What parent doesn’t want their kids to have a good, old-fashioned childhood? You know the kind, where days are filled with school followed by long afternoons of bike rides, swinging at the playground, hunting for bugs and then, when the street lights came on you know it is time to head home for dinner. While today’s world tends to be filled with after-school activities and modern technology, here are six ideas to get your modern day minis experiencing simple play throughout San Diego.

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Image Credit: Tammy via Flickr Creative Commons.

The Best Place To Roll Down A Hill
Take one kiddo plus one hill and you’ve got the perfect combination for some old fashion fun having rolling competitions at Kate O’ Sessions park. Located in North Pacific Beach, this scenic spot sits on top of a hill with perfect views of Mission Bay, downtown, Coronado and beyond. While you take in the views, your kiddos can literally roll down the southern end of the park. It’s a hilly wide open space so there will be plenty of spots in between the other picnickers, dog walkers and other kids playing. Rolling competitions done, check out the neat playground or bring a ball to kick around. There is plenty of parking and restroom facilities so it should make for an easy afternoon of innocent fun.

Kate O’Sessions Park
5115 Soledad Rd.
San Diego, Ca 92109
Online: sandiego.gov/park-and-recreation

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Image Credit: Jason Jones via Flickr Creative Commons.

The Best Place To Fly A Kite
The old Mary Poppins song, “Lets Go Fly A Kite,” will be ringing in your ears as you visit Tecolote Shores for a family kite flying session. Situated in Mission Bay, just south of the San Diego Hilton Resort and East Mission Bay Drive, this parkland has the perfect combination of big open spaces perfect for getting a run off and a nice little coastal breeze that will see your kite soar. And if you really want to up the kite flying ante, visit at 12 p.m. on the second Saturday of each month when the San Diego Kite Club meets. You’ll be able to see amazing kites of all different shapes, colors and sizes take to the sky. While you’re there, check out the kids playground or bring the bikes for a spin on the Mission Bay Park bike path. Parking is free and plentiful (although it does get busy on the weekend) and there are restrooms available in the park.

Tecolote Shores North
1740 E Mission Bay Dr.
San Diego, Ca 92109
Online: sandiego.gov/park-and-recreation

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Image Credit: Macie Sherwood via Flickr Creative Commons.

The Best Place To Swing Till You Touch The Sky
There’s something so nostalgic about sitting on the swings, going back and forth while you get as high as you can until you can almost touch the sky. And Hilltop Park and Recreation Center is the perfect spot. Here you’ll find a top notch playground with eight swings ready to go. Set into a big kid and little kid area, and surrounded by picnic tables and grassy fields you can swing, play and relax till your heart’s content. But it won’t just be you pushing the kiddos on the swings that will get them soaring. You’ll want to grab a swing and check out the sweeping views of Carmel Mountain, Carmel Valley, all the way through to the Pacific Ocean!

Hilltop Park and Recreation Center
9711 Oviedo Way
San Diego, Ca 92129
Online: sandiego.gov/park-and-recreation

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Image Credit: Holly Clark via Flickr Creative Commons


The Best Place to Splash In The Sea
Feel the sand between your toes and the sun on your shoulders as you hit up Cardiff Reef Beach. This family friendly spot is perfect to splash about. With a huge stretch of shoreline to choose from you can find yourself a quite little area, or hang with the crowds if that’s more your thing. While the surfers catch a wave of two out back, the kiddos will love jumping over waves coming into shore, collect shells or build a sandcastle or two. With so many families visiting it can get busy here so prep yourself that you may need to search out a parking spot. If nature calls there are restrooms available and there are lifeguards on duty (although only at certain times)

Cardiff State Beach
Hwy 101
Cardiff By The Sea, Ca 92007
Online: parks.ca.gov

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Image Credit: Judecat via Flickr Creative Commons.

The Best Place To Climb a Tree
Climbing a tree is a childhood right of passage. As your wee one sits perched on a tree branch far away from video games, iPhones or laptops, they can be at one with nature (while you perhaps are “at one” with watching them closely to make sure they are okay). Pioneer Park in San Diego’s Mission Hills district boasts some Morton Bay figs that are perfect for climbing. These trees have large root systems to explore and low-to-the-ground sturdy branches meaning your little one’s tree climbing adventure will be fun rather than death defying. While you are there check out the well-maintained play equipment along with lots of public BBQ and picnic spaces. There is even an old creepy graveyard at the edge of the park if you think the kiddo’s are up for it.

Pioneer Park
1521 Washington Pl
San Diego, Ca 92101
Online: sandiego.gov/park-and-recreation

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Image Credit: White Balance Images via Flickr Creative Commons.

The Best Place to Count the Stars
Lying in the dark under a blanket of glittering stars can help your kiddos feel just how infinitely small they are in the big wide world. San Diego has some great spots to go stargazing, including Mission Trails Regional Park. On the second Friday of each month, meet at the far end of the Kumeyaay Lake Campground’s day use parking lot for a meet up with members of the San Diego Astronomy Association. They are on hand with their telescopes to help your family from sunset to 10 p.m. You’ll be able to check out some of the brightest starts in the galaxy along with planets, moons and other galactic awesomeness.

Kumeyaay Lake Campground Parking Lot
Two Father Junipero Serra Trail
Online: mtrp.org/campground

What are your favorite ways to have some good, old-fashioned fun play time? Let us know in the comments!

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– Lenya McGrath