One of my most frequently asked questions is “What are our favorite things to do in San Diego?” We’ve been all over this beautiful city and there’s still so much to see. In our opinion its one of the most fun and family friendly city in the US! Here is a guide to all our favorite places, beaches, eateries, sites to see and things to do in San Diego.
Coffee shops/Juice Bars/Ice Cream:
South Park/ North Park
- Communal Coffee: This coffee shop shares a space with floral design shop and area for the kids to play. If that weren’t enough to visit there’s a very “instagramable” wall out front.
- Hammond’s Gourmet Ice Cream: With locations in Pacific Beach, North Park and Point Loma Hammond’s Gourmet Ice Cream offers over 300 flavors with the original Hammond’s Flights and Flight of 32 Flavors.
- Dark Horse Coffee: Grab a cup of coffee from here and head over to one of my favorite stores ever Pigment.
- Captains Grounds: Best iced chai latte around plus you can shop for new and vintage clothes and check out the other local artisans in Rais Case and All Ye Citizens across the street.
- Revolution Roasters: Super hip, great decor and really good outdoor seating, try their chia pudding it’s delish.
- Baba Coffee: Head here for coffee and or a can of beer! If you’re sans kiddos we recommend lingering over a card game or two and then walking through the Carlsbad Antique Shops right across the street.
- Succulent Cafe: Good coffee, tea and plants! You can’t go wrong here. Try the Lavender latte it is divine.
- Choice Juicery: We love their smoothies, vegan banana bread, and salads! Plus there’s lots of room for kids to play outside and draw all over their chalkboard walls.
- Philz Coffee: This place serves only pour over coffee with the best coffee drinks around…try the mint mojito its incredible. They also have an app for those who can’t leave their car, you can order online and in 15 minutes they will bring it to you curbside. Oh and they also serve up the best toasts! There is a La Jolla location as well.
- Lofty Coffee: Don’t let the line fool you…it’s worth the wait and they have great gluten free goodies. We highly recommend taking your coffee to our favorite park at the bottom of the hill Moonlight Beach Park. On the way you’ll find a really great instagramable pink house with a VW bus out front….aint no shame in a quick garage door gram shot.
- Good On Ya: Super organic and healthy but very yummy. Grab some good to eat here and then walk to the newly Medidation Gardens and or Swami’s beach.
- French Corner: I love this tiny cafe in Leucadia. It’s very authentic to the French Culture and the coffee and croque monsieur are perfection…plus they have toys in the back to keep the little ones busy.
- Zumbar: Good coffee, quick bites and minutes from Cardiff reef and really kid friendly beach.
- Handals Ice Cream: You might see a line outside but it’s worth it! This chain scoops ice cream & frozen yogurt (including fat-free options) in a variety of flavors.
- Jo Jo’s Creamery: Cookies and Ice Cream need I say more?
- Leucadia Donut Shoppe: Cash only but so good and so iconic right off the 101.
- VG Donuts in Cardiff: We had our wedding cake made here and there wasn’t a piece left over!
- The Goods: This hip new donut shop in Carlsbad has amazing decor and gourmet donuts to break any diet for…and they have really good coffee so this place is a must.
- Super Donuts in Carlsbad: If you’re in a rush and new a quick sugar fix this is your place because this place has a drive through but be careful because it’s a tight turn (I learned the hard way and busted a taillight here #expensivedonut).
- The Donut Bar: This donut bar just might change your life… with flavors like creme brûlée, maple bacon, blood orange, and chocolate euphoria you’ll be dreaming of donuts for a solid month.
Family Friendly Restaurants:
- Waypoint Public (Voted best family-friendly restaurant in all of San Diego and we agree!)
Del Mar/La Jolla:
Favorite Date Night Restaurants:
- Herb & Wood – Little Italy
- Madison On Park – University Heights
- Blue Ocean Robata + Sushi Bar – Carlsbad
- Blue Ribbon Artisan Pizzaria – Encinitas
- Searsucker – Downtown
- Paon Restaurant and Wine Bar – Carlsbad
- Seasons Restaurant at The Four Season Aviara – Carlsbad
North Park/Little Italy/Downtown Area:
- Aloha Sunday
- Architectural Salvage
- Atacama Surf Shop
- Blick Art Supplies
- Fashion Valley Shopping Center
- The Forum: Anthropologie, Free People, Madewell, Lululemon, JCrew, H&M, LuLu Lemon, Urban Outfitters
- Carlsbad Premium Outlets
Del Mar/La Jolla:
- La Jolla Shores
- Mission Beach
- Swamis – Encinitas
- Tamarack – Carlsbad
- Cardiff Reef – Cardiff
- Oceanside Pier
- Moonlight Beach in Encinitas
- 15th Street in Del Mar
- Fletcher Cove in Solana Beach
Best activities to do in San Diego:
- San Diego Zoo + Safari Park are hands down a must.
- Ride bikes in Coronado with a tour of the Hotel Del.
- Visit the museums in Balboa Park… The Train Museum is a favorite for our kids.
- Cruise the cute shops in North Park and get ice cream at Hammonds.
- Look for vintage decor and art in Little Italy…stop at Architectural Salvage for sure.
- Play in the water fountains at the Waterfront Park in downtown across from the Harbor.
- Wander around Seaport Village.
- Stand Up Paddle Board in Oceanside Harbor.
- Visit Birch Aquarium.
- Visit Legoland, Sea Life Aquarium and The Legoland Waterpark.
- Get In N Out and take it to any beach for dinner!
- The Botanical Gardens In Encinitas... The 2 children’s gardens are so fun and interactive.
- The New Children’s Museum Downtown.
- Tidepools at Tarramar Beach in Carlsbad or La Jolla.
- Visit The Flower Fields at Carlsbad Ranch March 1- May 13th for epic endless rows of colorful flowers, a quirky playground that will blow your kiddo’s minds, tractor rides and super fun sweet pea maze.
- Head to Sunshine Gardens in Encinitas for a variety of plants and pie! Seriously this nursery is so fun and free…our kids love feeding the koi fish and trying to coax Bubba the desert tortoise out of his bunker. Betty’s Pie Hole is a throw back to western days and the vintage sodas and pie are always a hit.
- Check out the seals at The Children’s Pool in La Jolla as well as The Cave Store that leads you down through the historic Sunny Jim Sea Cave.
We hope you enjoy San Diego as much as we do!