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Are you planning a San Diego family vacation and looking for ideas on what to do during your San Diego family vacation?
In this post, you’ll learn all about what to see and do, where to stay, and how to create the perfect 5-day San Diego vacation!
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If you’re looking for great weather and endless family fun, San Diego has a place full of fun things to do!
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With this San Diego family vacation itinerary, you’ll have plenty of time to experience the best that a family vacation in San Diego has to offer.
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The beauty of a San Diego family vacation is that it can be enjoyed year-round and is visited by thousands of tourists every season.
The best time to visit San Diego is March through May when temperatures are in the upper 60s. Although the temperatures are not as warm during these months, the prices and crowds are smaller.
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July, August, and September are the best months to visit San Diego because temperatures are usually in the 70s. However, expect more tourists and crowded beaches during these months.
The winter months of December-February are the coldest months, so don’t go there if you’re looking for a beach holiday. Although hotel rates are very low during these months, rain showers can also occur during this time.
Below you’ll find suggested San Diego vacation trip ideas for one to six days. The travel tips are based on our personal experiences and are filled with insider tips for visiting San Diego for the first time.
Our itinerary includes tours of Legoland, SeaWorld, La Jolla, Moonlight State Beach, and downtown San Diego and Coronado Island.
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You’ll need to adjust your itinerary as needed to account for the weather, where you’ll be staying, how much time you’ll spend at each attraction, and the various interests of your travel party.
*All our recommended restaurants, landmarks and attractions are in bold. Their physical locations go with the flow of this journey. If you choose to enter a restaurant or attraction, make sure to time your tour accordingly.
We decided to fly with the kids and took a direct flight from our home state of Minnesota to San Diego International Airport.
Once there, we rented a car to use for the week, as we planned to visit the city of San Diego and surrounding coastal communities.
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Known for its 1950s-style waiters with beehive hairdos, Corvette Diner was a great way to kick off our family’s San Diego vacation!
Just 45 minutes from downtown San Diego, Carlsbad is home to Legoland Theme Park and the Legoland California Resort and Castle Hotel.
Located at the entrance to the Legoland theme park, the Legoland Hotel offers adventure, pirate or empire-themed rooms with king-size beds and a separate children’s dormitory.
We lived in a fun themed room where the kids could open a chest in the room every morning to find a new Lego toy.
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Additional Planning Tip: This property caters to parents with children ages 2 to 12, so guests should be prepared for some noise and occasional disturbances. (We didn’t find this a problem!)
We love Legoland so much, we included it as our #1 pick in our article for the best amusement parks for toddlers in California!
From 9:30-10:00 AM, hotel guests get exclusive access to the rides before the park opens to the public at 10:00 AM.
We took full advantage of this and were the first in line to enter the park! Our early gain was worth it as we were able to ride all three major roller coasters without a long wait.
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At the heart of Legoland is Miniland USA. Imagine the landmarks of Washington D.C., New York City, Las Vegas, San Francisco and New Orleans made of Lego bricks. Yes. Good!
A series of these aquariums in the U.S. can be found all over, but the Lego models inside the tanks make this destination unique.
Since the aquarium is not big, you can visit it in 1-2 hours. We did so on weekdays during our day at Legoland to take a quick break from the rides.
After considering the differences between Airbnb and VRBO, we chose to stay at Airbnb with the goal of staying near the beach.
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After analyzing all the suggestions for choosing the best vacation rentals in the San Diego area, we finally decided to stay in Encinitas, California for the remaining 5 nights of our trip.
Our rental home was 2 blocks from beautiful Moonlight State Beach. We couldn’t love this beach more and living so close to the ocean!
Moonlight State Beach is a large family-friendly beach with 3 sand volleyball courts and a large lawn with a children’s playground. The slope of the beach is gentle, making surfing very fun and very safe.
One of our favorite things about Moonlight State Beach is the joy of watching surfers! It doesn’t get the pleasure we see in Minnesota!
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Older kids love the San Diego beach culture, and one of the best things to do in San Diego with kids is to spend the day at one of its many beaches!
Being close to beautiful marine life and blue water is special. In addition, the dolphin and sea lion shows are very entertaining and keep the entire audience engaged and laughing.
(I have childhood memories of my trips to Sea World, and our kids continue to report how much they love it!)
Since we wanted to experience a little bit of everything the city of San Diego has to offer, I thought the best way to do that would be with a hop-on-hop-off trolley tour.
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Guests can choose to hop on or off at designated stops and spend as much time as they wish exploring the area.
When you’re done checking out, go back to the stop and get on the next trolley. While traveling between stops, the tour is fully narrated by professional tour guides.
I can’t think of a better way to add coral to Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve. A must on your San Diego trip with kids!
Don’t miss the opportunity to bring your family here to enjoy the California coast with this view – you won’t regret it!
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Additional planning tip: For more outdoor adventures, consider visiting California’s national parks if you’re in the area. One of our personal favorites is Joshua Tree National Park, located 2 hours north of San Diego.
To continue exploring the outdoors in La Jolla, you should head out to the parking lot on La Jolla Coast Boulevard for your next surprise.
La Jolla is home to the most popular wild seals and sea lions, both of which are easily seen along La Jolla’s coastline.
We spent most of our time at the children’s pool at Casa Beach admiring the seals. Here a large sea wall protects a small sandy beach, which is used by large numbers of seals and sea lions for play.
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Pack like a pro for your next San Diego family vacation! Click the image below to get your free customizable and printable vacation packing list!
San Diego International Airport (SAN) is conveniently located near downtown San Diego and is easily accessible by public transportation and shared ride services.
All major car rental companies are available at the airport and shuttle buses run regularly from the airports to various locations in the city. Such shuttles can be pre-booked at your accommodation.
I recommend having a rental car to get around San Diego because everything is so spread out and there are so many beautiful places to see.
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A tourist (and personal) favorite, the San Diego Old Town Trolley. The Old Town Trolley offers a guided hop-on-hop-off experience for one daily price and includes 10 popular spots sprinkled throughout the city.
With so many different neighborhoods and different interests in what you want to do, choosing where to live in San Diego can be difficult.
Many visitors choose to stay on Coronado Island to have direct access to the beach, while others prefer to stay downtown, where they can be close to the action and walk from place to place.
Another popular option is to stay outside the city limits in a beach community and simply walk into town to the various attractions on your San Diego trip.
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Our family vacation to San Diego was one of the most memorable family vacations we’ll ever look back on
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