This post was sponsored by mifold. All opinions remain my own.
Nathan and I have lived in Southern California for most of our lives, but finding things to do with kids in San Diego has been a whole new adventure. As our kids continue to get older, we enjoy exploring San Diego County together and building memories as a family.
Of course, there’s a ton of stuff to do in San Diego year round, especially with our infinite supply of sunshine. But having SMALL kids changes things. And having MULTIPLE small children, like 3 kids under 5, makes things even more complicated.
What are the most kid-friendly attractions? Will I sweat buckets pushing a stroller up and down hills? Will my kids have to do a ton of walking? Are bathrooms easily accessible for frequent potty breaks? Can we bring food or buy things cheaply? Will my kids be over it in 5 minutes or will I get my money’s worth? I’ve been there, guys. I get it. Having lots of littles requires a unique brand of mental math that they really don’t teach in public schools.
Then there are issues unique to San Diego. This is definitely a DRIVING city. The public transportation is not particularly helpful. This isn’t New York. There are no subways, and buses are super slow and inefficient. It’s also worth noting that San Diego is extremely spread out. There are things to do all over the place and nothing is particularly centralized.
TAKE NOTE: When visiting San Diego, you’ll be driving everywhere.
For parents of young kids, that means car seats and booster seats. This is probably my hottest tip of all for those traveling to San Diego with kids.
HOT TIP: Pick up a mifold booster seat (or two or three) for your trip!
These boosters are extremely compact and easy to use. If you are riding in a rental car or calling an Uber, you can just pull the mifold out of your purse or backpack, and have your child safely buckled in in minutes.
The compact size of the mifold also makes it perfect for families that need to seat 3 across in the back seat. My girls aren’t old enough yet for booster seats, but my son and his friends are. The mifold fits perfectly in between the twins car seats, and we are able to easily seat additional kids in the 3rd row with additional mifold seats. This makes it perfect for carpooling to school or riding together to local attractions. I keep an extra mifold in my glove compartment, so I’m always prepared to invite one of my son’s friends!
It’s also nice to be able to send the mifold with my son when he goes out on the town with grandma or his friends’ families. I know he’ll be strapped in safely, and there’s no need to transfer bulky boosters or car seats in between cars.
The mifold booster is a must have for all your family adventures!
You’ll get plenty of use out of your mifold while exploring San Diego, and it will definitely come in handy back at home! Buy one, seriously. You’ll thank me later.
Once you’ve figured out transportation and car safety, you are ready to hit the road! If you are making plans to visit “America’s Finest City,” and wondering what to do with kids under 5, let me make a few suggestions:
My Top 10 Things To Do In San Diego With Kids Under 5
We absolutely LOVE visiting farmer’s markets in San Diego. They run year round here, though they are more lively during the summer months. I have two favorites.
1)The Oceanside Farmer’s Market takes place on Thursday mornings and is located directly in front of the Oceanside Library. The parking can get busy, but isn’t too terribly difficult. The food is always great, and the library has a children’s storytime at 10 am which makes it a perfect morning outing for families.
2)Little Italy is a very large and well-attended farmer’s market. The parking is a bit more complicated here, but the neighborhood is very pleasant to walk through. The market is full of amazing food and interesting crafts, plus the surrounding area is packed with quaint coffee shops.
3) The San Diego Safari Park is my absolute favorite animal attraction. It’s extremely stroller friendly, and plenty of shade in a variety of areas for kiddos to keep cool. There is a playground and lunch tables that is a great break for families of small kids. A perfect place to get the wiggles out and have a snack. We usually bring our own snacks and water, which I highly recommend.
4) Bates Nut Farm is a little out of the way, and not often known by tourists, but definitely worth a visit. There is a petting zoo with tons of animals, a darling general store, and in the fall, there’s a giant pumpkin patch. Make sure to check out the hayrides and corn maze, too.
5) SeaWorld is super fun for littles. There are tidepools where they can touch marine life, tons of exhibits where they can observe and learn about life under the sea, and for the under 5 set, there’s the Sesame Street Bay of Play. Bring your kids bathing suits. Let them run around on the splash pad and ride Elmo’s Flying Fish. And get ready for everyone to take awesome naps in the car on the way home.
6) The San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum is absolutely perfect for the under 5 set. Actually, it’s great for kids of all ages, but the size and layout make it perfect for managing multiple small kids. It’s essentially one giant room with an outdoor space attached. There are TONS of things for kids to explore both inside and outside, plus there is a section where you can sit and eat snacks then run back out and play some more. My kids loved the garden and the dramatic play area in particular.
7) Ruben H. Fleet Science Museum is perfect for families. There are all sorts of scientific displays for a variety of ages and stages, but if you have kids under 5, the Kids Town is where you’ll spend a good chunk of time. We usually take our time making our way upstairs, so that we see plenty of the museum before my kids get sucked in.
8) The New Children’s Museum is seriously amazing. We keep coming back to see what’s new, and it’s always better than before. It’s packed with interactive installations guaranteed to encourage your kids to “think, play, create” as they say.
*BONUS: If you are all the way up just north of North County, Penny Pickle’s in Old Town Temecula is definitely worth a visit. It’s a unique science experience broken up into various rooms with interactive exhibits. Plus, they do science experiments live daily. While you are there, stroll through Old Town Temecula. It’s adorable.
9) Though San Diego is a coastal city, and there are a bunch of beaches, one really stands above the rest in my opinion. Moonlight Beach in Encinitas is absolutely perfect for families with young kids. It’s easy to access, parking is pretty manageable, plus there is an actual park with playground and bathrooms within walking distance. It’s seriously the best. (If it’s the right season, check out the tidepools in Carlsbad at Terramar Point or in La Jolla. You won’t regret it!)
10) Maybe it’s just us (#TheNerdsbornes), but libraries are awesome attractions to include in vacation planning. San Diego has a ton of libraries, but if you really want a great selection and relaxing kids environment, I highly recommend the Dove Library in Carlsbad. The children’s section is amazing, and there is a courtyard attached for some outside play. Plus, if you aren’t feeling the library coffee shop, you can walk to La Costa Coffee Roasters across the parking lot to get yourself a latte. You’re welcome.
Planning a vacation or road trip? Getting ready to leave the kids with grandma for the weekend? Maybe you just need a portable booster for carpool? Or something that will easily seat 3 kids across? Make sure to check out the mifold booster seat today!