San Diego is regarded as America’s Finest City for many reasons, including our warm weather, stunning beaches and sparkling downtown skyline. But if you ask most tourists, they can’t wait to arrive in San Diego to visit our attractions, theme parks and landmarks. Well, at least tourists under the age of 10.
Ranging from the world famous San Diego Zoo to SeaWorld, LegoLand, Belmont Park, and Knotts Berry Farm, San Diego is jam-packed with attractions that put our local entertainment on the international map.
Discover the best San Diego attractions and what’s new in 2012.
Go all out, animal style, this spring and summer at the world famous San Diego Zoo. Home to more than 4,000 rare and endangered animals, there’s something here for everyone to enjoy at this centrally positioned attraction, located near the iconic Balboa Park just a few miles north of Downtown San Diego. Choose your favorite zone from the sweltering heat of the Urban Jungle to the Arctic Chill of the Polar Rim, and spend the day exploring and learning about the fascinating lifestyles of a wide array of exotic animals.
What’s New at San Diego Zoo: Play Days
Make a date with your favorite animal at the San Diego Zoo from March 31st through April 15th. The Play Days of spring feature scheduled times with one specific animal or group of animals, so kids and parents have the opportunity for an up-close-and-personal experience. The 16 days of animal play time include professional keeper talks held in the Zoo’s specific zones. Plunge into some of the fascinating worlds of the Feathered Friends, Viva Flamingos, Giraffe Feeding, Meerkat Munch Bunch, Shaggy Bear Snacks, Reptile Review, Hippo Hooray, Tiger Time, and Polar Bear Play. All the spring animals are headed out of hibernation and ready to play—make your date with one of them now! Discover more about the San Diego Zoo and buy tickets here.
For all the nature fanatics out there, get ready to experience wild life like you've never seen it before. Unleash your inhibitions as you observe animals wandering freely in an environment much like their native homelands at the San Diego Safari Park, formerly known as the Wild Animal Park. Once inside, you'll get to explore and view animals from different worldly regions, spanning the jungle from rhinos, exotic African birds, and gorillas, to name just a few. The Safari Park is home to 3,500 animals representing more than 400 species. And setting an idyllic backdrop, the botanical collection represents 3,500 species and 1.5 million specimens. Over half of the park’s 1,800 acres have been set aside as protected native species habitat.
What’s New at San Diego Safari Park: Roar & Snore Family Night
The San Diego Safari Park invites families to experience the animal kingdom like they’ve never seen it before with a family sleepover at the park. Themed nights host families as they partake in crafts, evening walks around the Park, and face-to-face encounters with animal ambassadors. For families with children ages 6 and up, this is the perfect chance to make a lasting memory. All sleepovers include camp activities, guided walks, a campfire program, dinner, evening snack, breakfast and a Park souvenir. Upcoming themed Roar & Snore Nights include the African Safari, The Park After Dark, and Mother’s and Father’s Day Celebrations. Discover more about the San Diego Safari Park and buy tickets here.
This innovative playground enables kids and adults to let their imaginations run wild together. As you enter a fantasy world created out of everyone's favorite past time, you'll find thrilling rides, captivating theater shows and interactive play areas. LegoLand is located in Carlsbad and is divided into several areas including the Beginning, Dino Island, Fun Town, Castle Hill, Imagination Zone and the latest addition, LegoLand Water Park. Make sure to leave enough time to explore them all.
What’s New at LegoLand: Pirate Reef
This summer of 2012, LegoLand is unveiling the latest family adventure for all ages to hop aboard the Pirate Reef! Those brave enough to take on the waters will battle each other on the high seas as they blast water cannons, trying their best to avoid getting drenched on the main bridge. This all-new attraction is comprised of the splash bridge, water cannons and brick building play area, accessible through both Pirate Shores within LegoLand California and LegoLand Water Park, the world’s first Lego themed water park. Battle on the high seas this summer of 2012! Discover more about LegoLand and buy tickets here.
This wet and wild San Diego staple is the only place where you can get up close and personal with some of the world's most fierce aquatic animals. Boasting everything from sharks, dolphins and penguins, to live shows, themed rides and amusements, and of course everyone’s favorite killer whale Shamu, SeaWorld San Diego contains enough action to keep you entertained from day to night.
What’s New at SeaWorld: Spring Into Night
From March 31st to April 15th, SeaWorld will stay open late for the Spring Into Night festivities that offer guests even more SeaWorld fun. Until 9pm, the agenda of nightly entertainment will include the much-anticipated Shamu Rocks show, as well as the hilarious Sea Lions Tonite Show. As the park gets dark, attendees can rock out to the return of the two favorite shows, plus enjoy the ambiance of live music and a fireworks show. Visitors of all ages will be captivated by Shamu’s tricks to the tune of rockin’ jams late into the night. Free with park admission. Discover more about SeaWorld and buy tickets here.
This summer, take the family out for a day of fun in the sun at Belmont Park in Mission Beach. Located where the sand meets the edge of the boardwalk, you'll find several different amusement park rides including the signature Giant Dipper, one of the oldest operating roller coasters on the West Coast and arcade games and boutique style shops. Belmont Park is different from other San Diego attractions in that there is no entry fee; guests are welcome to enjoy the scenery for free, and there is a price per ride or game. While you’re at Belmont Park, make sure to check out the wide array of nearby dining and nightlife perks, including the man-made wave and athletic center at Wave House located just steps from the Giant Dipper.
What’s New at Belmont Park: RUSH Laser Tag
The new RUSH Laser Tag Arena is the prime spot for guests to test their aim and agility in a safe, action-packed environment. When you’re not being plunged into the San Diego skyline on Belmont’s thrilling rides or surfing the waves of Wave House, the RUSH Laser Tag arena offers 3,000 square feet of high-energy, indoor fun. Using the latest in laser tag technology, two teams have 10 minutes to score as many points possible. Not only is RUSH Laser Tag the newest attraction at the park, but it’s the only arena in San Diego that includes a full arcade. Discover more about Belmont Park and buy tickets here.
Experience over 165 rides, shows and attractions at Knott’s Berry Farm, the amusement park for wholesome family fun located south of San Diego in Chula Vista. Take a bone chilling route by visiting the Mystery Lodge, a mystical journey through Native American culture, or get your grub on with Boardwalk Dining. There’s something for everyone at Knott’s including Thrill Rides, Family Rides, Children’s Rides and Water Rides. And if you’re ready for a major cool down, Soak City Water Park will open for the season on Saturday, May 19th.
What’s New at Knott’s Berry Farm: Camp Snoopy
The six-acre land of Snoopy offers more than 30 rides and attractions for kids to take on with their parents. This kid-friendly rollercoaster haven has some mini-sized thrills, like the Charlie Brown Speedway with scaled-down stock cars driving around the pint-sized racetrack, Snoopy’s Red Baron airplanes, the spinning Camp Bus, Lucy’s Tugboat where young sailors plunge through the ocean’s current, the Balloon Race for a sky-high journey above the trees, or Snoopy Bounce, where kids can jump, pounce and play inside of the world’s largest Snoopy inflatable. Discover more about Knott’s Berry Farm and buy tickets here.
Want more family-friendly fun in San Diego? Check out our top Spring and Summer Camps for Hip Kids.
Discover more in our complete directory of San Diego attractions and visit our San Diego events calendar.