Built on a sandbar just a few minutes north of San Diego, Mission Beach offers a family vacation where you and your family can relax and skip some of the crowds that flock to the big city. Select a Mission Beach vacation rental along the shore and wake each morning to enjoy your cup of coffee with amazing views of the Pacific Ocean. Of course, you’ll spend a lot of time on the beach and play in the water but when you travel with kids, they want a little more entertainment. With its proximity to San Diego, Mission Beach provides plenty of fun. Here’s a quick list of the top 9 things to do with kids in Mission Beach.

1. Belmont Park

In Mission Beach, the hot spot is Belmont Park with its amusement park rides and the chance for some excellent people watching. Your kids will love the chance to ride the second-oldest coaster in the United States, the Giant Dipper, built in 1925. Younger kids enjoy riding on the park’s Merry-Go-Round and other low-key rides. Teens and tweens easily disappear into the extensive arcade with its extensive collection of video games. Grab a snack at one of the carnival style concession stands or choose a family meal at one of the vibrant restaurants.

2. Bahia Belle Sternwheeler Paddleboat

Pretend like you’re making your way down the Mighty Mississippi with an evening out on the Bahia Belle Sternwheeler Paddleboat. This sternwheeler paddleboat offers three stories for your family to explore and get a better look at Mission Bay as you cruise along. Tour the bay to take in great views and get the chance to listen to live music on the boat. The half-hour trip takes visitors from the Bahia hotel to the Catamaran Hotel and back again, starting at seven each evening.

3. The WaveHouse

Ever wanted to try your hand at surfing without all the danger of the ocean? If so, then take the family over to the WaveHouse in Belmont Park and grab a surfboard to try your hands at hanging ten. This controlled environment simulates waves and lets you get your balance on the board. Your kids can marvel as they stand on the board as a wave rises above and encases them. There are two simulation areas designed to cater to your skill level.

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4. Sky Climb

As a parent, you might not want your kids to try rock climbing out in a park; however, in Belmont Park, your kids can try climbing the rock wall at Sky Climb. After settling into a safety harness, your child pulls up this vertical wall with strategically placed handholds. The wall extends 30 feet and offers varying routes to the top, so your kids can climb multiple times and have more fun each time.

5. Tiki Town Adventure Golf

If the weather turns a little cooler or wetter, then take the family to Tiki Town Adventure Golf for an afternoon of friendly competition. This mini golf course winds its way through a building that protects you from the elements. With 18 holes, this mini golf course gives your little ones the chance to master their putts. As you move from hole to hole, discover new details and scenery, including a volcano. After playing through, you can have dinner at one of the local restaurants.

6. Mission Bay Jetty

Pack up your fishing gear and lunch before taking the family to the Mission Bay jetty. From here, enjoy amazing views of the water, and you can stretch out and soak up the sunshine while the kids learn how to fish. Later, enjoy a picnic lunch as a family. This is a popular place for bird watching, offering the opportunity to glimpse fascinating pelicans and seagulls. Fill up the cooler with the catch of the day and take it back to your vacation rental for a fresh fish dinner.

7. San Diego Zoo

Hop in the car and leave your sandbar behind for the short trip to the San Diego Zoo. This renowned zoo houses more than 3,000 animals, representing more than 600 species. Watch your children laugh as they delight in the antics of the panda bears and point into the sky as the monkeys climb around overhead on a network of ropes they navigate throughout the park. This zoo offers many programs designed especially for children, including an overnight sleepover for the youngest members of your family.

8. SeaWorld San Diego

At SeaWorld in San Diego, there is an assortment of amusement park rides, zoological exhibits, aquariums, and aquatic shows for your family to enjoy. Take a behind-the-scenes tour to learn more about the animals and what it takes to care for them. Enjoy a live show, where dolphins or orca explode out of the water and perform a variety of tricks, or watch sea lions interact with the trainers for an up-close and personal experience.

9. Birch Aquarium

Head up the shoreline, north to the town of La Jolla for a visit to the Birch Aquarium. In addition to wandering through the exhibits you can check the schedule and watch as they feed the sea creatures. At the Think Tank, your kids can stimulate their creativity and imagination to accomplish small engineering projects.

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