Read next

Springtime is well on its way in San Diego and it’s time to celebrate! Add color, flavor and new life to the season and let your little ‘buds’ discover their inner green thumb by planting organic veggies, watching flowers blossom and butterflies take flight, frolicking with chickens and climbing through an amazing treehouse at the best San Diego nurseries and gardens. Read on for where to take your sprouts to inspire a love of gardening!

photo: City Farmers Nursery

Nurseries for New Gardeners

City Farmers Nursery
This family-owned garden supply nursery located in the heart of San Diego is a hidden gem. Kids will love visiting the chickens, ducks, goats, bunnies, miniature horse and other farm animals. There is even a fun playground area for them to relax and unwind in. Don’t forget to visit the gift shop for kid-sized tools, hats and gloves for harvesting their own garden at home. Be sure to check out the organic produce stand and get some free advice on how to grow your own while you’re at it. City Farmers Nursery also specializes in unique items such as organic seeds, animal feeds and beekeeping items. And don’t miss the free gardening and cooking classes every month!

Don’t miss: City Farmers hosts an annual Fall Harvest Festival! Grab your pumpkin seeds now and enter the pumpkin growing contest in October. It’s a great tradition for young farmers.

3110 Euclid Ave.
San Diego, CA 92105
619-284-6358
Online: cityfarmersnursery.com

photo: Neen E. via Yelp

Walter Anderson Nursery
Entertain the kiddies with a super fun miniature railroad that runs through the outdoor garden at this inviting nursery in Poway. Chickens and a quaint rock garden will also delight and occupy them as you peruse the large selection of plants and gain valuable advice from the helpful staff. The staff at the nursery know their stuff and they offer Saturday classes for adults on topics such as soil amendment, bulbs, vegetable growing and orchids.

12755 Danielson Ct.
Poway, CA 92064
858-513-4900
Online: walterandersen.com

photo: Water Conservation Garden via Yelp

Learn to be Water Wise

Water Conservation Garden
Little ones can engage in interactive water activities and learn about water conservation at this gorgeous East County treasure. Educational exhibits like the Native Habitat Garden, the Sensory Garden and the Succulent Garden will help teach kids how to make their own gardens beautiful and drought tolerant. And with six acres of land to explore, they won’t get bored anytime soon. Relax, eat a picnic lunch in the scenic gazebo and enjoy the huge variety of landscapes. Just don’t forget the sunscreen!

12122 Cuyamaca College Dr. West
El Cajon, CA 92019
619-660-0614
Online: thegarden.org

photo: Wendy H. via Yelp

Gardening Classes for Kids

Olivewood Gardens & Learning Center
This gorgeous, historic property in National City offers hands-on experience through science, ecology and nutrition, including cooking classes. Much of the garden’s education is taught through field trips offered to South Bay students, but the center also offers public tours of its organic garden Tuesday mornings as well as during a monthly open house.

Don’t miss: Their Talls & Smalls in the garden program which is perfect for kids ages 2-5!

2525 N. Ave.
National City, CA 91950
619-434-4281
Online: olivewoodgardens.org

Alta Vista Botanical Gardens
This unique garden in Vista seeks to provide a fun learning experience for people to connect with nature, art and each other. Kids can release their inner musician at the cute little music garden and admire the inspirational artwork and metal sculptures throughout the whole garden. Set on a hillside, it’s a great place to reflect on nature’s beauty and play together as a family.

Don’t miss: The Kids in the Garden Classes the second Saturday of each month. Upcoming topics include composting and spring planting. Pre-registration is requested. Cost for classes: $5

1270 Vale Terrace Dr.
Vista, CA 92084
760-945-3954
Online: altavistabotanicalgardens.org

photo: Rachel Cobb

Whimsical Enchantments

San Diego Botanic Garden
You’ll want to take your time exploring this 37 acre botanic wonderland in Encinitas. This garden is surrounded by lush greenery, spectacular waterfalls and multiple kids areas for perusal and play. The miniature garden railroad train at the Seeds of Wonder Garden is a must see. Kids can also plant a succulent to take home. The larger Hamilton Children’s garden features an amazing treehouse kids can climb in, an herb garden and outdoor homemade instruments. And if your kiddos want to kick off their shoes and get some active water play in, there’s also a fun little stream that they can splash through.

Don’t miss: The Fairy Festival on Jun. 20th! Kids can wear their favorite fairy costume and participate in crafts and entertainment for a small extra fee.

230 Quail Gardens Dr.
Encinitas, CA 92024
760-436-3036
Online: sdbgarden.org

photo: Rose H. via Yelp

Summers Past Farms
If a quiet day in the country is what you’re after, pay a visit to Summers Past Farms. Enjoy the scenic view of the East County mountains and step back into simpler times. Sipping a cup of tea from the outdoor cafe is the perfect way to spend the day, while kiddos can frolic with local chickens, relax by the pond or dig in the pint-sized sand box. They might even make friends with one of the local kitties that call the garden home. This is a great place to be at peace and get inspired by the enchanting landscape. Don’t forget to visit their popular gift shop – they’ve got myriad tiny whimsical items and ideas to build your very own fairy garden at home. Free admission.

Don’t miss: Sweet Pea Day on April 11th.  Kids can walk through the sweet pea maze, cut their own sweet pea bouquets and enjoy a perfect spring day.

15602 Olde Hwy 80
El Cajon, CA 92021
619-390-1523
Online: summerspastfarms.com

photo: Robyn H. via Yelp

Learn From Neighborhood Experts
Got a passion for planting but don’t have the space at home? Join a community garden! Surround the kids with great neighbors and come together to create something precious and beautiful. Community gardeners share tools, soil and advice on everything from pest control to composting. For a fee of about $100 per year, families can lease a garden plot that includes the water. This is a great way for kids to take an active role in the community and learn about health and nutrition. In various community gardens across the county, you’ll find Eagle Scouts completing projects, Girl Scouts planting their first seedlings and even school kids painting signs to put up in their garden. Check out this website to find a community garden near you.

Online: sdcgn.org

––Cherie Gough, Marissa Mullen & Beth Shea

featured image: Maggie Zhao via Pexels

RELATED STORIES:

10 Things Every Budding Botanist Must Do in San Diego

30 Super Fun Spring Activities for Kids

20 Free (or Super Cheap) Things to Do with Kids Under 5

To the Pointe: The Best Ballet Classes for Kids

Read next

Ballet classes offer a wonderful way to inspire your kids to express their emotions through music, storytelling and creativity. Ballet also has other benefits, such as learning to appreciate the art form and keeping your kid active in a fun, graceful and disciplined environment. And, can we talk about how cute they look in those tutus? Several local dance studios in San Diego offer ballet classes for all levels and ages. Read on for nine of our favorites and get your tiny dancers ready to leap into the wonderful world of dance.

850A9CA1-012F-4472-B0BD-9D55AAFC615Fphoto: City Ballet of San Diego

City Ballet of San Diego
Located in Pacific Beach, City Ballet offers a strong dance curriculum consisting of several classical styles. All the instructors have professional ballet backgrounds and bring their own individual qualities to the school. Classes are offered for kids ages 3 and up and each child is carefully evaluated to ensure that they are physically ready for the level in which they are placed. There are opportunities to perform throughout the year and students can audition for The Nutcracker – voted by The Tommy Awards to be San Diego’s best!

What’s Unique: The school is affiliated with the professional City Ballet of San Diego company. Students may be hand selected for the two year Trainee program, which serves as a stepping stone from advanced student to professional dancer. This could lead to an apprenticeship with the main company. Each year, the school also hosts a summer intensive program, where they invite world renowned guest artists to work with the students.

941 Garnet Ave.
San Diego, Ca 92109
858-274-6058
Online: cityballet.org/school

3264BB91-63C5-44C0-A49C-429C6647C536photo: Marissa Mullen

Bunny’s School of Dance
Dancers ages 3 and up will love learning at this longtime dance studio in La Mesa. A combo class of ballet, tap and tumbling is offered at various levels in a relaxed, informal environment. The small, intimate studio features a bright, cheerful atmosphere, with a strong emphasis placed on fun. At the end of the year, students get to show off their skills in an annual dance performance at the San Diego County Fair.

What’s Unique: This studio is especially great for young, beginning dancers. Because the classes are a mix of tumbling, ballet and tap, toddlers and preschool aged kids are never bored. A variety of fun age appropriate games and activities really get the kiddos involved, while learning basic steps and discipline. A free trial class is offered before signing up. And unlike most studios, Mom and Dad are also allowed to stay and watch their little dancer, which helps keep tears to a minimum!

8062 La Mesa Blvd.
La Mesa, Ca 91942
619-466-5890

7047CF2F-A3DF-45AB-9F23-B6F0B9D7C49Ephoto: Proud M. via Yelp

Neisha’s Dance & Music Academy
This state-of-the-art facility has two locations – one in Point Loma, and one in the heart of Eastlake. They accept kids as young as 18 months to their creative dance program. If your kiddo wants to do more than just ballet, they have many other options such as tap, jazz, hip hop, contemporary, acro, creative dance and musical theater. The clean, family environment complements the positive attitude of the staff, which encourages teamwork, discipline and respect for one another.

What’s Unique: Proud parents can view their dancers at class through the one-way observation windows. Live feed flat screen monitors are also located in the lobby. Neisha’s also hosts a monthly Kids Night Out, a fun party at the studio. In addition, they offer music and preschool classes, all at the Eastlake location. And don’t forget about the guys!  Boys only classes are offered for boys ages 8 and up.

870 Jetty Lane
Chula Vista, Ca 91914
619-585-1133
Online: neishas.com

2650 Truxton Rd
Dance Place at Liberty Station, Ste. 107
San Diego, Ca 92106
619-732-6238
Online: neishas.com

39B4CB9C-71A3-456B-81E3-C2B9263E5D83photo: May C. via Yelp

Balletcenter Studios
Balletcenter Studios is made of up two studios – Balletcenter West in Mission Hills and Balletcenter East in El Cajon.  The warm and inviting environment provides a high standard of achievement, while working to increase technical skills, stamina, placement, line and style. This dance program specializes in ballet and guides students through a full course of study, starting from age three, all the way up to the pre-professional level. There are two annual performances, including The Nutcracker in the winter and all of the students, (including the adults!) are given the chance to perform.

What’s Unique: This is the only studio to offer Dance On The Spectrum, a special program for autistic students. Designed for ages 3-10, the program utilizes special education teaching techniques and engages children by encouraging them to express themselves through the joy of dance.

Balletcenter West
1111 Fort Stockton, Ste. F
San Diego, Ca 92103
619-322-7328
Online: balletcenterstudios.com

Balletcenter East
Blossom Flinn Station
14860 Olde Highway 80
El Cajon, Ca 92021
619-322-7328
Online: balletcenterstudios.com

2B421CFA-7035-4BC3-96F7-A12A1CDABF32photo: Ballet Institute of San Diego via Flickr

Ballet Institute of San Diego
If your little ballerina is a serious dancer, check out Ballet Institute of San Diego. This Studio, located in Kearny Mesa, offers a comprehensive ballet curriculum that ensures each student will receive the training they need if they aspire to be professional dancers. This includes an internationally renowned faculty with a personal, inspired approach to every student. They also provide quality performing opportunities as well as classes in contemporary, repertoire pointe technique, improvisation and character dance. In addition, there is a body conditioning program to help prepare the youngest students for ballet training and increase their physical abilities.

What’s Unique: The studio space is huge, the largest one being almost 4000 square feet. All three studios feature specially designed wood sprung floors and are covered with studio flooring. Ballet Institute of San Diego recently merged with San Diego Academy of Ballet – a move which serves to constantly bring new and exciting opportunities to its students.

7868 Raytheon Rd.
San Diego, CA 92111
858-284-0561
Online: balletinstitutesd.com

D7F3AEA3-8579-42E2-B230-5E114E93403Dphoto: San Diego Civic Youth Ballet via Yelp

San Diego Civic Youth Ballet
San Diego Civic Youth Ballet, a longtime dance studio in Balboa Park, holds more than 50 classes weekly in the famous Casa del Prado studio. Young ballerinas can start taking lessons as early as 4 years-old. Tiny dancers will love participating in four major yearly performances, including The Nutcracker and Fairy Tales in the Park.

What’s Unique: San Diego Civic Youth Ballet hosts a homeschool program that serves students and families. The classes provide educational enrichment and are an affordable option for families searching for outside arts and culture curriculum in their homeschool lesson plans.

1650 El Prado
Casa del Prado Building
San Diego, Ca 92101
619-233-3060
Online: sdcyb.org

photo: Marie A. via Yelp

Pacific Arts Dance Center
Pacific Arts Dance Center is the result of Del Mar Ballet and Royal Academy of Ballet Arts joining forces to create a dance enterprise in the heart of Carmel Valley. The gorgeous new facility features floor to ceiling windows in the studios, with spectacular views. Your kids will want to dance all day long! And with multiple classes in ballet, jazz, hip hop and tap, they can do just that.

What’s Unique: This studio offers the RAD (Royal Academy of Dance) program to its students.  If you’re looking for a structured, grade level program with exams once a year, you’ll find it here.

5550 Carmel Mountain Rd. Ste. 210
San Diego, Ca 92130
858-264-2787
Online: pacificartsdance.com

46433027-7402-412A-9461-230BA3FEE298photo: Lynch Dance Institute

Lynch Dance Institute
This is a new studio in Poway that fosters the love of arts through quality dance instruction. They focus on building a strong classical foundation through technical proficiency. Lynch Dance Institute recognizes that each student is different. The school celebrates that by taking individual needs into consideration when planning their programming and performing opportunities. They also offer a variety of super fun summer camps like choreography workshops, fashion design, musical theater and cross training.

What’s Unique: If you want to get in on the action with your tot, they have parent-toddler classes. There is also a Dancing Tales class for 3 and 4 year-olds wherein they can learn different dance concepts through storytelling and two all boys classes (ballet and creative movement) taught by Mr. Lynch.

12227 Poway Rd.
Poway, Ca 92064
858-282-9911
Online: lynchdance.com

75A32F46-54C2-44E1-8AA4-E5AA6639F023photo: SD Dance With Me

SD Dance With Me
These classes are perfect for beginning ballerinas. Little ones can start as early as 20 months and participate in the Dance & Music Discovery class where rhythms, sounds and music are all explored. Creative movement classes are designed for toddlers to learn some basic ballet, jazz and hip hop with the aid of fun props like hula hoops, ribbons and parents (if needed!)

What’s Unique: This is a great studio to start very young dancers off with discovering the joy of dance. Keep in mind that they are only open Mon.-Weds.

2650 Truxtun Rd., Studio #109
Dance Place, Liberty Station
San Diego, Ca 92106
619-961-3066
123sddancewithme.com

Do you know of a great kids’ ballet studio that didn’t make our list? Let us know in the comments!

––Marissa Mullen

RELATED STORIES:

7 Offbeat Classes for Adventurous Kids

After-School Arts Classes That Feed the Soul

5 Urban Playdates & Lunch Dates With Your Preschooler

Rah, Rah, Ramen! 5 Amazing San Diego Ramen Joints

Read next

Your kids love spaghetti and mac and cheese––so use your noodle to build on their love of these dishes by taking them out for a bowl of Japanese ramen. Despite what you may think, there’s a lot more to ramen than just a dry noodle brick with extra salty seasoning. Considered to be a staple in Japan, ramen comes in a variety of delicious flavors. And unlike the instant stuff, restaurant served ramen is an entirely different soup game. Plus, it just so happens that Chef Andrew Zimmern said one of our top picks has the best ramen in America ––yep, right here in San Diego! Read on to be bowled over.

Nishiki

Fresh noodles make all the difference at Nishiki. Kids can even watch the chefs cook them through the large viewing window at the back of the restaurant. Go for the Smoke Bomb Black Ramen here. This one’s got smoky roasted black garlic sauce, tender pork belly and a slow cooked egg to top it off. And if you or your kiddos are vegetarian, they’ve got you covered with a mushroom broth option. Vegan noodles are also available for a slight upcharge. Don’t miss out on the adorable kid’s meal! It’s a great deal with tricolor ramen (regular noodles are available), chicken tenders, fries and a yogurt drink. And don’t forget to join the text rewards program for discounts off your next order.

Nishiki
8055 Armour St., Ste 201A
San Diego, Ca
Online: www.nishikiramen.com

Photo: Nishiki Ramen

What is your favorite go-to ramen restaurant? Let us know in the comments!

–-Marissa Mullen

Read next

Wishing you could attend Comic-Con International this year, but you weren’t able to score a coveted badge? Zoiks! We hear you––Comic-Con badges are nearly impossible to snag these days, selling out long before the big event. But that doesn’t mean you need to miss out on the entire experience! Head on downtown anyway for fab photo opportunities and tons of fun happening right outside the convention center. Don your superhero costumes alongside your little sidekicks and click through our slideshow of events for the ultimate in Comic-Con festivities. No badges required!

Nintendo Gaming Lounge

Gaming giant Nintendo is back again this year, with one of the most popular offsite events at Comic- Con. Allow plenty of play time here, as this event gets busy. The Nintendo Gaming Lounge is located at the Marriott Marquis & Marina and will feature several popular games and titles, including The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Splatoon 2, Pokémon Sun, Pokémon Moon, Super Mario Maker and more. If your kiddos are dying to get their hands on the new Nintendo Switch console, this is the perfect time to check it out! There are also opportunities to earn cool prizes and to have awesome photo ops with your favorite Nintendo characters.

Fans can stop by the Nintendo Gaming Lounge on Thurs., July 20 – Sun., July 23 (exact hours haven’t yet been revealed, but in the past, the schedule has been 10 a.m.-7 p.m. on Thurs.-Sat., and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. on Sun.).

Photo: Marissa Mullen

Comic-Con Insider Tips

  • Be prepared for large crowds!
  • Be sure to check out the area around PETCO Park for kid-friendly activities.
  • There are always fun attractions on the front lawn of the Hilton Bayfront Hotel. This is also a good place to let the kiddos run around. And remember the sunscreen!
  • Don’t forget your camera! Right outside the convention center itself, you’ll see throngs of people in elaborate costumes and fun displays.

Which offsite Comic-Con events are you planning on going to? Let us know in the comments!

— Marissa Mullen

Bach Out at These Symphonies Suited for Littles

Read next

When was the last time you took your kids to watch a live performance filled with orchestral music? We’ve rounded up some family-friendly shows that are much more than the average sing-along story time or listening to your kiddo’s favorite soundtrack on repeat. These local performances will introduce your kiddos to the symphony experience at a young age, which is a great gift that will last a lifetime.

SD symphony

photo: San Diego Symphony Facebook Page

San Diego Symphony Family Festival Series
The Family Festival Series is a wonderful way for kids to discover the amazing sounds of live musical performance. Designed for kiddos ages 4-12, these fun and interactive Sunday concerts are about 50 minutes long (great for short attention spans), and are performed at the beautiful Jacobs Center. If you want to take kiddos under two, they are welcome to attend and can sit on a parent’s lap for free. Be sure to take part in the pre-concert activities, such as a musical petting zoo. Here are a few upcoming concert you’ll want to put on your calendar.

A Walk Through Balboa Park: Celebrating San Diego’s Landmark
Taking inspiration from Balboa Park during its centennial year, this concert offers music that represents the most iconic elements of the “Jewel of San Diego” from fountains to gardens, from the International Cottages to art museums.

Date: Nov. 1, 2 p.m. (pre-concert activities start at 1 p.m.)

If you want to enhance your symphony experience, plan a family field trip to Balboa Park. Use this fun Activity Guide as a jumping off point for further adventures, and visit these Balboa Park sites and spots that will be featured musically in the concert:

  • The Botanical Gardens
  • The Veterans Museum and Memorial
  • The International Cottages
  • The Spreckels Organ Pavilion (free concerts every Sunday at 2 p.m.)
  • The Natural History Museum

Holiday Pops – Holiday Cheer to Last All Year!
San Diego’s favorite holiday music tradition returns! Sing along to popular holiday carols and hits including “Jingle Bells,” “Sleigh Ride” and many, many more in this one-hour afternoon version especially for families with young kids. Have your family photo taken with Mr. and Mrs. Clause after the concert.

Date: Dec. 20, 2 p.m. (pre-concert activities take place 1 p.m.)

Sounds Like Science Day — SYMPHOLOGY: The Science of Sound
From drawing a bow across a string to striking a drum with a stick, there are countless ways our musicians make the sounds of the orchestra that come together to form beautiful music. But how does it actually happen? Find out on this fascinating program that entertainingly combines science and the symphony.

Date: Feb. 20, 2 p.m. (pre-concert activities start at 1 p.m.)

750 B St.
San Diego, Ca 92101
619-235-0804
Online: sandiegosymphony.org

Kinder Koncerts

photo: San Diego Symphony Facebook Page

Kinder Koncerts
If you don’t feel like trekking downtown with a little one in tow, check out Kinder Koncerts! These are neighborhood concerts especially for small kids, from preschool through 2nd grade. The San Diego Symphony performs at churches, libraries and schools in all different areas of the county. Best of all, these shows are free!

Online: sandiegosymphony.org

summer pops

photo: San Diego Symphony Facebook Page

Symphony Summer Pops
Got squirming kids who just won’t sit still? Perhaps an outdoor concert would be ideal. Summertime concerts are performed outside at Embarcadero Marina South. You can opt to sit at cabaret tables, on fold-down chairs or sprawled out on the lawn. Kids will love the fireworks at the 4th of July show, and Comic-Con weekend concerts typically feature favorites from popular video game franchises, movies, paired with an exciting multi-media show. Don’t forget to bring a sweater for your kiddos in case they get chilly.

1245 7th Ave.
San Diego, Ca
Online: sandiegosymphony.org

Classics4Kids

photo: Classics 4 Kids Facebook Page

Classics 4 Kids

Classic 4 Kids highly entertaining concerts feature the high-caliber Classics Philharmonic orchestra, and are geared towards young audiences. Bringing the classics alive, these shows are interactive and include plenty of fun, educational activities. Past performances at Balboa Theatre have included local dance troupes, singers and martial arts to provide a truly immersive experience. Plus, after the show kids get to see and feel the instruments for themselves.

You’ll want to save the date for the November show, “Back to the Future: Orchestra Blast-Off.” Little concert-goers will rocket into outer space with music inspired by space exploration and astronomy, with a STEAM focus linking scientific and musical concepts for high-impact learning and fun that’s simply out of this world. Featuring a guest appearance by space expert and author, Francis French, this is in partnership with the San Diego Air & Space Museum.

Date: Nov. 19 and 20, 9:30 and 11:30 a.m.

 

Online: classics4kids.com

La Jolla Symphony

photo: La Jolla Symphony & Chorus Facebook Page

La Jolla Symphony & Chorus

This performance ensemble is made up of a diverse group of professional musicians and singers, UCSD students, as well as members of the community. They perform both traditional and contemporary repertoire, and provide plenty of opportunities for kids to come and enjoy their music. Be sure to check out Family Friendly Fridays at the Mandeville Auditorium at UCSD! These are free, open dress rehearsals the Friday before most concert weekends. The awesome thing about this is the fact that there are frequent breaks – and if your kiddo is making a fuss, you are free to come and go as you please. They also perform free Young People’s Concerts, tailored for school aged kids and their families.

Online: lajollasymphony.com

Have you ever taken your kids to the symphony? How did they like it?

— Marissa Mullen

College, Here They Come! Exploring SDSU With Kids

Read next

Now that the school year is in full swing, you may find yourself reminiscing about the good old college days. Your little Einsteins may still be in elementary or preschool, but that doesn’t mean you can’t stroll through a local college campus together. San Diego State University (SDSU) offers many family-friendly things to do outside the classroom. Keep the back-to-school celebrations going as you make new memories with your kiddos and introduce them to a whole new world.

Pond SDSU

Photo Credit: SDSU Facebook Page

Turtle and Koi Pond
For a bit of peace and tranquil scenery, visit the turtle pond near Scripps Cottage. This lush, green spot has a quaint footbridge, outdoor patio and picnic area — the perfect setting for an afternoon snack or light lunch. Of course the main attraction is the pond itself, with its many turtles and koi fish. Have some educational fun with your little ones and ask them how many fish and turtles they can count. Or point out to your older kiddos the surrounding trees, which were planted in memory of SDSU students who lost their lives in the Vietnam War.

Insider’s Tip: Across the street from Scripps Cottage is a geocache! Take the kiddos on a treasure hunt and see if you can find it.

Online: sdsu.edu/virtualtour

Aztec Bowling

Photo Credit: Marissa Mullen

Aztec Lanes
In the middle of the campus is Aztec Student Union, where you’ll find a brand new state of the art bowling alley. Parents will appreciate the fact that Aztec Lanes is a clean, non-smoking and no alcohol facility. The bowling alley features twelve lanes and big screen TVs, plus the fees are extremely reasonable. Prepare for busy weekends by booking a lane ahead of time using the handy online form. You can also book a birthday party for your kiddo here! Don’t feel like bowling? The facility also offers billiards and tennis tables for your enjoyment.

Insider’s Tip: Hungry kids? Just grab some pizza to go at Oggi’s Pizza Express directly across from the bowling alley.

Online: arc.sdsu.edu/azteclanes/

med_garden

Photo Credit: San Diego State University

Mediterranean Garden
You’ll find the Mediterranean Garden near the Life Science buildings. This is a quaint area that showcases many plants from the around the world. The plants represent the Earth’s five major Mediterranean ecosystems. Relax on the benches and see how many plants your kids can identify. And what kid can resist the soothing sounds of a water fountain? This fountain centerpiece of was donated to the university by the class of 1997. Don’t forget to make a wish!

Insider’s Tip: Check out the representation of the original Jessop sundial, which was SDSU’s oldest statue, located at the north end of the garden.

Online: sdsu.edu/virtualtour

aztec-aquaplex

Photo credit: Aztec Recreation Center on Yelp

Aztec Aquaplex
Beat the San Diego autumn heat waves with a visit to the Aztec Aquaplex! Open to everyone at an affordable price, there are two huge pools to check out, plus a jacuzzi. The recreation pool has a floating area with faux beach entry, and is perfect for kiddos of all ages. And with two spray jets, there can be plenty of splash and play time! Kickboards and pull buoys are available to borrow, and there are lounge chairs to relax in. Register your little ones for summertime swim lessons at this awesome pool, and you can spend all summer here.

Insider’s Tip: Bring your own towels!

Online: aztecaquaplex.sdsu.edu

curious george

Photo Credit: Leah Singer

KPBS
Who knew that KPBS is located right on the SDSU campus? Take a stroll over to the public broadcasting station so your kiddos can see where Curious George, Daniel Tiger and all their favorite television shows are broadcast from! For even more fun, plan on attending the free Explore SDSU Open House on March 19, 2016. KPBS will offer tours for all ages, along with PBS Kids characters appearances, photo ops and giveaways. Come enjoy dozens of other family activities, workshops, tours and open houses all over campus!

Insider’s Tip: KPBS also does tours throughout the year, but there is minimum age requirement of 13-years-old.

Online: kpbs.org/tours

Have you visited SDSU campus before? What are your favorite spots to visit with kids?

— Marissa Mullen

Read next

If you’re looking for a day of family fun that’s beyond the typical park outings and indoor play spaces, we’ve got your guide to one of the most family-friendly spots in town. Since its days as a fishing community for Italian immigrants, Little Italy has evolved into a thriving San Diego neighborhood. The rich culture and history is reflected in its old world charm, colorful cafes, and numerous diverse attractions. Today it boasts impressive public art displays, and is host to over a dozen festivals year round. Read on for why we consider Little Italy to be the perfect setting for a day of family fun!

Little Italy SignPhoto Credit: Little Italy Association

Explore Little Italy
A visit to Little Italy isn’t complete without a stroll through the Farmer’s Market, one of the best in San Diego. Every Saturday, from 8 a.m. – 2 p.m., you can browse more than 150 booths with unique products ranging from delicious fruits and vegetables, cheese, bread, flowers, artisan crafts, and much more. The farmer’s market is the perfect venue for teaching kiddos about the food that they eat, and many vendors are generous with samples. But if the samples just aren’t enough to satisfy hungry tummies, check out the hot food vendors! Kids can pick from paninis, crepes or something exotic such as Thai food. Get here early, as this market attracts a huge crowd!

Little Italy Farmers MarketPhoto Credit: Little Italy Association

If you’ve got little ones who need a break from the Farmers Market, check out Amici Park. Here you’ll find bocce ball courts (bring your own bocce balls), a small amphitheater and a large grassy area to run around in. Since the grass playing field is located next to an elementary school, the public is welcome to enjoy the space when school is not in session. Don’t miss the quaint, public art installation titled “Recipe for Friendship” complete with checkerboard tablecloths made from Italian glass mosaics.

the kebab shop 020Photo Credit: Marissa Mullen

Got a firetruck lover? Future firefighters can hop aboard a real fire engine at The Firehouse Museum. A favorite among kids, this small museum once served as the home to the fire station in Little Italy. Today, it houses relics such as a 1903 Metropolitan Steamer and other fire station nostalgia that kids are sure to love. We love that entrance is free for kids. And don’t miss the few gift items for sale.

Firehouse Museum

Photo Credit: Jack M. via Yelp

Beat the Heat
The weather is warming up, and that means splash time at the Waterfront Park. This park features two separate water areas on both sides of the County Administrative building, as well as a cool playground. Kids can test the waters and dip their toes in the giant shallow pools, then run through the fountains that spray overhead. The water feature — combined with innovative play equipment at the playground  and a lovely view of the ships — will keep kids occupied for hours. The recent addition of three playful, whimsical  sculptures from world renowned artist Niki de Saint Phalle provides yet another reason to visit and some great photo opps.

Waterfront ParkPhoto Credit: Stacy J. via Yelp

Where to Eat
If the Farmer’s Market didn’t fill you up, there’s no shortage of restaurants and great food in Little Italy. What kid doesn’t love pizza? NaPizza is a newer establishment that is quickly gaining attention for its unique concept and gourmet flair. Not only do they serve square pizza, but they also are committed to using only organic, locally sourced ingredients. Don’t forget to save room for a slice of Nutella pizza for dessert.

Nestled in the heart of Little Italy is local favorite, Landini’s Pizzeria. This nofrills neighborhood eatery specializes in New York style “pizza by the slice.” For the picky eaters, there is a variety of toppings to choose from, as well as an impressive selection of delicious pasta dishes.

NaPizzaPhoto Credit: Vicki S. via Yelp

If the kids have been extra good, take them for a treat! You can’t go wrong with refreshing gelato or a piping hot Italian chocolate at Pappalecco. And it’s hard to resist the cannolis at Caffe Italia.

PappaleccoPhoto Credit: Kevin W. via Yelp

Once you’ve got your pizza and treats in hand, head over to the Piazza Basilone to eat your goodies. This charming outdoor space was designed for The Little Italy Assciation and named for Italian American war hero, Gunnery Seargent John Basilone. This cozy spot is the ideal place for families to gather, eat and relax. Numerous celebrations throughout the year are also held at this spot. Take advantage of the café seating or the amphitheater and watch the kiddos enjoy the fountain!

piazza basilonePhoto Credit: Little Italy Facebook Page

Have you been to Little Italy? What is your favorite family activity to do there? Tell us in the comments!

— Marissa Mullen

Get Crafty at These Kid-Friendly Art Supply Stores

Read next

We all know that craft making with kids is a great way to foster creativity. But instead of going out and getting all the materials by yourself, why not include the kids in the buying process? If you’re imagining a disaster scenario involving spilled paint and marked up walls at the store, fear not! We’ve got the scoop on which art and crafts stores provide kid-friendly experiences. These San Diego stores make selecting the supplies almost as much fun as the project itself!

Paper TalesPhoto Credit: Anthony F. via Yelp

Paper Tales
This paper and craft boutique in the heart of Point Loma is packed with a huge assortment of the finest stamps, scrapbooking papers, paints, and other delightful supplies. Kids will love the shabby chic décor and sparkly trinkets sprinkled throughout the store. And the adorable play area is sure to occupy the rowdiest of toddlers. There are blocks, a play kitchen and a chalkboard table for kiddos to get creative with and gain inspiration for their next project. Keep an eye out for their fun events and classes, too!

3960 W. Point Loma Blvd.
San Diego, Ca
619-222-2610
Online: papertales.com

Artist and Craftsman supplyPhoto Credit: Carmen V. via Yelp

Artist and Craftsman Supply
The selection at this friendly, Hillcrest arts and crafts store is vast. But before you get overwhelmed, just stick to the front of the store and you’ll find everything you need to have a fabulous craft day. This section has all kinds of items for making creative projects with kids. Kiddos can have their pick of paints, glitter glue, 3D sidewalk chalk, paper mache animals, and craft boxes. You’ll have a hard time pulling them away from all the stickers, temporary tattoos, rubber animals, and even a decent variety of toys and fun socks. Little ones will love the bright and colorful floor!

3804 4th Ave.
San Diego, Ca
619-688-1911
Online: artistcraftsman.com

beads and morePhoto Credit: Beads and More Facebook Page

Beads and More
Got kids who love making jewelry? Take them to Beads and More, located half a block from the sand in Pacific Beach. If they’re beginners, the helpful staff can point them in the right direction with an impressive selection of beads, perfect for making necklaces, earrings, bracelets, and more. The relaxed atmosphere makes it a great place to come with your kids and hang out for a while. There are tables set up at the back of the store where they can make jewelry, and also toys for small children to keep them occupied. Ask about classes and birthday parties!

4150 Mission Blvd. Ste 111
San Diego, Ca
858-483-4190
Online: sandiegobeads.com

artformPhoto Credit: Art FORM website

Art FORM
Art FORM is a non- profit organization that provides arts education to schools and the community for little or no cost. By making recycled materials accessible for projects, kids can learn ingenuity and creative problem solving. The Creative Reuse Store is open every Saturday from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. This is where kids can shop for clean, reusable scrap materials. Most items can be purchased for a low cost donation of $1, $2, $5 or $10. Expect to find materials such as fabric, paper, plastic, foam sheets and more. They also accept donations, so gather up those items your kiddos are no longer using and donate them to a good cause.

3316 Adams Ave. Suite B
San Diego, Ca
619-795-0013
Online: artformsandiego.org

Where do you like to take your kids for arts and crafts supplies? Let us know in the comments!

— Marissa Mullen