9 Entertaining Things to Do in San Diego with Teenagers

March 9, 2018

To keep your teenagers entertained throughout your vacation, plan a visit to these nine San Diego hot spots.

Traveling with teenagers can be tricky. While trying to please their ever-changing interests is a challenge, attempting to pry their attention away from their phones is even harder. However, you won’t have that problem when you travel to San Diego with your family. With the abundance of things to do in San Diego with teenagers, it’s impossible for them to be bored.

1. SeaWorld San Diego

SeaWorld San Diego has everything a teenager could possibly want—extreme thrill rides, nonstop entertainment, animal encounter opportunities, and so much more. With so much to do, they’ll be begging you not to leave at the end of the day.

If traveling with daredevil teens, get in line for thrill rides such as:

  • Manta
  • Journey to Atlantis
  • Shipwreck Rapids
  • Riptide Rescue
  • Electric Eel (New, Summer 2018)

If you want to sneak in a bit of education into the day, sign your family up for an animal encounter. On top of coming face-to-face with a dolphin, beluga whale, or penguin, your teen will learn all about life under the ocean and wildlife conservation. These experiences also include hands-on fun such as training directions, feeding, and perhaps a chance to pet a marine animal.

Families riding Manta® at SeaWorld Orlando - Orlando, Florida, USA2. Aquatica San Diego

Maximize your fun at SeaWorld San Diego with tickets to their water park, Aquatica. Trust me, your teens will thank you. This water park is jam-packed with exhilarating water slides, massive wave pools, as well as flamingos and freshwater turtles!

For extreme fun, thrill-seeking teens should head over to Aquatica’s top slides such as Taumata Racer, HooRoo Run, Kiwi Curl, and Walhalla Wave.

As one of the most popular (and wet) things to do in San Diego with teenagers, you’ll want to purchase your Aquatica tickets in advance and skip the ticket line. Also, show up to the park early. Aquatica has a specific capacity limit. If the park reaches that capacity, it will close temporarily until it is able to let more visitors in.

People sliding down colorful slides on the Taumata Race Aquatica in San Antonio, Texas, USA

photo credit: Aquatica

3. San Diego Zoo

You can’t bring the family to San Diego without getting San Diego Zoo tickets. With over 100 acres of animal education and experiences, this renowned zoo is at the top of every family’s “San Diego must-see” list. Be sure to let your teenager see their favorite animal while at the zoo. It’ll be the highlight of their day!

In addition to the animal exhibits and encounters, the zoo also has interactive shows and 4D theaters for ongoing fun throughout the day. Try to schedule time into your day to take advantage of these extra experiences.

4. San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Is your teenager obsessed with animals? When searching for things to do in San Diego with teenagers, take your vacation to the next level at San Diego Zoo Safari Park. This interactive park brings guests on wild safaris and excursions, hosts intriguing animal shows, and offers a wealth of teenager-friendly activities.

Teens will love going on the Photo Caravan Safari and snapping pictures of Asian and African birds, mammals, and more. Plus, at one point in the tour, guests have the opportunity to feed a giraffe. Talk about an Instagram worthy experience!

Another teen-approved safari is the Flightline Safari, an exhilarating zip line tour with aerial views of rhinos, giraffes, and other exotic animals throughout the park. Teens also love the Jungle Ropes Safari, which offers hands-on challenges up in the trees.

Additional safari experiences include:

  • Balloon Safari
  • Behind-the-Scenes Safari
  • Cheetah Safari
  • Roar & Snore Safari
  • Ultimate Safari

Koala and Joey sitting in tree together at San Diego Zoo in San Diego, California, USA5. Balboa Park

Balboa Park is a San Diego masterpiece. This gigantic park features more than 16 museums, serene hiking trails, performing arts venues, and a multitude of restaurants and eateries. With so much to do and see in one spot, your teenager will be amused for hours on end.

Top museums and attractions for teenagers at Balboa Park include:

Take time to discover as much of the park as you can. You never know what hidden gems or trails you’ll find along the way.

Mom and Child looking at an exhibit at the Fleet Science Center - San Diego, California, USA6. San Diego Beaches

What teenager doesn’t like going to the beach?

San Diego is overflowing with gorgeous beaches and coves just begging to be explored. Teens can try their luck at surfing, go for long strolls along the shore, or even discover marine life in the tide pools.

Add a trip (or two… or three...) to these San Diego beaches during your stay:

  • La Jolla Cove
  • Coronado Beach
  • Mission Beach
  • Moonlight State Beach
  • Mission Bay Park
  • Bonita Cove
  • Children’s Pool

Remember to bring your sunscreen, sunglasses, and towels for a perfect day by the ocean.

7. USS Midway Museum

Teens who find military history fascinating will love the USS Midway Museum. On the naval aircraft carrier, teens will find a 4-acre flight deck, over 60 exhibits, 27 restored aircraft, optional flight simulators, videos, climb-aboard aircraft, outdoor café and a gift shop.

Plus, thrill seekers can experience a virtual reality aerial combat ride on Air Combat 360. This simulation lets teens roll, spin, loop, and dive a fighter jet just like in combat. Teenagers can also test their flight skills in Flight Avionics. This 5-minute simulated flight lets visitors participate in a “Screaming Eagles” training exercise where you launch, hit your target, and land safely. See if your teen has what it takes to become a Navy pilot!


8. Whale Watching Tour

Among the best things to do in San Diego with teenagers is a whale watching cruise. Once onboard, you’ll get to see San Diego from a whole new perspective while searching for gray whales and hearing from professional naturalists and tour guides.

Do note, these cruises are only offered from December to April due to whale migratory patterns. For the best viewing experience, the Birch Aquarium marine animal experts recommend taking a whale watching cruise anytime in December and January. In addition, remember to bring a camera, jacket and hat, sunglasses, and nausea medication if you tend to get seasick.

Whale tale in ocean with crowd of people on cruise boat watching in San Diego, California, USA9. Belmont Park

It’s obvious why Belmont Park is ranked as one of the top things to do in San Diego with teenagers. With a roller coaster, amusement park rides, arcade games, escape rooms, and so much more, teenagers love spending the day at Belmont Park.

Set against a pristine backdrop, the amusement park and boardwalk also offers exceptional dining and shopping experiences. Whether your teen wants a quick bite to eat or a full meal, you’ll find it here!

9 Things to Do in San Diego with Teenagers the Whole Family Will Love

From animal adventures to thrill rides and educational museums, San Diego is full of entertaining attractions and activities for teenagers. Book your San Diego family vacation today!

Have you visited San Diego with teens? What did you do and see while on vacation? Share your travel experiences with us!

  1. Marilyn says:

    Cabrillo National Monument. Free if they go with a grandparent who has the life pass. Lighthouse, museum, info on sea life etc. also a great hike with placards about the native bushes. Awesome view.

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