Best of...Family Fun!
Best of Family Fun 2016 Winners and Top Picks
Here are San Diego's Best of Family Fun winners, including family-friendly hangouts, hotspots and good eats around town. Thank you to everyone who nominated and voted—and congratulations to all the winners and top picks!
Best Family Campground
When it comes to camping, beach sites at San Elijo and South Carlsbad State Beaches reign supreme. There’s nothing better than easy ocean access, bluff-top sunset views and falling asleep to the sound of waves. San Elijo even has an onsite surf school. Tents aren’t your thing? Have an RV delivered to your site! Find information about pre-approved RV providers at www.parks.ca.gov.
Campland by the Bay
Best Family Resort or Getaway
Great Wolf Lodge
There’s no shortage of fun and excitement at Great Wolf Lodge in Garden Grove! Enjoy a 105,000 sq. ft. indoor waterpark and resort activities such as MagiQuest, mini golf, mini bowling, a kids spa, and much more. There’s nothing like it in California!
Hotel del Coronado
Paradise Point Resort & Spa
Best Place for an Animal Encounter
San Diego Zoo & Safari Park
Where else can you feed giraffes and lorikeets or get an inside look into an elephant habitat? With countless opportunities for animal encounters, the world-famous San Diego Zoo and Safari Park are everyone’s favorites to discover hundreds of animal species.
Best Place to Connect with Nature
Torrey Pines State Reserve
With stunning ocean views, hiking for all levels and varied habitats, San Diegans appreciate the natural wonders of Torrey Pines.
“We love walking among the rare coastal pines mixed with ocean air,” says Cindy of Rancho Bernardo. “Guy Fleming Trail is our favorite, but we also love hiking up the road, then Beach Trail to Flat Rock and back along the sand.”
Mission Trails Regional Park
Living Coast Discovery Center
Best Pet-Friendly Hiking Trail
Mission Trails Regional Park
Locals love taking their pets to Mission Trails because of the great selection of hiking trails and natural beauty of the park. But be sure to bring plenty of water for your pooch, be mindful of heat and stay on the trails!
Best Place to Get Wet
San Diego Beaches
From the famed locale of Coronado to the beachfront parks of Del Mar and the vast expanses of sand in Oceanside, San Diego County beaches are everyone’s favorite place to get wet.
“Complete the adventure with an evening barbecue or potluck with friends,” says Cindy of Rancho Bernardo. “Kids are happy, parents are happy, and everyone is worn out from playing all day.”
Great Wolf Lodge Indoor Waterpark
Best Activity for Thrill-Seekers
Giant Dipper Roller Coaster
The iconic Giant Dipper Roller Coaster is San Diego’s favorite activity for thrill-seekers! Built in 1925, the wooden roller coaster offers a bit of history, tons of fun and an ocean view at Belmont Park’s beachfront location. Must be 50” tall to ride.
Hang Gliding at Torrey Pines Gliderport
Ziplining at the Safari Park
Best Spot for an Outdoor Adventure
Stunning gardens and architecture, the world’s largest outdoor pipe organ, hiking trails and a miniature railroad are just a few reasons to visit Balboa Park for an outdoor adventure. “There’s lots to do and learn—or just sit in the beautiful park, people watch and picnic,” says one reader. Check the online calendar for festivals, exhibitions and cultural fairs.
La Jolla Cove
Best Family Day Trip
What makes the town of Julian San Diego’s best family day trip? “It’s nice to get away from the hustle and bustle,” says Matt of Escondido.
Other readers listed everything from apple picking, apple pie and cider to antique shops, historic mine tours, and hiking—with a stop at Dudley’s Bakery on the way, of course.
Best Amusement Center
The beachfront location, free admission and free parking make Belmont Park a San Diego favorite. With a historic wooden rollercoaster, miniature golf, laser tag, the FlowRider and tons more, there’s entertainment to delight all ages.
Pelly’s Mini Golf
Best Place to Play Indoors
San Diego parents love KidVentures because it’s unique, clean, safe and super fun. “The friendly staff engages kids in activities and they have a blast,” says one reader. Sign up for Kids Night Out: Kids are entertained while parents enjoy a night off.
Urban Jungle Fun Park
Best Place for Kids to Break a Sweat
Sky Zone Trampoline Park
Toddler programs, open jump times and dodgeball are some of the reasons people love Sky Zone. “Kids get exercise without even knowing it,” says Rebecca of North Park. Located in Chula Vista and San Marcos.
Get Air Trampoline Park
Urban Jungle Fun Park
Best Activity for Teens
Miramar Speed Circuit Kart Racing
Race up to 40 mph on a newly designed indoor track. Super fun for teens, kids, families! New this summer: a Speed Circuit track in Chula Vista! Also in Miramar: a 5,000 sq. ft. laser tag arena for adventurers of all ages.
Mesa Rim Indoor Climbing
Christian Youth Theater (CYT)
Best Place to Get Creative
The New Children’s Museum
Here you’ll find creative art classes, camps and fun family events in a bright, modern space. “Little ones can paint, draw, design, build and create without limits,” says Claire of Encinitas. Don’t miss Family Mess Fest on August 6.
Carlsbad Art Farm
Best Live Performance for Families
The Old Globe’s “The Grinch”
Having won this category for the last three years, The Old Globe Theatre’s “The Grinch” is a timeless Christmas classic for all ages and a fun, family tradition for San Diegans.
Disney on Ice
Best Museum for Kids
Reuben H. Fleet Science Center
One reader sums up the Reuben H. Fleet this way: “Lots of hands-on, interactive activities. There’s so much to learn—and it’s fun!” Don’t miss the Tinkerers’ Club, Saturday Science Club for Girls, Preschool Science Program and IMAX Dome Theater.
The New Children’s Museum
SD Children’s Discovery Museum
Best KID-FRIENDLY MOVIE EXPERIENCE
Santee Drive-In Theatre
Affordability and fun are what make Santee Drive-In a family favorite. Kids ages 4 and under are free. “It’s unique and cheap,” says Sarah of Spring Valley. “And the kids can be as loud as they want inside the car.”
Summer Movies in the Park
UltraStar Parent Movie Mornings
Best Place to Learn San Diego History
Considered the “birthplace” of California, Old Town San Diego features an engaging mix of fun and education through docent-led tours, living history demonstrations, museums and historic buildings. Don’t miss fun family events such as the annual 1800s Fourth of July celebration!
San Diego Natural History Museum
USS Midway Museum
Best Local Tourist Attraction
San Diego Zoo
It’s the 100-year anniversary of San Diego’s best tourist attraction: the San Diego Zoo! Celebrate with an animal encounter, behind-the-scenes experience, or summer Nighttime Zoo festivities.
TIME TO PARTY
Best Place for A Toddler Party
Party hosts do all the set up and clean up, making it easy for parents. “The kids have great fun sliding, running and climbing,” says Joanne of La Mesa.
Play Town Indoor Playground
Best Place for a Kid Party (ages 5-11)
“The 50s-style music and energetic servers make kids feel special,” says one local parent. Plus, with a lively atmosphere and kids party packages, Corvette Diner makes your celebration easy and fun.
Jump Around Now
Best Place for a Teen Party
Dave & Buster’s
Teens can enjoy a sit-down meal while watching sports in a rented party room, play pool with friends, and choose from hundreds of interactive games.
Ultrazone Laser Tag
K1 Speed Indoor Kart Racing
THE FOODIE IN YOU
Best Frozen Treat
Rita’s Italian Ice
Winner for the second year in a row! The slogan speaks truth: Ice. Custard. Happiness.
Yogurt Mill frozen yogurt
Baked Bear ice cream sandwich
Best Kids Menu
The Islands “Gremmie Menu” (designed for two age groups: 6 & under and 7–12)features a jr. grilled chicken sandwich, jr. teriyaki bowl and other kid faves.
Duke’s La Jolla
Best Local Breakfast Spot
Hash House a Go Go, Hillcrest
Hash House has been a longtime local favorite for years, offering unique items such as Sage Fried Chicken Benedict and Banana Cinnamon French Toast. Leslie from Tierrasanta and Laurie from El Cajon agree: “The food is delicious!” Be prepared to wait in line and consider sharing your meal—the portions are huge.
Great Maple, University Heights
Richard Walkers Pancake House, Downtown
Best Baked Indulgence
Triple Chocolate Mousse Stack at Heaven Sent Desserts
Heaven Sent Desserts in North Park is a local favorite, known for specialty pastries and cakes, and friendly staff. Their signature Triple Chocolate Mousse Stack took top honors. Layers of chocoate and white chocolate mousse, chocolate cake and chocolate ganache make it—well, kinda like heaven on earth.
Donuts at Peterson’s Donut Corner
Fruit Strudel at Hans & Harry’s Bakery
CUZ YOU’RE THE EXPERTS
Best Local Radio Show
Jeff and the Showgram - KyXy 96.5
San Diego families rely on favorite radio personalities to help jumpstart their day! Taking top honors this year are Jeff and the Showgram. “They are funny and entertaining,” says Jesse of Chula Vista. Tune in weekdays from 6–10 am.
Top Picks – Three-way tie!
The AJ Show - Energy 103.7
John & Tammy in the Morning - KSON-FM
Jagger & Kristi - Magic 92.5
Best Mom Blogger
Moms Guide to San Diego
Local moms Jennifer Humora and Chelsea Maxson share helpful information, tips, deals and opinions on their popular blog, The Moms Guide to San Diego. Check out their website or follow them on Facebook.
Southern Cali Saver
Super Moms 360
Best Time-Saving App for Parents
MomCo, where moms connect
San Diego moms unite! This free social networking app provides a safe and efficient way for local moms to meet other moms in their neighborhood. It’s easy and fun to plan playdates and make friends.
Updated: June 2016