Kids' Guide to San Diego

PHOTO: A boy puts builds a sandcastle on the beach in San Diego.Moment Open/Getty Images
A boy puts builds a sandcastle on the beach in San Diego.

San Diego is known for sunny weather. Temperatures average 70 degrees, and 27 miles of waterfront makes for plenty of beaches and water sports for fun in the sun. The kids I interviewed for my new Kid’s Guide to San Diego said the sunshine and all of the of the options to play outside make the “birthplace of California” an ideal place for family fun with umpteen places to skateboard, surf, fly kites or just play on the beach, especially around the three-mile boardwalk along Mission and Pacific beaches.

It doesn’t hurt that San Diego is home to the world-famous San Diego Zoo and Safari Park, SeaWorld, and nearby in Carlsbad, LEGOLAND California.

Balboa Park, where the zoo is located, is also home to 15 museums as well as the Marie Hitchcock Puppet Theater. Ask younger kids and they’ll tell you how much they like making toys from recycled materials at the Tinkering Studio at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center.

“You’ll need a few trips to see everything because San Diego is big,” said Ladha, 13, from Los Angeles.

And then there is the food -– especial Mexican (San Diego is less than 20 miles from the Mexico border.

“You can’t leave San Diego without trying some REAL Mexican food,” said Dex, 12.

Savvy traveling parents know the more input kids have in vacation planning, the more fun everyone will have.

Here’s the Kids’ Take on San Diego:

MUST SEE:

San Diego Zoo, the most visited zoo in the country with the largest population of giant pandas in the United States.

“The Red Panda are cute and fluffy!” said Alicia, 10.

At Safari Park, which simulates an experience you might have in Africa, “Monkeys climbed on my car and they threw fruit at each other,” said William, 10.

Sea World; “The Ride Journey to Atlantis is intense,” added Carlos, 10, of San Diego.

Balboa Park, where you can take your pick of museums, the carousel, roller blading, bike riding. “Have a picnic,” said Dylan, 12. “Visit the gardens and see the pretty flowers,” said Anna, 11.

MUST DO:

Go to the beach.

“And watch the sunset!” said Victoria, 13.

Have a bonfire with my family!” said Freddy, 12.

“Collect crabs in a bucket,” added George, 10

MUST EAT

“Shrimp or fish tacos,” said Inez, 12.

“IN-and-Out Burgers,” said Vincent, 8.

MUST TAKE HOME:

“Chargers or Padres gear,” said Hector,11, of San Diego.

“A Picture of the ocean… It’s the coolest gift you can give someone,” added Jesus, 13.

“A San Diego Life Guard Hoodie,” said Rose, 11.

Just make sure to remember your shades “and get ready to have a lot of fun,” said Edward, 10.

Eileen Ogintz writes the syndicated column and website Taking the Kids and is the author of the nine Kids Guide books. This is the fifth in a series looking at major American cities from kids’ perspectives.

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