San Diego is a hub for both kids and adults alike, thanks to all the various activities that are offered for people of all ages. Sesame Place in San Diego is just one more example of a safe, fun locale for kids to enjoy while parents get to soak up some sun.
Sesame Place is a theme park and water park located in Chula Vista, the southern part of San Diego, and is the perfect place to take the kids for a day. Kids love the exciting water attractions, from Big Bird’s Beach to The Count’s splash castle, Elmo’s rockin rockets, and more.
Whether it’s an award-winning parade, a family-friendly rollercoaster, or kids getting to meet their favorite characters and see daily live character shows, we’ll give you the inside scoop on how to make the most of this Sesame Street-themed play area in San Diego.
What Is Sesame Place?
After Sesame Place Philadelphia opened in July of 1980, it spent decades as the only location. Until 2013, that is, when the Sesame Street experience was brought to the West Coast and opened shop in San Diego’s Chula Vista neighborhood. Many people may recognize the area as the former site of a previous water park, Aquatica San Diego, and will be happy to know that there are plenty of exciting water attractions as well as dry ones like the award-winning parade, the Sunny Day carousel, and daily live character shows.
Now, Sesame Place is just one more San Diego fixture, among the waterparks, theme parks, and other attractions this city has to offer.
The Best Theme Park for Kids in San Diego
Not only is Sesame Place a theme park but it is the best theme park for little kids in San Diego. Geared toward creating a magical, lasting memory for little ones, the park is small enough to not be overwhelming, but has enough attractions that it can easily be stretched into a 2- or 3-day trip. Especially when little ones get tired out easily, you can focus on the water rides one day and dry rides, events, and activities the next.
If your kids are older than toddlers, you can also easily navigate this park in one day and head on to other attractions in San Diego after that. The best thing about Sesame Place is that you can make the experience what you want it to be, ensuring that the whole family is able to enjoy the day(s) exploring.
What To Wear
So, there are wet and dry activities… what should I wear? Sesame Place San Diego has dressing rooms located throughout the whole park, so you can change out of any wet clothes (or messy ones) as needed.
We recommend bringing the following essentials:
- Backup clothes in case of any messes
- Bathing suits for everyone (you could wear these under a first set of clothes if you prefer)
- Water shoes or sandals
- A hat
- A waterproof phone case for extra protection
Of course, check the weather the morning of your visit to get an idea of any layers or additional sun protection you might want to bring.
A Highlight- The Interactive Sesame Street Neighborhood
What would a Sesame Street-themed park be without an interactive walk down Sesame Street? Bounce from the 123 Loop to Abby Cadabby’s Garden, Hooper’s Store, Big Bird’s Nest, and so much more! Big Bird hosts a Storytime, you’ll run into plenty of characters for photos and quick chats, and young kids will have plenty of opportunities to interact with the different areas of Sesame Street that will have them learning new things as they play.
Regardless of what else you do during your visit, make sure that you find your way down Sesame Street.
Best Times to Visit Sesame Place San Diego
Visiting Sesame Place is guaranteed to create a fun family atmosphere and send you off with plenty of memories, but there are some ways to maximize your experience. Most people take trips around the weekend, which means that if you are able to visit during the week you’ll see less crowds, shorter lines, and get even more time making the memories that you came for! Specifically visiting Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday is going to allow you to soak in all the water attractions that the park has to offer, as well as get nice and close to the front for their daily live character shows.
Because this is a water park, the summer months tend to be quite busy, as well. We would recommend trying to schedule your visit for an off-peak time of year or during a summer weekday if you’re looking for a more lowkey guest experience. If crowds aren’t a cause for concern, summer Saturdays make for a great time to enjoy water rides, The Count’s splash castle, Big Bird’s beach, and more!
Know Before You Go
Of course, bringing the kids to a new place comes with some considerable planning, especially if you’re from out of town or have any additional needs. There are some questions you might have before heading to the West Coast based Sesame Place, and we’ll talk about some of the ‘need-to-knows’ below.
How Accessible is Sesame Place?
Sesame Place in San Diego is a CAC, or certified autism center, which means that they are trained by the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES.) As a certified autism center, the theme park is designated to provide specialized services for families that need them, to create a customer experience that is more accessible and caters toward any additional needs.
There is an IBCCES sensory guide, a ride accessibility program, certified staff, an accessibility guide for guests, and quiet rooms. Guests can also find low sensory areas, low sensory parade viewing, and check out noise-cancelling headphones to be used in some parts of the park.
Where is the Sesame Street Theme Park Located?
Sesame Place is located in San Diego’s Chula Vista neighborhood, just east of Imperial Beach and north of the Tijuana, Mexico border. You’ll find it just off the I-805, about 20 minutes from downtown San Diego (when traffic is at its lightest.)
What Are the Opening Hours of Sesame Place?
During peak season, in the summer months from June-August, the park is open daily. Other than that, opening days of the week vary and should always be checked on Sesame Place’s calendar. You can also use the Sesame Place app to see things like hours, a park map, show schedules, rides, and more.
Park hours change the most based on the seasons, but the park opens at 10 am consistently, and is open almost every weekend, if nothing else, even during the slow winter season. Some water rides may not be ideal given certain cooler temperatures, but the rides, engaging musical play area, and your favorite furry friends will still be there.
How Much Does Parking Cost for the Day?
There are two main parking options offered, each at an extra cost to your entry tickets. Sesame Place has general and accessible parking for $30 and up-close parking for $50 which can be bought at the park or ahead of time.
They also offer $30 parking for campers, RVs, and motorcycles that is available to be purchased at the park only. Season pass members have access to free parking, as well.
Other Kid-Friendly Theme Parks in San Diego
Sesame Place is not the only theme park in the area, though the SeaWorld San Diego-owned location is the only theme park geared solely toward kids and families. So, what other parks and attractions might you hit during your time in San Diego?
San Diego Zoo Safari Park
One of the largest tourist attractions in all of San Diego County is located near Escondido, in the northeastern part of the county. You don’t have to take a trip across the ocean to feel like you’re on a real safari. Instead, just head to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. Choose between behind-the-scenes safari, wildlife safari, zipline safari, wildlife treks, and more. No matter your comfort level, time restrictions, or budget, there is an option for you and your family to enjoy.
This attraction is open every day of the year, including holidays, so that you can experience an up-close look of many incredible animals at any time. Opening hours are generally 9 am to 5 or 6 pm, depending on when the sun sets during the season.
From the beachfront boardwalk to the many rides and attractions, Belmont Park sits right at the edge of Mission Beach. With plenty of parking within a short walking distance, you’re likely to have an easy time getting to this historic amusement park.
Open from 11 am daily, the amusement park has closing hours that vary throughout the week, closing the latest on Saturday and Sunday and the earliest Tuesday-Thursday.
This is a great spot to hit with kids that are a little older, especially if you’re looking for that quintessential family day at the beach. It’s so easy to pop right to the water of the Pacific Ocean after a hot day of riding rides and eating fair food.
Located conveniently close to San Diego’s Little Italy, Gaslamp Quarter, and, of course, the Waterfront, this park lets kids play while adults take in the views of sunny San Diego. The perfect spot if you’re just looking for a quick way to cool down in the summer, Waterfront Park is open from 6 am to 10 pm daily, with the fountain jets and pool closing at 7 pm.
Weather conditions may limit water activity hours on some days, when it isn’t safe to be playing in the water, but the park itself is always open during the day. The park is set to reopen after some maintenance work in early March of 2023.
Wanting an extra special day with the kids? Take them to Legoland California!
The drive up to Carlsbad, in the northern part of San Diego County, can be made into an excursion of its own if you drive along Highway 1, also known as the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH.) Enjoy the outdoor theme park, indoor aquarium, and play spaces, and even stay overnight at their resort. The water park is open seasonally, but everything else is open consistently.
From holiday events to any given day of the week, you can enjoy all that Legoland has to offer from around 10 am to 5 pm.
So, now you know! Keep in mind the best times of day, and of the year, to go to Sesame Place San Diego to make sure that your family experience is as wonderful as can be. On top of being a certified autism center, hosting events with your favorite furry friends, offering a season pass, and being home to an interactive Sesame Street neighborhood, Sesame Place is a great way for the entire family to enjoy sunny San Diego.
This is a Southern California gem that is perfect for any West Coast based families that are looking to meet their favorite Sesame Street Characters and spend a day in a place that is truly focused on creating a fun, safe play space for small children.
Let us help you make the most of your time in America’s Finest City and let us know if you think we missed anything!