What to see at SeaWorld San Diego with Little Kids

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This post is sponsored by SeaWorld San Diego.

With SeaWorld San Diego opening a ton of rides and educational shows in recent years, I've had some visitors ask if it's an appropriate spot to take kids who aren't tall enough or won't necessarily sit still for a presentation. I always encourage these people to go see the many displays and hands-on experiences available at the park.

More often than not, I wind up playing tour guide because I'm so enthusiastic about the incredible learning opportunities that are available here! Here's a look at what OUR family does at SeaWorld with four boys ages 6, 4, 2 and 9 months.

Explorer's Reef at SeaWorld San Diego

Right at the front of the park, head to Explorer's Reef to get hands-on with some small reef sharks and cleaner fish that will come right up and nibble on your fingers! I've always secretly wondered what it would be like to stick my feet in here.

Don't worry, I restrain myself.

Kids height requirements at SeaWorld San Diego

Stop by Guest Services to check your kids' heights and get an updated park map with ride restrictions and information. If you're particularly interested in any shows or exhibits, check timelines because some things close earlier than others in the park.

Best Attractions at SeaWorld San Diego for Tots

Sesame Street Bay of Play games at SeaWorld San Diego

Active Play at SeaWorld San Diego

Make a beeline to Sesame Street Bay of Play. This wildly-popular area is adjacent to the arcade and midway games (just a heads-up in case you want to budget for those).

My boys' favorite thing to do is to head into the interactive play area and bounce on the giant inflatable jump space, run through swinging foam obstacles and crawl around the nets. There are also chances to play with musical instruments, meet the Sesame Street pals and ride on little kid rides like Oscar's Rockin Eel, Elmo's Flying Fish and Abby's Sea Star Spin.

Dolphin encounter at SeaWorld San Diego


Next, go by SeaWorld San Diego's Skytower and walk over to visit the otters and dolphins. There's lots of space to get nose-to-nose with a dolphin at Dolphin Point. My favorite thing to do is watch them interact with the trainers and guests who have reserved the specialty tours, which happen just adjacent to the public viewing area.

SeaWorld San Diego food


The Sausage Shack and the Fry Cone place are in this area. They both have drool-worthy bites that are a pretty great deal for park food, and there's usually no line! If you want a more organized three-course meal situation, we like the variety of Shipwreck Reef Cafe just around the corner past Orca Encounter. If you’re spending the day at the park and looking to cut down on food costs, definitely check out the All-Day Dining Pass that lets you get an entree, side or dessert and non-alcoholic beverage as often as once per hour!

SeaWorld San Diego Aquatica touch area

Fish at SeaWorld San Diego

Head on over to Aquaria and Aquarium de la Mer for more up-close and personal touch encounters with fish. There are usually a few staff members hanging around in this area, and the boys love to bombard them with questions like, “Are octopus tentacles legs or arms?” Answer: the back two are legs that propel them forward, while the other six are arms. True story.

SeaWorld San Diego Bayside Skyride

Sky High

Hop on the Bayside Skyride, which has no age or height limit and is suitable for babywearing parents. Also, just for the record, it's nowhere near as scary as Sidekick thought it would be.

SeaWorld San Diego nursing stations

Baby Break

Speaking of babywearing, there are really nice nursing stations throughout the park. We usually duck into the outside the sky ride, across from Mission Bay Theater. This is the halfway point in our tour through the park, and it's a great time for a little break! There's also a little ice cream stand near here.

SeaWorld San Diego aquariums with Kids

Next, we spend a bit more time unwinding in the Freshwater Aquarium. This is my favorite aquarium in the park, since we do a ton of freshwater fishing and it's fascinating for me to show the kids what other interesting creatures live in those waters. Saltwater creatures usually seem to get all the glory, so this spot is really special! While you're in this corner of the park, make sure to stop by Turtle Reef and the Riptide Rescue ride as well.

The shark area at SeaWorld San Diego

Shark Sights

Also in this area, you absolutely cannot miss Shark Encounter. It's my favorite sight in the whole park. There's nothing quite like walking underneath the tunnel as these massive, powerful fish swim overhead. A lot of people ask me if the park is stroller-friendly and YES, SeaWorld is an awesome place to have a stroller but I should point out that there are several exhibits that require you to park the stroller at the entrance. This is one of them. I always bring a carrier so I can have my hands free to wrangle the toddler if need be.

Penguin Encounter at SeaWorld San Diego

A Display of Penguin Affection

Rounding out this corner of the park, don't miss the chance to walk through the Penguin Encounter. They change the atmosphere in this area seasonally to match the Antarctic, so it's fascinating to step into the dark, moody middle of the harshest winter on earth when it's a scorching August in San Diego. The park first implemented this sync with complicated timers, lighting and air conditioning systems when the exhibit was built in the early 80's. It's been such a wild success as far as penguin health and social engagement that it's now used as a model for other penguin displays around the world. Also in this area, don't miss Wild Arctic (which has a ride option and a walk-through option so everyone can interact with the belugas) as well as the chance to see some cool rays outside of Journey to Atlantis. You can also pet a bat ray at the Manta attraction on the other side of the park.

Little kid rides at SeaWorld San Diego

Tiny Explorations

Last but certainly not least, we like to round out the day at Ocean Explorer. SeaWorld San Diego's newest area is less crowded at the end of the day, so you won't have to wait as long to hop on all the kid-friendly rides like the action-filled Submarine Quest, Tentacle Twirl, Aqua Scout, Sea Dragon Drop and Octarock. Height requirements range from 31″ to 40″ with most rides requiring children be able to walk unassisted and some having varied requirements for kids who want to ride alone.

While you're visiting SeaWorld San Diego, don't forget to check out the amazing behind-the-scenes experiences that are available! You can also save a good amount by booking weekday tickets or booking a combo pass with food included.

Have you been to SeaWorld San Diego? What's your favorite part?


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