San Diego, located 120 miles south of Los Angeles in southern California is well known for its beautiful beaches and year-round sunny weather. It is also a perfect base for parents seeking family-friendly getaways. With a multitude of destinations within a short driving distance or a quick flight away, San Diego offers a plethora of options for memorable vacations with children. Let’s explore a variety of kid-friendly day trips, weekend getaways, and short-flight destinations that will offer you a family vacation you will never forget.

Quick Answer Guide: Family & Kid-Friendly Getaways from San Diego

‌Kid-Friendly Day Trips From San Diego‌

‌Family Weekend Getaways From San Diego‌

‌Best Getaways From San Diego for Families‌

Kid-Friendly Day Trips From San Diego

San Diego is a paradise for families with children of all ages. Whether you're seeking thrilling adventures, educational experiences, or simply quality time together, San Diego has something to delight every member of the family. I highly recommend grabbing a San Diego CityPASS which includes entrance to some of the amazing locations below. Let’s explore a few easy-to-get-to destinations that will provide a full day of family-friendly fun.

1. Legoland California Resort

  • Perfect for:‌ Families with toddlers
  • Highlights of Legoland California Resort:
    • Legoland Water Park
    • Sea Life Aquarium
    • Roller coasters and rides for the whole family

‌How to Get to Legoland California Resort‌

It takes approximately 40 minutes to drive from San Diego to Legoland via I-5 N. If you want to use public transportation. take the Coaster train from San Diego to Carlsbad Village Station and then catch the Legoland shuttle.

‌Things to Do in Legoland California Resort‌

Located in Carlsbad, just a short drive north of San Diego, Legoland California Resort is a perfect option for weekend getaways from San Diego for families. It is easily accessible, a place you can go back to over and over again — all in all a dream come true for young Lego enthusiasts. This amusement park features thrilling rides, interactive shows, and impressive Lego sculptures. Legoland is a full-day adventure with fun things to do for the whole family.

Children can explore Miniland USA, where famous cities and landmarks are recreated in Lego form. They can also splash around in the Legoland Water Park, complete with slides and a lazy river. Enjoy thrilling rides such as the Dragon Coaster and Lego Technic Coaster. Watch live shows like "Lego Friends Live" and "Battle of Bricksburg. Finish off the day with a visit to Sea Life Aquarium, home to an array of marine creatures.

‌Where to Stay in Legoland California Resort‌

Legoland Hotel and Legoland Castle Hotel are both conveniently located within the resort, offering themed rooms, entertainment, and exclusive perks for guests.

Legoland Hotel Book Now
Legoland Castle Hotel Book Now

For a more private experience, consider this lovely 4-bedroom home which comes equipped with a crib/toddler bed.

Airbnb lovely 4-bedroom home Book Now

2. La Jolla

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  • Perfect for:‌ Beach lovers
  • Highlights of La Jolla:
    • La Jolla Cove
    • Birch Aquarium
    • La Jolla Shores Beach

‌How to Get to La Jolla‌

The drive from San Diego to La Jolla takes around 20 minutes on Route 5 North.nIf you prefer public transportation, take bus number 30 or 101 from downtown San Diego to La Jolla and then walk to the aquarium.

‌Things to Do in La Jolla‌

If you're looking for a family day trip for some fun in the sun, this seaside community boasts some of the most beautiful beaches in San Diego including La Jolla Shores and Windandsea Beach.

La Jolla Cove is well known for its crystal clear blue waters and sea lions. Snorkel gear rentals are readily available for the whole family, allowing you to dive into the water for an unforgettable afternoon. If kayaking is your thing, consider taking a guided tour of the world-famous La Jolla caves.

If you want to stay on land but still experience the wonder of the ocean, head to Birch Aquarium at Scripps. Start in the hall of fishes and learn about southern California's local marine life before heading to the touch tanks where kids can interact directly with real live animals.

‌Where to Stay in La Jolla‌

Consider staying at La Valencia Hotel an unforgettable destination that has welcomed guests for more than 95 years. With beachfront access and ocean views from the pool, La Valencia has something for the whole family.

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If you want a bit more privacy, this 4-bedroom 4.5-bath Airbnb home provides all that and more; it even has a private swimming pool!

Airbnb 4 bedroom 4.5 bath home La Jolla Book Now

3. Escondido

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  • Perfect for:‌ Animal enthusiasts
  • Highlights of Escondido:
    • San Diego Zoo Safari Park
    • San Diego Children's Discovery Museum
    • Daley Ranch Preserve

‌How to Get to Escondido‌

It takes approximately 45 minutes to drive from San Diego to Escondido via I-15 N. You can also take the Sprinter train from the Oceanside Transit Center to the Escondido Transit Center.

‌Things to Do in Escondido‌

Escondido offers a range of family-friendly attractions and activities that will keep kids of all ages entertained. Begin your day by visiting the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, where children can embark on an African safari experience and get up close to a variety of animals. This adventure is not available at the zoo's other location in Balboa Park, making it a must-see!

For a hands-on experience, head to the San Diego Children's Discovery Museum, where interactive exhibits and engaging programs cater to young learners. Nature enthusiasts can explore the beautiful Daley Ranch Preserve, offering scenic hiking trails and opportunities to observe local wildlife.

With its diverse range of attractions and proximity to San Diego, Escondido makes for an excellent choice for a kid-friendly day trip filled with excitement, education, and unforgettable memories.

‌Where to Stay in Escondido‌

I highly recommend staying at The Welk which offers multiple swimming pools and a 120-foot water slide!

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If you and your family are looking for a bit more space, this 4-bedroom Airbnb home comes equipped with 8 beds, 2 baths, an outdoor pool, and gaming tables.

Airbnb 4-bedroom home Escondido Book Now

Family Weekend Getaways From San Diego

San Diego is not only a fantastic destination in itself but also serves as a gateway to numerous family-friendly weekend getaways. Within a short drive from San Diego, families can discover a wide array of destinations that offer fun, excitement, and the perfect opportunity to create lasting memories together.

From a desert oasis to captivating national parks and thrilling theme parks, there is no shortage of options for families seeking adventure, relaxation, or a blend of both. So get ready to pack your bags, hop in the car, and embark on a family weekend getaway from San Diego that promises endless fun and excitement for everyone.

4. Disneyland Resort

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  • Perfect for:‌ Large family trips
  • Highlights of Disneyland Resort:
    • Two full theme parks packed with rides and attractions
    • World-class dining and accommodations

‌How to Get to Disneyland Resort‌

The drive from San Diego to Disneyland Resort takes approximately 2 hours via I-5 N. You can also take the Pacific Surfliner train from downtown San Diego to Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Center (ARTIC) and then use the ART shuttle or ride-share services to reach the resort.

‌Things to Do at Disneyland Resort‌

A classic destination for families, Disneyland Resort in Anaheim offers a magical weekend escape from San Diego. With two theme parks, Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park, there are endless opportunities for entertainment and adventure. A family weekend can go by in a flash at Disneyland.

While in the park, you absolutely must visit the astounding Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance attraction. This experience combines revolutionary special effects, unparalleled storytelling, and state-of-the-art technology that will leave you feeling like you’ve entered another galaxy; far, far, away.

Another “can’t miss” experience inside the park is the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. If you’ve visited the original attraction in Magic Kingdom, you’re in for a big surprise. This longer, upgraded adventure puts you right in the mix of a truly epic swashbuckling tale that you won’t soon forget.

From meeting beloved Disney characters to experiencing thrilling rides and spectacular shows, Disneyland Resort guarantees a memorable experience for children and parents alike.

‌Where to Stay Near Disneyland Resort‌

Enjoy special perks, multiple pools, and world-famous water slides when you stay at the classic Disneyland Hotel.

Disneyland Hotel Book Now

For a more exclusive and unforgettable experience, check out the Disney Dream House Airbnb which features 4 bedrooms and a special Disney-themed game room.

Disney Dream House Anaheim Book Now

5. Joshua Tree National Park

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  • Perfect for:‌ Families with kids who love the outdoors
  • Highlights of Joshua Tree National Park:
    • Hiking and camping
    • Wildlife viewing
    • Stargazing

‌How to Get to Joshua Tree National Park‌

The drive from San Diego to Joshua Tree National Park takes approximately 2.5 hours via I-15 N and CA-62 E. You can also take the Greyhound bus from San Diego to Palm Springs and then rent a car or use ride-share services to reach the park.

‌Things to Do in Joshua Tree National Park‌

National parks are a perfect choice for family friendly getaways from San Diego because there is so much to see. For families seeking a nature-filled weekend getaway, Joshua Tree National Park is a must-visit destination. Located east of San Diego, this desert park offers stunning landscapes, plentiful campgrounds, unique rock formations, and abundant wildlife. Families can explore hiking trails suitable for all ages, go rock climbing, and even stargaze in one of the country's best dark-sky locations.

If you have young children, I highly recommend the Hidden Valley Trail to start. Be sure to visit the Cholla Cactus Garden where you’ll learn everything there is to know about desert flora. For an unforgettable experience, check out a ranger-led night sky program and observe the stars in all their glory.

‌Where to Stay Near Joshua Tree National Park‌

If you don’t mind a little glamping, I highly recommend Autocamp Joshua Tree for a truly unforgettable experience.

Autocamp Joshua Tree Book Now

This wonderful private home offers a swimming pool, enough beds for the entire family, and incredible stargazing.

Airbnb wonderful private home Joshua Tree Book Now

6. Palm Springs

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  • Perfect for:‌ Family reunions
  • Highlights of Palm Springs:
    • World-class resorts
    • Fine dining
    • Aerial tramway

‌How to Get to Palm Springs‌

The drive to Palm Springs is about 2.5 hours from San Diego via SR-79 and I-10. You can take also take a bus from San Diego to Palm Springs. Greyhound offers bus services between the two cities, with multiple departures throughout the day.

‌Things to Do in Palm Springs‌

With its desert oasis charm, stunning landscapes, and a variety of family-friendly activities, Palm Springs offers a memorable experience for all ages. One of the top things to do in Palm Springs is to relax by the pool at one of the many family-friendly resorts. The area is known for its luxurious accommodations with beautiful pools and amenities that cater to families. Spend the day swimming, lounging, and enjoying the warm desert sunshine.

Another must-visit attraction in Palm Springs is the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens. This unique zoo showcases the diverse desert wildlife and botanical gardens. Families can explore exhibits featuring animals like giraffes, cheetahs, and meerkats.

For a breathtaking experience, take a ride on the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. This rotating tram car takes you on a scenic journey up the rugged cliffs of the Chino Canyon, offering panoramic views of the Coachella Valley below. At the top, enjoy hiking trails, breathtaking vistas, and even some snow during the winter months.

‌Where to Stay in Palm Springs‌

For an unforgettable family stay look no further than the Omni Rancho Las Palmas Resort & Spa. The kids will love the Splashtopia waterpark while the parents enjoy the breathtaking spa amenities.

Omni Rancho Las Palmas Resort & Spa Book Now

If you want the whole family all in one place, I recommend this lovely 5-bedroom home complete with an outdoor swimming pool and spacious patio. Perfect for family cookouts and reunions!

Airbnb lovely 5-bedroom home San Francisco Book Now

Best Getaways From San Diego for Families

San Diego not only boasts incredible attractions within its borders but also serves as a launching pad to some of the best family-friendly getaways just a short flight away. From the iconic Golden Gate Bridge of San Francisco to the enchanting coastal beauty of Monterey and the desert adventures of Phoenix, Arizona, there is a treasure trove of destinations waiting to be explored by families seeking unforgettable experiences. So fasten your seatbelts, prepare for takeoff, and get ready to embark on the best getaways from San Diego, where unforgettable memories are waiting to be made.

7. San Francisco

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  • Perfect for:‌ Families with older children
  • Highlights of San Francisco:
    • Golden Gate Park
    • Alcatraz Island
    • Fisherman's Wharf

‌How to Get to San Francisco‌

Direct flights are available from San Diego International Airport to San Francisco International Airport. The flight time is an easy 1.5 hours.

‌Things to Do in San Francisco‌

A short flight from San Diego, San Francisco offers a diverse array of family-friendly attractions and activities. From the iconic Golden Gate Bridge to the bustling Fisherman's Wharf, this vibrant city has no shortage of things to see and do. Families can explore museums, ride cable cars, and visit popular attractions like Alcatraz Island. Biking and kayaking in the Bay are always an option for those looking to spend time outdoors. Keep your eyes open for sea lions off of Pier 39.

Don’t forget to visit the Exploratorium, an interactive science museum with exhibits designed to entertain the entire family. The Japanese Tea Garden also offers an unforgettable experience of peace, calm, and tranquility.

‌Where to Stay in San Francisco‌

Consider staying in family-friendly neighborhoods like Fisherman's Wharf or Union Square, where you can find a range of hotels to suit your preferences and budget. I recommend the Argonaut for a luxurious experience the family will never forget.

The Argonaut Hotel San Francisco Book Now

This immaculate Airbnb home can fit the entire family under one roof, conveniently located near all the action San Francisco has to offer.

Airbnb immaculate home San Francisco Book Now

8. Monterey

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  • Perfect for:‌ Ocean lovers
  • Highlights of Monterey:
    • Monterey Bay Aquarium
    • Cannery Row
    • Coastal views

‌How to Get to Monterey‌

Although there are no direct flights from San Diego to Monterey Regional Airport, you can fly to nearby airports like San Francisco International Airport (SFO) or San Jose International Airport (SJC) and then rent a car or take a shuttle to Monterey Bay. The flight duration from San Diego to these airports is approximately 1.5 hours.

‌Things to Do in Monterey‌

A short flight north of San Diego, Monterey offers a picturesque family-friendly getaway filled with natural beauty and coastal charm. This idyllic destination is renowned for its stunning coastline, abundant marine life, and a range of activities that cater to families.

One of the top attractions in Monterey is the Monterey Bay Aquarium, a world-renowned marine conservation institution. The aquarium offers immersive exhibits showcasing a diverse array of marine life, including sea otters, penguins, and mesmerizing jellyfish.

I highly recommend taking a scenic drive along the iconic 17-Mile Drive, which winds its way through some of the best beaches in the state, including the picturesque Pebble Beach and Pacific Grove. This coastal route offers breathtaking vistas of the rugged coastline, beachfront cafes and restaurants, and famous landmarks like the Lone Cypress Tree and the Ghost Tree.

Don't miss the chance to visit Cannery Row, a historic waterfront district filled with shops, restaurants, and attractions. Explore the unique boutiques, sample fresh seafood, and learn about the area's rich history as a hub for sardine canning. If you're hungry, you cannot beat the fresh seafood or the views at the Fish Hopper.

‌Where to Stay in Monterey‌

The Clement Monterey is a modern and stylish hotel offering family-friendly amenities and breathtaking ocean views. The hotel features spacious rooms, an outdoor heated pool, a fitness center, and an on-site restaurant.

The Clement Monterey Book Now

For a more intimate family experience, rent out this entire 5-bedroom Airbnb home. Just 5 minutes from downtown Monterey, this lovely ranch-style house has everything you and your family could ever want.

Airbnb 5-bedroom home Montery Book Now

9. Phoenix, Arizona

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  • Perfect for:‌ Family and adult fun
  • Highlights of Phoenix, Arizona:
    • Phoenix Zoo
    • Children's Museum
    • Desert Botanical Garden

‌How to Get to Phoenix, Arizona‌

Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport is the main airport serving the Phoenix metropolitan area, with direct flights available from San Diego International Airport. The flight duration is approximately 1 to 1.5 hours, making it a convenient and quick way to reach Phoenix with your family.

‌Things to Do in Phoenix, Arizona‌

One of the top attractions for families in Phoenix is the Phoenix Zoo, which houses over 3,000 animals from around the world. Explore the various exhibits, enjoy animal encounters, and even take a ride on the zoo's safari train. The zoo also offers interactive experiences and educational programs for children of all ages.

Visit the Children's Museum of Phoenix, a vibrant and engaging museum dedicated to children's learning and creativity. The museum features hands-on exhibits, art activities, a three-story climbing structure, and even a noodle forest. It's a place where kids can unleash their imaginations and have fun while learning.

Take a trip to the Desert Botanical Garden, where you can discover the unique plants and ecosystems of the Sonoran Desert. The garden offers walking trails, vibrant displays of desert flora, and outdoor activities for families. Don't miss the opportunity to experience the beauty of the desert under the starry sky during one of their flashlight tours.

‌Where to Stay in Phoenix, Arizona‌

Situated in the beautiful South Mountain Preserve, the Arizona Grand Resort & Spa offers a luxurious family-friendly retreat. The resort features spacious suites with separate living areas, a water park with thrilling slides and a lazy river, and a championship golf course. Kids will love the Oasis Water Park, which includes a wave pool and a splash pad.

Arizona Grand Resort & Spa Book Now

This breathtaking villa offers a more private stay, complete with an amazing pool and wondrous views.

Airbnb breathtaking villa San Diego Book Now

There are so many options for family weekend getaways from San Diego, ranging from day trips to weekend adventures and short flights to exciting destinations. Whether it's exploring theme parks, immersing in nature, or embarking on cultural experiences, these kid-friendly getaways from San Diego cater to the needs and interests of all families, ensuring unforgettable memories for both children and parents.