On a sunny Saturday in Coronado, my family and I love to jump on our bikes and go exploring. Since our kids are small (ages four and two), we put them in a bike trailer, along with a pessimist’s supply of snacks, swimsuits, and sunscreen.
Next stop: downtown San Diego!
Thanks to the reliable ferries that cross the bay between Coronado and downtown, we never have to get in the car. We love the bike and jogging trail that skirts the Coronado Golf Course, goes under the Coronado Bridge, and then follows the bay down to Ferry Landing.
Once we arrive, we can ride the ferry to two destinations in San Diego: the Convention Center (ferries every 30 minutes) or Harbor Drive/Broadway Pier (ferries every hour). Usually we go to Broadway Pier first, bike south through San Diego to the Convention Center, and catch the ferry home from there. Ferry schedules and prices can be found here.
The ferry has ample bike parking on the enclosed lower deck, including space for our trailer. We always secure our bikes and then hurry up to the top deck with the rest of the crowd. Because we are only used to seeing the bay from the bridge, it’s strange to suddenly be a part of the water traffic and scenery. Coronado fades away, sailboats slip by, and suddenly the massive hulk of the USS Midway aircraft carrier looms above us. After 15 minutes on the water, we disembark at Harbor Drive to begin our adventure along the other side of the bay.
Here are a few of our favorite places to visit with kids, listed in north-to-south order from the Broadway Pier ferry stop to the Convention Center ferry stop:
The outdoor market covers four city blocks and is easy to find in the bustling Little Italy neighborhood. So far, this is our favorite farmers market in San Diego, although it gets very crowded because it’s everyone else’s favorite too. We wander slowly, sampling apples and dips and breads, shopping for burritos for lunch and coffees for now. Afterwards we load our findings into our trailer and visit…
Waterfront Park (1600 Pacific Highway)
This is by far our favorite stop with our children. The park includes fountains in a shallow “splash pad” pool, amazing playground equipment, picnic tables, green grass, water fountains, and very clean public restrooms. Once you arrive, you might not leave! I don’t know what amazing technology keeps the metal playground equipment comfortable on a hot day or how much the city pays to have security guards patrol the area, but I do know that I’m grateful. Check here for hours, amenities, and even reservable areas for private events.
USS Midway Maritime Museum (910 N. Harbor Drive)
The massive museum on an aircraft carrier would take a whole day to explore, and you might want to after paying the hefty admission ($20 for adults, $10 for youth, but free for children 5 and under and active duty military). However, it is worth the price, in my opinion, because the WWII aircraft carrier is so incredibly unique. Not only are all areas open for exploration (from the officers’ mess to the flight deck), but the museum also includes multiple retired aircraft (some open for exploring), interactive audio-visual displays, and even food vendors. Our kids are small, but they love it, and I imagine older children would even more.
Right next to the aircraft carrier is a little park that includes a Bob Hope Memorial and the Unconditional Surrender (“Kissing Sailor”) statue. It’s a fun spot to eat a picnic lunch and watch your kids climb on the sculptures.
New Children’s Museum (200 West Island Ave)
Once again, this is one of our favorite places, and it will be hard to tear your kids away! The museum is filled with interactive areas including a giant sandbox, climbing structures, a bounce house, a room full of books, and areas devoted to bubble making, clay molding, and sculpture painting. Memberships are available, but San Diego and Coronado library card holders can check out passes for free at their libraries. There’s also a free park outside with cool play equipment.
Farther down the bay, this cluster of shops and restaurants invites tourists and locals alike to enjoy 50+ stores, 17 eateries, and outdoor entertainment. We stopped by one day for a busker (street performer) festival and joined dozens of other families relaxing on the grass to watch antics on unicycles. More information here.
On a pier near Seaport Village, a new Saturday fish market connects local eaters with local fish. The market is open from 8am to 1pm every Saturday. Go early!
Embarcadero Marina Park (400 Kettner Blvd)
This long finger of green grass is perfect for biking, picnicking, and wandering, and weekend vendors fill the area with lively sales and music. There are bike paths, restrooms, a fishing pier, and a gazebo for further exploring as well. More information here.
After Seaport Village and the park, you will be near the Convention Center. The 5th St/Convention Center ferry to Coronado leaves every half hour, so the wait is never long for your ride home. Hope you had fun!
What are your favorite places in downtown San Diego? What did I miss? Share your favorites in the comments so other readers and visitors know where to go!