Take a Family-Friendly Tour North of San Diego

Surf Southern California’s celebrated waves, explore the underwater world, enjoy locally sourced seafood, and play in flower fields, jungle-like ropes, and high-tech labyrinths.

Trip length: 3 days
Total distance: 54mi/87km

LA JOLLA. Post up in the Polynesian-style surf shack at Windansea to watch local pros shred one of California’s most classic waves. INFO San Diego Tourism Authority ; 619/232-3101

LA JOLLA SHORES (3mi/5km; 10min). Take that surf-fueled inspiration into the beginner-friendly shorebreak of La Jolla Shores; Menehune (Hawaiian for “little people”) Surf rents boogie boards and soft-top surfboards. Then learn about undersea life at Birch Aquarium (programs for all ages offered year-round). INFO San Diego Tourism Authority ; 619/232-3101

DEL MAR (8mi/13km; 18min). Play the ponies while your kids “hippity hop” race and run all day at Camp Del Mar . Or visit Powerhouse Park, right next to the beach, with a big lawn perfect for picnics. INFO Del Mar Chamber of Commerce ; 858/755-4844

CARDIFF (5mi/8km; 11min). Crack into fresh crab and other locally sourced seafood at The Beach House , situated right on the shoreline. INFO Encinitas Chamber of Commerce ; 760/753-6041

ENCINITAS (2mi/3km; 5min). Head to San Diego Botanic Garden , where the West Coast’s largest interactive children’s garden includes a tree house in a jungle canopy. If you need some down time, stroll the spiritual stroll through Self-Realization Fellowship’s lush meditation gardens. INFO Encinitas Chamber of Commerce ; 760/753-6041

CARLSBAD (10mi/16km; 15min). Take a docent-led walk around Batiquitos Lagoon , one of Southern California’s few remaining tidal wetlands. In spring, walk through beautiful blooms at The Flower Fields , an annual explosion of color at Carlsbad Ranch. INFO Visit Carlsbad ; 760/434-6093

CARLSBAD (2mi/3km; 7min). Turn the little ones loose at LEGOLAND California, with more than 60 rides, shows, and attractions including the LEGOLAND Water Park and SEA LIFE Aquarium. Have fun at Pirate's Reef—just be prepared to get soaked! Surround yourself with LEGO and spend the night at the LEGOLAND Hotel. INFO Visit Carlsbad ; 760/434-6093

SAN MARCOS (18mi/29km; 24min). Team up for a game of high-tech tag at Invasion Laser Tag , where the fog-shrouded arena resembles a labyrinth of the future, with multiple levels and flashing colorful lights. INFO San Marcos Chamber of Commerce ; 760/744-1050

ESCONDIDO (6mi/10km; 12min). Let the kids channel their inner monkeys in the new Jungle Ropes Safari at San Diego Zoo Safari Park , where African and other animals from around the world roam in huge enclosures. Then join a guided nature hike at Elfin Forest Recreational Area to learn about wild critters in this part of the world. INFO San Diego Tourism Authority ; 619/232-3101