Loaded with fun and accessible kid activities, San Diego is a terrific destination for families. Many people don’t think of San Diego for mid-winter vacationing, but the mild year-round temperature turns San Diego into a chillier version of its’ summer self with out any crowds.
Each year we make the trek from Boston to San Diego for the holidays. Most years the temperature hits the 60’s by midday, which for us, always feels delightfully warm. Although this year was colder and rainy, a rare occurrence for San Diego, we had a relaxing and wonderful trip.
Favorite Winter Family Activities in San Diego
The Zoo: We always start at the San Diego Zoo. My 17 month-old was the perfect age to really enjoy all the animals. We went a few days before Christmas and there were no lines at any of the exhibits – even the Pandas. We were able to maneuver easily and have quick accesses to the whole zoo, which was key because my husband and I brought eight kids! The beauty of this zoo is how the glass enclosures allow the kids to get within inches from the animals.
The Beach: Although a bit chilly, we threw on sweatshirts and headed to the beach. Just being outdoors and by the water, which means in the water for my kids, felt great. The flowers on the cliffs, the sunsets, the dolphins playing in the waves, it all works to ease our winter blues. This year my kids had wetsuits and we were out boogie boarding in 58-degree water – it was a blast!
Ice Skating at Hotel del Coronado: Every year, this gorgeous hotel adds a skating rink to its’ beachfront. Something about skating virtually on the beach with sun, seagulls, the sound of the waves and, of course, shorts – is all too fun! My hockey players got a big kick out of this.
La Jolla: This town is great in the winter because it offers plenty of non-aquatic fun, like pretty walks, great restaurants, fun galleries, and plenty of space for the kids to run. We always grab breakfast at the very charming Brockton House and then enjoy the ocean-front walk to the Children’s Cove. There, the seals come up on the beach and you can watch them frolic around, guaranteed to deliver smiles. Additionally, you have the La Jolla’s Museum of Contemporary Art and the Birch Aquarium as nearby activities. Then we top it all off with some amazing fish sandwiches at El Pescador - a favorite local fish shack.Think blackened halibut sandwich with avocado. Just try it anything there – it’s amazing! Plus, you can buy flip-flops next door at the surf shop.
Los Angeles: This year, inspired by Beverly Hill Chihuahua, we decided to road trip up to LA and take in a bit of Hollywood. We spend one day exploring the area around the La Brea Tar Pits (thanks to a previous Ciao Bambino post). The few blocks around the Tar Pits also house the LA County Museum of Art and the Farmers Market, which connects with The Grove, an outdoor shopping mall. This area was ideal for our family because it offered quality activities for adults and kids, plus delicious outdoor meal options. For those of you with little girls, The American Girl Place is also right there (that was last years’ girl trip- the play was great). The next day we went to Universal Studios, which was fantastic for my 5, 8 & 9 year-old and terrifying for our 17 month-old. I felt like a negligent mother bringing her on the Studio Tour- it sounded harmless, but was not a good choice. Live and learn.
Ciao Bambino Recommended San Diego family hotels
Fun at the San Diego Zoo