It’s Kids Free San Diego the entire month of October! This allows your littles free admission to attractions, meals on the house and tons of other great perks throughout the city. There are 100+ offers available, the weather’s still warm and the summer crowds are gone, which makes it an ideal time to visit San Diego with kids!
My girls and I headed down to Southern California a few weeks ago to get the inside scoop and share our favorites in what’s known as “America’s Finest City.”
Where To Stay
We had the opportunity of staying at two properties, the Catamaran Resort Hotel and Spa and the Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego. Both offered family-friendly amenities, each with their own unique vibe. Keep reading and I’ll get specific.
Only 8 miles from the San Diego International Airport, tucked in the Pacific Beach community, you’ll find the Polynesian-themed resort complete with palm trees, lush vegetation, tiki torches, koi ponds, waterfalls, and exotic birds.
It also sits right on Mission Bay, one of the best sandy beaches in San Diego, complete with complimentary chairs, umbrellas (shade for the kiddos!) and a shallow waterfront for wading.
The resort offers a variety of activities to keep everyone busy – paddle boards, sailboats, kayaks and bikes (perfect for the waterfront boardwalk). And when you’re ready to venture off-property, you’re only 3 miles to SeaWorld San Diego, 12 miles to the world-famous San Diego Zoo, and 28 miles to LEGOLAND California.
Another bonus – the Catamaran has a fantastic pool (we’re connoisseurs at this point!).
Each of our 310 rooms and suites has a private balcony or patio with breathtaking views of Mission Bay, the Pacific Ocean or tropical gardens, while our studios feature kitchenettes perfect for preparing “home”-cooked family meals. Welcome to San Diego…welcome to paradise.
Our favorite spot to dine on property was the Oceana Coastal Kitchen patio – perfect for breakfast, lunch or dinner. And for Kids Free San Diego, for every paid adult entree, the kids meal is free!
Our overall opinion of the Catamaran Resort Hotel and Spa? We loved it. Honestly I’d recommend this property whether you’re a family or a couple needing a getaway. The location, onsite activities, food and tropical vibe makes you really appreciate vacation. They do it well at the Catamaran.
Located in the heart of downtown with premier waterfront property, the Manchester Grand Hyatt is another fantastic option for anyone visiting San Diego, especially with kids.
Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego offers 1,628 guestrooms including 76 suites with modern touches that highlight the natural beauty of San Diego. Relax comfortably in the heart of downtown San Diego with floor-to-ceiling windows that unveil panoramic Pacific Ocean and cityscape views.
The list of amenities is a mile-long, but the standouts include:
- Free WiFi
- Pet friendly
- Restaurant on-site
- Room service
- Fitness Center
- 2 rooftop pools (one for families and one for adults #genius). Both offer panoramic views of San Diego Bay, private poolside cabanas and whirlpools.
And the dining is top-notch. We loved Sally’s Fish House & Bar, right on the boardwalk with views of San Diego Bay, they offer locally-sourced and sustainable seafood. I highly recommend you try the sushi – preferably a variety of rolls because they’re all delicious.
For Kid Free San Diego, kids will receive a complimentary lunch or dinner entrée at Sally’s Fish House & Bar with the purchase of an adult entrée. 1 kid per paid adult.
And everything pairs well with their artisan cocktails – if you’re feeling adventurous order the spinach margarita!
The Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego is a massive property with everything you need to relax and enjoy your holiday. The downtown location makes it close to practically everything – the beaches, championship golf courses and popular destinations, like the San Diego Zoo, Balboa Park, Seaport Village and Gaslamp Quarter.
We loved the property and how it offered a different feel from the casual beach neighborhoods. If you enjoy a slightly urban respite and have an affinity for marinas, you’ll love the Manchester.
What To Do
If you’ve been following along for some time then you know I love a good tour. And one of the best ways to see a city (with kids!) is a hop-on-hop-off tour. We jumped on the Old Town Trolley Tour at the Old Town San Diego State Historic Park which offers 100 points of interest and on-and-off privileges along the way.
For Kids Free San Diego, Kids 12 and under can enjoy free admission to ride Old Town Trolley Tours, San Diego SEAL Tour, and Old Town Trolley’s ‘La Jolla & San Diego Beaches Day Tripper Tour’ during the month of October. *Must be accompanied by one other paid adult guest.
*If you happen to be in Old Town on a Saturday, make sure to stop by the Old Town Harney Street Market and grab a cup of fresh fruit. The kids will love it.
Back to the Trolley Tour…
One stop I definitely recommend you jump off at is Coronado Island, which has hundreds of shops, restaurants and creameries.
My #1 lunch pick on the island is West Pac Noodle Bar for ramen, poke and savory bowls. The food is so fresh and delicious, I promise you’ll love it.
And save room for dessert – Moo Time Creamery has got you covered with ice cream cookie sandwiches (or sub waffles), ice cream tacos and mile high sundaes. Repeat after me….calories don’t count on vacation.
Another FREE activity with kids is to explore the trendy North Park area. In my opinion it has some of the best street art on the west coast with dozens of fun murals for great photo ops! My friend Sidney of Yay For Today has the exact locations for all of the murals on her Insta Story highlights (look for North Park).
And a visit to North Park is never complete without a stop in Holy Matcha…basically the prettiest cafe you’ve ever been in paired with best organic, gluten free, vegan menu!
Makes sure to order as much as possible – the sips, bites and aesthetic are just so perfect. We loved the avocado toast, matcha chia seed pudding, vanilla waffle (with bouquet), matcha donuts and of course, an iced matcha latte.
I also recommend a quick drive to La Jolla (you’ll find everything in San Diego is 10-20 minutes away max) for more fantastic murals like the ones below (location – Chronic Smoothies Blazin Grill).
While you’re in the area, make sure to visit Tourmaline Surfing Park Beach, where the kids can wade in the water or play in the sand while watching surfers, kiteboarders and wind surfers ride the waves.
In the Point Loma neighborhood, you’ll find one of the latest revivals in San Diego – Liberty Station. An energizing community full of shops, restaurants, boutique fitness and even lodging. I recommend you wander the Liberty Public Market (open 7 days/week), stop in the Corvette Diner for lunch and top off with Besties Cool Treats for dessert! Oh and order a Lavender Latte from The West Bean. It’s a San Diego specialty.
Ever changing. Always amazing. Where culture, science, and nature collide, Balboa Park is home to more than 16 museums, multiple performing arts venues, lovely gardens, trails, and many other creative and recreational attractions, including the San Diego Zoo. With a variety of cultural institutions among its 1,200 beautiful and lushly planted acres, there is something for everyone.
Balboa Park is one of the best free things to do in San Diego if you just want to wander the gardens and trails. Perfect opportunity to get the wiggles out!
Throughout the month of October, kids ages 11 and younger receive free admission (with an adult). We’ve got special fun planned for the weekends, so go wild and join us over and over again! Kids Free admission in October 2018 includes the Skyfari Tram Ride – no separate ticket needed! Standard child rider policies apply. Kids can ride the Guided Bus or Kangaroo Bus for $5. Please purchase bus tickets at the Zoo.
You’ll need a full day to explore the San Diego Zoo! And no worries if you forgot a stroller or didn’t want to lug one on the plane. You can rent a single for $14 or double for $18.
Where To Eat
Okay so I mentioned Oceana Coastal Kitchen and Sally’s Fish House & Bar, but another Kids Free San Diego partner is Casa Guadalajara in Old Town. You may have to wait a bit, especially on the weekend, but it’s well worth it. I ordered the fajita salad and if I didn’t know any better, I would have guessed they picked the produce minutes before plating my dish. It was that fresh. This was a common theme in San Diego – everything tasted minutes from harvest.
For the month of October, Kids can eat free from the Kid’s Menu at Casa Guadalajara. Also…it was voted “Most Kid Friendly Restaurant” in San Diego by readers of San Diego Magazine.
Carnitas Snack Shack
Our last meal in San Diego was just down the street from the Manchester Grand Hyatt at Carnitas Snack Shack on the Embarcadero. I recommend the cauliflower tacos paired with a margarita. And for Kids Free San Diego they are offering a free kid’s combo. Maximum of two kids per paying adult.
*Consider this a side note. One morning I got up extra early and met another blogger (IRL!!!) for coffee. Sidney of Yay for Today (who I mentioned above) is your local San Diego mama that knows all the best kid-friendly spots. With that said, we actually opted for a kid-free coffee date to finally meet. The Grounds Bean Bar was just 3 minutes from the Catamaran Resort and had the prettiest vibe! I definitely recommend swinging in for a latte or their new house-made “black basil” lemonade on NITRO, with activated charcoal!
We passed by Little Italy on the Old Town Trolley Tour and knew we had to return. Known to have some of the best food in the city, we had to enjoy at least one meal in this historic (yet trendy) neighborhood. We happened to park in front of Cafe Gratitude and it was just meant to be. If I could have someone cook for me for the rest of my life, it would be Cafe Gratitude. Their menu is 100% organic, vegan and clean. They also have a huge list of gluten-free items making it ideal for kids or adults with allergies.
I hope this post inspires you to plan a trip to San Diego in the near future! And don’t forget, October is Kids Free San Diego so take advantage of the 100+ offers from restaurants, hotels and attractions. You can find the full list of partners on the Visit San Diego website.
Save this post for later and pin the image below! So many places to remember!
Stay Travel Obsessed!
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Visit San Diego and their partners. The opinions expressed here represent my own, which I take great pride in providing pure honesty…because I’m OBSESSED with sharing the Good!