Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts

How to Explore San Diego With Kids

A mother’s guide to vacationing with a toddler in sunny California includes pool days, playgrounds and age-appropriate adventures.

Aug 21, 2014
  • City skyline in San Diego, California
  • A young swimmer at the kids' pool at Four Seasons San Diego
  • Pancakes from the in-room dining menu at Four Seasons San Diego
  • Seagulls flying over Carlsbad Beach, California, a favorite destination for kids and parents
  • Entrance to Legoland California Resort
  • Lorikeet lean bird at San Diego Zoo Safari Park, California
  • Cactus fire at Balboa Park Desert Garden in San Diego, California
Sunny San Diego offers a wealth of family-friendly attractions, from the beach to the zoo.
Photography Thinkstock
Young swimmers enjoy a pool of their own at Four Seasons Residence Club Aviara, North San Diego.
Photography courtesy Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts
For a convenient indulgence that kids will love, order breakfast in bed.
Photography courtesy Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts
Carlsbad, a seaside community in North San Diego County, is home to beautiful beaches where kids can play all day.
Kids of all ages will enjoy a variety of brick-based activities at Legoland California.
Photography courtesy LEGOLAND® California Resort
Get up close and personal with the animals at San Diego Zoo Safari Park.
Photography Nathan Rupert
Balboa Park is a natural escape in the middle of the city, with open play areas, walking paths and gardens to explore.
Photography Richard Benton courtesy Balboa Park

At two years of age, my energetic daughter Brooklyn is already a seasoned traveller. Her zest for life and enthusiasm for new experiences guarantee that our holidays are exciting and rewarding. So when I was looking recently for a family vacation spot, the many toddler-friendly activities in Southern California’s greater San Diego area piqued my interest.

Staying at Four Seasons Residence Club Aviara, North San Diego, helped simplify our trip greatly. Complimentary amenities—including a crib, a high chair, diaper disposal and toiletries—helped lighten our travel load, and the toddler-proof room ensured that dance parties and horseplay could go on without incident. Here, my personally tested advice for parents planning a kid-friendly vacation at Four Seasons San Diego.

Pool days

When it comes to travelling with a toddler, managing bouts of boundless energy and balancing them with much-needed rest are key for a successful trip. Four Seasons Residence Club Aviara provides a nice mix of programmes and facilities to help. The shaded children’s pool, just behind the large Meadows Pool, keeps kids entertained while parents take turns reading on a sun-drenched chaise longue. When you need a break from the sun, duck into the Kids Club 760 for beanbag chairs and board games.

Breakfast is served

In-villa dining is a lifesaver when you have small children, and ordering breakfast to the room was a hit with our daughter. Another highlight of our Four Seasons stay was an in-suite private chef dinner, in which crab cakes and pan-seared ahi tuna played starring roles.

By the sea

There is nothing quite like family playtime at the beach, and the San Diego area has some beautiful sandy spots to visit. Pick up chairs, towels and toys from the Concierge and spend the morning on Carlsbad’s beaches. Scouring the sand for seashells and buried treasure, building castles, and running through the surf make a perfect family beach outing.

Adventure in Legoland

Legoland California Resort, just a 15-minute drive from Aviara, provides a number of activities that are toddler-friendly, and kids 2 and under get free admission to the park, a lovely perk. For the optimal toddler experience, read the park’s “What to Do When You’re Two” brochure before visiting.

A walk on the wild side

The San Diego Zoo Safari Park is another home run for toddlers. In addition to gorillas, lion cubs, giraffes and an abundance of other wildlife, it has an interactive water park, a playground and a petting zoo. Opt for the 25-minute Africa Tram ride, which is about the maximum amount of time a 2-year-old will sit still.

Playgrounds galore

You could spend an entire day, or two, at Balboa Park, which includes the San Diego Zoo and other attractions such as the Miniature Railroad, historic carousel and Marie Hitchcock Puppet Theatre. The park is also home to five playgrounds and several gardens made for exploring.


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