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10+ Things to Do in Solana Beach & Cardiff with Kids

10+ Things to Do in Solana Beach & Cardiff with Kids

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Between Del Mar and Encinitas you’ll find Solana Beach and Cardiff-By-The-Sea. Both are charming coastal communities with many fun outdoor and indoor activities for families to enjoy.

Family Fun Days at San Elijo Lagoon

The first Sunday of every month the San Elijo Lagoon has Family Fun Days. Family Fun Days are a wonderful way for the family to head outdoors and learn about the lagoon. At the Nature Center, kids can explore hands-on exhibits, make crafts and earn a Junior Ranger Badge. Afterwards, make sure to walk around the Nature Center Loop Trail. The mile-long trail is ADA-accessible and can be hiked at any age.

Storytime at San Diego County Library - Solana Beach Branch

Part of the San Diego County Library system, the Solana Beach Branch has a variety of storytimes for younger kids. Storytime is invaluable to developing minds. Listening to books being read aloud exposes kids to new language and ideas. Watching how the book is held, and how the pages are turned, are some of the first steps to literacy. Being in a group teaches socialization and self-control.

The Solana Beach Branch Library has storytimes on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. On Mondays, the Toddler and Preschool Storytimes are at 10 am, followed by Baby Storytime at 11 am. Wednesdays at 10 am the library offers Cuentos En Español, a Spanish-language storytime. On Fridays, at 10 am, the library alternates between Tony Tot Yoga and Musical Storytime. Yoga is offered the 1st and 3rd Friday of the month, and Musical Storytime is on the 2nd and 4th Friday of the month.

Fletcher Cove Beach Park

A family favorite, Fletcher Cove Beach Park (also known as Pillbox), is a great place to spend an hour, an afternoon, or the whole day. When the tide is high, the actual beach may be small, but at low tide, families can enjoy the area and walk to nearby tidepools. The park above has grassy areas, a playground with swings, picnic tables, and basketball courts. Popular at sunset, you’ll often see families gather to enjoy the last bit of the day. Leashed dogs are allowed in the park area, but not on the beach.

Find Adventure on The Coaster

The Coaster commuter train is a fun way to get out and explore. Kids will love looking out at the ocean as the train speeds up and down the coast. Head to the Solana Beach Station and decide to travel north up to Oceanside, or south, all the way downtown. Just west of Fletcher’s Cove, the Solana Beach station is beautiful, and making your way down to the (below street level) track is just the beginning of the fun.

Hiking in Solana Beach

There are some great family-friendly hikes in Solana Beach. Located near San Elijo Lagoon, the Mushroom Cave Trail is great for kids of all ages. The hike is short (about 10 minutes), and mostly flat. The hike takes you to canyons which people have “decorated” over the years. It’s a quick fun trail, with lots of hidden spots. Part of the same trail system, Annie’s Canyon Trail is more of a challenge. The trail winds through the naturally eroding sandstone walls, making the journey unique and magical. With an elevation gain of 200 feet, the overlook has panoramic views of the Lagoon and the ocean.

Storytime at San Diego County Library Cardiff-by-the-Sea Branch

Part of the San Diego County Library system, the Cardiff-by-the-Sea Branch offers a variety of storytimes for younger kids. Storytime is invaluable to developing minds. Listening to books being read aloud exposes kids to new language and ideas. Watching how the book is held, and how the pages are turned, are some of the first steps to literacy. Being in a group teaches socialization and self-control.

The Cardiff-by-the-Sea Branch Library has morning storytimes almost every day. On Tuesdays, Grandma Betsy reads to the children. Wednesdays feature Toddler Yoga. Thursdays are for babies. Fridays have a Pre-K Free Play, and Saturdays are Family Storytime with a craft.

Rancho San Dieguito Swim Team

Based at the Pardee Aquatic Center, the Rancho San Dieguito Swim Team was established in 1986. Since then, the RSD Swim team has become known for developing great swimmers in a positive family atmosphere. The certified coaching staff are committed to their team and focus on technique, work ethic, and character development. RSD swimmers have represented the team in several competitions including the Junior Olympics and the US Olympic Trials. Over the years, RSD swimmers have also earned millions of dollars in scholarships to over 40 Universities.

The RSD Swim Team has openings for all levels, from beginners all the way up to nationally ranked swimmers. At the core, the team teaches self-esteem, the pursuit of personal excellence, and health.

Junebug Children’s Resale

Kids grow so quickly. They’re in diapers, then in strollers, on to tricycles, then to bikes. The constant growth and change are hard to keep up with, especially while trying to keep clutter away. Junebug Children’s Resale is here to help with that. On Cedros, Junebug buys and sells gently used clothing, equipment, and toys. Families can recycle the things they no longer need and find “new” items at a reasonable price. Junebug also hosts fun family classes, see schedule for dates and times.

The Theatre School at North Coast Rep

The Theater School at North Coast Rep offers classes, camps, and workshops and has a variety of productions throughout the year. The School encourages a love of theater through the experience of live performance. Classes are available for ages 4-24, and are taught by industry professionals. The classes are progressive and students move through the program based on individual skills. Preschoolers are introduced to theater through songs and popular stories. Kids ages 6-8 begin to learn the basics through games and songs. Ages 8-12 begin to focus on specific skills and build control and confidence. Tweens and Teens move on to Improv and more dramatic classes. The Theater School also has several productions throughout the year and are cast by audition.

The Rockademy

More than a music school, the Rockademy not only teaches kids how to play musical instruments, but how to play music as a band. Professional musicians guide the students through the steps of making music. From learning to read notes, to live performance and recording, the Rockademy encourages students to fulfill their musical aspirations. The program has many options available including individual lessons, a band program, and camps.

Boys and Girls Club of San Dieguito

Boys and Girls Clubs give kids ages 5-18, a safe place to go after school and during the summer. The Club offers communities a wide variety of programs that give kids a sense of belonging, usefulness, and competence. Programs range from athletics to arts, and with financial assistance available, the Boys and Girls Club is open to everyone.

After School Programs

The Solana Beach Boys and Girls Club doesn’t just provide kids a place to hang out after school, the After School Program focuses on homework and reading. Power Hour is from 3pm-4pm and features tutoring and learning activities. The Reading Program encourages kids to read quietly for at least 20 minutes a day. Each child has a set goal of reading time, once that goal is met, they are rewarded with group treat, such as parties. The Boys and Girls Club also gives the kids a different “Minute to Win It” Challenge each week. These puzzles and tasks help with critical thinking, performing under pressure, and developing good sportsmanship.

Adventure Camps

During the summer the Boys and Girls Club opens for full day Adventure Camps. The program is designed to be flexible with days and times to meet any families needs. Kids ages 5-13 can enjoy a variety of activities throughout the day and participate in several field trips. There are also Specialty Camps for ages 5-15, that focus the activities based on interest. Specialty camps include Art, Theater, Dance, Sports, Science, Fitness and more.

Pardee Aquatic Center

The Solana Beach Boys and Girls Club also has an aquatic center. The Doug and Marianne Pardee Aquatics Center has two regulation length 25-yard pools, a fitness center, locker rooms,  and a snack bar. The Aquatic Center is open to the community for recreational swim and has year-round swim lessons available for kids ages 3-13.  The center is also home to the San Dieguito Swim Team (more information below).

Athletic Programs

All year long, the Solana Beach Boys and Girls Club offers a variety of athletic programs. There are a wide variety of sports leagues, camps, and activities for all age groups. Kids in grades 3-8 can play in the Bulldog Basketball league. The teams are led by professional coaches and are for kids that aspire to play at the varsity level in high school. Younger kids can participate in the Snuffy Basketball program. This recreational league teaches the fundamentals of the sport in a fun and relaxed environment.

Youth Fitness

Along with day camps, the Club offers independent fitness classes. Kids ages 5-14 can learn the art of Aikido. Certified Yoshinkan Aikido instructors teach kids to have confidence in their bodies while showing compassionate respect for others. Call 858-720-2180 for more information.

Go Camping at San Elijo State Beach

San Elijo State beach has one of the most popular campgrounds in southern California. The campgrounds are hard to reserve during the summer months, but if you’re a local, there is plenty of space in the off-season. Camping is a great way to sleep by the beach, and walk to the waves for an early morning surf. Kids will love spending the day by the water and building campfires at night. If you’re less of a camper, and more of a “Glamper”, there are plenty of restaurants in the area, and you can even get pizza delivered! Leashed dogs are allowed in the campgrounds, but not on the beach.

VG Donut and Bakery

Take your kids for a treat at VG Donut and Bakery. VG’s is a Cardiff landmark and has been family owned since 1969. The bakery has a loyal local following, and it’s not unusual to see lines out the door. VG, which stands for “very good”, uses top quality ingredients and bakes donuts twice daily (at 4 am and 4 pm). Not only known for donuts, VG’s also has cookies, pies, bread and make custom cakes.

Gymboree Play and Music

For over 40 years, Gymboree has been inspiring creativity and confidence in young children. Tailored for young bodies and minds, the Gymboree space is playful and filled with color. For children 0-5 years old, the Solana Beach Gymboree has classes that grow with each child. Each class focuses on development through play, music, or art. Gymboree is also a great place for new parents to socialize, and meet other parents with kids the same age.

Photo Credit: San Elijo Lagoon

Drea Colores: Drea Colores grew up in Tucson, AZ and now lives in Carlsbad. Writer + Maker + Photographer. IG: dreacolores