5 Things to do in San Diego - Family Photographer shares favorite spots

5 Things to do in San Diego with your Family

San Diego is a hot spot for vacationing families. The beach, the zoo, the mountains - with a variety to places to go, there is something to do for all families regardless of size or age. I wanted to share my top 5 places to visit in San Diego that are also kid friendly.

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1. Balboa Park

Balboa Park is my number one spot for families visiting San Diego. It is filled with kid friendly activities as well as fun for parents. Run through the long halls of the Organ Pavilion, play hide and seek in the big Spanish inspired architecture halls of El Prado, or learn the names of all the flowers inside the Botanical Garden.

Walk through the Spanish Village and let your kids skip from one colorful square to another while you browse all the beautiful handmade art that can be found in the little side shops. From there you can head over to the beautiful Carousel from 1910 where all but two of the animals are originals with hand-carved European craftsmanship.

2. The San Diego Zoo

I have been to many Zoos during my life, but the San Diego Zoo is probably my absolute favorite so far. With over 3000 animals to visit, the Zoo is the ideal place to brings your family and children for a day long adventure. As soon as you walk in you’re greeted with the beautiful pink view of the Flamingos. From there you can take multiple different pathways depending on what end of the world you want to start at.

Throughout the zoo there are fun interactive playgrounds for your kids to play at. With multiple cafes and restaurants spread out throughout the park you can easily take breaks to keep those happy kids happy all day long.

3. Picnic on the Beach

There isn’t anything more San Diegan than a picnic on the beach. Although, if I have to admit, I really hate being sandy. There really a few things I dislike more than having sand all over me. But even so, a picnic on one of the beautiful beaches in San Diego with my family, is still worth it. Bring them to one of the smaller cliff side beaches in Bird Rock / La Jolla. Or take them to the super popular Windansea Beach in La Jolla and watch as the sunset sets over the ocean. Or head further up to Torrey Pines and celebrate hiking the beautiful hiking trails around there with a picnic on the rock beach at the bottom.

Whatever your preference, a cute picnic basket from Target filled with your family’s favorite snacks and a comfortable blanket to put your butts down own, will make all your picnic dreams come true.

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4. Hotel del Coronado

Let’s be real, there are few things that are more iconic in San Diego than the impressive Coronado Bridge and the red roof of the beautiful Hotel del Coronado. If you haven’t taken your kids there for a day trip then you better plan one right now. This isn’t just any regular hotel, this is a Hotel with a MASSIVE BEACH, Ice Cream Shop and plenty of refreshment stands. Let your kids run loose on the lawn outside the hotel or have them swim in the waves of the ocean.

Coronado Island itself has so much to offer for San Diego Families and is one of my favorite places to go to for family pictures in San Diego. With a beach that stretches for miles your kids will have a blast building sand castles and exploring all the fun things the shore has to offer.

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5. Mission Trails Hiking

I’m a hiking enthusiast. I absolutely love hiking, and San Diego is the perfect city for this amazing activity fit for both adults and kids. One of my all time favorite places to explore is Mission Trails. This area is HUGE, with so many hiking trails leading you in and out of the area. Want a short, easy 1-mile hike? Sure, they’ve got that. Looking for something more challenging to fill up your day? No problem, there’s a hike for that too.

The best part is, hiking in Mission Trails works for any ages AND it is also the perfect backdrop for family photoshoots. I can’t begin to tell you how many family photography sessions I’ve had in Mission Trails. But I won’t complain, I love going there to explore new places for pictures and truly enjoy seeing the joy on the children’s faces as they get to explore nature.

I love Mission Trails s much I even did my own Family pictures there last fall!

I love Mission Trails s much I even did my own Family pictures there last fall!


Johanna is one of the best newborn, family and maternity photographers in San Diego. Her newborn photography studio is located in San Diego next to SDSU where she offers families a relaxing and comfortable atmosphere while their little ones are being photographed. She travels all over Southern California to take pictures of families to give them keepsake albums and wall art that will last for generations.