The Kid-Friendliest San Diego Shopping Centers

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jungle gymThere are times when we want to take our kids to a water park, zoo or museum for a fun day out. Then there are times when we want to forgo the amusement parks and opt for the shopping malls to take care of much-needed  errands. Fortunately, so many San Diego shopping centers are kid-friendly and have lots of activities to make sure your little rugrats have fun on the shopping trip too. Here’s a look at a few San Diego spots that are both mom- and kid- approved.

Westfield UTC
This La Jolla shopping center has lots of family-friendly nooks and crannies that will make kids excited to go shopping with mom. Kids will have a great time playing on the jungle gym (located just outside Macy’s). There is climbing equipment for toddlers, as well as special equipment for those just a bit too big to mix with the babies. You can watch your kids play and check email (free Wi-Fi throughout the mall) while lounging in a comfortable cabana-style chair. Next to the jungle gym is an in door toddler play space, a nursing station, a mini kitchen, and clean bathrooms with little potties. If the jungle gym isn’t your kid’s thing, head to the choo choo train for a fun ride.

Westfield UTC
4545 La Jolla Village Dr.
San Diego, Ca
Online: westfield.com/utc

westfield utc playing

Westfield Parkway
The East County Westfield Parkway is one of the kid-friendliest places to hang out. Arriving to the mall is easy with designated up-front family parking spaces for expectant moms and families with kids. The family friendly parking is located in the parking structure between JCPenney and Macy’s, as well as in the parking structure between Walmart and the Food Court. Once you’re settled into the mall, bring the wee ones to the two-level carousel inside the mall. Kids will have fun on this magical ride (only $3 per rider). The mall also has a family lounge where parents can relax and recharge, and a play space (located next to JC Penny’s) where kids can climb and explore the bright, colorful play area with animal characters, large puzzles, and play with other children.

Westfield Parkway
415 Parkway Plaza
El Cajon, Ca
Online: westfield.com/parkway

Westfield North County
What makes this North County inland mall so fun for kids are its free special events. From Aug. 22-25, 2013 Westfield North County will feature Fashion Fun throughout the mall.  Young shoppers can get ready for school by visiting stops throughout the mall such as the Braid Bar, Nail Art, and Meet-the-Stylist. On August 30, 2013 kids can enjoy a life Octonauts performance.  The Octonauts – popularized by the Disney television show – follows an underwater exploring team of eight adventurers who live in an undersea base, the Octopod, from where they go on undersea adventures with the help of a fleet of aquatic vehicles. Of course, Westfield North County also features a family lounge with a nursing station and kitchen, as well as a place space for kids to climb and explore (located next to Sears).

Westfield North County
272 East Via Rancho Parkway
Escondido, Ca
Online: westfield.com/northcounty

Seaport Village
Nobody says shopping has to take place in a mall. Located on the San Diego bayfront, Seaport Village offers parents several different boutiques and shops to visit, while kiddos will have plenty of fun too. Kids love the historic carousel (only $2 to ride) or you can pick up a kite at the Kite Flite shop and see how far it can fly. If you’re into simple and no-cost entertainment, the young ones will keep busy spotting boats, birds and ducks. If you’re into books, be sure to stop by the Upstart Crow Coffeehouse and Bookstore. The independent bookseller offers lots of reading nooks for ground-ups and kiddos.

Seaport Village
849 West Harbor Dr.
San Diego, Ca
Online: seaportvillage.com

seaport village

What do you think are the best kid-friendly attributes of these shopping centers? Tell us below!

— Leah R. Singer

Photos by Westfield UTC, Leah R. Singer and the Seaport Village Facebook page.