Meet Tonya a self-described “champagne sipping, chocolate eating, camera carrying, crafty, shopaholic mummy to twin toddlers and a home schooled teenager. I’m also an Aussie, living in California, and a military wife.” In addition to all that, she somehow finds time to write, not just one, but three blogs: A Day in My Life, Currently Crafting and Munchkins & Mayhem. Lucky for us she lives just to the south of us, which makes her the perfect person to help you & I plan the perfect San Diego getaway, whether it’s a weekend full of fun, or just for the day…

Hello to all of the fabulous readers of Just Spotted. My name is Tonya & I’m here to take you on a tour of San Diego. I have a teenager & twin toddlers so getting them out exploring our area is very important to me. We love to discover new places & see all that San Diego has to offer. Here are my top 20 destinations for family friendly activities this summer.”

1. Balboa Park – You will need a few days here. Home to 15 museums, beautiful gardens, a playground for the little ones, the amazing Spreckels Organ Pavilion (which puts on FREE concerts over the summer), a Spanish Village, puppet shows, The Old Globe Theatre, restaurants, the famous San Diego Zoo and so much more.

2. Seaport Village – is one of my favorite places in San Diego. You will find FREE daily entertainment including bands, singers, magicians, palm readers and various other buskers and sideshows. Enjoy lunch in one of the many restaurants or take a picnic to enjoy in the grassy area overlooking the bay. From flying kites, to horse and carriage rides and the carousel, there is so much to see and do. Take a stroll along the boardwalk that runs alongside the San Diego Bay and enjoy the view of the boats, the Coronado Bridge and the little duck pond.
3. San Diego Zoo – The newly launched Elephant Odyssey at the San Diego Zoo, makes this a must-see destination. The zoo after dark is truly an experience, when you are surrounded by the noises of the night. You will also find summer camps for the little ones and family safari sleepovers over the summer period.
4. Wild Animal Park – There is just so much to do at the Wild Animal Park it is almost impossible to see it all in a day. With summer evenings in the park holding special events, Dino Mountain back on display over the summer and the regular park activities such as safari’s, tours, sleepovers and exploring the numerous exhibits the kids are sure to sleep well in the evenings.
5. Sea World – Summer nights have begun with the special night-time shows and fireworks. You can start your day off with Breakfast with Elmo, enjoy the various shows, rides and exhibits throughout the day including the Sesame Street Bay of Play and then stay on throughout the evening to dine with Shamu and experience the night-time shows and fireworks. They currently have a special on tickets – adults at kids prices and a 2nd visit FREE.
6. La Jolla Cove – With restaurants, shopping, galleries, the Museum of Contemporary Art, viewing seals at the Children’s Pool, the Sunday farmer’s market, playing on the beach and snorkeling or kayaking around the Cove, La Jolla is a fabulous destination for all ages.
7. Legoland – There are over 50 rides, shows and attractions at Legoland and it is great day out for all ages. You’ll find Bob the Builder in 4D, a mini golf course, water parks, lego stations, X-Box gamespace, Volvo driving school, mini-land, a factory tour and lego galore. Don’t forget to bring your swim gear, you will need it. Oh and be sure to try the apple fries, they are delicious.
8. Sea Life Aquarium – This aquarium is a combination of lego and real-life sea creatures. It is directly next door to Legoland and if you go on the same day, you won’t have to pay for another day of parking, however, you may want to leave this for another day to truly experience it, after-all the kids are going to be exhausted after a full day at Legoland. There are discovery zones, touch stations and a brand new Sharks Revealed interactive exhibit as well as aquariums and plenty for the little ones to do.
9. Old Town – Step back in time to the birthplace of California. Between Presidio Park, Heritage Park, Old town San Diego Historic Park, The Old Town Theatre, Saturday markets, over 100 stores, 24 full service restaurants, galleries and hotels, you’ll be sure to experience the history of San Diego. A few of the things to see are the first one room schoolhouse, the reportedly haunted Whaley House, an 1850 Catholic Cemetery and living history demonstrations.
10. Coronado Concerts in the Park – From May 24th until September 13th Coronado offer FREE concerts in the park every Sunday evening. This is one of our favorite weekend activities. Pack up a picnic and head down to Spreckels Park for an evening of music and fun for the children with a large, newly renovated playground. I advise getting there at 5:30pm to get a great spot on the lawn. Coronado is a great place to stay with beautiful beaches and the legendary Hotel Del .
11. Mission Bay, Mission Beach & Belmont Park – With boardwalks alongside the sand, relaxing on the beach, surfing, Crystal Pier, Fiesta Island, the Belmont Park theme park, restaurants, and playgrounds and this is a great summer destination. We recently spent an entire day walking from Pacific Beach along the boardwalk and around to Fanuel Park stopping at Belmont Park, beachside cafe’s, to play in the sand and enjoy an ice-cream. It was one of the best days we’ve had as a family. There are vacation rentals right on Crystal Pier, Hotels along the boardwalks where guests will take chairs out onto the sand to watch the sun go down and locations for bonfires, fly kites and to water ski.
12. Maritime Museum – A collection of historic ships are open daily for public tours. There are various packages available including family sleepovers on board, cruises out on the bay, sunset sails, and Movies Before The Mast Film Festival about the Star of India.
13. Viejas - Viejas is so much more than just a Casino and Outlet Mall. It also offers Concerts in the Park from April – October and a splash zone for the kids. The Power of Nightfare will be showing Thursday – Sunday until 7th September. This is a Native American folklore show featuring magic, special effects, water fountains, lasers and pyrotechnics. Also Thursday nights in June, July and August feature a FREE movie in the park.
14. Downtown San Diego – is a hub of great things to see and do. There is the infamous Petco Park, the Gaslamp district, Little Italy, Horton Plaza for shopping, great restaurants and The New Children’s Museum.
15. Chula Vista Nature Center – If you want to learn more about the birds, animals, plants and sea life native to San Diego, then this is the perfect place. The nature center is located on Sweetwater Marsh National Wildlife Refuge right on San Diego Bay. At the Nature Center you can explore an aquarium, outdoor nature park and take either a guided tour or stroll at your own pace around the nature trails.
16. Santee Lakes – This is a beautiful area if you are wanting to just relax with your family. There is camping, fishing, a spray pad for the little ones, boating, movies by the lake over the summer, paddle boats, playgrounds, walking paths, bird watching and picnic areas.
17. Birch Aquarium – Experience the wonders of the ocean with hands-on exhibits, feedings, the aquarium nursery, family programs and tidepool displays. There are over 60 habitats. You can also do off-site activities such as grunion runs, snorkel with sharks, moonlight pier walks and many other things. Check out their Calendar for a full list of activities.
18. Quail Botanical Gardens – Only 20 minutes north of San Diego, the Quail Botanical Gardens is over 35 acres of gardens, rainforest and exhibits. They offer several different events over the summer including insect and fairy festivals, and strings in the garden.
19. Kit Carson Park – Located in Escondido it offers hiking trails, playgrounds, a sports complex, picnic areas, ponds and a 5-acre arboretum including the amazing Queen Califia’s Magical Circle Sculpture Garden. It is also only a few miles away from the Wild Animal Park and North County Fair mall.
20. Mission Trails Regional Park – There are nearly 5,800 acres of natural and developed areas that encompass Mission Trails Regional Park. You will find 40 miles of trails, Lake Murray, camping, a state-of-the-art visitor center including a 94 seat theatre (with 4 shows running daily), picnic facilities, guided nature walks and this summer will be the first time they offer week-long educational programs for children aged 6-10.
BONUS: I know I said I’d only add my top 20 destinations, but I almost forgot that the San Diego County Fair will be operating from June 12th until July 5th. The fairgrounds are located in Del Mar, home to beautiful beaches, fabulous restaurants and boutique shopping.
So, if you are looking for a fun destination to take the kids this summer, come down south. San Diego has so much to offer whether you are here for the day or an extended vacation, you won’t be disappointed. You can find out more about visiting San Diego especially about the parks, beaches and hotels from the San Diego Convention and Visitors Bureau.

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Thanks Tonya! I for one, can’t wait to explore San Diego this summer. It will definitely make the perfect “stay-cation”. To get to know Tonya better visit her at any of her three blogs: A Day in My Life, Currently Crafting and Munchkins & Mayhem.

xoxo, K

p.s. While you’re in San Diego, be sure to always check a San Diego events calendar to know the schedule of upcoming entertainment, sporting and cultural happenings in the city.