Q: Hey Cookie, I’ll be visiting San Diego with my teenager. Do you have any suggestions for things to do?
A: There are so many things for teenagers to do in San Diego, this list is just a starter, but I know there will be some things on here to make even the moodiest teen happy. Have fun and let me know what your teens enjoy most on their San Diego vacation.
Things to do in San Diego with a Teenager
- Learn to surf or boogie board
Of course there are lots of fantastic places to surf in San Diego, but La Jolla Shores, with its easy waves and shallow waters, is my favorite surfing beach for beginners. We’ve taken lessons from Surf Diva – they were highly recommended by friends for good reason. They were patient and professional, providing a memorable experience for my teens and our whole family.
- Enjoy the beach scene
Pacific Beach and Mission Beach are connected by a three-mile boardwalk and is saturated with the beach scene straight out of the movies. From sun worshippers and surfers, to volleyball players and skateboarders – it’s the beach vibe your teen will love. The beach area is lined by beach shops and restaurants, parking can be a challenge, so be prepared to take what you can find.
- Hit Belmont Park beachfront amusement park
With a wide variety of activities, your teen can spend the day or evening thoroughly entertained. When was the last time you said that? Belmont Park is a historic oceanfront amusement park at Mission Beach featuring amusement park rides, game arcade, lazer tag park, rock climbing walls, zip lines, FlowRide simulated surfing wave and mini-golf.
- Fill their need for speed with Go-Carts
K1 Speed San Diego go-cart center has awesome indoor go-kart racing that you and your teen will enjoy.
- Explore Coronado by bike
Bike rentals are available at the Coronado Ferry Landing and are the perfect way for teenagers to explore the island, with or without their parents.
- Kyak into the La Jolla Sea Caves
Connect with a guided tour by kyak of the incredible La Jolla Sea Caves.
- Do the zoo
The San Diego Zoo is a lot of fun. With world-class exhibits, take the tram for an aerial view of the zoo, grab the hop on hop off bus to get around quickly, or explore by foot. It’s one of my teen’s favorite places to explore. Be sure to check out their summer camps!
- Do the zoo safari park
Located near Escondido, the San Diego Zoo Safari Park is an experience like none other. Open-air tram rides around the park provide an expansive view of animals in habitats like you’d find in the wild. Rhinos, zebras, giraffes, and more interact at watering holes and wide open fields. Be sure to book an up close and personal experience, like feeding the giraffes! They have great summer camps – my daughter enjoyed the Zookeeper camp.
- Hit a skate or BMX park
- The Ocean Beach Skate Park has two areas – a free, unsupervised entry-level course, and a supervised area with advanced elements for the experienced skate boarder.
- Coronado Skate Park Skaters of all levels enjoy an ocean view from this park of bowls, ramps & jumps.
- The Magdelena Ecke Family YMCA in Encinitas has a beginner’s area, huge street course, backyard-style kidney pool, and the actual 120 ft. vertical ramp used in the 2003 X Games.
- The YMCA Krause Family Skate/Bike Park in Clairemont is the place for skateboards, BMX, rollerblades and scooters. This park is open and available for people of all ages and skills to enjoy.
- Kearny Moto Park in Clairemont, a family-friendly BMX track with super-size tabletops and gap jumps. They rent bikes and helmets and spectators can watch at no charge.
- Soak up the music scene
- Epicentre, located in Mira Mesa is an all-ages, alcohol-free club that attracts top-name rock, ska and punk bands.
- Lou’s Records in Encinitas is home to an incredible selection of vinyl, CDs and cassettes. They regularly hosts free in-store concerts.
- M Theory in Mission Hills is a music store featuring a huge selection of new and used CDs and record from all genres. They also host in-store concerts by local and national bands.
- Taylor Guitars make legendary acoustic and electric guitars, visit their company headquarters in El Cajon for a free factory tour.
There are shops to explore at the beaches – Coronado, Mission Beach, La Jolla just to get you started. Malls to explore like Horton Plaza downtown and Fashion Valley, and fun shopping in the historic Gas Lamp Quarter, Sea Port Village and Old Town San Diego. For something outside of the ordinary, try downtown’s East Village or neighboring Hillcrest for vintage and cool.
- Power up on the water
Mission Bay has motor boat and jet ski rentals that are sure fun for the dare devil teen. Or take water ski and wake board lessons on Mission Bay – this is something that my husband enjoys as much as the teens do!
- Go sailing
Take a San Diego sailing tour, or sailing lessons.
- Get a piercing
Think I’m kidding? Ask Fernando, belly-button piercing extraordinaire at Church of Steel. It’s better than letting them get a tattoo, or that’s the logic I was given anyway…
- Go to a waterpark
Aquatica at Sea World is always fun, as is the new LEGO CHIMA Water Park at Legoland in North County.