We’re fairly certain we’ll be in Del Mar this summer. | Photo via @rachelsingerphotography

🎡 Go to the San Diego County Fair

The summer tradition is back in full force, and it’s calling heroes to re-unite. Locals love the over-the-top food + drinks, rides, and concerts, but know it’s only in town for a limited time. Tickets are available from Wed., June 8-Mon., July 4 (all Mondays + Tuesdays in June excluded), and the calendar is packed with performers. 

🦭 Take a SEAL Tour 

There are many ways to learn about San Diego, but it’s most fun when you can do it on land + water. SEAL Tours (you know, those blue water buses with cute little seals on them) are great, informational ways to explore the city — and they depart from Seaport Village, so you won’t be far from restaurants and shopping.

“Queen Califia's Magical Circle” by Niki de Saint Phalle in Escondido’s Kit Carson Park
A beautiful design in Kit Carson Park | Photo via @iam_barbaraj

🌳 Explore a new park

Our county is full of outdoor spaces, and there’s always a new way to take a walk in the park. Try visiting a different neighborhood — if you haven’t seen “Queen Califia’s Magical Circle” by Niki de Saint Phalle in Escondido’s Kit Carson Park, it’s a must-see local gem.

🥾 Take an urban bridge hike

Lace up your hiking boots and head into the city. San Diego has a 5.5-mile of trails including seven bridges throughout Hillcrest, Bankers Hill + Balboa Park. The route is bike and stroller friendly, and you can move at your own pace. You’ll pass by restaurants, coffee shops, and stores, and no one will judge you for stopping.

Sesame Place San Diego welcome sign
We know how to get to Sesame Street. | Photo via Monica Garske + SDtoday

🎢 Visit an amusement park

Get ready to buckle in for a ride — and we’re not talking about the short car ride. SeaWorld, LEGOLAND + Belmont Park have been staples for local thrill-seekers, but Sesame Place San Diego made a splash this year with its debut in Chula Vista. Pack your swimsuits — water rides are all the rage there.

🏛️ Check out a museum

Sometimes, you want to get out without being outside, and the county’s got plenty of museums for that — including kid-friendly ones. You could discover The New Children’s Museum or check out its Art + Play Space in Del Mar. Or, learn a lot at Balboa Park with an all-access day pass to the landmark’s many museums. 

Pro tip: The Fleet Science Center + Natural History Museum have kids’ spaces for especially curious and interactive minds..

Santee Drive-in
Buckle up, it’s movie night. | Photo via @santeedriveintheatre

🎥 Watch a movie

We’re getting ready for summer blockbusters, but a trip to the movies doesn’t require heading to an indoor theater. Check out a free movie in the park, or share an old favorite at the Embarcadero’s Rooftop Cinema Club. Or, make a new movie feel old school by heading to a drive-in, like the ones in South Bay or Santee

🦁 Explore the San Diego Zoo 

You’d be wild to not take advantage of our proximity to the zoo, and it’s easy to spend a whole day taking a self-paced safari. Young adventures will enjoy the new Wildlife Explorers Basecamp, or maybe they’d rather be seeing red at the panda habitat.

Fresh strawberries from Carlsbad Strawberry Company
We’re berry excited to bake with these. | Photo via @dr.benjaminbenulis

🍓 Pick berries

If you’re reddy to get outside, Carlsbad Strawberry Co. lets you pick your fun. The fields are open for berry picking, but there’s also a sunflower maze if that’s more your jam. Then, spend the day making seasonal treats, assuming you haven’t eaten all of your pickings. 

🌊 Wave hello to the beach

Of course, San Diegans have plenty of choices when it comes to beach days. Maybe this will be the year you pop up on your surfboard for the first time — try signing up for group surf lessons, like at San Diego Surf School in Pacific + Ocean beaches. Or, head to a new beach from Oceanside Harbor Beach down to Imperial Beach, or anywhere in between.