Boys (and girls!) who love things that “go” have a lot to love in (and near) San Diego. Here are some favorite ways kids can enjoy automation and aviation…
Located at 1960 Joe Crosson Drive in El Cajon, Gillespie Field hosts an annual air show in June, is home to a San Diego Air & Space Museum annex and features the Gillespie Field Cafe.
Located at 3750 John J Montgomery Drive in the Kearny Mesa area, Montgomery Field has three runways, meaning lots of plane traffic. Casa Machado Mexican restaurant sits atop the main terminal building, offering very good food and even better views of the planes.
Featuring meticulously restored aircraft from World War II to Operation Desert Storm, the USS Midway aircraft carrier is one of San Diego’s most popular attractions. Featuring an annual 4th of July event with excellent views of San Diego Bay fireworks, the Midway is located near Searport Village. Children under age 6 tour for free! Midway.org
Miramar Air Show
The Miramar Air Show is scheduled for October 3-5 at MCAS Miramar. This annual event features the Blue Angels, Navy Leap Frog parachute teams, aircraft displays, fireworks and more. Miramarairshow.com
Air & Space Museum
Aviation history unfolds at the San Diego Air & Space Museum, located in Balboa Park. The museum offers educational camps, birthday parties and has a small children’s play area. Sandiegoairandspace.org
Offering “open cockpit days” throughout the summer, the Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum is located at MCAS Miramar and honors the contributions of marine aviators. Flyingleathernecks.org
Pacific Southwest Railway Museum Association
This non-profit educational organization is dedicated to the preservation and interpretation of railroads as they existed in the Pacific Southwest. Although it operates the small La Mesa Depot Museum, open on Saturdays from 1 – 4 p.m., the museum is better known for its weekend excursions on portions of the San Diego & Arizona Railway utilizing actual vintage equipment, and special events like the North Pole Limited ride with Santa. Sdrm.org/npl
Poway Midland Railroad
The Poway-Midland Railroad is a full-size, narrow-gauge railroad in Old Poway Park that carries passengers aboard vintage and antique railroad equipment. The railroad is owned by the City of Poway, and operated as a non-profit. The trains run on Saturdays and Sundays. Fairs range from .50 for kids and up to $2.50 for adults. powaymidlandrr.org
Balboa Park Miniature Railroad
Take a 3-minute, ½-mile trip through four acres of Balboa Park on the San Diego Zoo’s model G16 - a rare antique with as few as fifty currently remaining. The train runs on Saturdays, Sundays and school holidays. Tickets are $3 for anyone over age 1.
San Diego Model Railroad Museum
Enjoy one the largest indoor model railroad displays in the world right here in San Diego. Residents can visit for free on the first Tuesday of each month, and children 5 and younger are always free. The museum offers summer camps and birthday parties. Sdmrm.org
The North County Transit District operates the Coaster commuter train, which runs between Oceanside and downtown San Diego. Families can take the Coaster to Padres games and the fair, students can take advantage of a classroom day pass program, and each December hundreds take the 90-minute Holiday Express train ride, mingling and singing with Santa, Mrs. Claus and The Grinch. Gonctd.com
San Diego Trolley
Our city’s red trolley is a great way to reach family-friendly destinations like Qualcomm Stadium for Chargers games and Petco Park for Padres games, but it’s also fun for kids to simply ride the trolley to nowhere in particular. Children 5 and younger are free with any paid passenger. Sdmts.com
Orange Empire Railway Museum
While not in San Diego, Day Out With Thomas is worth the 1.5 hour drive to Perris, CA for Thomas-crazy kids. This annual November event offers children and their grownups the opportunity to take a 25-minute ride with the classic story book friend Thomas the Tank Engine and meet Sir Topham Hatt. Oerm.org
Lee’s Kiddie Train
It’s fun to make a trip to the mall with mom when you get to climb aboard the adorable train at Westfield UTC. Don’t forget to bring your mom’s guide BOGO ad for your next visit!
Whether they love race cars, police cars, garbage trucks, military vehicles, school buses, your kids will love Touch-a-Truck. If it has wheels you’re likely to find it at the annual Touch-a-Truck event. Touchatrucksd.com
San Diego Automotive Museum
The San Diego Automotive Museum in Balboa Park offers a wonderful selection of vintage and classic American and European vehicles and motorcycles. Kids 6 and younger visit for free, and residents are free on the fourth Tuesday of each month. Sdautomuseum.org
Back to the 50s
The La Mesa Car Show transports kids and adults “back to the 50s” every Thursday night in June, July and August. Lmvma.com