A dad’s vacation guide to staying in LA & San Diego with kids

Where your littles will love to play, learn, and eat around SoCal.

Kevin Crain

By Kevin Crain

Two girls watch surfers in Malibu

Looking for things to do in San Diego with kids? Or family-friendly places to eat in Los Angeles? And a great place to live for a month or more? These kid-approved recommendations should make everyone’s life easier. 

For a hassle-free time in either city, stay in a fully furnished Blueground apartment. Each home is completely move-in-ready, so you can set your bags down and start exploring the area as soon as possible. You know your kids will want to! 

Seriously, LA and San Diego have loads of places where kids and parents can both have a blast. These are just a few of the restaurants, parks, and destinations that I’d recommend if you’re a parent living in Southern California. 

Los Angeles

Where to eat in LA

Eating at Malibu Farm Pier Cafe

  • Malibu Farm Pier Cafe: Casual dining with a great atmosphere — on the pier. Watch surfers ride waves on Malibu Lagoon State Beach as you savor fresh, farm-to-table food from Southern California. Don’t worry, they have mac and cheese, quesadillas, and pasta for kids. 
  • Franklin’s Cafe: Located in Griffith Park near the Greek Theatre and golf course, this cute spot has cafe classics as well as Korean-inspired bowls. Better still, there’s a small outdoor area for kids to roam or see golfers tee off.  
  • John’s Garden: Fresh, healthy food and a huge patio space with shaded picnic tables and a playground. Your youngsters will enjoy all of the above during your stay in LA with kids. 

Where to explore in LA

Exploring the old LA zoo in Griffith park

  • Griffith Park: You could spend an entire day at Griffith Park and still not see everything. In fact, it’s more than five times the size of Central Park in New York! For those looking to only stay for a couple of hours, be sure to visit the abandoned ruins of the old LA zoo, wear your kids out at Shane’s Inspiration playground, and go for a short hike (there are tons to choose from).
  • Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area: Escape to nature as you hike the Solstice Canyon Trail, an easy walk that’s 2.1 miles in total. Slowly rising through the forest with a creek alongside it, this popular trail features plenty for kids to explore. That includes the ruins of Roberts’ Ranch House and a stunning waterfall at the end. 
  • Discovery Cube: On hot or rainy days, children’s museums are the perfect indoor option. At Discovery Cube, you can pretend to go grocery shopping, work on your hockey skating technique, step inside a fog tornado, and so much more. Hands-on, interactive activities let kids create and discover more about the world around them.  

Playground at Lake Hollywood Park

  • Hollywood Sign: After exploring Griffith Park, drive up to the easily accessible Lake Hollywood Park for a great pic with one the world’s most famous signs. Thanks to all the other people around, you won’t even need to take a selfie. Bonus: there’s a small playground. Consider it the motivation your kiddos may need to smile in the photos. 
  • Disneyland: If you’re staying in LA with kids, visiting the home of Mickey Mouse is a must. Be sure to arrive 30 minutes before the park opens, so you have time to park, go through security, and ride the tram. Then go on the most popular rides as soon as you get there. Otherwise, the lines could be long later in the day. And remember, there’s no shame in taking a million pictures while you’re there!   
  • Venice Boardwalk: Building sandcastles. People watching. Shopping for souvenirs. Snacking on sugary treats. Venice Boardwalk is a hive of fun and activity. If you’re kids are okay with a slower pace, take time to check out the Venice Canals, too.

San Diego

Where to eat in San Diego

Liberty Public Market in San Diego

  • Liberty Public Market: Have a picky eater or two? Food halls to the rescue! Located in the barracks of a old naval training center, this San Diego destination has over 25 great eateries to choose from, including a wide range of cuisines. If your kids are noisy like mine, head outside after you get your food. There’s plenty of tables and a wooden boat for children to play on! 
  • Corvette Diner: Step back in time with this 1950s-themed restaurant. Believe it or not, the burgers and shakes are just as memorable as the decor. 

Where to explore in San Diego

Watching sea lions in La Jolla

  • La Jolla Tide Pools: Let your little ones discover a miniature world of crabs, anemones, and more. Or walk a couple more minutes to the Children’s Pool at La Jolla. You can either splash in the chilly water or stay dry and check out the sea lions lounging on the beach. 
  • Sesame Street Place: Even if your children have outgrown Elmo, Big Bird, Cookie Monster, and co., they surely won’t pass up a chance to visit a waterpark. Older kids will be tall enough for the slides while toddlers can still splash in the wave pool, kids’ area, and lazy river. You can also stay dry on some of the rides. Fun for everyone!
  • Balboa Park: Museums, gardens, and the San Diego Zoo. Balboa Park is home to several of the cities must-visit attractions. There are also a few freebies, like playgrounds and outdoor art installations, where your family can play or peruse.  
  • Old Town San Diego State Historic Park: Catch a glimpse of the past in this spot inspired by early San Diego. There are museums, shops, and restaurants — some even in the restored original historic buildings. It’s a neat place to spend an afternoon browsing the stores. Afterward, dine on authentic Mexican cuisine in a unique atmosphere. 

Moving to Los Angeles or San Diego soon?

See what sets Blueground apartments apart as the perfect, move-in-ready homes for parents or anyone else.

With stylish, fully equipped spaces, flexible terms, and stays of a month, a year, or longer, Blueground inspires people around the world to reimagine living.

Kevin Crain

Kevin Crain

Kevin Crain is a writer from Dallas, Texas. He’s dedicated to helping every Blueground guest live like a local and make their apartment feel like home. His favorite topics include active experiences, bucket list essentials, and hidden gems in cities around the world.