17 Things To Do In San Diego This Weekend With Mom - Updated 2024

17 Things To Do In San Diego This Weekend With Mom  - Updated 2024
| 8 min read

Mom takes on a tireless role that spans over a lifetime and once in awhile (if not always), a break is highly recommended! When was the last time you had a date with mom or (as a mom) gave yourself a much-needed vacation?

As a tribute to the great women in our lives, Here’s a list of fun things to do in San Diego this weekend with mom! From beaches and gardens, to canyons and spas, there are many activities to forget about the hustle and bustle of work and home. Read on!

1. Go whale-watching in the Pacific Ocean (from USD 85.0)

An activity mom will love is going out into the Pacific Ocean on a whale-watching tour! Seeing these magical creatures of the deep is sure to delight and make for an absolutely memorable Mother’s Day. Spend half the day on a 141-foot sailing ship seeing whales, dolphins, seals, and other aquatic animals that call the waters of California home. This tour usually includes incredible whale sightings and even comes with a sea-sickness guarantee, which is perfect for those moms who aren’t always sure about being out on the water!

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San Diego Whale Watching Cruise

Duration: 4 hours

1831 reviews

2. Watch a show at the Balboa Theatre

San Diego
Source: Photo by Flickr user Claudia Schillinger used under CC BY-ND 2.0

A historic live theatre in the heart of San Diego, the Balboa Theatre is a wonderful venue for a night out with a theater-loving mom. Create memorable experiences with her at a matinee or evening show. Located downtown, the Balboa Theatre is easy walking distance from many restaurants where you can grab a bite to eat before the show. Make sure to add the iconic Balboa Theatre to your list of activities when planning the perfect day for your mom!

The Balboa Theatre

Address: 868 Fourth Ave San Diego, CA 92101

Website: The Balboa Theatre

Price: Varies by performance

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3. Café Hop around San Diego

Cafe Coyote Mexican Restaurant
Source: Photo by Flickr user Thank You (22.5 M... used under CC BY 2.0

Take a break from the kitchen and head on to the hippest cafes that promise good coffee and a delicious selection of food and dessert! You can start your day at Swell Café, Mission Beach, where you’ll get a healthy, wholesome breakfast with a range of light and fruity or sweet and savory options for you to choose from.

After a relaxing breakfast, you can take a slow drive down to Clairemont Mesa Boulevard for Lunch at Havana Grill for some authentic Cuban cuisine.

Your day isn’t set without a final stop at Holsem Coffee for tea time, because you can never get enough of good coffee, and everyone always has space for dessert!

Café hopping is a good way to bond with your mom one-on-one, or two-on-one or six-on-one depending on the size of your family. But, whatever the case, there’s nothing more that a mother could ask for than to simply spend time with her two big loves: family and food.

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4. Watersports at Mission Bay

Mission Bay Jetty
Source: Photo by Flickr user Neil Silverthorn used under CC BY-ND 2.0

If your mom (or you) is more of the outdoorsy type, there’s no better way to spend the day in San Diego than out on the waters. With a wide range of watersports of different difficulty levels, challenge-seekers will not be disappointed. You can spend the day by Mission Bay and rent your equipment from Adventure Water Sport LLC for kayaking, paddle boating and even wakeboarding.

Adventure Water Sport LLC has two locations on Mission Bay and the good news? No towing required! In case you get hungry, check out Saksa’s Steak & Seafood for a wide range of food from sushi to prime ribs! Note: Portion are generous and good for sharing.

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5. Bake under the sun on one of San Diego’s beaches

17 things to do in san diego this weekend with mom | bake under the sun on one of san diego’s beaches

San Diego is known for its 70-mile (113-kilometer) stretch of coastline and huge array of beaches. However, choosing a beach can be pretty simple because there’s bound to be one that suits you.

For moms that prefer to unwind under the sun, and breakaway from the stresses of home and work, Del Mar beach is just the place. It’s easy to miss this quiet and relaxing beach and just drive past it, which makes it the lovely secluded beach that it is.

A more family-friendly beach, however, would definitely be Moonlight Beach, where there is easy access to parking, food and bathrooms. With grassy picnic areas, a playground, and volleyball courts, this family-friendly beach is a great weekend retreat for families and friends.

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San Diego

Taking mom to one of San Diego's many beaches can be a wonderful early morning activity if she is an early bird! Make sure to take your mom to the beach at low tide to start the day and look for seashells that have washed up overnight. Ensure you check the tides online a few days before so you can make sure you get to the beach at the perfect time. This will be a memorable experience for both of you, and when you find a shell together, she can take it home to remember this special day!

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6. Visit the Museum of Photographic Arts

MOPA (Museum of Photographic Arts) store
Source: Photo by Flickr user experienceology used under CC BY 2.0

Pictures have, and will always be, a big part of the family, and what other way to commemorate the beauty of stills then to visit a museum filled with them. The museum exhibits a collection of more than 7,000 images as well as those from new artists that are specifically strong at social documentary photography and photojournalism.

Located in Balboa Park, the Museum of Photographic Arts provides photography workshops and film screenings in its state-of-the-art theatre. Unwind with mom by spending the day appreciating works of art!

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7. Catch a movie under the stars at Mission Hill

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

Get a taste of classic cinema with screenings of Audrey Hepburns’s Sabrina or Alfred Hitchcock’s Strangers On a Train this weekend.

Dapper up your usual movie nights at a cinema set under the stars! Similar to a drive-in movie but with furnishings, it feels just like you are at home. Treat your mom to a night of nostalgia, enjoying the comfort of the indoors while experiencing the feel of the outdoors.

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8. Go for a hike in Torrey Pines

Torrey Pines State Park Valley
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Nauticashades used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Spend the day getting in touch with the great outdoors as you hike through Torrey Pines. Challenge yourself with eight different trails that range from 0.7 to 4 miles (1.1 to 6.4 kilometers), while appreciating and enjoying the ocean views wherever you turn.

The trails are of different difficulty levels, so even the least of the fittest can enjoy the breathtaking beauty that is Torrey Pines. Also, nothing screams bonding more than exploring the different routes among the canyon together as a family.

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9. Enjoy The Spa at Torrey Pines

Start of the week with a relaxing spa day at The Spa at Torrey Pines.

Posted by The Lodge at Torrey Pines on Monday, May 29, 2017

The Spa at Torrey Pines is a great way to recover after a long hike, or even to just relax and ease the tension from work and home. Moms are bound to love it, as they can pamper themselves with a massage or a mask and wrap before ending off with hair and nail treatments.

All spa treatments are designed to center on wellness and to meet the needs of each person, promising to leave Mom feeling refreshed and renewed. Year round packages at The Spa at Torrey Pines include Day of Bliss - a package meant for one + one! Bring a special companion and enjoy two 50-minute (or 80-minute) treatments and lunch at the award-winning A.R. Valentien.

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10. Chill in La Jolla

Up Up and away
Source: Photo by Flickr user Chad McDonald used under CC BY-ND 2.0

Nicknamed “The Jewel of San Diego”, the Beverly Hills of San Diego is a must for a mother-child day out. Although it is more suited for a mom-daughter outing, sons can certainly join mom for a special day at La Jolla!

Lined with palm trees and high-end boutiques, you will get the L.A. experience without having to step out of San Diego. If you’re not in the mood for shopping, you can catch a play at the La Jolla Playhouse.

Try Whisknladle’s signature cocktails and mouthwatering appetizers or check out a rooftop bar like Prospect Bar & Grill where you can chill out with great cocktails and a live DJ to set the mood for the rest of the night.

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11. Visit the San Diego Botanic Garden

Quail botanical gardens 5
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Bovlb used under CC BY-SA 3.0

San Diego Botanic Garden is home to a large collection of plants, both rare and local. The mild climate allows plants from all over the world to thrive, from rare bamboos to desert gardens, and there is even a tropical rainforest.

In the vast array of gardens, there are two child-friendly gardens just for the little ones. One is the Hamilton Children’s Garden, which is for older children. Besides the main attraction of Toni’s Tree House, moms can teach young ones about the plants and herbs we eat at the Incredible Edibles.

The gardens is a great place to be for an inexpensive day out with nature. It also leaves you with lifelong memories whether you’re having fun with mom playing in the Tree House or just strolling through the park talking about life and sharing personal thoughts. It’s the time together that forges the bond, more than the expensive gifts and dinners we think will leave the lasting impression.

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12. Take a walk through Carlsbad Flower Fields

Carlsbad Flower Fields
Source: Photo by Flickr user Jason Rosenberg used under CC BY 2.0

Catch the annual bloom of the Tecolote Giant Ranunculus at the Carlsbad Flower Fields. The bloom lasts for six to eight weeks each year during the period of early March through to early May.

The beautiful colors from the flowers not only brighten up your day, but also provide a stunning backdrop for family pictures or a solo shot of your mother for her next Facebook profile picture!

If you aren’t a fan of walking, the antique wagon trailer ride is available to bring you through the fields, and is a favorite with children.

The flower fields also host special events such as open-air concerts, orchid and bonsai shows, and exotic plant sales for flower enthusiasts to bring home a piece of beauty.

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13. Make perfume at Tijon Parfumerie & Boutique

Editor’s note: Establishment is permanently closed

This premier boutique perfumerie in La Jolla offers perfume-making sessions where you can create your own original fragrance in the on-site lab. Experts will offer more than 350 different oils to work toward creating your signature scent.

At Tijon Parfumerie & Boutique, professionals will guide you through both the introductory 1.5-hour classes and the more informative 2.5-hour classes.

Booking a class throughout the month of May also entitles you to a complimentary brunch or lunch entré at Herringbone Restaurant.

Tijon believes in the small moments that touch your hearts, which makes this activity the most tangible way to encapsulate everything that represents our mom and all that she loves.

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14. Hang out with local sea life at Point Loma

Old Point Loma Lighthouse
Source: Photo by Flickr user Mark Doliner used under CC BY-SA 2.0

Nature-loving moms can head to the tide pool to hang out with local sea life. This is a fun activity where you can get acquainted with the interesting creatures. Be prepared to meet starfish, urchins, sea cucumbers, and even sea anemones.

You can stroll down the beach and peer into the tide pools during sunset and bask in the beauty of the ocean’s scenic views.

Just a warning: going down to the tide pool can be sharp and slippery, so take extra caution when heading down to visit the site. If you’re taking your kids there, keep an extra eye on them and enter and leave the place together.

Predicting the tides can also be tricky, so it’s best to check when are the best times to visit the pools. You can call Cabrillo National Monument at (619)557-5450, extension 0 directly to find out.

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San Diego

Not only does Point Loma over opportunities to get close to the underwater world through tidepools. This southernmost peninsula in California offers some of the best views in San Diego. Head to Cabrillo National Monument located at the tip of Point Loma to get beautiful views out across the Pacific, towards downtown San Diego, of Coronado Island, and into Mexico! Taking in these views is sure to delight mom on her special day!

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15. Retreat to the mountain town of Julian

Julian CA SR 78 & 79
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Adbar used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Just 60 miles (96.5 kilometers) east of San Diego is a town that brings you back in time to the Wild West. The mountain town of Julian encourages you to move at a slower pace as you stroll through the quiet streets of endless shops, restaurants and artifacts. In comparison to the busy city or exciting beach life, this rustic town turns the clock back to the olden times of cowboys and ranches.

You can spend a relaxing afternoon with some tea and homemade jam and scones at Julian Tea & Cottage Arts, or get an olde-worlde photo shoot at Old Time Costume Photography to take home an excellent keepsake.

This place will give mom that much-needed respite from city life, and it offers a good time to relax and stroll while enjoying mountain views.

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16. Have fun with drag queens at Lips

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

Step into the weekend like a Queen Come over for an OUTRAGEOUS time with Malva Sanchez Vava Voom and the girls, darling Call (619) 295-7900 before we sell out

Posted by Lips - San Diego on Friday, July 29, 2022

For kids aged 18 and over, spice up dinner by taking mom for some drag dining at Lips Restaurant San Diego! Dress up and have a wild night laughing and singing along to the resident drag queens that never fail to put on a great show and a big smile on your face.

This unconventional glitzy dinner promises non-stop entertainment in addition to menus with interesting (if not though-provoking) names such as Taboo! Wonder what the dessert ‘The Lady Boy’ is all about? You can find your answers at the Lips Restaurant.

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17. Wine tasting through San Diego Winery

Source: Photo by Flickr user Caitlin Regan used under CC BY 2.0

Go posh with mom on a 3.5-hour adventure travelling through San Diego Winery. Mom will be pampered with a pick up right at the doorstep of the hotel and taking her straight to the vineyard.

Learn about San Diego’s vibrant viticulture while getting a taste of the amazing San Diego County Wines. Be prepared to visit 3 family-owned wineries and taste up to 18 different delicious wines. Be served a lavish cheese and fruit platter as you marvel at panoramic vineyard views. You can finish with dinner before being chauffeured back to your hotel.

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Have a fun time with Mom in San Diego this weekend!

Giving Mom (or yourself) the ultimate retreat from home and work is not hard to achieve as long as the time spent together is filled with love and laughter. Whether you’re travelling as a family, just taking Mom for a road trip one-on-one or travelling with a bunch of moms, you are bound to create wonderful memories.

For more info on how to spice up your night in San Diego, check out 15 Best Things To Do In San Diego At Night Beyond Happy Hour!

Any must-sees we missed? Tell us about them in the comments section or write a post here to help out fellow travelers!
Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.


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Shairel is a student studying Linguistics and Multilingual Studies in Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. She loves travel and takes joy in documenting each experience. The countries...Read more

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