Photo: Bill Gracey via Flickr

Are your night owlets begging to stay up past lights out? Shelve those bedtime stories for now and paint the town on a real adventure! Read on to learn where to get the party started under the moonlight––including a wild safari trip, a sleepover on a historic ship, a roller coaster ride and a dazzling nightly parade!

Photo: Alex Holt via Unsplash

S’mores on the Beach
No need to pack up the towels and sand toys just because the sun is setting. Instead, break out the marshmallows and skewers for s’mores beachside! Many beaches have fire pits available on a first come, first serve basis, including Coronado Beach and San Elijo State Beach in Cardiff. Fires have to be out by midnight, but the little ones will be fast asleep by then.

Coronado Beach
838 Ocean Blvd.
Coronado, Ca 92118

San Elijo State Beach
2050 S Coast Hwy 101
Cardiff, Ca 92007

Photo by Nic S. via Yelp

Drive-in Movies
Drive-in movies aren’t just a thing of the past! Places like the Santee Drive-In and South Bay Drive-In offer current releases—most are family friendly—from the comfort of your own car. Bring food with you or buy snacks from the concession stand. Make sure everyone takes a nap because they often show double features!

Santee Drive-In
10990 N. Woodside Ave.
Santee, Ca 92071
$9/adult; $4/child (4-12); Under 4/free

South Bay Drive-In
2170 Coronado Ave.
San Diego, Ca 92154
$9/adult; $1/child (5-9); Under 5/free

Photo by Dave S. via Yelp

What could be more magical than spending the evening gazing at stars with your little astronomers? There are plenty of opportunities for “star parties” with the San Diego Astronomy Association, which has an observation site in East County — although you’ll need your own equipment. And check out these top sites around the county, ideal for stargazing.

Click here for a list of all of our favorite spots to stargaze in San Diego.

San Diego Astronomy Association

Photo: Chris Tillman via Flickr

San Diego Safari Park Roar & Snore
Camping next to a rhinoceros? Brushing your teeth with a giraffe? Well, not quite, but the Safari Park does offer overnight excursions appropriate for all ages. Sleep in one of the park’s tents and enjoy after-hours tours of wildlife, camp activities, guided walks, dinner and breakfast the next morning. Who knows, you may even get to hear a lion roar, as the event title suggests!

Cost: Starts at $140/person + admission.

San Diego Zoo Safari Park
15500 San Pasqual Valley Rd.
Escondido, Ca 92027

Photo: San Diego Zoo

San Diego Zoo’s Nighttime Zoo
The San Diego Zoo goes wild at night with their Nighttime Zoo events that run from June 18th- Sept. 4th. Festivities include African-themed entertainment, lively music, stilt walkers and awe-inspiring acrobatic feats. Dr. Zoolittle and Zoo characters will debut their brand-new show, “Dr. Zoolittle and Friends Explore Africa” at the Koalafornia Boardwalk. The popular Zoolahoops will wow crowds in Centennial Plaza and the Rock and Roar band and the hip-hop dancing Funky Monkeys will excite audiences on the Front Street Stage. Animal ambassadors will be on-hand to educate and entertain during their “Wild About Animals” show at Wegeforth Bowl and guests will have a chance to meet and greet spectacular handcrafted puppets. Nighttime Zoo concludes with a dazzling 20-minute procession along Front Street. The puppets and their skilled puppeteers—led by an eight-piece brass band, The Chameleons—will thrill and delight families each evening.

Cost: Nighttime Zoo is free with zoo admission or membership.

San Diego Zoo Kid’s Wild Night Out
Ready for some wild nights with Dr. Zoolittle at The San Diego Zoo? Your little party animals will meet-up with zoo animals, make zoo-inspired crafts, play games, enjoy a snack and take home a souvenir gift. Note: Kids should eat dinner before this event and wear comfy walking shoes and a jacket. Dates of Wild Night Out are the following Saturdays:
June 3, September 2, October 7, November 4, December 9 and December 16.

Cost: $37/person for kids in K-5th grade
Reserve a spot by calling 619-718-3000

San Diego Zoo
2920 Zoo Dr.
San Diego, Ca 92101

Photo by Amber E. via Yelp

Concerts in the Park
San Diego may have the best city parks in the state, so what better way to enjoy them than with free outdoor concerts? Pack up a picnic and bring your dancing feet. Kids will love feeling the grass between their toes as they boogie to local bands and parents will love the nostalgia of tribute acts such as Cash’d Out and The Petty Breakers.

Read our guide to free summer concerts all over the city here.

Point Loma Summer Concerts
1049 Catalina Blvd. (between Pt. Loma Avenue and Talbot/Hill Streets)
San Diego, Ca 92107

Carlsbad TGIF Concerts
Locations rotate each week. Click here for details.

Photo: Shimona Carvalho via Flickr

Giant Dipper Roller Coaster
Built in 1925, the Giant Dipper wooden roller coaster is a National Historic Landmark! So throw in a little history lesson for your tiny thrill-seekers while whizzing down hills and around corners. The coaster is open until 10 p.m. and covered in lights once the sun goes down. Don’t forget to check out the rest of Belmont Park for more rides and carnival treats. Note: The height requirement to ride the Giant Dipper is 50-inches tall.

Cost: $6/ride

Belmont Park
3146 Mission Blvd.
San Diego, CA 92109


Photo: Rebeca Anchondo via Flickr 

Balboa Park After Dark
Every Friday from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend (May 26-September 1, 2017), Balboa Park comes alive in the evening. Many museums have extended hours and are open until 8 p.m., including kid favorites Fleet Science Center and The San Diego Natural History Museum. There will also be family-friendly live entertainment throughout the Park, as well as a rotating line-up of food trucks (Food Truck Fridays run June 2-September 29, 2017). Prices vary depending on museum.

Balboa Park Visitors Center
1549 El Prado
San Diego, Ca 92101


Photo: Rebeca Anchondo via Flickr

Star of India Sleepover
Ahoy! The Maritime Museum of San Diego is hosting a sleepover on the historic Star of India! Families embark on July 8 and travel back to 1863. Although the ship remains docked, the crew — dressed in period costume — will teach passengers how to load cargo and raise sails, as well as explore parts of the ship closed to the public. This is truly a trip back in time as guests will bring their own sleeping bags and slumber on the deck. Dinner and breakfast are provided. Read more about this and other sleepover adventures here.

Cost: $75/person

Star of India
1492 N. Harbor Dr.
San Diego, Ca 92101


What does your family do out on the town after dark? Enlighten us in the comments!

— Michelle Franklin