If you think of a perfect day out with your preschooler, it likely includes a super fun activity followed by some really yummy food. With this pairing in mind, we’ve put together a fantastic list of places where you and your kiddos can play and burn off energy before refueling at a nearby spot for some good eats. Whether your little ones are into sports, art or museums, we’ve got the ultimate urban playdate for you! Read on for your next adventure in the city.

The New Children's Museum + Brian's 24

The New Children's Museum, located downtown, is full of fun, educational activities. Whether they're playing in the Sandbox Gallery, using the Costume Cave for make believe, or tottering around Wobbleland, there is zero chance your explorers will be bored. But all that "work" is bound to make them hungry––so head to nearby Brian's 24 for all-day breakfast, sandwiches, pizza and more. Order carefully: their portions are famously huge! Read more about The New Children's Museum here and Brian's 24 here.

The New Children's Museum
200 W. Island Ave.
San Diego, Ca 92101
Online: thinkplaycreate.org

Brian's 24
828 Sixth Ave.
San Diego, Ca 92101
Online: brians24.com


The Hot Spot Studio + Fig Tree Cafe

If you're raising the next Picasso, then Hot Spot Studio, in Liberty Station is sure to delight. Pick out an unfinished piece of pottery (everything from piggy banks to plates to figurines), select your paints and have a blast. You pay by the piece, not the hour, so feel free to stay as long as you'd like. They also have supplies to make candles. To celebrate your masterpieces, walk over to Fig Tree Cafe for Bananas Foster French Toast, Breakfast Sushi and other delicious bites.

The Hot Spot
2770 Historic Decatur Rd., #101
San Diego, Ca 92106
Online: thehotspotstudio.com

Fig Tree Cafe
2400 Historic Decatur Rd., #103
San Diego, Ca 92106
Online: figtreeeatery.com

Carlsbad Lagoon + Campfire

One of the perks of living in San Diego is our quick access to the water, so why not head up to Carlsbad Lagoon for a day of water sports? You can rent kayaks, standup paddleboards (kid sizes are available), pontoon boats and peddle boats. Your crew is bound to be ravenous after all that exercise. Nearby Campfire will hit the spot. The restaurant is open and airy with a large patio that feels like the hippest campground in town. Refuel with simple, hearty fare like Cheesy Eggs, Belgian Waffles and Camp Rice Bowls. Read our full review of Campfire here.


Carlsbad Lagoon
4215 Harrison St.
Carlsbad, Ca 92008
Online: carlsbadlagoon.com

2725 State St.
Carlsbad, Ca 92008
Online: thisiscampfire.com

San Diego Air and Space Museum + Flight Path Grill

The San Diego Air and Space Museum, located in Balboa Park, is chock full of exhibits to keep your pint-sized aviators enthralled. They'll be able to see the genuine Apollo IX Command Module, an "American Women in Flight" exhibit and the International Air and Space Hall of Fame. For lunch, simply go upstairs! The Flight Path Grill is on the outdoor patio, giving you a perfect view of downtown as well as the planes landing at Lindbergh Field while you enjoy burgers, sandwiches and salads. Read more about the Air and Space Museum's new Speed: Science in Motion exhibit here.

San Diego Air and Space Museum
2001 Pan American Plaza
San Diego, Ca 92101
Online: sandiegoairandspace.org

Flight Path Grill
2001 Pan American Plaza
San Diego, Ca 92101
Online: sandiegoairandspace.org

Cowles Mountain + The Trails Eatery

If your kids are more athletes than aviators, Cowles Mountain is one of the most popular hiking spots in San Diego. Three miles may sound like a lot (and it is!), but the mostly gentle switchbacks make it a less strenuous climb. At the top, you'll be rewarded with sweeping views of Lake Murray, downtown and Tijuana. Once you're done, you'll want to head across the street to The Trails Eatery where you can enjoy breakfast and lunch staples, including their popular Sin-a-mon Roll Pancakes.

Cowles Mountain
7000 Golfcrest Dr.
San Diego, Ca 92119
619-668-3281 (Mission Trail's Visitor's Center)
Online: alltrails.com (not official, but provides good trail information)

The Trails Eatery
7389 Jackson Dr.
San Diego, Ca 92119
Online: thetrailseatery.com

Where are your favorite spots to play and eat with your kids? Let us know in the comments!

— Michelle Franklin

Featured photo: London Scout via Unsplash


8 Super Family Date Spots in San Diego

Order Up! The Best Kid’s Menus in San Diego

23 Restaurants Where Kids Eat Free in San Diego