10+ Things To Do in Del Mar with Kids (2019 Guide)
Del Mar is on the dividing line of North County San Diego. The coastal village is known for beautiful beaches, horse races, and resorts with scenic views. Del Mar may attract tourists but provides many great resources for local families.
Interact with Birds at Free Flight Exotic Bird Sanctuary
Just south of the Del Mar Fairgrounds, the Free Flight Exotic Bird Sanctuary is a local gem. The cozy outdoor space is covered in trees, has a handful of picnic tables, and a koi pond. Free Flight is home to a variety of birds, many of which are being transitioned between owners. Sometimes people who adopt birds do not realize their lifespan can be from 30 to 80 years. When owners can no longer care for their companions, Free Flight provides shelter, food, and rehabilitation for the birds, until they can be adopted into a new home.
Free Flight is a great place to visit with families. The birds thrive on human interaction, and kids get a chance to see these magnificent creatures up close. Volunteers are on hand to answer questions and educate about the birds. Birdseed and fruit are also available for purchase. While the sanctuary is kid-friendly and wheelchair accessible, there are no public restrooms (good to keep in mind with younger children).
Enjoy Storytime at the Del Mar Library
Originally built as a church in 1914, the Del Mar Branch Library is charming, historical, and resembles a quaint coastal cottage. Even though the library is small, the Children’s Area has a good amount of space and is filled with books and games. Tuesday through Friday mornings, the library hosts storytimes, crafts and musical classes geared towards children that are too young for school. A trip to the library is a great way to break up your morning routine, and is conveniently scheduled before nap time!
Explore at Dinosaur Gallery
Right next to the Del Mar Library you’ll find a shop filled with fossils, dinosaur bones, crystals and an array of other fascinating items. Kids will love to wander through the shop and see everything that it holds. The owner is happy to answer any questions they might have. The Dinosaur Gallery is like a museum, but at the gallery, you can take home the exhibits!
Learn about the Ocean at Pelly’s Mini Golf
Pelly’s Mini Golf Course has been a Del Mar staple for decades. In 2008, Pelly’s joined forces with Scripps Birch Aquarium and the Surfrider Organization to update the course, and make it as educational as entertaining.
Pelly’s has two 18-hole courses: Ocean Adventure and Surfin’ Safari. The Ocean Adventure course features sculptures of sharks, dolphins, whales and more. With help from Birch Aquarium educators, each hole has facts about sea animals and conservation. The San Diego Surfrider Foundation provided information for the Surfin’ Safari side of the course which highlights the birth of surfing, features local surf spots and has a hole that takes you through the barrel of a wave. At Pelly’s kids can have a great day on the blue turf and learn about the ocean and surf culture at the same time. Pelly’s is also available for groups, birthday parties and is ADA accessible.
Gain Outdoor Confidence at Survival School
San Dieguito Park is a north county favorite. The park is vast and contains picnic areas, BBQs, trails, duck ponds, a suspension bridge, basketball courts, playgrounds, and restrooms. The park is divided into two sections: the upper section is mostly athletic fields and play areas, while the lower section is wooded and grassy. Recently, the park rangers have developed a program that teaches basic survival techniques to the community. The monthly program is hands-on and has Rangers available to share insight and answer questions. All ages are welcome and the program is free ($3 parking fee).
Take the Whole Family to the Beach, Including the Dog!
North Beach is the only beach that allows off-leash dogs in Del Mar. From Labor Day to June 16th, dogs can run free from 29th Street up to Solana Beach (during the summer dogs are still allowed, but must be on-leash). The beach itself is always lively and fun. Located at the mouth of the San Dieguito River Lagoon, the beach is popular for families, dog owners, surfers, volleyball players and more. (Lifeguards on duty, restrooms available, limited parking)
Take a Family Surf Lesson
Surfing is not only great exercise, it is good for the soul. Learning to surf early in life encourages a love for the outdoors and healthy habits. Surf Sessions has been teaching Del Mar locals and tourists how to surf for over 17 years. Surf Sessions has quality instructors that possess strong water skills and years of surfing experience. Families can enjoy surf lessons that cater to each age and ability. Family private lessons are a great way to spend time together while learning a lifelong sport. Semi-Private lessons start at $75/per person (for 2 people/1 coach), the price decreases per person with larger groups. Surf Sessions also offers individual lessons, camps, and is available for birthday parties.
Play near the beach (not on the beach), at Powerhouse Park
The sound of ocean waves is comforting and calming. As a parent, sometimes you want to visit the beach, but the reality of the sand, toys, and clean-up that goes along, keeps you away. Del Mar has the perfect picturesque beach location, that is not on the sand, Powerhouse Park. Powerhouse has a large grassy lawn, walking paths, picnic tables and a playground for kids, all overlooking the beach and ocean. Kids can swing, slide and play with the sound of the waves in the air. Powerhouse Park also hosts a summer concert series.
Enjoy Yoga, Art & Fun at If I Was A Bird Yoga
If I Was A Bird Yoga is a yoga studio which focuses on yoga for kids, tweens, teens, and families. The signature yoga program is just over an hour and includes yoga, a craft, and a healthy snack. Toddler yoga incorporates imaginative dance and movement with props to make the class fun and engaging. Kids 5 and up begin yoga with the basics, study postures and advance at a steady pace. If I Was A Bird Yoga was created to provide kids a space to build community and make friends while they receive all the mental and health benefits that yoga provides. All classes coincide with the adult schedule at CorePower Yoga so parents can practice yoga at the same time. If I Was A Bird allows parents to drop off 10 minutes early so they can make class on time!
On the weekends the studio hosts an Open Art Studio, and Yoga Drop and Shop. $15 for non-members, you can shop while children enjoy an art class, or yoga and a craft! The studio also has many Signature Yoga Events. Every month special themes are introduced at 2-hour yoga events, including Star Wars Yoga, Hello Kitty Yoga and more. If I Was A Bird is also available for private sessions, camps, scout groups and birthday parties.
Get a First Haircut at Pigtails and Crewcuts
A child’s first haircut can be a daunting experience. The chairs are too big, there is a stranger wielding sharp objects, and the kids are expected to sit still. To avoid this scenario, many parents avoid haircuts for as long as possible. Pigtails and Crewcuts is a salon built specifically for children. Instead of salon chairs, kids get to ride in an airplane or drive a police car. Flat screens are set up with favorite movies to help with the wiggles. If there is a wait? There is a play area complete with a train table.
Pigtails and Crewcuts aims to make your child’s first haircut a wonderful experience. The First Haircut Package commemorates this important milestone with souvenir card, a photo, and a lock of hair.
Pigtails and Crewcuts are also available for birthday parties.
Year Round Fun at Del Mar Fairgrounds
One of the most popular locations in North County is the Del Mar Fairgrounds. Well known for the County Fair and horse races, the Fairgrounds go beyond that and provide family entertainment year round. Featured below are some of the most popular annual events, but make sure to see the calendar for other unique experiences.
San Diego Kids Expo
Every year in October and April, the Fairgrounds host the San Diego Kids Expo and Fair. The indoor Expo features 150 local and national vendors that have kid-specific products. Meet representatives from local sports teams, dance and art studios. Stages feature local talent all day. Outdoors, the Fair is set up with inflatables, a zip line, human hamster balls and much more! The Kids Expo is a great way to find local classes, clubs and kids services.
San Dieguito Cotillion
Since 1955, the San Dieguito Cotillion has been teaching children self-confidence and poise. With programs throughout the year, kids in 5th-12th grade learn ballroom dancing, manners and social etiquette. All classes are held at the fairgrounds and themed dances are hosted throughout the year.
San Diego Cake Show
For over 30 years the San Diego Cake Club has hosted the San Diego Cake Show to promote the love of confectionary arts. Young “sugar artists” are encouraged to participate in this yearly event which features classes, celebrities, and vendors. Held every March, the San Diego Cake Show donates a portion of its proceeds to the Ronald McDonald House Charities of San Diego.
San Diego County Fair
Every June the Del Mar Fairgrounds hosts one of the largest County Fairs in America. The San Diego County Fair is so much more than fried foods, carnival rides, and livestock. Each year the fair showcases children in many ways. From performances to art contests, 4-H groups, and cooking, the fair has always included local youth. The rides and musical groups are a big draw, but make sure to spend some time looking through the exhibits and see how amazingly talented our kids are.
Family Fun at the Racetrack
Camp Del Mar: The Del Mar Horse Races have been a San Diego tradition since the 1930’s. Every summer people flock to the races for the fun, thrill, and excitement. The Del Mar Thoroughbred Club has made the experience family-friendly. Every race day they offer Camp Del Mar. Kids aged 5-12 can enjoy mini golf, crafts, activities, lunch, and snacks while their parents are at the races. For only $24/day, kids can have as much fun as mom and dad. Family Weekends: On the weekends, kids get in free! While parents enjoy the races, the kids own the infield. Free activities include pony rides, bounce houses, face painters, caricature artists, entertainers and more.
The Scream Zone
Some people love to be scared. If you have older kids that love horror, the Scream Zone is the place to be in October. The Scream Zone is San Diego County’s largest, goriest and scariest haunted experience. The Zone features three main haunting areas: the House of Horror, the KarnEvil, and the Haunted Hayride. In the House of Horror, there is room after room of visual and visceral experiences, clowns will scare you until you don’t know which way to go in the darkness! The Haunted Hayride takes you on a journey filled with zombies, clowns, and other wicked characters. KarnEvil incorporates everything scary from freak shows and carnivals and amplifies them until visitors are terrified. Parents are welcome onto the grounds free of charge if they don’t want to participate in any of the horrors.
Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve
Located just south of Del Mar, the Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve is one of the most picturesque locations in all San Diego. The 1,750-acre reserve has sandstone canyons, pine forests, and trails that overlook the ocean. Open during daytime hours, the trails are highly maintained and have various levels of difficulty. The Visitor Center/Museum has free guided nature walks for the general public on weekends and holidays at 10 am and 2 pm. The natural reserve is a great place to hike, but to preserve the ecosystem, only water is allowed in. Please keep pets at home and save picnics for the beach below.
Not just for hiking, children ages 7-12 can also participate in the California State Parks Junior Ranger Program. Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve hosts sessions throughout the year. Lessons may include crafts, hikes, and education about local plants and wildlife. The free program is supported by the Torrey Pines Docent Society and California State Parks.
In the Village at Pacific Highlands Ranch, you will find Mint Studio. Mint Studio is a space in which people can gather, be inspired and create. The shop is a Pinteresters dream and is filled with locally made crafts. Mint Studio offers a variety of classes and workshops for all ages. Younger children can enjoy 10 am sessions which include: a Maker’s Workshop, Painting and Music. Teens can choose from after school classes such as Leather Working class, Crafting with Purpose, and Knitting and Macrame. Mint Studio also hosts special events around holidays, parent night outs, and is available for birthday parties and scout groups.