Family Fun In Gaslamp Quarter

While the historic Gaslamp Quarter in San Diego may be known for its buzzing nightlife and club scene, it’s also a perfect destination for families who want to spend time together in the city.

By Carman Yarner

Freelance Writer


The Gaslamp Quarter has a long history spanning almost 175 years and it’s not going anywhere anytime soon. Take your family to the San Diego area to create memories you’ll cherish for years to come. Bring the kids and soak in the Southern California sunshine.

You’ll find family-oriented museums, restaurants, hotels, and things to do, so you can bring everyone from infants to grandparents. The Gaslamp Quarter transforms from a vibrant daytime hub to a lively nightlife scene that’s equally enjoyable for families with children. When I visited the area, I was around 7 months pregnant and slowly waddling everywhere. The Gaslamp has lots to see, do, and eat within a small area, allowing you to conveniently walk or drive where you want to go.

What to Do

The New Children’s Museum should be at the top of the list of things to do with kids in San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter. There are workshops, art installations, toddler classes, sensory-friendly mornings, community programs, and more. They’re open from 9 am to 4 pm every day except Tuesdays when they’re closed. Bring babies, toddlers, and kids to this inclusive museum.

Work together as a family to complete a mission by solving puzzles and finding clues at The Escape Game San Diego. They have different escape rooms for varying skill levels and each escape game has multiple rooms that your family can explore. It makes a fun family activity.

Grab some sweets and treats at IT’SUGAR to take back home as a souvenir or to nibble on while you’re at the hotel. The large store has candy, chocolate, gummies, and snacks of all kinds. They do have a slightly more mature adult area toward the back with candy underwear and other novelty items, but there are plenty of goodies for children throughout the shop.

Take the kiddos of all ages to watch a baseball game at Petco Park, home of the San Diego Padres. They have family restrooms and allow strollers as long as you don’t block the aisle. They even have KidsFest on Sundays in Gallagher Square from when the gates open until first pitch. There are games, face painting, bounce houses, and other family-friendly activities.

View of convention center

Other nearby options include walking around Waterfront Park for a blend of city and bay views. Spend the day watching the animals at the San Diego Zoo or take a Trolley ride to Balboa Park.

Where to Eat

There are many places to eat with children in the Gaslamp Quarter, whether you’re there for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Cafe 222 closes early but it’s a terrific spot to stop by for breakfast or lunch. Their kids menu boasts goodies such as a strawberry shortcake short stack to a breakfast with egg, sausage, potatoes, and toast.

For cheese-loving kids, The Melt might be a marvelous spot to grab a bite to eat. The kids menu has macaroni and cheese, cheeseburger, and grilled cheese, as well as fries, shakes, and desserts on the regular menu. It opens in time for brunch and stays open late in case you arrive in town at night and the children need something to munch on.

Three different tacos on a tray

Werewolf is family-friendly before 9 pm, particularly for bigger kids and teens simply due to the seats. City Tacos has a bunch of tacos with different meats and fillings, making it a quick stop to find a taco or two to suit each person in the family. Order at the counter, wait a few minutes, dig in, then you can be on your merry way. They’re open from 11 am to 8:30 pm, so your family can find something to eat if need be.

Where to Stay

No need to leave your pup with a sitter. Hilton San Diego Gaslamp Quarter has pet-friendly rooms so you don’t have to leave any member of your family behind. They also have an on-site restaurant and bar, making it a convenient place to grab breakfast or dinner. I was pregnant when I stayed there and if you’re in the mood for a mocktail, they can customize most cocktails into a non-alcoholic version if you ask.

view of the bed in Hilton Gaslamp hotel

If your kids like adventures and the outdoors, the Westin San Diego Gaslamp Quarter might be your best bet. The has a rooftop pool to enjoy the weather and views as well as hotel bikes to ride. Get a bang for your buck. Through May 1, 2024, kids under the age of 12 can eat for free at Bronze Bird, the on-site restaurant, with the purchase of an adult meal.

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