Educational Summer Vacation to San Diego with Kids

March 12, 2022

Your kids will love the hands-on activities, historic landmarks, and wild adventures and you’ll love all that they learn. It’s a win-win vacation for everyone!

Wouldn’t it be amazing if you could spend an entire San Diego family vacation relaxing by Pacific Beach? While it sounds ideal, it’s not realistic for those traveling to San Diego with kids. The beach can only provide so much entertainment. 

Instead, turn your trip into an exhilarating learning experience by visiting these great educational, family-friendly, experiences in San Diego. 

Whether a theme park, museum, or exploring outside on beautiful hiking trails, follow along with our guide to get the inside scoop on the most fun, educational summer vacation in San Diego!

New Children's Museum

For interactive activities and endless learning, bring your family to the New Children’s Museum. This particular museum focuses on art-related activities with the goal of promoting creativity among kids.

In addition to the mesmerizing and engaging art installations, the museum also offers art projects, labs, and activities for kids and adults alike to enjoy.

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Currently on display is the Sketch Aquarium, where ocean drawings come to life! You do not want to bypass this interactive exhibit that’s making waves (literally) throughout San Diego.

Child with paint splattered apron on painting at New Children’s Museum - San Diego, California, USABirch Aquarium at Scripps

Speaking of aquariums…

Instead of sitting by the ocean, why not learn about the thousands of animals and plants that live in it? Boasting more than 5,000 fish in 60+ habitats, it’s no wonder that Birch Aquarium at Scripps is one of the most popular educational things to do in San Diego. Watch as your kids learn about everything from sea turtles to seahorses in a single day.

Don’t forget to catch the shark tank feeding!

The San Diego Zoo and San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Do your kids love animals? I bet they do. All families should book San Diego Zoo tickets and San Diego Zoo Safari Park tickets. After all, what trip would be complete without visiting these iconic San Diego attractions?

At the zoo, your kids can learn about the entire animal kingdom while coming face-to-face with their favorite animals.

With more than 650 species onsite, you’ll have a wild time exploring everything the zoo has to offer. But the animal fun doesn’t stop there.

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At San Diego Zoo Safari Park, your entire family can embark on a one-of-a-kind safari and learn about endangered animals from around the globe.

Close up of a family looking at a polar bear on a Inside Look Tour at San Diego Zoo in San Diego, California, USA

photo credit: San Diego Zoo

USS Midway Museum

Also among the many educational things to do in San Diego is the USS Midway Museum. Guests can climb aboard this historic naval aircraft carrier and experience a day in the life of a sailor.

The museum has onsite docents who have served in the Navy and even served on the USS Midway. Your children will love walking around the ship, checking out the flight simulators, talking to the sailors, and listening to the self-guided audio tour.

Maritime Museum of San Diego

For even more historic and nautical fun, bring your family to the Maritime Museum of San Diego. This intriguing museum has a global reputation for exceptional vessel restoration and captivating educational exhibits.

Kids can explore historic vessels including a 1914 tall ship, an 1898 steam ferry, and an accurate replica of an 18th century Royal Navy frigate. The museum also hosts revolving special exhibits and festivals all year long for even more fun.

Related Post: Maritime Museum of San Diego: What to Know Before You Go

What’s even better than touring these vessels? Sailing in one! For an additional charge, the museum offers various sailing experiences including whale watching tours.

an iron-hulled sailing ship Star of India in the harbor in San Diego, California, USAFleet Science Center

Do you have a science-obsessed kid on your hands? If so, head over to the Fleet Science Center for a world of immersive learning opportunities. From IMAX movies to self-guided exhibits, the Fleet Science Center has everything a science-loving kid could possibly want.

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Your child can learn about the science behind constructing a building, discover the cells of the human body, create their own inventions, and more all in one place.

With so much to do, see, and learn, it’s easy to see why the Fleet Science Center made our list of exciting educational things to do in San Diego.

SeaWorld San Diego

Any budding Marine Biologists? Head to one of Southern California’s top family attractions and spend the day exploring and learning all about aquatic life. 

Don’t miss out on Orca Encounter. It’s an engaging experience diving deeper into how the ocean’s most powerful predator communicates, builds community, and hunts. As well as what SeaWorld is doing to conserve their precious ocean habitats. 

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With over 15 kid-friendly attractions, animal encounters, and thrilling rides (like the all-new Emporer) your family will make memories that last a lifetime. 

Close up of a family on the new Emperor rollercoaster at SeaWorld on a sunny day in San Diego, California, USACabrillo National Monument

The Cabrillo National Monument is one of the top tourist destinations in Southern California. The statue commemorates the moment Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo became the first European to step foot on North America’s west coast in 1542.

Your first thought might be, “Sure, it’s an iconic landmark. But what can my kids learn from a statue?” The answer is: a whole lot. There is far more to do at this historic area than stare at a finely constructed statue.

At the southern end of the park, you’ll find the low tide pools. Here, your children can get a glimpse at the aquatic life living below the water.

Related Post: 12 Best Tide Pools in San Diego

Tide pools are made up of three different zones: splash zone, the middle intertidal zone, and the subtidal zone. With different aquatic species living in each zone, your children will go on an adventure trying to find and identify each species they discover. From crabs to sea urchins, there’s a whole universe to be explored in the Cabrillo National Monument tide pools.

While at the monument, your family can also see the Old Point Loma Lighthouse that has watched over the bay since 1855. Although the lighthouse no longer operates, guests are invited to learn more about the history of the San Diego Bay and the famous lighthouse.

distant view of the Cabrillo National Monument with the skyline in the background in San Diego, California, USA

LEGOLAND® California Resort

Ready for some bricktacular fun? LEGOLAND Resort California offers kids of all ages mind-flexing fun. Spend time building “Watevra You Wa’na Build” in the building zone within LEGO MOVIE World. Meanwhile, little paleontologists can “Dig Those Dinos” on Explorer Island. 

Don't miss the newest addition to the park! LEGO® Ferrari Build & Race will be opening in the spring of 2022. Kiddos will be able to stretch their imagination and creativity to build, test, and race their own LEGO Ferrari.

Related Post: Ultimate Guide to Legoland California: Coupons, Discounts, and Deals

Whatever your Brickhead is into these days, there is plenty to keep them engaged and excited within LEGOLAND California.

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Balboa Park

Once you step foot in Balboa Park, you’ll see why it is arguably one of the top educational things to do in San Diego. Noted as “where culture, science, and nature collide” the park boasts 17 museums, several performing arts venues, spacious gardens, various trails, and other educational attractions.

Your family can easily spend more than one day exploring all that the park has to offer, from the Japanese Friendship Garden to the San Diego Natural History Museum (theNAT).

Related Post: San Diego on a Budget: How to Save BIG With a Go City Pass

For the ultimate experience (and best savings), I recommend purchasing the Go San Diego Card.

distant ground view of California Tower and The Old Globe in Balboa Park on a sunny day in San Diego, California, USAVisit San Diego for the Best in Educational Fun

Clearly, there isn’t a shortage of educational things to do in San Diego. From exploring nearby villages like Del Mar to soaring in a flight simulator. Or, coming up close with a giraffe, the learning opportunities are endless.

Start planning your educational San Diego adventure by visiting Tripster San Diego today.

How Will You Spend Your Educational Vacation in San Diego?

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