What is there to do in downtown San Diego with your kids? If you’re staying at the San Diego Marriott Marquis. or other downtown hotel, you’ll find lots of kid-friendly food and fun just a walk or a ferry ride away. From bike rides to kite-flying to ghost tours, here are our tried-and-true recommendations for the best family-friendly things to do in downtown San Diego on Coronado Island, in the area around Seaport Village, and in downtown proper in Gaslamp Quarter.
- How to get there: from the Marriott Marquis:
When you go out the back way from the Marriott Marquis toward the water, you are on a wide walkway facing San Diego Harbor and Coronado Island that’s lined with a marina. The Marriott runs a ferry from that marina that goes back and forth to Coronado. They run about every half hour. When you land on Coronado from that hotel shuttle, you will need to walk north about 50 yards to get to Ferry Landing, where the rest of the San Diego ferries land. The area around Ferry Landing is your home base, where you’ll find food and gift shops and bike rentals and island maps.
- How to get there: from the Convention Center:
There are ferries that depart from the Convention Center at 5th street every half hour and from the Broadway Pier every hour. These land at the Ferry Landing. Here is the schedule and pricing information.
- The ferry itself it such a treat for kids, you can visit the shops around Ferry Landing, have a bite of lunch, and head back without investing anymore time. HOWEVER –
- The best bet for a fun day is to go and find a bike rental. We like Bikes & Beyond on 1st street, where you can rent cruisers or a family-sized bike surrey that has with 2 bench seats and plenty of room for backpacks. Then just pedal around the island! It’s a charming area; there are parks and beaches everywhere, and you can’t get lost. Just follow the map the rental shop provides.
- For a bike ride that’s a little different and more of a time investment, ride down the Silver Strand toward Imperial Beach. You’ll pass some lovely wetlands and beaches. It’s really a unique ride.
- It’s a half-hour walk from Ferry Landing across the island to Coronado Beach, so you may want to bring your beach gear in backpacks. And definitely bring your stroller.
- Make sure you stop at Sweet San Diego Chocolatiers in the Ferry Landing to treat everyone to one of their 30 or so flavors of candy apples!
Seaport Village is a short walk from the Marriott Marquis and Convention Center; just walk out toward the Marina and make a right hand turn right on the Embarcadero path. You can rent bikes if you are a guest of the Marriott Marquis.
- There are several casual restaurants, including a deli and fish and chips, a Ben and Jerry’s, and a Wetzel’s Pretzels where you can get pretzel hot dogs as well as traditional salted and sweet soft pretzels.
- Next to Wetzel’s is a kite shop. It’s breezy there, and there is a lovely grassy Maritime Park jutting out into the harbor across from Seaport Village, so it’s worth the investment(beginner kites run about $35.00 kite). Plus, the walk from the hotel to Seaport Village and out to the park to fly a kite is a decent amount of fresh air, exercise, and fun for the kids.
- Seaport Village also has a kiosk where you can get trolley tickets and tour information. You can stop there to make arrangements if you don’t want to do it on your own.
- Keep going! The Embarcadero takes you to the Midway and beyond to the Star of India ship and the Maritime Museum. It’s a lively, interesting, and lovely walk, and very stroller-friendly if you have babies. Depending on the time of day and the weather, you’ll see different performers, buskers, street food vendors, and trinkets and other tourist items from tables or blankets on the grass.
- Gaslamp Quarter is also an easy walking distance from the hotel. You’ll find many square blocks of as many kinds of food you can imagine, from high-end Italian to gastropubs to sushi to fondue to chocolate.
- The Westfield Horton Plaza shopping center is here. My San Diego friends love it because of its very cool retro layout and has a Nordstrom’s. There’s also a movie theater there for some evening family entertainment.
- Gaslamp Quarter has many old Victorian and a rich history; you may want to join a walking tour to learn more. My favorite is the the Friday night Ghosts of the Gaslamp tour.