San Diego with kids – planning a dream holiday

With the coldest week of Winter forecast for this week, I have been snuggled up in a blanket with the heating on full surrounded by tissues and full of cold wondering if humans should be able to hibernate when it is this cold. Of course with the snow trying to come down currently the children would never allow me to stay indoors so instead I have been planning a dream holiday somewhere hot.

I do love to plan holidays, scope out what we would do, where we would stay and places we would HAVE to visit and of course restaurants we couldn’t possible miss out on. There is something fun about the planning side, even if the reality doesn’t happen for a few years – I really do need to start playing the lottery.

First things first, we do all need passports, but that’s easy enough to fix – if I can get the kids to stop moving long enough! I’ve found some beautiful beach rentals in San Diego which would be a perfect base for a California holiday and I’ve planed our itinerary with the help of friends who have visited already.

Places to visit and things to do in San Diego with kids

Whale and Dolphin watching expedition

This is very high on my wish list, it’s something I have wanted to do since I was a child along with swimming with dolphins, which happen to be my favourite animal.

Tours set off from San Diego harbour and head into the waters of San Diego Bay in search of the majestic California grey whale.

The tours include live educational narration from the captains and a trained naturalist from the San Diego Natural History Museum. Passing historic landmarks on your journey, such as the naval submarine base, Point Lama Lighthouse and the Cabrillo National Monument.

As well as Grey Whales which are commonly seen during these tours you may also catch site of humpback and killer whales, dolphins and other marine birds common to this area including Brown Pelicans and Blue Herons.

I would have to make sure I took mine and Emmy’s seasickness bands and tablets before embarking however.

San Diego Zoo

This has been recommended by a few friends who have visited.

The zoo spans an impressive 100-acres and is home to more than 4,000 animals across 800 rare and exotic species. You’ll be able to see giant pandas, New Zealand kiwis, endangered sun bears and Galápagos tortoises which are the zoo’s oldest residents.

The Children’s Zoo includes a nursery with baby animals and has a petting area where sheep and goats await their next cuddle and most likely will welcome a snack or two. And in the Outback, you’ll find hopping kangaroos, cuddly koalas, and hot pink flamingos.

Photo credit – Emma – taken at Sea World

For a much needed rest you can even board one of the open-air double-decker buses for a 35-minute narrated tour around many of the zoo’s best exhibits, take the Express Bus and hop on and off at 5 different stops, or catch a bird’s-eye view of the entire grounds with a high-flying ride on the Skyfari® Aerial Tram.

Sea World is also on our must visit list:

Jo who blogs over at Miracle Max has been to the zoo and says:

The San Diego zoo was fab! It was the most beautiful and creatively laid out zoo I’ve ever been to. The new Africa Rocks exhibit is truly astonishing (sharks and penguins outside!). The Hills make it a great walking zoo and give you a chance to see exhibits from all different levels.

San Diego Seal Tour

Climb aboard the SEAL, a Hydra-Terra amphibious vehicle, and see the city of San Diego from two contrasting vantage points – by land and sea. Start from the Seaport Village, drive along the shores of Big Bay, splash into the waters of the San Diego Bay, and then enjoy a leisurely drive back to the start.
Along the way, take the opportunity to see locations such as the Midway Museum, where the Star of India is docked, Lindbergh Field, Liberty Station, the North Island Naval Air Station, the Point Loma Nuclear Submarine Base, and the Marine Mammal Training centre.

Photo credit Emma

Recommendations from others:

Of course relying on google and reviews of places to visit is one thing, but hearing first hand from friends is always better in my opinion, so here are some recommendations from blogging friends who have actually visited:

Hayley – Devonmama.com

We loved Balboa park when we went, perfect for just spending time in chilling out. I’d also recommend the zoo, especially the cable car for a bit of a different view point! Finally we went to Anaheim for an overnight trip whilst in San Diego, it’s about an hour and a half’s drive so perfectly doable to go for a trip to Disney. I’d recommend making it an overnight stop though purely because it’s such a long day and there’s plenty to see at Disneyland!

Eva – Captain BobCat

My favourite part has to be Coronado island, which is where all the posh houses and hotels are, including Hotel del Coronado where Some Like It Hot was filmed, so it’s a must visit for film fans. The beach front there is absolutely stunning, white sand and gorgeous palm trees. Really good Mexican food is another must try when is San Diego!

Lynne has actually recently written a post on her favourite things to do in San Diego having already visited previously which is certainly worth a read – you can find her post here.

And finally a very good friend Emma – Me, the Man and the Kids highly recommends the Pretend city children’s  museum

It is set out like a small town which has everything a child may encounter during their week, from the mail sorting office to the supermarket and so much more! The children also have the chance to ‘work’ in many of the environments to then stamp their time cards which will then give them a wage at the cash point. There is so much opportunity for them to develop pretend play skills and bring their imagination to life that if you live locally or visiting then, we highly recommend taking your children along!

You can read Emma’s full blog post on her visit here.

**Collaborative post**

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