Things to do in San Diego in the Fall

Where are you headed for a fall vacation? If you haven’t yet decided, may I recommend San Diego? My family traveled to San Diego for a week in mid-October last year and had a fantastic trip. The weather was perfect, there was lots of outdoor activities that we enjoy, a dose of culture and plenty of opportunities for beach time.

7 Things to Do in San Diego

1. Leopard Sharks

Leopard Sharks in La Jolla

Leopard sharks congregate each summer and fall off La Jolla Shores

Do you love wildlife? Kids dying to see a shark? This is a safe way to get up close with sharks as they fill the waters off the coast of La Jolla (just north of San Diego) from July through September. According to Visit San Diego, these sharks are timid, docile and completely harmless. Take a gander from the cliffs up high or you can get right out there and snorkel with them or take a kayak tour like we did with Everyday California. Not only will you get to see the sharks by kayak — and some sea lions too — if conditions are right, you can paddle right into sea caves that sit along the coast. Uber cool!

2. Sea Lions

Sea lions in La Jolla

Sea lions galore in La Jolla!

It is crazy fun to just walk right up to a sea lion in the wild. While you are supposed to stay 10 feet away, that’s still pretty close of an encounter with these crazy creatures. They hang out all over the cliffs in La Jolla and there are plenty of points where you can walk right out and have a look see. We got a kick out of listening to them hoot and holler, step all over each other and lazily hang out in the sun. Five stars for kids!

3. LEGOLAND California

Legoland California

If you have kids who enjoy Legos at all and have one who is at least 10 or younger, I highly recommend LEGOLAND California, which itself is just a mile from the ocean! They have some fun rides — nothing too scary — and you can definitely get your LEGO nerd on. Don’t miss the Star Wars section where they have an iconic scene from every movie made out of LEGOs (truly amazing!) and the world’s largest LEGO mode, the X-Wing Fighter; the model shop where you can see real LEGO masters building; and the new interactive LEGO NINJAGO ride.

LEGOLAND Hotel San Diego California

Pirate-themed room at LEGOLAND Hotel

Stay at the wonderfully-themed LEGOLAND California Hotel, which is literally outside the doors of LEGOLAND and built for kids like nothing I have ever seen down to the kid-size peep hole :). I personally LOVED the “disco elevator” and on-property floor whoopee cushion (you’ll have to see for yourself).

LEGOLAND Hotel Disco Elevator

The “Disco” Elevator – what’s not to like?!

4. Coronado Island

San Diego Biking

Biking around Coronado Island was gorgeous. Check out the view of San Diego behind me!

Coronado Island just across San Diego Bay from the city is an incredibly charming island and home to the iconic Hotel del Coronado, which though expensive, is worth staying for a night or two. You just can’t beat the old elevator complete with attendant! There is a beautiful beach on Coronado, which has been named one of America’s top beaches, and you might just come across Navy Seals in training like we did :). Certainly, you will see jets flying overhead. We rented bikes from Pedels at Hotel del Coronado and rode around the island along San Diego Bay enjoying gorgeous views. The houses are adorable and leave you wanting your own vacation beach home there — just bring a couple million dollars and you should be set!

5. Balboa Park

Balboa Park

Balboa Park is a wonderful respite right in the midst of the city. Full of gorgeous gardens, meditation ponds and museums, it can easily fill a day. Great spots for families include the San Diego Air & Space Museum, San Diego Model Railroad Museum, the San Diego Museum of Art and San Diego Natural History Museum. The nation’s largest urban cultural park and ranked as one of the Best Parks in the World, Balboa Park is a must-see in San Diego.

6. The Beach

Coronado Beach

They’ve got some big waves perfect for body boarding!

There are lots of great beaches around San Diego, many ideal for surfers with towering waves. Our kids spent plenty of time in water with plenty sizeable waves and body boards to ride them to shore. You can hang at Pacific Beach, Mission Beach, Carlsbad and more. Check out this pretty La Jolla beach set within the cliffs and complete with sea lion 🙂

La Jolla Beach

7. Kids Are Free in October!

Shamu SeaWorld San Diego

Eat right next to Shamu!

Throughout the entire month, more than 110 San Diego hotels, restaurants, attractions, museums and transportation companies are offering special deals and discounts for kids. “Kids Free San Diego” lets families visit this beautiful city and save on the many amazing things to do there.

Kids 11 and younger get into the famous San Diego Zoo FREE. At SeaWorld San Diego one child age 3 to 9 is admitted free with a paying adult (don’t miss the opportunity to Dine With Shamu; see above picture).  One child age 12 or younger can ride free on a bike or kayak rental from Bike and Kayak Tours Inc and the list goes on… See all the deals.

Kidventurous has even more great ideas for free things to do with kids in San Diego.

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