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7 Fun Amusement Parks in San Diego: Your Best Guide [2022]

9 mins read
amusement parks in San Diego
Image by Daniel Guerra on Unsplash/ Copyright 2022

Are you planning to go to the amusement parks in San Diego? Is your family suffering from a case of the blues? A fun way to pass the time on the weekends would be to head to your local amusement park! Amusement parks immediately bring up mental images of a fun time and an opportunity to bring out your inner child. Suitable for adults and kids alike, there’s something there for everyone.

If you’re a resident of San Diego, California, or planning a trip there, read on. Located on the west coast of the United States next to the Mexican border, the city of San Diego is well known for its sprawling beaches.

The city is a popular destination for retirees and their families as well because of the affordable housing, friendly people, and great cuisine. Another huge plus is the pleasant climate that is perfect for a day out. But the biggest family-friendly attractions are the theme parks and amusement parks in San Diego.

With the many theme parks, zoos, and museums, the city of San Diego will certainly spoil you for choice. So when you’re planning your trip here or your family’s next day out, don’t forget to check out one (or all, the more, the merrier) of these amazing amusement parks in San Diego that are sure to brighten up you and your family’s spirits.

1) SeaWorld San Diego

If underwater exhibits excite you, look no further than Seaworld San Diego. One of the most famous amusement parks in San Diego, it is located along Mission Bay and promises a fun day for the whole family. Bustling with marine life from around the world, witness incredible shows and presentations.

You can see Beluga whales, killer whales, dolphins, otters, and six different species of penguins. Don’t forget to stop at the turtle reef to see endangered sea turtles housed in a gigantic aquarium.

Apart from this dazzling display of underwater creatures, kids will especially enjoy the thrilling rides the theme park has to offer. From roller coasters to water rides, there’s something for everyone. The park also features an interactive play area centered around Sesame Street, sure to be a hit with the kids.

Situated next door to this massive water park is the Hubbs-Seaworld Research Institute. For those interested in marine biology, the institute conducts several outreach programs to educate the public on various marine issues. It also provides more information on the various animals found in the park’s exhibits.

A one-day ticket to the SeaWorld San Diego theme park costs approximately $65 per person, subject to seasonal variations.

2)Balboa Park

Balboa Park is a vast cultural park in downtown San Diego and one of the most worthwhile amusement parks in San Diego. Deeply rooted in history, this 1200 acre space contains several museums, theatres, and the world-famous San Diego zoo. The park also contains several open areas for picnics, walking, and jogging.

There are several other attractions in the park, like the Balboa Park carousel and the Spanish Village Arts Centre. The Balboa Park Miniature Railroad offers an open-air antique train experience for the kids. However, parents are requested to sit with the kids for their safety.

There are also several venues for sports like archery, golf, swimming, baseball, racing, and more, which makes it one of the best amusement parks in San Diego.

San Diego Zoo

Located in Balboa Park, the San Diego Zoo is home to more than 500 different species of plants and animals. A must-visit for all you wildlife enthusiasts out there, this world-famous zoo is spread out over an area of 100 acres. The zoo houses a wide variety of endangered and exotic species, all thriving in spaces that recreate their natural habitats.

The zoo is quite famous for the large breeding colony of koalas, the largest outside the Australian continent. Tourists also enjoy the visit to the zoo because of how close they can get to the animals. Due to the sheer number of animals as well the multitude of things to do at the zoo, the San Diego Zoo is credited with being one of the best in the world.

A visit to the zoo, located in one of the best amusement parks in San Diego, is sure to be a winner with the kids as well. Apart from seeing all the different kinds of animals, you could opt for a ride in their sky tram, join a guided bus tour, visit the petting zoo, or even enjoy a 4D theatre experience.

A regular one-day pass to the zoo costs about $62 for adults (ages 12 and above) and $52 for children aged 3-11. There is also a one-day plus pass at a slightly higher cost for those visitors who want to have the 4D theatre experience.

3) San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Closely associated with the San Diego zoo is the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. Located in the San Pasqual Valley area, the park is spread out over a whopping 1800 acres.

Unlike the zoo, the safari park focuses more on animals from African habitats and houses the animals in a semi-arid environment. One of the main attractions of the park is a guided tour of exotic creatures like gazelles and rhinos.

And of course, a visit to a Safari Park would not be complete without a Safari. Sit back and relax as you travel with an expert guide to see all the wildlife these savannahs have to offer.

The park offers a range of safaris, with some suitable for all ages and some like the Flightline safari suitable for kids ages 8 and up, making it one of the best amusement parks in San Diego. The Roar and Snore safaris are an exciting option that allows visitors to sleep over at this animal theme park for an unforgettable experience.

The ticket costs are similar to that of the San Diego Zoo. A popular option is a 2-Visit pass, which allows tourists one visit to the San Diego Zoo and San Diego Zoo Safari park each. The prices for these tickets are $104 for adults and $94 for kids.

Considering the popularity of these establishments, there is even a membership option that allows visits to both the zoo and the Safari park all year long. Definitely worth it as they are two of the best amusement parks in San Diego.

4) Aquatica San Diego

A popular water theme park chain, Aquatica San Diego is a perfect refuge for those blistering days in the summer months. From thrilling water, rides to give you that adrenaline rush to lazy rivers for lounging, the water park will spoil you for choice.

Aquatica San Diego is temporarily closed and will relaunch in 2022 as Sesame Place San Diego. The rebranded theme park is set to be among the best amusement parks in San Diego and will offer several family-friendly rides suitable for small kids.

It will incorporate most of the favorite attractions of the earlier water park, as well as introduce several live shows, a musical play area, and interactions with Sesame Street characters. An exciting new attraction is an all-new wave pool that promises to be one of the largest in Southern California.

Tickets are already up for sale, with several early bird offers as well as season passes. A one-day ticket here costs approximately $60, and entry is free for infants under 2 years of age.

5) USS Midway Museum

The USS Midway Museum is an aircraft carrier of the US Navy. Docked on the Navy Pier in downtown San Diego, the carrier serves as an important reminder of world history. The USS midway earns the distinction of being the longest-serving aircraft carrier of the 20th century.

The flight deck is spread over 4 acres and carries numerous aircraft that were largely built in California. Enjoy a day immersed in history as you explore the vast engine room, walk across the galley or see the sleeping quarters where the soldiers rested. The museum offers guided audio tours as well to educate visitors about the important missions that the carrier went on.

A huge hit with the kids is the cockpits they can actually climb aboard as well as the newly added virtual reality flight simulators, letting them step into the shoes of combat pilots. Recently, a holographic movie theatre titled “The Battle of Midway Theatre” was also added.

Tickets cost $26 for adults and $18 for children and war veterans. They also offer annual passes that you can use to visit anytime through the year. It is definitely a destination for the entire family to enjoy.

6) Belmont Park

You can check out Belmont Park for a serene beachfront experience. It is one of the only beachside amusement parks in San Diego. Located on Mission beach, a major advantage of this location is that it has free entry. Arguably, the biggest attraction of the park is the Giant Dipper roller coaster, which is well known far and wide.

Recently several more features were added, including a laser tag arena, a mini-golf area, and a 7D theatre named Xanadu. The park even features a zip line. With several rides, live music, restaurants, and events, a visit to Belmont Park will surely cure boredom if you’re looking for some light-hearted fun.

A one-day Park Pass costs about $56. There are also annual passes available for $109, which entitles you to unlimited visits to this great amusement park in San Diego.

7)LEGOLAND California

LEGOLAND California is one of the top theme parks in the country and one of the most well-known amusement parks in San Diego. Perfect for families with kids aged 2-12, this 100+ acre park is located in Carlsbad, California.

With interactive shows and outdoor playgrounds, a visit here promises a full day of fun. There are also a large number of exhilarating rides and rollercoasters that kids love. At the SEA LIFE aquarium, you can see dozens of underwater animals, from starfishes to stingrays! Next door is the LEGOLAND water park, filled with water slides and a lazy river.

Another major attraction is the LEGOLAND hotel, with over 200 LEGO-themed rooms, the first of its kind in the nation.

A one-day pass to LEGOLAND California costs about $90. If you would like to visit the SEA LIFE aquarium as well, you can buy tickets for $100.

If all these options sound good to you, the city of San Diego has got you covered. With their All-Inclusive Go City Pass, you can visit all these attractions for a fixed price. This All-Inclusive Pass comes in a single day option or a 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, or even 7 consecutive day option.

Alternatively, if you have a limited number of places you know you want to check out for sure, you could opt for an Explorer Pass. This pass allows you to pick 2, 3, 4, 5, or 7 of San Diego’s biggest attractions. Certainly enough to cover all the best amusement parks in San Diego.

Apart from all these amazing amusement parks in San Diego, Disneyland is just a 90-minute drive from here! Head on and be mesmerized by all the sights and fun rides.

Most of the theme parks and amusement parks in San Diego are experiences you can only truly experience as day trips. If you don’t want to spend an entire day but still want to spend time outside, downtown San Diego offers many other attractions.

The Inflatable World is sure to be a great experience if you have small kids. Filled with fun bouncy houses, obstacle courses, and huge slides, it will certainly earn you brownie points with younger kids and give them a taste of what amusement parks in San Diego are like.

Another great option is Splish Splash, a water theme park that is great for kids. You can check out this park on Sea World Drive.

There are also tons of other places to go to besides amusement parks in San Diego. If fitness is your style, check out Vertical Hold. An indoor rock climbing studio that offers a range of classes and fitness sessions, it’s perfect for first-timers. They also offer yoga classes. A day pass to the studio costs $24.

For history buffs, be sure to check out Old Town, an area of San Diego that is filled with historic restaurants reminiscent of the Spanish Era. There is also a wide range of restaurants to satisfy all your cravings. You can even stop at one of the many souvenir shops to buy something to remind you of your visit.

San Diego Bay is another great place to spend time. A natural harbor and deep-water port, there is no dearth of things to do here. You could choose to go for a romantic waterfront stroll, take a harbor cruise or head up to the Old Point Loma Lighthouse for some fantastic views.

San Diego also offers several opportunities if you want to spend a fun day wine tasting. Head up to Temecula, which is San Diego’s own Wine Country! Check out Wilson Creek Winery and Vineyards or Callaway Vineyard and Winery.

A trip to this city is definitely going to be fun-filled, with activities for people of all ages. For insider tips and more things to do in San Diego, check out our blog post here. Be sure to check out all the different theme parks and amusement parks in San Diego, and have a great time!

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