FamDiego’s Top 5 Favorite Local Spots in Carmel Valley

Carmel Valley is a great location to live if you have kids. (Find out more about the community on our Carmel Valley page here.) There are a lot of families with kids of all ages who live there and the schools are great. If you live here, you’re not too far from the fun in the city, but there’s still so much to do all within a 10-15 minute drive.

Here are our top 5 local spots near Carmel Valley that our kids love! We hope you enjoy exploring these hidden gems with your family!

Carmel Valley San Diego

1. Powerhouse Park

The local beach is probably one of the best family beaches along the coast! You’ll find it at Powerhouse Park. What kid wouldn’t want a swing with an ocean view?! There’s a playground, bathrooms & showers, easy beach access and frequent live entertainment. Street parking is tricky so plan on some extra time or you can use the pay lot or pay the meters.


2. Torrey Pines Gliderport

The views alone, high atop the cliffs of Torrey Pines, are worth coming here for, but it’s also FREE! Free to park, free to picnic, free to watch the adrenalin junkies fly off the cliff with their brightly colored parachutes into the wind. The Cliffhanger Café serves up pretty good food (open daily 9-4). In the summer May-Sept they have local bands playing on the weekends. You can get down to the beach from there, but it’s a little steep and not recommended; especially if you have kids with you…avoid taking the trail on the right, so they don’t see folks at Black’s Beach sunbathing in their birthday suits. 😉

Carmel Valley San Diego

3. San Diego Botanic Gardens

Kids and nature are the best combination! This place is a true hidden gem that some locals don’t even know about. It’s a 37 acre botanic wonderland that includes 2 large Children’s Gardens, plus a musical garden and an ABC Spell & Smell sensory garden with plants that kids love to touch and smell. You’ll find the largest, coolest treehouse that my kids have ever climbed in; as well as a sandbox big enough for a birthday party and a fun stream that kids can play in. They have regular children’s activities for kids ages 1-6. See their schedule online for stories, songs, planting, garden crafts and model train times. If you visit in the month of February, admission is half off with your Macy’s Museum Month pass.

Carmel Valley San Diego

Libraries & Rec Centers:

We love going to our local Libraries and Parks & Recreation Centers. That’s where we meet new people from the neighborhood, develop friendships and before you know it you’re making play dates and calling each other up to borrow some butter.


4. Carmel Valley Library

Most libraries have weekly or monthly events for FREE, that are even geared towards babies, toddlers and everyone else. Some even have a kids reading nook or designated play area and kids touch-screen computers. Oh, and you can keep your kids’ books on rotation without spending a dime by checking them out the old-fashioned way…just make sure to return them on time. 😉


Here are some kids’ programs at the Carmel Valley Library…and these are all FREE!! Story times for Babies, Toddlers & Preschoolers; pre-K tinker labs; Robotics Lab for ages 11-14; Scientists/Engineers program for grades K-6; Parent/Child & Teen Book Clubs; Lego Builders Clubs; Arts & Crafts; Little Writer’s Workshop; Free Music Lessons for wind, strings and piano; and a monthly family music night.

You can view each library’s event’s calendar here.

Carmel Valley San Diego

5. Carmel Valley Recreation Center

This is where you’ll find lots of, well, Recreation Activities for the whole family! There are 2 playgrounds, tennis courts, horseshoe pits, outdoor fitness stations, basketball courts and picnic areas with barbeques. My favorite thing about Parks & Rec Centers are the activities that you can sign up for.

This location has classes for tiny tots: gymnastics/tumbling 1+, dance 2+, Tiny Chefs 2-5, Jr. Sports 2-5 and t-ball 3.5-5 years. They have numerous sports programs for kids as young as 4 years old that includes: skateboarding classes, martial arts, yoga, basketball, volleyball, arena/soccer, t-ball/baseball, and more. You can also sign up for art (5-12) and acting (4-11).

And if that’s not enough, there are some more special programs that this location features!

Kids with disabilities can call the Therapeutic Recreation Services for assistance with any class with at least 3 weeks notice.

Miss Kim hosts a part-time preschool through Hopscotch for kids 2.5-5 years old, Mon-Fri from 9am-12pm. She focuses on art, music, dance, movement and more while each month has a new theme.

Parents can take the night off and drop off the kids at their Kid’s Night Out once a month. Select Fridays from 5-9:30pm for kids ages 5-12.

You can find out all about these programs and more from their Program Guide here.


P.S. Here are some quick picks for local drinks & eats!:

Local Coffee Shop: Pappalecco

Date Night Dinner: Searsucker

Written by

I'm a stay at home mom of 2 toddler boys and we have to get out of the house everyday, or else we all go a little nuts. We've been all over town and back again, but we love to discover new places. Follow along with our daily shenanigans on our San Diego Adventures with Kids.