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10 Fun San Diego Summer Camps for Kids

Now’s the time to sign children up for camps centering art, science, outdoor exploration, and more
Children playing at the New Children's Museum in downtown San Diego featuring a kids summer camp
Courtesy of the New Children's Museum

I know, I know… It seems nuts to have to think about summer activities when it still feels like we’re fresh off winter break. But, as in-the-know parents will confirm, March and April are camp planning months. Now is when online registration for most camps opens, and some are so popular that you’ll need to train your fingers to click lightning-fast to secure a spot.

You sign up for most camps a week at a time, so some families mix it up, using spreadsheets to plan out which kids are where and when. Others, like my family, opt for one location. No matter your route, local camps offer a way to keep kids moving, learning, and playing all summer long. Here are 10 great San Diego summer camps.

San Diego Unified Extended School Year summer camp with kids on a field with an instructor

San Diego Unified Extended School Year

Any student at San Diego Unified can sign-up for free extended learning, a summer academic program that runs from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. Qualifying families can enroll in the Primetime program, which provides longer hours of care. All the details, including participating schools, can be found here

Price: Free

Time: 8 a.m.–12 p.m.

Dates: June 12–July 12 (Closed June 19, July 4, and July 5) 

Location: Schools across the city

Camp CaHito at Balboa Park

Camp CaHito focuses on a “group-centered” experience, meaning participants have the same counselor and peer group for the duration of the session. Kids ages 5 to 13 can spend all day enjoying games, hikes, STEM activities, archery, hiking, art and crafts, and scavenger hunts. Campers ages 3 and 4 are welcome for half-days.

Price: $370 a week

Time: 8 a.m.–4:30 p.m. or 8:30 a.m.–5 p.m.

Dates: Weekly throughout summer

Location: Balboa Park

Location: Birney Elementary School & Marvin Elementary School

Kids at the top of an inflatable slide during The Plunge's kids summer camp in Mission Beach, San Diego
Courtesy of The Plunge San Diego

Plunge San Diego Adventure Camp

Active kids will dig the Plunge public pool’s San Diego Adventure Camp, which includes beach time, science projects, crafts, hours to swim and play on the Plunge Obstacle Course, yoga and sports, a rock wall, a ropes course, miniature golf, and other activities at Belmont Park.

Price: $379 a week

Time: 9 a.m.–3 p.m.

Dates: Weekly throughout summer

Location: Belmont Park

Mission Trails Regional Park Camp

Mission Trails offers San Diego summer camps during the day for elementary school–age kids. From June 10 to 14, children in grades one through three can experience Wild Transformers, a session focused on teaching participants about local wildlife. For the next two weeks (June 17 to 21 and June 24 to 28), Mission Trails hosts Makers in Nature Art Camp, with a focus on nature-inspired crafts, for kids ages 6 to 10. Finally, July 8 through 12 brings Nature Investigators, an opportunity for older kids (grades four through six) to explore the trails and learn about the park.

Price: $350 a week

Time: 9 a.m.–4 p.m.

Dates: June 10–July 12

Location: Mission Trails Regional Park

Kids reading a book with an instructor during a kids summer camp at The New Children's Museum in downtown San Diego
Courtesy of the New Children’s Museum

New Children’s Museum Camp

The New Children’s Museum in downtown offers an art-based camp for kids ages 5 and up. Professional artist-educators lead participants through hands-on projects, so your little one will likely come home with a fairy costume, soft toy, or illustrated book they made themselves.

Price: $550 a week

Time: 9 a.m.–4 p.m.

Dates: Weekly throughout summer

Location: New Children’s Museum

SAY San Diego

This summer, SAY (Social Advocates for Youth) San Diego hosts “Camp Move” and STEAM camp, providing all-day fun at Birney and Marvin elementary schools. Activities include a morning fitness and running club, organized games, STEAM projects, and a once-weekly “wheels day,” where students can bring skates and scooters.

Price: $320 a week

Time: 7:30 a.m.–5:30 p.m.

Dates: Weekly throughout summer

Kid playing with an exhibit at the San Diego children's Discovery Museum during summer camp
Courtesy of the San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum

Little Explorers Camp at San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum 

The Children’s Discovery Museum in Escondido offers San Diego summer camp and kindergarten readiness programs for North County families. Each day includes access to museum exhibits, hands-on exploration, and games and activities. Ocean, paleontology, and art are among this year’s themes.

Price: $300 a week for members

Time: 9 a.m.–2 p.m.

Dates: Weekly throughout summer

Location: San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum


The YMCA has even more choices this summer for themed camps, including field trips to SeaWorld and Balboa Park for older kids. There are programs for almost any interest, from cooking, dinosaurs, magic, and gaga ball (if you know, you know) to arts and crafts and sports. San Diego summer camps are hosted at YMCA branches across the region, with the exception of the surf program (held at the beach) and overnight camp (located at Camp Marston).

Price: $334 a week and up for members

Time: 8 a.m.–5 p.m.

Dates: Weekly throughout summer

Location: YMCA branches across the county

SeaWorld Summer Camp

Kids can spend all day at SeaWorld, enjoying the park’s shows, rides, and activities alongside games, crafts, songs, and hands-on learning. This San Diego summer camp focuses on a different sea animal, from orcas to sharks to sea lions each week.

Price: $375 a week

Time: 8:15 a.m.–3 p.m.

Dates: Select weeks in July and August

Location: SeaWorld San Diego

Kids engaging in a science experiment during summer camp at the Fleet Science Center at Balboa Park, San Diego
Courtesy of the San Diego Museum Council

Fleet Science Center Camp

Located in Balboa Park, the Fleet offers science camps for kids all summer long. Every week centers on a new theme, including “fairytale engineering,” bugs, and the solar system. Kids can join in fun games and activities that also help them learn about the workings of the world.

Price: $290 a week for members

Time: 9 a.m.–4 p.m. (with extended day to 5 p.m. available at an extra cost)

Dates: Weekly throughout summer

Location: Fleet Science Center

By Claire Trageser

Claire Trageser has been writing for San Diego Magazine for 10 years. She also is a reporter at KPBS and writes for The New York Times, National Geographic, Marie Claire, Elle and Runner's World.

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