Best Things to Do With Teens in San Diego: 12 Thrilling Activities for Teenagers

by Jen
Best Things to Do With Teens in San Diego
This post may have affiliate links, where I may receive a commission if you purchase through them. Here's our Disclosure and Privacy Policy for more info.

Ready to shake things up and prove that family trips can be anything but boring? In our guide, we’re about to show you the best things to do with teens in San Diego. From exhilarating outdoor activities to mind-boggling educational experiences, adventure awaits at every turn in this teen-friendly coastal paradise!

Are you and your teens ready to explore San Diego? This city is a paradise for fun and adventure. We’re not just talking beaches and sunshine here; San Diego is loaded with cool stuff that teens will love. Picture surfing in La Jolla, exploring the mysteries at Cabrillo National Monument, or getting wild at the San Diego Zoo. There’s so much to do!

Now, if your teens are thrill-seekers, they’ll love the theme parks here. Think rollercoasters, fun rides, and lots of laughs. But San Diego isn’t just about fast-paced fun. It’s got cultural gems too, like museums and art centers, where your teens can get a taste of local history and creativity.

We know teens love new experiences. That’s why we’ve handpicked 12 fantastic activities in San Diego that are perfect for them. From outdoor adventures to unique dining experiences, every item on our list promises fun, learning, and some cool stories to share. So, are you ready to dive into the best of San Diego with your teens? Let’s go!

The top places to visit with teens in San Diego right now

Best Things to Do With Teens in San Diego: 12 Fun Places to Go in SD with Teenagers

Exploring San Diego with teens? You’re in for a treat! This sunny city is a playground for families, and we’re here to guide you through the top activities, attractions, and adventures to make your visit to San Diego for teens an absolute blast.

1. Surf’s Up at La Jolla Shores

Welcome to La Jolla Shores, where the sun, sand, and sea create the perfect playground for teens. Picture your teens catching waves on a surfboard, exploring the underwater world while snorkeling, or gliding through the sea caves in a kayak. The beach’s soft sand is perfect for a game of volleyball, sunbathing, or just hanging out with friends.

Surf Diva, located right at the beach, offers lessons in surfing and stand-up paddleboarding (SUP), catering to all skill levels. It’s a fantastic opportunity for teens to learn a new sport or hone their skills, all under the guidance of expert instructors. The thrill of riding their first wave is something they’ll always remember.

The beach is also a great spot for picnics, with plenty of space to spread out a blanket and enjoy a meal with a view. As the day winds down, the beach becomes the perfect place to witness a stunning San Diego sunset. It’s a picturesque end to an action-packed day!

Strolling along La Jolla Shores is one of the best things to do with teens in San Diego.
La Jolla Shores is a paradise with surfing, snorkeling, kayaking, beach games, and chill-out spots by the sea.

2. Unleash Fun at Belmont Park with Roller Coasters and More

Belmont Park is a historic gem on the sands of Mission Bay. Teens will love the blend of classic and modern thrills here. The star attraction, the Giant Dipper Roller Coaster, offers not just a heart-pounding ride but also stunning ocean views. Built in 1925, this wooden coaster is a piece of history that still excites today.

Belmont Park is packed with some of the most fun things to do with teens in San Diego. Teens can challenge themselves on the Sky Ropes adventure course, feel the rush on the Beach Blaster, or enjoy classic carnival games along the Midway. For a unique twist, try the laser maze or mini-golf with a jungle theme.

Food options abound, from quick snacks like cotton candy to more substantial fare at local eateries. And for a bit of relaxation, the newly remodeled Plunge, a historic pool, offers a cool break.

Grab an unlimited day pass for the best value. Closed-toed shoes are a must for certain rides. And if you’re visiting on a weekend or holiday, get there early to beat the crowds and enjoy more rides!

Belmont Park is a historic thrill hub offering both history and excitement.
Belmont Park is a historic thrill hub offering both history and excitement.

3. Uncover the Secrets of USS Midway Museum

Dive into naval history at the USS Midway Museum, a top thing to do with a teenager in San Diego. This massive aircraft carrier turned museum offers an immersive experience. Teens will love exploring over 60 exhibits, including real aircraft and flight simulators. They can wander through the crew’s living quarters, engine room, and even the control tower.

The self-guided audio tour, narrated by sailors who served on the Midway, brings the ship’s stories to life. It’s a unique chance for teens to connect with history in a hands-on way. The flight deck offers stunning views of San Diego Bay, perfect for those Instagram moments.

There’s a lot of ground to cover, so wear something comfortable. Arriving early helps beat the crowds, giving you more time to delve into the exhibits. Don’t miss the chance to chat with the veteran docents for personal stories that enrich the experience!

Explore the USS Midway Museum is an immersive naval experience with over 60 exhibits, real aircraft, and interactive flight simulators.
Explore the USS Midway Museum is an immersive naval experience with over 60 exhibits, real aircraft, and interactive flight simulators.

4. Taste the Amazing Food of Little Italy

Embark on a flavorful exploration of Little Italy, a hub of fun things to do in San Diego with teens. More than just a dining destination, this neighborhood is a cultural experience. Teens will be thrilled by the variety of tastes, from authentic Italian cuisine to modern culinary creations.

Start at the Little Italy Mercato, a vibrant farmer’s market where you can sample fresh, artisanal products. It’s a great place for teens to learn about local produce and discover new flavors. Then, head to the Little Italy Food Hall, where diverse food options cater to all tastes, from lobster rolls to ramen and gelato.

Don’t miss the chance to visit Mona Lisa Little Italy, a classic deli offering delicious sandwiches and Italian market goods. For art enthusiasts, the numerous galleries in Little Italy provide a feast for the eyes, showcasing a range of artistic styles.

Don’t forget to bring reusable bags for market purchases. Exploring Little Italy is best done with an appetite, so plan your visit around meal times to make the most of the culinary offerings!

Discover Little Italy, the city's vibrant cultural and culinary hub.
Discover Little Italy, the city’s vibrant cultural and culinary hub.

5. Enjoy Teen Adventures at Balboa Park

Discover Balboa Park, a sprawling oasis that’s a goldmine of activities for teens. This iconic park is the cultural heart of San Diego, brimming with museums, gardens, and artistic venues. For teens, it’s a perfect blend of education, fun, and exploration.

Start at one of the many museums that cater to diverse interests. The San Diego Natural History Museum fascinates with its dinosaur exhibits and interactive displays. Art-loving teens can immerse themselves in the San Diego Museum of Art, showcasing collections from around the globe. For a unique experience, the Fleet Science Center offers hands-on science exhibits that are both fun and educational.

Outdoor enthusiasts will love the park’s lush gardens, like the Japanese Friendship Garden, a serene spot perfect for relaxation and reflection. The park’s trails offer a chance to enjoy nature and spot local wildlife.

Don’t miss the world-famous San Diego Zoo, home to over 3,500 animals and a must-visit for animal lovers. Balboa Park is also a hub for performing arts. Check out the Old Globe Theatre for captivating plays, or enjoy free outdoor concerts at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion.

Explore Balboa Park, a cultural hub filled with museums and gardens.
Explore Balboa Park, a cultural hub filled with museums and gardens.

6.  Enjoy the Sun, Surf, and Sand at Coronado Beach

Embrace the coastal charm of Coronado Beach, a perfect spot for teens to enjoy the quintessential San Diego beach experience. Known for its sparkling sands and picturesque views, this beach offers a day full of sun, surf, and relaxation. Teens can dive into surfing, build sandcastles, or simply chill under the California sun.

Among the best places to go in San Diego with teens, Coronado Beach stands out for its family-friendly atmosphere and stunning scenery. It’s ideal for a variety of beach activities, from volleyball to tide pooling. The gentle waves make it a great spot for beginner surfers, while the wide beach is perfect for a game of frisbee or beach soccer.

Arrive early to find the best spot, as the beach can get busy, especially on weekends. Don’t forget sunscreen and a beach umbrella for shade. For a unique experience, stay till evening to catch one of San Diego’s beautiful sunsets!

Exploring Coronado Beach is one of the best things to do with teens in San Diego.
Coronado Beach is a coastal gem to surf, sunbathe, and soak up the beach experience in picturesque settings.

7. Get Wet and Wild at SeaWorld San Diego

Plunge into the exciting world of SeaWorld San Diego, where marine life and thrilling rides await. This iconic park is a wonderland for teens, offering a mix of educational exhibits, spectacular shows, and adrenaline-pumping rides. It’s an opportunity to get up close with sea creatures and learn about ocean conservation.

From the exhilarating Electric Eel roller coaster to the splash-tastic Journey to Atlantis, there’s no shortage of excitement. Teens can marvel at the awe-inspiring Orca Encounter, get a glimpse of dolphins, or explore the world of sharks.

SeaWorld offers a unique blend of education and entertainment, making it one of the best things for young adults to do in San Diego. It’s a place where teens can gain a new appreciation for marine life while having the time of their lives on thrilling rides.

Consider purchasing a Quick Queue pass to skip the long lines. Arrive early to catch the popular shows and bring a waterproof jacket or poncho for the splash zones. Exploring the park in the late afternoon can be less crowded, offering a more relaxed experience.

Dive into SeaWorld San Diego, a thrilling blend of marine life, rides, and educational experiences .
Dive into SeaWorld San Diego, a thrilling blend of marine life, rides, and educational experiences.

8. Wander Through the Gaslamp Quarter

Step back in time in the Gaslamp Quarter, where history and modernity merge to create a vibrant scene for teens. This historic district, one of San Diego’s oldest, is a mosaic of 19th-century buildings, each with a story to tell. It offers a unique blend of architectural charm and contemporary buzz, making it among the top fun things to do in San Diego for young adults.

Strolling through the Gaslamp Quarter, teens can admire the beautifully restored buildings that once housed brothels and saloons. Now, these structures host a variety of restaurants, shops, and clubs, making it a lively destination for young adults.

In this neighborhood, history buffs can trace the steps of the legendary Wyatt Earp, who once owned gambling halls here. Guided tours, including ghost tours, offer deeper insights into the Gaslamp Quarter’s colorful past. 

To fully appreciate the area’s history, consider joining a guided walking tour. For dining, look beyond the crowded spots. Sometimes, the best eateries are the less obvious ones! Comfortable walking shoes are a must, as there’s much to explore in this compact yet richly storied area.

Explore Gaslamp Quarter, a mix of history and modern buzz.
Explore Gaslamp Quarter, a mix of history and modern buzz.

9. Conquer the Waves at Pacific Beach

Dive into the vibrant surf culture at Pacific Beach, a hotspot for teen surfers and beachgoers. This lively beach is not just a stretch of sand; it’s a lifestyle, where the waves call for adventure. Teens can hit the surf, whether they’re beginners or seasoned riders, in one of San Diego’s most popular surf spots.

The beach’s lively boardwalk is lined with shops and eateries, perfect for a post-surf snack or browsing surf gear. The energetic atmosphere of Pacific Beach makes it a favorite among local and visiting teens alike.

For those looking into San Diego activities for teenagers, Pacific Beach offers the perfect blend of sport, relaxation, and socializing. Surf schools along the beach provide lessons for all levels, making it a great place to learn or improve surfing skills. Rent a surfboard or take a group lesson for a fun day on the waves. After surfing, explore the boardwalk for a taste of the local beach culture.

Experience surf culture at Pacific Beach, a haven for surfers.
Experience surf culture at Pacific Beach, a haven for surfers.

10. Watch the Padres Score a Home Run at Petco Park

PETCO Park is where baseball and entertainment create unforgettable experiences. For teens who love sports, a Padres game is a thrilling outing. The energy of the crowd, the excitement of the game, and the iconic San Diego skyline backdrop make for a perfect day or evening.

PETCO Park is a symbol of San Diego’s vibrant spirit. With stunning views from almost any seat, teens can enjoy the game from different perspectives. The Dugout Club, Field Box, or Premier Club sections offer particularly great views, but even the upper sections provide a fantastic birds-eye view of the action.

In addition to the game, the stadium food is worth coming from, making it one of the top San Diego fun activities for families. From classic ballpark snacks to gourmet local favorites, there’s something to satisfy every appetite. Don’t miss the loaded tri-tip nachos or the delicious carnitas tots from Carnitas Snack Shack for a true taste of San Diego.

Exploring the surrounding area of the Gaslamp Quarter before or after the game adds to the experience, offering a variety of dining and entertainment options!

Petco Park is the ultimate thrill for sports fans with Padres games and the city's skyline.
Petco Park is the ultimate thrill for sports fans with Padres games and the city’s skyline.

11. Zip Across the Sky at La Jolla Zip Zoom

Experience the thrill of La Jolla Zip Zoom, where adventure takes to the skies. It’s one of the most exhilarating things to do for teens in San Diego. Teens can feel the rush of wind and adrenaline as they zip across scenic landscapes at speeds up to 55 mph. It’s an adventure that combines excitement with breathtaking views!

La Jolla Zip Zoom offers four courses, each with its unique features and levels of thrill. Teens can challenge themselves on varying lengths and speeds, making it a perfect activity for both beginners and experienced zip-liners. The side-by-side lines also mean friends or family can experience the thrill together.

Book your zip-lining adventure in advance, especially during peak seasons. Wear comfortable, closed-toe shoes and dress appropriately for the weather. Don’t forget to bring a camera or a phone for photos – the views from the top are unforgettable!

La Jolla Zip Zoom is an exhilarating ride soaring at 55 mph with scenic views for adventurous teens.
La Jolla Zip Zoom is an exhilarating ride soaring at 55 mph with scenic views for adventurous teens.

12. Have a Wild Encounter at the San Diego Zoo

Step into the world of wildlife at the San Diego Zoo, a must-visit for teens seeking adventure and learning. This renowned zoo is home to over 3,500 animals across 800 species, making it a fascinating journey through nature’s diversity. Teens can witness exotic animals up close, from majestic lions to playful pandas. They all live in habitats designed to mimic their natural environments.

As one of the top things to do in San Diego under 21, the zoo offers a unique educational experience. Teens can learn about conservation efforts, animal behavior, and the zoo’s role in protecting species.

Interactive exhibits and guided tours add depth to the visit, making it both fun and informative. Plan your visit to include animal feeding times and keeper talks for a more interactive experience. Bringing a refillable water bottle helps stay hydrated while exploring.

Exploring San Diego Zoo is one of the best things to do with teens in San Diego.
San Diego Zoo is a captivating adventure with 3,500+ animals and diverse habitats.

Frequently Asked Questions About the Best Things to Do With Teens in San Diego

Discover valuable insights about San Diego activities for teenagers in our FAQ section. Let’s ensure your trip is filled with fun and engaging experiences for your young travelers!

Is San Diego kid friendly?

Absolutely! San Diego is a fantastic destination for families with teenagers. The city offers a wide range of activities that cater to the interests and energy levels of teens. From the thrilling rides at Belmont Park to the educational exhibits at the San Diego Zoo, there’s something for every teen. Beaches like La Jolla Shores and Coronado Beach provide fun in the sun, while cultural experiences can be found in areas like the Gaslamp Quarter. San Diego balances outdoor adventures with urban attractions, making it a hit with families.

What is San Diego known for?

San Diego is famous for its stunning beaches, world-class attractions, and vibrant cultural scene. It’s home to renowned spots like the San Diego Zoo, known for its extensive variety of animals and conservation efforts. The city’s beaches, like Pacific Beach and Coronado Beach, are popular for their beautiful sands and surf culture. San Diego is also known for its historic Gaslamp Quarter, offering a mix of modern dining, shopping, and entertainment in a charming, historic setting. Plus, its pleasant climate makes it a year-round destination.

Is San Diego or LA Safer?

When comparing San Diego to Los Angeles in terms of safety, San Diego generally ranks as safer. It’s known for its relaxed atmosphere and lower crime rates compared to the bustling city of Los Angeles. However, like any city, it’s important to stay aware of your surroundings, especially in tourist-heavy areas. San Diego’s neighborhoods are diverse, and some areas are safer than others. Overall, it’s a family-friendly city, making it a great choice for a trip with teenagers.

What are the best things to do with teenagers in San Diego?

The best things to do with teenagers in San Diego include visiting the iconic San Diego Zoo, where teens can see a wide range of animals and learn about conservation. Surfing lessons at Pacific Beach offer a quintessential California experience. For a dose of culture and history, exploring the Gaslamp Quarter is a must. Adventure-seeking teens will love zip-lining at La Jolla Zip Zoom or experiencing the thrills at Belmont Park. San Diego’s diverse attractions ensure that teens have a memorable and fun-filled visit.

San Diego Zoo is a renowned wildlife sanctuary featuring diverse animals and interactive exhibits.
San Diego Zoo is a renowned wildlife sanctuary featuring diverse animals and interactive exhibits.

Are there things for 18 year olds to do in San Diego?

Yes, there are plenty of things for 18 year olds to do in San Diego. This age group can enjoy a variety of activities, from exploring the vibrant nightlife in the Gaslamp Quarter to attending concerts and sporting events. Outdoor enthusiasts can try surfing, kayaking, or hiking in the beautiful natural surroundings. Cultural experiences like museum visits, art galleries, and live theater performances are also abundant. San Diego’s diverse offerings cater to the interests of young adults, making it an ideal destination.

Can teenagers go to clubs in San Diego?

In San Diego, the legal age to enter nightclubs is 21. However, there are several teen-friendly clubs and venues that host events specifically for younger crowds. These venues often feature live music, dance nights, and other entertainment suitable for teenagers. Additionally, many cafes and restaurants in areas like the Gaslamp Quarter offer a lively atmosphere in the evenings, with live music and performances that teens can enjoy.

What outdoor activities can teens do in San Diego?

San Diego is a paradise for outdoor activities, especially for teens. They can take surf lessons at beaches like Pacific Beach, go kayaking in La Jolla Cove, or enjoy beach volleyball at Mission Beach. Hiking in Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve offers stunning views and a chance to connect with nature. Biking along the waterfront or through Balboa Park is another great way to explore the city’s beauty. Staying in San Diego, teens can also opt for a unique adventure like trying zip-lining at La Jolla Zip Zoom.

What are the best educational activities when exploring San Diego with teens?

The San Diego Zoo and Safari Park provide learning experiences about wildlife and conservation. The USS Midway Museum offers a hands-on history lesson aboard an aircraft carrier. Balboa Park is home to numerous museums, like the San Diego Natural History Museum and the Fleet Science Center, which offer interactive exhibits. These educational attractions in San Diego engage teens in learning while providing fun and memorable experiences.

Final Thoughts on Exploring San Diego With Teens

San Diego offers diverse places to go with teenagers. From thrilling adventures to educational experiences, this city has it all. With its beautiful beaches, iconic attractions, and family-friendly atmosphere, San Diego is an ideal destination for memorable trips with teens. So, pack your bags and make lasting memories in this sunny coastal paradise!

The top things to do with teens in San Diego for all types of travelers
Enjoyed reading about the top things to do with teens in San Diego? Pin it!

You may also like

Leave a Comment