San Diego with Teens: A Perfect Family Day

San Diego with Teens: A Family Vacation


Planning a vacation with your teens? Look no further than San Diego, Calif. With its Mediterranean climate, miles of beautiful beaches, world-class cuisine and endless attractions and activities, San Diego is the perfect place to distract your teenagers from their cell phones and computers, and engage in some good quality family time. Trust me; the only thing they will be tweeting about is how much fun they will be having!

There is an overwhelming number of choices to consider when planning the perfect day in San Diego. You could do the obvious, like lying on the beach or visiting one of the many theme parks San Diego has to offer, including the Wild Animal Park, Legoland and Sea World, or the world-famous San Diego Zoo. While those are all excellent choices, why not take your teen off the beaten path and enjoy some of the unusual things San Diego has to offer, at least for one day?


Start with breakfast at the Cheese Shop Deli in downtown San Diego. This quaint deli serves up a mean breakfast. If you love pancakes, definitely try their blueberry pancakes, which are my family's favorite. They also serve up tasty corned beef hash, French toast, several egg dishes, omelets and breakfast sandwiches. They open at 7AM PT Monday to Friday and 8AM PT on the weekends. Most dishes are under $10. Contact at them at 619-232-2303 or go to; it is located at 627 4th Avenue.

Next, take your teen to Coronado Island for a sightseeing experience they will never forget. Drive over the big bridge to the island, then hop on a two-wheeled electric Segway for a one-hour tour around the island, with Segway of Coronado. Teens love the experience of learning how to use the Segway, and they can't wait to start exploring the island. You will ride by the bay, through various parks and enjoy beautiful views of the San Diego skyline. Hey, it beats walking, and we all know how much teenagers like walking! It's for ages 14 and up; 18 and under must be accompanied by an adult. Tours start at 9:30AM PT and the cost is $69 per person. Contact Segway of Coronado at 888-522-9011 or visit; they are located at 112 C Avenue in Coronado, and also offer Segway tours of San Diego, if your family would prefer to stay in the city itself.


A short hop back over the Coronado Bay Bridge will take you to your next adventure at the USS Midway Museum. The USS Midway was one of America's longest-serving aircraft carriers. Take a self-guided tour through this massive ship and learn what life was like at sea for the sailors who experienced it during wartime. Parents and teens alike will love visiting over 60 exhibits at this museum in San Diego, California, including a look at the ship's bridge, sleeping quarters and flight-control deck. Teens especially love browsing the 25 restored aircraft on board and experiencing one or all three of the flight simulators, where you can see what it's like to fly a plane, engage in aerial combat and just try not to throw up in the group-motion simulator.

Grab a bite onboard at Fantail Cafe and enjoy the views of San Diego Bay. The cafe serves kid-friendly grub like sandwiches, salads, hot dogs, hamburgers and pizza, and all dishes are under $10. Allow yourself at least three hours here as there is a lot to see and do. The museum is open from 10AM to 5PM PT daily and tickets are $18 for adults and $10 for ages 6 to 17. Flight simulators cost extra so make sure you visit their website for a detailed description and pricing. The museum is located in downtown San Diego at 910 N. Harbor Drive with plenty of pay parking throughout the area. Contact them at 619-544-9600 or visit

Hopefully you still have some energy left at this point, because next on the agenda is Belmont Park, located in Mission Beach. This amusement park is situated right on the sand and visitors can enjoy the Giant Dipper wooden roller coaster as well as several carnival-type rides, arcades, glow-in-the-dark miniature golf, laser maze, sky ropes adventure and many more. It's a great place for teens to hang out with other kids and for adults to recapture their youth.

Bring a bathing suit to try your hand at surfing or wakeboarding on one of the park's wave machines. The Flowrider and Flowbarrell simulate endless waves in a controlled environment, allowing you to go for it without worrying about drowning or shark attacks. However, if that's a little too daring for you, there is a large indoor public swimming pool for your enjoyment. Make sure you ride the coaster before you leave. It has been there for 85 years now. I rode it as a kid, and still get butterflies in my stomach when I take my family to ride it, all these years later. It's quite the experience.

If you need a break from all the excitement, take a stroll down the boardwalk or just sit on the beach and watch the people go by. Parking and admission are free, but it does cost to play the games. Individual rides are $1 to $6 each, but you can buy day packs that are less expensive. The arcade, mazes and miniature golf range in price from $7 to $20 and Flowrider is $12 per hour, with a $10 registration fee. The Flowbarrell is $40 per hour and the pool is $6 for children. The park closes at 10PM PT Sunday to Thursday, and at midnight on Friday and Saturday. Contact the park at 858-488-1549 or visit for more information.


Finally, after you have worked up an appetite at the park, take your taste buds to the Corvette diner at Liberty Station (2965 Historic Decatur Road). It's a 50s-style diner that's loud, crowded and fun! There is tons of memorabilia all over the walls, and the poodle-skirt-wearing waitresses occasionally throw napkins and straws at you. It's a crazy place, but well worth it. They serve typical diner fare such as burgers, sandwiches, soups and platters like chicken-fried steak and meatloaf. Make sure you save room for a milkshake. They are fabulous, and you will have lots of flavors to choose from. My favorite happens to be the chocolate-peanut butter-banana! Prices are reasonable, with most meals coming in under $10 and the platters under $15. The restaurant closes at 9PM PT Sunday to Thursday and 11PM PT Friday and Saturday. Contact the restaurant at 619-542-1476.

Before you and the teens begin your day of fun in the sun in San Diego, California, be sure and check all websites for more information, to order tickets and to check for coupons. You can also visit for additional tips and savings for the San Diego area.

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