Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do with Kids in Vista, CA

  • Published 2022/12/05

Located in San Diego County, Vista is a vibrant city that constantly grows and develops new activities and attractions, such as downtown shopping, outdoor and indoor recreational activities, and fantastic farm and park attractions.

Vista may not be a well-known city, but you’ll be surprised by some of the unusual activities to do and places to visit in this little but charming tourist destination.

Numerous cultural and entertainment opportunities await you here.

Interested to know more about this place?

Here are the best things to do with kids in Vista, California:

Visit Antique Gas and Steam Engine Museum

Outside view of Antique Gas and Steam Engine Museum

Alan Islas, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Situated on 55 acres of picturesque land, the Antique Gas and Steam Engine Museum is dedicated to restoring and exhibiting American historical objects critical to the country’s rich farming culture.

When you visit, you’re sure to have a delightful experience.

The museum not only hosts exhibits but also provides a variety of engaging activities that your kids will enjoy.

These activities will not only be entertaining but will also teach them about historical events.

There is a Steam Engine Row, a Gas Engine Row, a Railroad Depot, a Sawmill, a Gristmill, a Tractor Barn, a playground, and a food court.

Blacksmith barn at Antique Gas and Steam Engine Museum

Alan Islas, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Museum’s Blacksmith Barn will give you and your children a thrilling opportunity to explore ancient art, create useful decorative pieces, and learn classic tool manufacturing and architectural ironwork techniques.

Fasten your seatbelt for a tractor ride and other barn activities, such as petting various animals in the barn, cow and goat milking, and an exceptional kids’ game on the parade route.

Remember to bring home some souvenirs from their gift shop!

You can find handmade decorations at Blacksmith Barn as a keepsake for this trip.

Delight in Broadway Theatre’s Great Show and Intimate Setting

Come and see a performance with the whole family at Vista’s Broadway Theatre, the city’s largest small theater and two-time winner of the San Diego A-List for finest theater.

This Californian hidden gem provides teen comedies, musical events, theater acts, workshops, and acting camps.

Your children can enjoy the excitement and entertainment while eating complimentary cookies and drinks.

Find a comfortable spot for your family and enjoy the show.

Don’t worry, as every seat in this theater provides a fantastic view.

Bring your children to this charming theater and treat them to some live-action plays that they will genuinely appreciate and enjoy.

Take Your Family on a Nature Trip at Rancho Guajome Adobe

View of Rancho Guajome Adobe

scerruti, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Rancho Guajome Adobe invites families to explore its 112-acre park and wetland open space.

It’s home to a variety of wildlife, including raccoons, pheasants, great horned owls, and white-tailed kites.

Connect with nature by horseback riding or hiking one of Adobe’s trails with the entire family.

Track trails allow children and their families to tour a park trail on their own using a trail guide brochure.

Receive a shot to earn a backpack, bandanas, and other prizes from Rancho Guajome.

Children who finish the trail are awarded some exciting prizes.

View of Rancho Guajome Adobe

donald gomez, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

After conquering tree mountains, stop by the picnic area to enjoy your packed snacks on the gardens’ lush, green lawn spaces.

Camping is also available at Guajome Regional Park.

In addition to a tent and camping van, you can also rent their cabin.

The cabin has all the amenities you need, including a bed, sleeping cots, a full kitchen, a table and chairs, and a bathroom with a porch.

Garden at Rancho Guajome Adobe

Tonithedocent, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Activate Your Kid’s Competitive Spirit at Boomers Vista

Boomers Vista is the go-to spot in Vista for family enjoyment.

On any occasion, this amusement park is a secure and enjoyable destination to spend time with your family.

Whether you and your kids want to compete in one of their distinctive miniature golf courses, drive their fastest lap through a high-speed Go Kart track, get wet on the bumper boats, or collect rewards in the arcade, your family will have a great time.

The amusement park also has batting cages, high-tech laser tag, and Kidopolis, featuring a variety of arcade video games.

Visit this amusement park and show off your family’s winning spirit by competing for supremacy at the arcade!

Compare your scores at each attraction after your amusement park experience to determine which is the amusement park hero among you.

Nothing beats enjoying a good time with the family at an amusement park.

So head over to Boomers Vista on your next trip here!

Wander around Alta Vista Botanical Gardens

Alta Vista Botanical Gardens encourages social inclusion in local and international efforts to conserve and protect endangered habitats, which are essential to the well-being of our planet and its inhabitants.

Your children will appreciate the educational tour, as well as the enlightenment and inspiration it provides.

The gardens are a dynamic, ever-changing environment that connects people to nature and art.

You’ll have the opportunity to explore the most remarkable exhibit and the magnificent and rare plants.

Take your family to a stunning area to reflect, relax, and recharge in the serene atmosphere of these gardens.

Get Ready for a Fun-Filled Day of Activities at Clay ‘N Latte

Signage of Clay ‘N Latte

Simone Hogan /

In 2004, the Clay ‘N Latte joined the heart of the Downtown Vista neighborhood to introduce a distinctive art form to kids and kids-at-heart.

Show off your inner creativity by producing a work of art that you can keep as a souvenir of your family trip to Vista.

Your children will love making their own glass fusion and ceramic artworks based on their original paintings.

You and your kids can pick from a wide range of pottery designs, including mugs, plates, bowls, miniatures, piggy banks, and everything between your likes.

This place is also a great place to make your one-of-a-kind family hand cast that will last forever.

Take your child to this attraction to let them discover their artistic talent with pottery.

Relieve 1895’s Railroad at Short Track Railroad

If your kids love trains, then this is the activity for you!

The Short Track Railroad began its operation in 1992 and is known for its amazing annual display at San Diego County Fair.

Three layouts, named Donner Pass Exhibit, NTRAK Layout, and Scenic Ridge-Kids Layout, are on display at the section house of the Antique Gas and Steam Engine Museum called Short Track Railroad.

If you’re looking for a unique historical experience for your kids, look no further than this miniature railroad model.

It will take them back to 1895, and your kids will be mesmerized by all the amazing details.

They might even wish they could shrink down and explore the village on their own!

Make sure to come and visit the exhibit so that you can see the fine work firsthand.

Marvel at Brengle Terrace Park’s Grounds

Brengle Terrace Park is home to the Jim Porter Recreation Center, the Moonlight Amphitheatre, the Gloria McClellan Senior Center, and Alta Vista Gardens, among other amenities.

The playground and recreation center are at the bottom of the hill in the park’s half-volcano shape, and you’ll cross the amphitheater halfway up to the top.

Get the chance to enjoy the park’s amenities with your kids, including the Kiwanis Pavilion’s picnic areas, two softball fields, and basketball, tennis, and pickleball courts.

The main attraction at the park is the Moonlight Theatre.

Your entire family can enjoy watching different performances, so don’t miss out!

If you’re feeling energetic, take a walk through the park on a trail that connects to other trails in the area.

Stroll around Vista Farmers’ Market

Fresh purple cauliflower at Vista Farmers Market

Juan P Rodriguez /

Established in 1981, the Vista Farmers Market is the county’s first, making it one of California’s oldest markets.

Shop some fruits, such as apples, strawberries, persimmons, and many more!

Your kids will love gazing through pottery, jewelry, souvenir gifts, seasonal accessories, and other handcrafted items.

Every week, they have different live music that plays at the farmer’s market.

You and your kids can try sampling freshly baked bread and other baked goods, such as cupcakes, pies, and cookies, including sauces, dips, pickles, and salsa from over 40 stalls at the market.

Buy Some Antique Souvenirs at Resale Nook

Since you’re strolling around a charming historic town, why not bring some vintage items home with you?

Resale Nook has been one of the thrift stores and resale shops that sells vintage and up-cycled items in Vista since 2008.

Wander thoroughly, and you might find your favorite collectibles and brand-name home decor at a great price here.

You’ll likely come across treasures like antique jewelry, crystal, silver, artwork, small furniture, and much more.

Bring your entire family and see what unique items they can find and take home here.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Got most of the Vista‘s attractions down but not ready to go home yet?

Make your kid’s vacation more memorable by taking them to these thrilling attractions near Vista.

Surprise Your Kids with a Camping Adventure at South Carlsbad State Beach

Shoreline of South Carlsbad State Beach

Sherry V Smith /

South Carlsbad State Beach will immerse your family in a fun and exciting beach camping destination.

South Carlsbad is three miles from Carlsbad and runs along the coast from Palomar Airport Avenue to La Costa Avenue.

South Carlsbad State Beach Campground has full hook-up sites for its camping options, including premium sites with ocean views, whereas standard sites are a little further inland.

The beach is reachable via ramps or stairwells.

Stairwells at South Carlsbad State Beach

Sherry V Smith /

Other camping necessities can be purchased at the seasonal camp store.

Surfing, pier fishing, beach volleyball, and even attending beach festivals are all options for your family to enjoy while exploring and enjoying the beach.

Among the campground’s amenities are a picnic table and a fire ring.

Enjoy a stroll along the beach with your family while watching the sunset!

Pebbles on the shores of South Carlsbad State Beach

Sherry V Smith /

Challenge Your Family and Try iFly Indoor Skydiving

Have your kids ever wished they had the ability to fly?

This dream could become a reality at iFly Indoor Skydiving, just 3 miles from the iconic Oceanside Pier and 5 miles from Legoland, and only around 9 minutes from Vista.

If you don’t want to skydive but still want the experience, or if you’re traveling with children and want them to have this opportunity, iFly Indoor Skydiving is a great option for your family.

At iFLY Oceanside, skydiving is an indoor experience that simulates real free-fall conditions; there is no parachute, no jumping, and no way to stay connected to the earth while skydiving.

Come fly with us at iFLY Indoor Skydiving, regardless of your skill level!

Their helpful staff will guide you through the process step-by-step, and even young children as young as three can take flight.

Don’t pass up this experience!

Dare your kids to experience the most incredible adrenaline rush of their young lives!

Enjoy Picking Up Fruits at Carlsbad Strawberry Company

Freshly collected strawberries at Carlsbad Strawberry Company

Rob Bertholf, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Come to our farm for a fun-filled adventure just 16 minutes away from Vista!

Carlsbad Strawberry Company offers the one-of-a-kind experience of picking your own super fresh and tasty strawberries.

They have been growing strawberries for generations and the farm changes along with the seasons.

That’s why you can expect a great pumpkin patch activity there in the fall.

Taste their brewed coffee and other refreshments at the farm’s small coffee carts while wandering and walking through the flower rows.

Strawberries at Carlsbad Strawberry Company

Rob Bertholf, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Get astonished at the numerous beautiful flowers you’ll see here.

Your children will enjoy a variety of enjoyable activities, including face painting.

A 1.5-mile corn maze trail is the perfect family activity at this farm, taking about 30 minutes to complete.

Visit the farm for a fun day with the family, and don’t forget to take home a bucket of harvest!

Strawberry field at Carlsbad

Rob Bertholf, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Treat Your Kids to Legoland California

Entrance to Legoland California

Ivan_Sabo /

Cross out this dream destination on your children’s bucket list.

Legoland California, located only 19 minutes from Vista, will provide your family with an unforgettable experience, especially for your young kids!

At Legoland California Resort, you can enjoy over 60 rides, shows, and attractions, including the new LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens Miniland Model Display, which includes a 16-foot-long Finalizer made entirely of LEGO bricks, as well as six additional scenes that your children will truly enjoy.

Families enjoying in the water park at Legoland California

Hayk_Shalunts /

This amusement park also houses the Legoland Water Park, the Sea Life Aquarium, and Surfers’ Cove, a water park expansion with racer-style water slides.

Allow your children to defeat dragons, battle pirates, discover ancient treasures and engage in many more activities available here.

Because there are so many things to do in this place, a single day is woefully not enough to explore it more.

Ride at Legoland California

Hayk_Shalunts /

You might also spend the night at the Legoland Hotel, which has new rooms with new LEGO Ninjago-themed rooms.

Come and let your kids and your inner child have fun at this fantastic family-friendly destination!

Visitors enjoying the view of lego scultures at Legoland California

Hayk_Shalunts /

Explore San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Balloon safari at San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Steve Cukrov /

Situated just 30 miles north of downtown San Diego, San Diego Zoo Safari Park is only 24 minutes from Vista and offers an extraordinary wildlife experience.

The San Diego Zoo Safari Park is a large non-profit wildlife park that houses over 3,000 animals from over 300 different species and an internationally renowned botanical collection with about 3,500 species and 1.75 million organisms.

Elephants at San Diego Zoo Safari Park

The Image Party /

You’ll get to explore its native species habitat, which has been designated on more than half of the park’s 1,800 acres.

Visit the Asian Savana African Planes, home to Indian rhinoceros, Bactrian camels, banteng, gaur, and several Asian deer and antelope species.

Giraffes greeting the visitors in the safari bus

Arne Beruldsen /

At Tiger Trails, your children will enjoy meeting the Sumatran tigers like Denver and Rakan.

Have fun in your jungle exploration with the kids at this park!

Gorilla at San Diego Zoo Safari Park

EQRoy /

Final Thoughts

With such a historic location that blends with a variety of fun attractions, you will undoubtedly enjoy this destination with your children, whether it is a land, park, or water adventure.

Take advantage of this best thing to do with kids in Vista, California, and try a variety of historical exploration, fun activities, and scenic parks to unwind with the family.

So, if you’re looking for a fun day out with the family, be sure to check out one of Vista’s many great attractions!

There’s always something for the family in this charming California city.

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