Think of this as the ultimate to-do list. We’ve carefully gathered 77 local adventures for SoCal families that are sure-things when it comes to fun times. Whether you’ve got itchy feet that can only be cured by a local getaway or want to know where to eat as a family and how to entertain the kiddos in a new and exciting way, we’ve got you covered. So start checking out the possibilities and checking off the tried-and-true adventures.

Local fun awaits!

1. Trying to coordinate a Date Night? We’ve gathered up a list of awesome Parents Night Out programs in San Diego where kids can be dropped off for fun playtime while you enjoy an evening for two.

2. Does your kiddo have a birthday coming up? From a botanical garden to a warehouse of inflatable jumpies to an air flight observation deck, we’ve got loads of birthday party venue ideas!

3. Give yourself a night off from cooking and take your brood to one of these awesome restaurants where kids eat free.

4. Shuttle the kids over to the Museum of Contemporary Art, where there are spectacular views of the oceanside, yummy food options, and a a kid-friendly sculpture garden.

5. Whisk the little ones to these indoor play hotspots and let them bounce, tumble, and work up an appetite for dinner.


6. Pressed for time and can’t face cooking up a family dinner? Cut yourself some slack and opt for healthy take-out that won’t break the bank.

7. Fuel your little ones’ imaginations with a trip to one of Orange County’s amazing libraries.

8. Work in a workout and rest assured that your kids are happy, safe, and burning off energy of their own. We dug up 5 awesome San Diego gyms with childcare.

9. Whether your kiddo wants to master the backstroke or your tadpole is ready to upgrade from the dog paddle, we’ve gathered up the best swimming lessons for kids.

10. Switch up your regular grocery shopping routine and stock up on locally grown produce by heading to a must-visit farmers market.

11. and 12. Has Autumn rolled around? Celebrate the season by going apple-picking and enjoying a fun harvest farm.

13. Blend everyone’s vacation demands into one fabulous family getaway at the Paradise Point Resort & Spa.

14. Clean out those closets and go on a shopping spree at an upscale kids resale store.

15. Engage the kiddos (and keep your own kitchen table clean) with a few hours of hands-on creativity at Pachis Art Studio.


16. Gardening is a great way for kids to understand the environment, plants and growth, and where the food they eat actually comes from. Develop your youngsters’ great thumbs by getting involved with an interactive local garden center.

17. Take care of your tootsies with a mommy and me nail salon experience. Think mani-pedis  and bonding time wrapped up into one glorious day. (Psst! If you’d rather go for solo time, we found one salon that provides childcare.)

18. When nothing but a delicious cupcake will satisfy your sweet tooth (or quiet your kids), pay a visit to this awesome, eco-friendly cupcakery in La Jolla.

19. Pack up your sand toys, grab some sunscreen, and head to these beaches that kids love

20.  Whether your kiddos want to dig in the sand, climb a rock wall, feed the ducks or simply head down the slide, we’ve rounded up the best San Diego parks for kids.

21. If there’s a single food that almost all kids love, it’s pizza. Grab a slice at one of our fave pizza spots.

22. Take advantage of a drop-in art studio and social club where kids get messy and creative.

23. and 24. Your birthday boy or girl is dying for a triple-layered masterpiece and you’re dying for a stress-free party? No worries! We’ve made a go-to list of the best bakeries to get birthday cakes. And if you’re looking for something a little different this birthday? Try one of these sweet alternatives to the traditional birthday cake

24. Kids love exploration and we found a great kid-friendly beach complete with hiking, tidepooling, and neon sea creatures.

25. Start the day off right with fresh air and an ultra-yummy breakfast at our fave OC breakfast joints.


26. Nix that idea for a stressful garage sale. (Who’s got time for that?). Gather your old maternity clothes, kids’ clothing and gear and bring them to the Newport Kids consignment shop.

27. Instead of feeding your little one’s desire for fast food of the golden arches variety, hop in the car and introduce them to these gourmet-style burger hotspots

28. Trust us, the early wake-up will be worth it. Head to this Japanese-French bakery with the kiddos for a mouthwatering fresh pastry. 

29. Pack up the kids and prepare for a day trip! From apple pie to carriage rides, this fun and historic mountain town has a little something for everyone. 

30. We all scream for ice cream! We’ve rounded up some top-notch spots for frozen treats with kid-friendly flavors and some that adventurous little taste buds might appreciate too. 

31. If your kiddos love everything under the sea but hate crowds, pay a visit to the Birch Aquarium and let them explore interactive exhibits in an intimate setting.

32. Inspire your mini-philanthropists and get involved with a local volunteering cause.

33. Embrace flexibility and achieve a calm, relaxed state. Here are our picks for local yoga classes for kids, families, and moms who want some childcare with their zen.

34. Need a sweet treat? Instead of the same ol’ chocolate chip cookie or cupcake, have the kids try a trendy and colorful macaron.

35. Take a trip to the Land of the Rising Sun without ever leaving our own sunny city! Take the kids to explore the Japanese Friendship Garden and learn a thing or two about Japanese culture.


36. Let the kiddos slurp their hearts out at one of our fave pho restaurants.

37. Go for a perfect day trip to charming Seaport Village and enjoy an antique carousel, fun shopping, and awesome picnic spots.

38. Looking to throw something new into the mix of your usual beach spots? Head over to Mission Bay Park for biking paths, warm sandy beaches, picnic areas to run around in, and even a place to bring pets.

39. It is possible to have a fine dining experience with kids in tow. Try out La Jolla’s Bird Rock for a casual atmosphere, swanky decor, and delicious food.

40. Spend a fun day playing tourist as a family and head to Coronado for family-friendly restaurants and one of the best beaches in the world.

41. Grab a scrambler or tasty granola at The Cottage.

42. No time to get away? Recharge your parental batteries close to home with a staycation in La Jolla.

43. Has strawberry season rolled around again? Here’s where you can pick your own strawberries for a sweet, healthy fix and a whole lot of fun.

44. Horse around as a family at the Del Mar Races. There are bouncy castles, games and activities–plus, a camp just for the little ones on every racing day.

45. If a beach trip is just too much hassle and you’re suffering from summer heat, splash around at one of these nearby water parks.


46. Got a little one with gluten sensitivities or Celiac disease? Check out our picks for glorious gluten free restaurants your whole family will love.

47. Encourage your little Monet to get creative and create beautiful works of art worthy of any refrigerator gallery at these awesome art studios geared especially for kids.

48. Grab some tasty Mexican food with the niños at one of these great family-friendly Mexican restaurants.

49. For some old-fashioned fun, take the kids to catch a show at the Marie Hitchcock Puppet Theater.

50. Does your youngster likes to boogie and tap his toes? Go for a healthy dose of exercise and encourage friendships and team building by enrolling him in a fun dance class.

51. When it’s finally time for a family vacation, pack up the troops and head to beauitful Loreto. It’s more low-key than Cabo, closer than Puerta Vallarta, and locals warmly welcome children into most restaurants and shops.

52. Picture this: a three-story industrial building with tons of windows and endless activities for kids. Now grab the kiddos and pay a visit to the New Children’s Museum for hours of hands-on fun.

53. If you build it, they will come. If you take your LEGO-loving kid to LEGOLAND, she’ll probably have many moments of pure joy. Be sure and check out our guide to LEGOLAND to make the most out of your family’s visit.

54. Getting a little bored with hitting up the same routine locations for strolling, lunching, and playing? Try spending a day at a shopping area that resembles a sophisticated vintage flea-market for some unique family fun.

55. Make a splash with the kiddos, meet Shamu, and enjoy one of SoCal’s most popular tourist destinations.


56. Eat out as a family without worrying about whether there will be kids menus or a family-friendly atmosphere. Check out our picks for the best restaurants to bring kids for a tasty meal.

57. and 58. For a wild outing with your little monkeys, explore the San Diego Zoo. You can also get up close and purr-sonal with some roaring wildlife at the neighboring Safari Park.

59. Embrace the pioneer spirit and explore the frontier with a day trip to Smith Ranch in Juilan.

60. Take the kids for a lake exploration adventure and a little fishing at Chollas Lake Park.

61. Enjoy the warm SoCal sun with a trip to Sabre Springs Community Park to monkey around on the playground and have a picnic.

62. Want a fun, nearby excursion that screams kid-friendly? Pack up the fam and drive on up to Los Angeles.

63. Thrill your youngster with a dining experience that appeals to kid sensibilities.

64. You and the kids are looking to beat the heat? Instead of grabbing the sunscreen and towels, head out for a day of ice skating.

65. Give yourself a chance to reboot and grab some much-needed caffeine while the kids play the day away at Kid Ventures


66. Has your usual neighborhood park become a little ho-hum? Shake things up and spend a perfect day outdoors at Kate O. Sessions Memorial Park.

67. Watch your youngster’s face light up when the curtain rises at one of these kid-friendly live theater shows.

68. Ever felt like there was just too much to do at Balboa Park? Check out our Insider’s Guide for advice and insights into the most kid-friendly corners of the park.

69. Speaking of Balboa Park, be sure and make time for your little Einsteins to engage in some hands-on, scientific fun.

70. Is it whale-watching season? Jump in the car and head for the high seas. Your kiddos will be in awe when they spot whales off the coast.

71. For a greener fast food option, take the kids to Greenleaf Gourmet Chopshop, where ingredients are fresh, organic, and locally grown.

72. Roll, run, and splash around at San Diego’s most picturesque park.

73. Anchors away! Explore an interactive naval ship with your boat-loving kiddo.

74. Whether you’re looking to duck out of Legoland for an hour or two or just love looking at fish, the Sea Life Aquarium is worth a visit.

75. Get your daughter involved with an organization that cultivates leadership skills and an appreciation for community service–find a Girl Scout troop near you.

76. If your SoCal kid has never left the land of the sun, skip town during the next winter break and take them on a totally cool snow trip.

77. Say hello to convenience! Check out our list of birthday party planners who will take care of all the necessary details so you can celebrate your kiddo’s big day.

-Abigail Matsumoto

Photo Credits: Brian Rhee, Pachis Art Studio, antone kom, Legoland California, Kid Ventures.