Spring Break is almost here! Whether you’re native to San Diego like us or just visiting for the week there is so much to do and explore in America’s Finest City. Although San Diego is one of the most expensive places to live, there are still plenty of activities that are free and affordable for any size family.
With the kids being out of school for a week, or two, it’s nice to have a few activities in your idea bank, not just to entertain the them, but to keep your sanity. We created a sample itinerary for the week of spring break filled with tips and ideas on where to take your family. You can mix and move an activity around depending on your family’s needs and liking.
Make it a beach day. Head out to the beach at the beginning of the week. It might not be as crowded since most people will be sleeping in the first day of vacation. Be the early bird who catches the worm! Decide on which beach you want to explore and be sure to get there early so you can have super star parking. Save money by packing snacks, lunch and water. Don’t forget the sun block, towels, a change of clothes and baby powder to help get the sand off your feet before you hop back. Wear your swim suit to the beach so you can jump right into the ocean. Our favorite beaches are La Jolla Cove and Coronado Island. My big tip for you, DO NOT leave any food out on your towels unattended because you will attract seagulls. Especially in La Jolla, those birds are ruthless.
Explore Balboa Park. If you’re a resident of San Diego, head over to Balboa Park for Resident Free Tuesday’s to select museums. It’s pretty busy on any given Tuesday, and it may be a little more crowded if you wait until the afternoon to start the day, so try to get there before the museums open, around 9am. Even if you don’t get into a museum for free, there are still a few that are not very pricey, like the Railroad Museum. Enjoy an ice cream by the water fountain, walk around the park and admire the detail in the buildings. Ride the Balboa Park Mini Train located next to the World Famous San Diego Zoo. It’s only $3 for the three-minute ride.
Get Adventurous at Belmont Park. Have you been to Belmont Park lately? They’ve really kicked it up a notch…more like 10 notches. They have a ton of adventurous activities such as roller coasters, repelling, rock climbing and mini golf, ha! It’s like going to the state fair any time of the year. Their fare isn’t so bad either. Okay, it might be bad for you, but it’s so good! Try your hand at some carnival games or check out the surf at the Wave House.
Take a hike. San Diego offers several beautiful hiking trails. Many are hidden, but I am working on uncovering them, next will be actually trying all of them! Some of the more well know ones are Torrey Pines State Reserve, Cowels Mountain in the San Carlos neighborhood, Mission Trails and Mount Woodson featuring the ever-so-popular potato chip rock. Here we are coming down Cowel’s Mountain while Pinky was heading up with her cousins. Thankfully a friend of mine lent me that child carrier that Duke is sitting in. We had to head back down a little sooner than our group because this guy wanted to get out.
If you have little ones, be sure to check which trails are safest for them. Los Penasquitos Canyon Trail ($3 parking) and Miramar Lake (free, but beware it is 5 miles) are good spots for families with strollers and little kiddos. Los Penasquitos Canyon Trail has a waterfall you won’t want to miss. My kids always love heading to Miramar Lake to feed the duckies.
Head out to Old Town. As San Diego’s first sign of civilization, Old Town is one of those places that offer a lot for a little. We love Miner’s Gem, a quaint shop that sells gems and allows you to mine for your choice of either fossils or minerals for only $4! Here’s Pinky on one of our panning trips.
Many of the museums in Old Town are free, but it’s customary to leave a donation. Some other things you can do are make your own candle, watch a blacksmith at work, learn about stage coaches, visit the town donkey, the county jail, and a haunted house or cemetery if that’s your thing. Take your family back to what it was like to live in the olden days! Maybe it will help the kiddos appreciate what they have now and how far we’ve come.
My personal favorite thing to do in Old Town is eat tortillas. Grab a few tortillas from Café Coyote for less than $3 at their street corner taqueria. Choose from chocolate, strawberry or plain with butter. My mouth is watering just writing that sentence. They also have churros stuffed with some delicious cinnamon cream.
Seaport Village. This place is so lively on the weekends. There’s just so much to do and eat, especially now with the addition of “The Headquarters at Seaport Village.” The Headquarters is a legendary San Diego waterfront icon, an open air lifestyle center created around the history and art of our city. They have a variety of restaurants and live entertainment. The new area truly makes Seaport Village a venue for the whole family. After having Pinky, it quickly became a family favorite of ours. We celebrated her 2nd birthday there. And we had our first family staycation at the Manchester Grand Hyatt so everything could be walking distance for us. Pinky loved the riding the carousal (only $2 per person) and getting glitter tattoos when we got off or waited for the crowd to settle. Ben & Jerry’s have two shops in the village, one on each end! So by the time you finish your first cone, you can stop by and order your next one on the way out!
Walking Seaport Village is entertainment in itself with all the doohickeys and whatnot’s lining the Embarcadero for your tips and attention – take a photo with a parrot, watch a man balance rocks, get your portrait painted or perhaps your future read, see a magic show or watch a silver man dance. The possibilities are endless.
Relax. Now that you’ve spent the week gallivanting all over San Diego it’s time to take a rest. That may be hard to do, but listen to your body. Stay home and or do something relaxing. Watch a movie at the theater or the drive in. If you want to save some money, take the latter option. You’ll be able to bring your own food, and ticket prices aren’t as pricey as if you were to go to the theater. Kids, 5 and under are free. If you really don’t want to go out, catch up on Netflix. We loved watching Fuller House.
Whatever it is you do, I just hope you enjoy time with your family. Make memories, relax and go with the flow. I know you’ve got it all together, but I hope this was helpful for you. The goal here is to provide some ideas for a variety of families. As a family of four we try to do things that are close to home and budget-friendly. In addition, Daddy doesn’t usually take the whole week off so I try to fit some things in the plan that we can do with him in the evenings.
I love making a bucket list of things to do ahead of time to avoid the loaded question of, “what are we going to do today?” When that question comes up, I can expect that we’ll be leaving the house in the middle of the day because we spent so much time trying to figure it all out. Don’t be that family this spring break. Plan ahead so you can have fun and make memories. Isn’t that what vacation is all about?
What are your plans for Spring Break? Got any tips? We’d love for you to share in a comment below.