Editor’s note: At the time of this writing, all of the following places are open to the public. Check directly with each locale (when relevant) before you go because things are always changing. Know that face masks and social distancing are required in public and places of businesses at this time. Be sure to ask ahead of time what the policies are.

Are you the new PE teacher this school year? Here’s where to step away from the distance learning screens and into the great outdoors for some fresh air and exercise for kids. We’ve got quick and easy ways to get the kids’ wiggles out with these activities for every age and stage. If the locations we mention aren’t close enough to your house, most of these excursions can be done around your own neighborhood. Read on for 7 fun ways to run the kids around town.

Kite Flying at Seaport Village

Bonnie Taylor

Go fly a kite! Yes, literally. It’ll get the kids running around to get their kites up in the air and they’ll have so much fun doing it they won’t even know they’re getting exercise. If you don’t have a kite, pick up a beginner Easy Flyer kite for $35 from Kite Flite at Seaport Village. There are almost 20 cute designs to choose from and the owner will even set it up and teach your kids how to fly it. Walk out to the very end of the Embarcadero Marina Park North for the most iconic San Diego skyline views of the Coronado Bridge. There’s plenty of grassy area to spread out, run around and fly your kite.

Parking: $5 with validation for the first 3 hours Mon.-Thurs. (the first 2 hours Fri.-Sun.). Ask any shop to validate it for you with a $10 purchase.

Tip: Spill the Beans Coffee stand will open up any day right next to the kite shop.

849 W. Harbor Dr.
Seaport Village
Online: seaportvillage.com

Bike Riding Along Mission Bay

Bonnie Taylor

Take those 2 wheelers out for a spin around the bay with a view, or even just around your block. That’ll get the kids’ legs moving and get them ready for whatever the day has in store. Mission Bay has a paved pathway all around the bay and there are many easy access points to hop on the trail. The busiest stretch is along E Mission Bay Dr. (closest to the I-5 freeway), so if you’re looking for a less crowded stretch we like biking around Vacation Isle or Bonita Cove.

Parking: free and plenty all around the bay. There are several parking lots and street parking.

1100 W Mission Bay Dr.
Mission Beach
Online: sandiego.gov/park-and-recreation

Hiking at San Dieguito County Park

Bonnie Taylor

Ask your kids if swinging bridges, climbing walls and staircase lookouts sounds like a fun outing? Chances are they’ll say YES and you don’t even have to call it hiking. Look on the park ranger map for Activity Hill and that’s where you’ll find all the action. There are many trails to take and plenty of room to either spread out or pull over to wait for others to pass by. When you pay at the ranger station, look just beyond the booth and you’ll find a little information stand. It’s filled with pamphlets to grab for Scavenger Hunts, Nature Hide & Seek and a Sensory Challenge if you need anything more to do during your hike.

Parking: $3/car in the lower parking lot off of El Camino Real near Highland Dr. There’s an upper parking lot, but it’s a little further away from Activity Hill and your kids will have to walk by the playgrounds; which are currently closed.

1628 Lomas Santa Fe Dr.
Del Mar
Online: sdparks.org

Beach Running at Coronado

Bonnie Taylor

Get some fresh air while the kids run around on the beach chasing the waves. This always tires my kids out and they don’t even have to get wet to get tired. Although their feet and legs will get a little wet so take off their shoes and let them run wild. If you can’t make it to the beach, take them to a local lake or park to let them explore and their natural instincts will kick in to run around wherever they are. We love coming to Coronado beach because it has miles and miles of wide soft sandy beaches and you won’t ever come in close contact with anyone else while you’re there.

COVID Rules: at the time of this writing, Coronado Beach is open for limited active and passive use with members of your household unit. Group activities at the beach are not allowed. Social distancing and face masks are required when you’re within 6’ of others not from your household.

Parking: free street parking

100 Ocean Blvd.
Online: coronado.ca.us

Walking at Walker Preserve Trail

Bonnie Taylor

The name says it all…”Walk”er Preserve Trail, but you can also run, bike or take the strollers there too (all terrain strollers are best). This is a very wide, flat packed dirt trail with views of the San Diego River. It actually stretches from Santee all the way to Lakeside for a total one-way distance of 2.9 miles. Be sure to turn around well before your kids will tire out so you don’t get a double workout by having to carry them all the way back. Note: there are bathrooms about halfway into the trail at the ballfields, but that’s still a good 1.5 miles without a bathroom stop so plan accordingly.

Parking: free street parking at either end in Santee and Lakeside

Tip: There’s a push-button mister station the kids will love at the Santee trailhead that will cool you all down after your walk.

9500 N Magnolia Ave.

10030 Marathon Pkwy.
Online: cityofsanteeca.gov

Soccer at Alga Norte Park

Little Rascalz Soccer

Kick the ball around at your local park, or even in your backyard. You can grab any ball to kick it, throw it or even roll it. Grab a frisbee or anything else you can find that’s safe and easy to toss around at the park. This will get everyone’s entire body moving by running, jumping and stretching in all directions. If you live in Carlsbad you probably already know about Alga Norte Park, but if you don’t then it’s worth a drive to explore. It’s a huge park with so much room to run around. It even has a skatepark, an aquatic center and a dog park.

6565 Alicante Rd.
Online: carlsbadca.gov

Stair Climbing at the La Mesa Secret Stairs

Bonnie Taylor

Anything painted in rainbows is always more fun, even a stair climbing workout. There’s not much else to do nearby besides walk 3 blocks over to Starbucks or Subway, but just seeing these fun painted stairs will get them excited to run up and down them a few times. 

Parking: free street parking in this residential neighborhood

The corner of Yale Ave. + Stanford Ave., La Mesa


––Bonnie Taylor


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