Children's Pool Beach#12 in Best Things To Do in San Diego
Animal lovers are sure to enjoy Children's Pool Beach in La Jolla. Because of the California coast's sometimes harsh waves, a seawall was built in the 1930s on a portion of the beach to make the waters calmer for children. However, builders didn't realize the calm waters would appeal to seals as well. In recent years, seals have started flocking to Children's Pool Beach to bask in the sun, play in the water and give birth to their pups. The wildlife phenomenon has turned the beach into a must-see tourist attraction.
Visitors can walk out onto the seawall to watch the seals from above, and many agreed Children's Pool Beach was one of the highlights of their San Diego trip. They suggest bringing binoculars to see the seals and jackets as it can get chilly on the seawall. They also warn the abundance of seals can sometimes result in a rather pungent scent, but seeing the animals in their natural habitat is worth it.
In the summer and fall months, visitors can venture down to the sand to watch the seals and explore the tide pools, ideally at low tide. While swimming is technically allowed, it is strongly discouraged because of the questionable water quality and the risk of being in proximity to unpredictable wildlife. The beach is closed to the public from December 15 to May 15 to protect the newborn seals, but visitors can still watch the seals from the wall.
The beach is free to visit and though there is no beach-specific parking, visitors can pay to park in downtown La Jolla and then walk to the shore. There is one steep staircase to get down to the beach, so it's not handicapped-accessible. Keep in mind, the amount of seals on the beach can be inconsistent and some days there may be more seals than others. For more information about when to go and how to get there, visit the beach's website.
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#1 Balboa Park
Home to the renowned San Diego Zoo. this 1,200-acre park is the city's cultural hub. Located in downtown San Diego (about 2 miles north of the city center), Balboa Park is a great place for a stroll, bike ride or picnic. Wander around the park's many gardens while admiring the intricate Spanish-Renaissance architecture that permeates the grounds (the best examples are the California Building and the House of Hospitality). The Botanical Building is a great starting point in Balboa Park. The building is one of the most photographed places in Balboa Park and is one of the largest lath structures in the world. But don't just look at it. The famous botanical building features more than 2,100 permanent plants, including striking collections of tropical plants and orchids. The park also features a cactus garden, rose garden, a Japanese-style garden as well as a palm tree canyon, among many others.
But if you find yourself growing antsy just walking around and smelling the roses, there are plenty of attractions located here (many of them free). Take in a show at the Tony Award-winning Old Globe Theatre, visit the Spreckels Organ Pavilion to see one of the world's largest outdoor pipe organs, or the Marie Hitchcock Puppet Theater if you got the kiddos in tow. Museums are just as aplenty, with enough to suit all types of interests. Art lovers will enjoy the San Diego Museum of Art, the Museum of Photographic Arts and Mingei International Museum while science enthusiasts will enjoy the Fleet Science Center and the Museum of Man. If you're traveling as a family, take some time to check out the San Diego Air and Space Museum or the San Diego Model Railroad Museum, the world's largest operating model railroad museum. There's also an automotive museum and the San Diego Hall of Champions Sports Museum, dedicated entirely to San Diego's sports history.
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