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Going to San Diego
I would like to take my almost 6 year old son tent camping in San Diego. I have
seen that there are lots of campgrounds. However, since I've never been to San
Diego, I have no idea about the differences among them or how far they are from one
another or anything else. We are going to use a tent, would love a place with
bathrooms and showers and close to the beach. We are planning on going to
Legoland as well. I found a website that talks about San Diego North campgrounds.
Have you visited or know of any campground you could recommend? Thanks for any
San Diego camper
San Elijo State Beach has a wonderful campground in what I think is one of the
most beautiful and scenic parts of the coastline. Beach access is right there.
It is right next to Hwy 101, which can get loud with traffic during certain
times of the day, but it is known by locals as one of the best beaches and
surf spots in the area. It's a 15 minute drive to Legoland. It does book well
in advance: http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=662. South Carlsbad Beach is a
good spot if you want a quieter, less central location. That is only about 8
minutes from Legoland. http://www.parks.ca.gov/default.asp?page_id=660.
San Diego native
We're going to San Diego with our 3 year old son for his first trip there. Our
plans? Legoland, Sea World, San Diego Zoo and Balboa Park. Our lodging? An
apartment in the Mission Bay area.
We're looking for recommendations on HOLIDAY RELATED AND OTHER FUN ACTIVITIES to
do during the week of 12/02-12/07 with a 3 year old. Also, RESTAURANT
RECOMMENDATIONS. We plan to hit Old Town for at least one dinner.
Any other advice on: * THINGS TO SEE/DO * PLACES TO EAT * WEBSITES FOR MORE
* ANYTHING I'VE MISSED would also be much appreciated. THANKS for your feedback!
I would suggest La Jolla Cove and the Children's beach. La Jolla is beautiful, and
there are usually seals on those beaches, which would probably be interesting (perhaps
too interesting, since they are protected and you are supposed to keep your distance)
to a 3-year-old.
If you like the zoo, I would suggest splitting up you visit over more than one day.
There's certainly enough to see to keep you busy for two days. If you do that, look
into a membership; it can be more cost effective. The Wild Animal Park is also lovely,
although not worth the trek to some. The merry-go-round in Balboa park near the zoo is
very cool--it's of the old-
fashioned grab the ring sort.
Definitely make some time to just hang out on the beach, and bring your sand toys.
I lived in San Diego four years and I can't think of one darned holiday-related
We'll be traveling by car over thanksgiving with 2 kids (6 and 9)
to San Diego by car and want to break up the trip. Any
suggestions for good places to stay/things to do roughly midway,
give or take?
Any advice greatly appreciated
Take 101 rather than 5 and you'll have plenty of options! It's
been many years now, but I thoroughly enjoyed a past visit to
the La Purisima Mission, near Lompoc, and your kids are of an
age to be interested. It is the only California Mission no
longer in the hands of the Catholic Church, and is now a State
Historical Park; volunteers often give demonstrations of candle-
making and the like and the buildings and grounds are set up
with period furnishings etc.
In the same general area, you could visit Solvang, or the beach,
or a winery.
We will be visitng San Diego for a week over the Thanksgiving
holidays with a 5 month old and a 2 year old. Does anyone have
some advice on the best places to visit with a baby and a
toddler in tow? Thanks!
We did San Diego last April with a 2.5yo and 7mo. It was pretty fun. We
spent a little time at the beach (eg, Coronado), did the Zoo and Wild
Animal Park (one day each) and walked around some mission/historic sites.
The older one had a good time everywhere; the little one basically hung
out in the Ergo most of the time. Our backup plan if it was rainy was the
Fleet Science Center (www.rhfleet.org) in Balboa Park (near Zoo). Through
2007 they have an exhibit called ''Kid City'' with conveyer belts, air
chutes, a factory, grocery store and a telephone booth that kids can play
with. I was kind of bummed it didn't rain! Balboa Park also has a
miniature railroad similar to the one in Tilden Park, plus lots of room to
I am looking for a place to stay in SD that is like the Saga
Motor Hotel in Pasadena. To wit, a funky, smallish, under-the-
radar place that has a pool and isn't too far from the ocean. I
don't want a place with 100s of rooms, spas, or a cookie-cutter
chain feel to it.
We'll be going to the Zoo and Legoland. Two adults and two kids.
Does anyone else get that retro 50s craving?
Greetings fellow Saga-lover!
I used to live in Del Mar (15 years ago) and there was a great
old hotel in Solana Beach near a beach called ''the notch''. I
think it was called the Solana Beach Hotel (or Motel). It will
surely please you in every way, if it is still in business,
except that it has no pool. On the up-side, the beach is only
about 1 block away and all of Solana Beach is walkable. I LOVE
this place. Don't try ''googling '' it because you'll get all the
chains that pay a lot for internet publicity. Best is to try the
White Pages or the Chamber of Commerce to see if it's still open.
It's one story with about 20 rooms right in the ''notch.''
If that's too far north, there's also a way-funky place to stay
in Pacific Beach right on the pier. It's got a bunch of old,
funky bungalows built right on the pier. I'm not sure the name of
the place, but Emerald Pier (Diamond Pier?) rings a bell. Solana
Beach is way cooler than Pacific Beach, IMHO
We are travelling with 2 small children to San Diego.
Does anyone have a favourite hotel i
that you could recommend?
We just got back from a weekend at the Doubletree Club in San Diego
(http://doubletreeclubsd.com). It's out in Mission Valley/Hotel Circle
so not a glamorous location, but pretty central to everything. Clean,
modern rooms, nice staff, nice pool - there were always tons of kids in
the pool. And the rooms were very soundproof - I didn't freak out about
bugging people when our baby cried, like I do in some hotels. Plus you
get chocolate chip cookies at check-in! Our room had a king bed and a
sofa bed, perfect for us and 2 kids.
We are headed to San Diego in June for a long weekend with our
son and wanted to find out if anyone knows any ticket
discounters to the San Diego attractions i.e. (Sea World,
Legoland, Wild Animal Kingdom etc.) We were shocked to see how
expensive everything was. Thanks!
If you're a member of AAA, go to their offices. They have
tickets for most attractions in the San Diego Area, including
the Zoo and Lego Land. While the prices are still pretty steep,
they sell most at least a slightly reduced rate, or with lots of
things included. And some tickets bought through AAA, like for
Lego Land, inlcude a second day free if you head to guest
services right as you get to the park. Have a good time!
Been There Done That
If you are AAA member you get $10 off each addmission ticket, but only if
you buy the ''best deal'' they offer. also check costco web site for
deals. if they still have them, they are pretty good deals.
If you must go in June...
AAA members get discounts on several attractions in San Diego. For
instance, in my VIA magazine (AAA's monthly), I noticed that AAA members
get into Seaworld for the child price and kids are 1/2 off the child
price. Check their website for more info.
If you plan to do both the zoo and wild animal park, look into
becoming a member. The single adult membership ($79) includes two
free guest passes, so if there are two adults, you can buy one
membership and use one guest pass at each park. Each kid age
three and up has to join separately, but the child membership fee
is cheaper than the admission ticket (kid's membership is only
available together with an adult membership)! Memberships include free
tram tickets, discounted bus tickets, and some
specials at the gift shops. And a great zoo magazine. In
addition, it is FULLY tax deductible, so the net cost may be even
less if you itemize. Membership also allows you to come and go
any day for a full year (though the guest passes can only be used
once). The zoo web site also offers three-attrction tickets,
good for five days at the zoo, animal park, and Sea World at a
good discount (assuming you were going to do all three anyway).
We are going on a cruise at the end of February and two of the
ports of call are Catalina Island and San Diego. We have 10
hours in each place. I would like information on things to do
with a 2.5 year old.
I know that there are many things in San Diego. We have the
money to enjoy one place. Should we go to Sea World, Wild
Animal Park, Zoo or Legoland?? And why??
Thanks so much.
In Catalina, I would recommend getting fish at Rosie's at the
end of the pier and just walking along the front street with an
ice cream from olaf's. If you want to work off some calories
from the cruise, I would highly recommend renting a bike at
Brown's Bikes to get a tour of Avalon--some bikes have bucket
seats for your toddler. There is also a playground across the
street from them.
LEGOLAND IS AWESOME!! I'm not usually a fan of amusement parks. I'd rather have a
root canal than go to Disneyland. But I was incredibly surprised at how much I loved
Legoland. It's a mellow and creative place with tons of fun things to do. Our son was
only one at the time, but there was still enough for him to do. Now he's 3, and we're
going back this year. I highly recommend it.
Two of your proposed destinations are pretty far outside of San
Diego--the Wild Animal Park and Legoland. With only 10 hours, I
think the transit would suck up too much time, and possibly leave
you stressed about getting back in time.
I love the zoo. Besides the expected really nice animal exhibits,
it has several walk-through aviaries. It also is really a
phenomenal botanical garden--lush, green, beautiful, a whole
world away from what's outside the gates. Adjacent to the zoo is
an old fashioned carousel (grab the ring), a train ride (I think)
and all of Balboa park with it's Spanish architecture, museums
and promenade. It's in central San Diego, and quick to get to.
I'm not a huge fan of Sea World. An amusement park with big fish.
But if you like that, it's close by and definitely do-able.
About San Diego: I think with a 2.5 year old and the amount of time you have, I
would recommend Legoland if you have a way to get there (it's in Carlsbad, up the
coast a bit). My son loved Legoland at 3 and 4 years. You might want to check the
Legoland website to see how many rides your child could go on--they have
minimum heights, and I remember my son was tall enough at 3 years for most of
the ones that interested him. There is a lot of brightly colored stuff that is easy for
a child to see and enjoy (large animals made from Legos, etc.). They have some
shows too--we loved the Funtown Firehouse show. Carlsbad has a great beach,
too--you might have time to check that out.
The San Diego Zoo is presumably much closer to where your boat docks, and is a
really wonderful zoo. Probably more crowded than Legoland, but if your child and
you like animals, you could have a great time.
The Wild Animal Park is also wonderful, but much farther away, so I'd pick the zoo
I think Sea World is better for older kids--we went when my son was 3, and he
wasn't at a stage where he could enjoy sitting and watching the whale show (which
is a big attraction).
We took our 2.5 year old to San Diego and based on our
experience I would say Sea World. I loved it and there is a
wonderful outdoor waterpark/play area that is good for all
ages...bring a bathing suit and towels. My son loved the shows --
- Shamu was a big hit. You can pet the rays, great eel display,
and the manatees were fabulous. My second choice would be the
zoo. I've heard legoland is better for age 5 or so, so 2.5 may
be too young to enjoy. And our toddler was very fussy at the
Animal Park -- lots of tram riding and too far away from the
animals to make an impression on a little one like that. We also
loved Balboa Park -- free tram you can ride raround and pretty
park areas, museums, etc. Have fun.
sea world, the Zoo and Lego Land are lovely and very pricey-the downfall is
the weather is hideous and all those places fail miserably in the rain, cold
wind...Head to Balboa Park-minutes from downtown-lots of space to run and home
the Ruben H fleet Science Center with BIG toddler hands on type of science
we then hit the natural history museum, saw the chocolate faire, and the
were just 3 and 5 loved the bones, snakes, fish type stuff...if you are
chabot space and science I belive they have a priviedge swap BUT YOU NEED
I absolutely second Sea World. What a fun adventure. And I
would recommend Scripp's (Oceanography Research) Aquarium as
well. Not too large, but nice creatures to see and things to
learn. My son loved it when he was 2.
The zoo is fabulous and not to be missed but take a warm
sweater..it's a cool pocket of canyons and chilly winds alot of
the time. Best deal is to ride the tour/bus around then go back
to sites your kids loved....seals and monkeys and penguins are
close by the entrance. The merry-go-round outside the zoo is a
tradition I'd never miss. If it's a nice day, the beach in
Coronado is endless. It can be foggy in SD, sunny in Coronado. If
it's foggy, it usually clears by 11 a.m.
my sister- who lives in amsterdam- wants to get married in san
diego next fall. does anybody know a good wedding planner in
san diego who could help? also- though both families are
originally from san diego, nobody who's still there has any
recent, direct experience with any of the potential venues
(hotel del, valencia) nor any clue about other possible sites
for an intimate ceremony near the beach. actually, any related
recommendation would be great (florist, suggestions for long
distance planning, etc.)thanks a bunch
We have a family house on Mission Bay in San Diego. Many times
on our walks we see many, many weddings at the Catameran
Resort. It's on the bay, the grounds are beautiful, alot like
Hawaii. It also has a new spa that I've gone to that's
relaxing, professional and great messages and the best pedicure
I've ever had. Check it out, they have a web site. The wedding
coordinator can help with many of the details. When I got
married in Hawaii at a resort, I let them do everything, since I
felt they were good, and their reputation was on the line. I'm
glad I did, it was easy and I think the Catameran could do the
same for you.
In a heartbeat if I had it to do over again I would get married
at ''The Wedding Bowl'' outside in La Jolla. Here's a picture I
found on the web:
(By the way, the picture just barely does this beautiful place
justice.) I am not entirely sure how to go about it, but on
another website I found a note that said to obtain a permit, call
Regional Parks at (619) 235-1169. Also there is a hotel directly
across the street from this place where you could stay and then
walk across to the wedding.
Also, although I wasn't married in SD, I had a woman named Nancy
Burgess help with our wedding here in the bay area. I'm not
sure if she is still doing that right now but I know that she's
done a ton in SD. If you need her contact info let me know. She
was more of our day-of coordinator, I don't know if she does full
service type of stuff.
fiora floral in san diego. talk to meara. she is lovely with beautiful taste. 619-251
-2376. she can suggest venues too.
Look into Balboa Park. There are rose gardens, fountains, and
San Diego is beautiful for outdoor weddings. There are many
hotels along the beach and they probably coordinate weddings as
well. I recently stayed at Pacific Terrace and it was very nice
and right on the beach in the Pacific Beach Area. good luck!
We are planning a vacation to La Jolla at the end of July and have already rented a
house. I am looking for recommendations for good family beaches (our group
includes 2 young kids under the age of 6 and one 13 year old child.) I'm also
interested in recommendations for good restaurants and any other fun activities.
I've read the posts regarding things to do in San Diego and would like suggestions
for the La Jolla area.
I have a recommendation for something to do in La Jolla with
kids, and it's free! Take them to watch the hang gliders at
Torrey Pines. That's right near the UCSD campus. It's
spectacularly beautiful to watch and a lot of fun to see all
the preparations people go through with the gliders before they
go running off the edge of the bluff. It's completely safe
place to be with kids, by the way. It's a long way down to the
bluff from where you sit and watch.
The La Jolla Shores beach is really nice. It's a long sandy beach
great for long walks and sandplay. It would be fine anywhere
along it as far north as the Scripps pier. The surf is serious
So. Cal surf, so it would be ok for the 13 year old but not so
fine for the little ones (unless you just splashed with them and
kept a VERY close eye on them. They would probably be ok with you
filling buckets with sea water and letting them play with them.
North of the pier during low tides there is a tidepool.
There are 2 small beaches on the north tip of the La Jolla
peninsula that are pretty protected from the surf by jettys and
such. They'd be fine for the little ones. One has a lifeguard. I
d have a hard time giving you directions, but one is called La
Jolla Cove ( it's the one with the lifeguard, and it's also
really nice for older kids to snorkel there as there's a lot of
nifty stuff to look at swimming around. The beach part is small,
small) the other one is about 1/4 mile west of there. It might be
called the Kid's Beach. These days there tend to be a few lazy
seals that hang around there all day long but do not bother
people. It's also a small beach but there's a bit more sand to
spread your towel out there. The ocean there is ok for splashing
but the snorkeling would be a big zero (I think).
I can only remember one really nice place to eat. It's on the
cliff just above the La Jolla Cove. If you park at the Cove, it's
just to the right (south) on the hillside in an old white
bungalow with umbrellas all around on patios. It's lunch-type
fare with a to-die-for view!
I went to UC San Diego, so spent 3 years in La Jolla. I would
recommend The Cottage for breakfast/lunch. It is right down in La Jolla
Cove on Pearl Street (?) It is good and kid friendly (I recently ate there
with my newborn). Sorry I don't have the address, but you could look it
up or ask around. There is a wait for breakfast on the weekends. I
would also recommend going over to Del Mar, which is very close to La
Jolla and a beautiful place. There is a great beach and lots of shops
and restaurants. Have fun in the sun!
you must must MUST go to seaworld! where else can you see
beautiful beluga whales (in northern ca). wonderful for the
entire family, not so large as sd zoo. i thought it would be
terribly like disneyland, but we were able to appreciate the
animals and a few fun shows as well. we went 2 years ago with
our 2 year old son and we had a fabulous time. check into AAA
if you are a member, they had discount tickets at that time.
another fabulous stop would be UCSD's scripps aquarium (more
along the line of lawrence hall of science). you can see
sharks in their small tank and they have an absolutely
beautiful series of seahorse tanks set up as well. have fuuuun!
been there and had a terrific time, jennifer
You don't mention exactly where you are staying the LJ area, but
I would recommend Antonio's Hacienda (i think that's the name), a
great mexican food restaurant towards the ''beginning'' of the
village on prospect. The cove and the children's pool are both
on the water by the village, but can be crowded. Another place
to check out (I haven't been in a long time) is wind and sea
beach. Take girard ave away from the village and turn right on
nautilus ave, it dead ends into wind and sea. Not as many
tourists there, usually. The Living Room is a cafe on Prospect
with fun, yummy coffee drinks and a pretty tasty food menu too.
If you aren't staying near the village there, you can always go
to La Jolla Shores -- it's a beach with ''real'' waves, and also
head over towards UC San Diego; take Torrey Pines Rd. to La Jolla
Village Dr. and then you'll find the UTC shopping mall and tons
of other places. Over that direction is a Peets, Whole Foods, etc.
-wishing for the sand myself
My family of 4 (and possibly another family) are planning on
taking a one week vacation in San Diego area in June. Ideally,
we'd like to rent a place on the beach. We'd love to hear
recommendations for what beaches are the most family friendly
(two kids, 7 and 3) and if there are suggestions for specific
rentals or sources of rentals.
You definitely want to check out Mission Bay. It's a little crowded and gritty
(kind of like Santa Cruz), but it is perfect for families. It is a little peninsula
(about two blocks wide) between the bay--perfect for little ones tootin' in the
water--and the ocean--which has your classic body surfing, beach volleyball
type feel. We went last year and rented a small cottage through Beach and
We loved our San Diego rental last summer. It was on Mission Bay
that is peninsula that is about three blocks wide. One side was
ocean and the other was a calm bay which was great for little
kids to play in. There is a bike/walking path on the ocean-side
and I loved riding the rented bike. Eleven of us (three families)
stayed in a house/compound that included a main house, cottage,
and studio off the garage. I was decorated very tacky, yet
expensive. Like Graceland. Here is the web site,
http://www.pacificsunsetgroup.com/villa_paraiso.htm. They don't
list the studio and cottage for some reason. You have to ask for
them. Mission Bay is very close to Sea World and we could see
their nightly fireworks from our roof-top patio. BTW - our 2 and
4 year old boys loved Legoland and Balboa Park.
We are looking for a place to getaway with our 2 year old in
mid April. In order to assure decent weather, it seems that we
have to go south. We are considering Coronado Island, near San
Diego. Has anyone been there with toddlers? How was it? Any
reccs of good places to stay? Any other great finds that we
haven't thought of?
The BEST place in San Diego with a Toddler is the La Jolla Beach
and Tennis Club. The best beach in San Diego, especially for
small children, the rooms have kitchens, there is a play
structure and a kids menu. The downside is that it is expensive.
In the summer a non-beach front 1 bdrm suite is more than $400
per night and there is a 7 night minimum if you can even get in.
However, the trick is to go in the off season. We were there
last week with our 3 and 6 year old. We had a 1 bdrm non beach
front (room 201 - it has a peak of the ocean) with breakfast
included for $229 per night. The weather was great and the kids
were delirious they were so happy. It is a short 30 minute drive
to Legoland if your toddler is old enough or you can just hang
out at the LJBTC - it's our favorite beach in California
The LJBTC also has a sister property next door called the Sea
Lodge - we've never stayed there, but I think it might be a
little less expensive.
If you have questions feel free to e-mail me. We've also stayed
at the Hotel Del Coronado - it doesn't begin to compare
My hubby and I are thinking of heading to San Diego in March
with our 15-month old son. This will be our first ''trip'' as a
family and besides the nervousness of flying with a toddler, I
am now trying to find acceptable accomodations. Neither my
husband nor I have been there before.
After reading the old postings in the archives, does anyone
have any recent recommendations for hotels and things that
would be fun for a toddler? We were thinking that a mini-suite
might be nice for access to fridge and separate sleeping areas,
and that a heated pool might do the trick for on-site
recreation. We tend to be more ''resort'' type folks, but that of
course, was before we had our son! :)
I hear Legoland would be good. Is that within bus/walking
distance or should we rent a car? And is the zoo worth it for
what will be a 18-month old?
Any insight much appreciated! We want a family getaway without
going into debt but we would like to relax and have some fun
I have been to San Diego with my toddler and then with two
little ones. We rented a condo in Carlsbad which was great
because we could make our own meals and they had a nice pool.
The kids could have spent most of their time in the pool! The
condo was across the street from the beach so we could just
cross over for a nice walk. Check on rates with AAA for
discounts on attractions. Legoland is fairly expensive but
little ones really like it. They serve beer (to get parents thru
the experience? LOL). Last time we bought a three day pass which
was good for unlimited in and out at San Diego Zoo, the San
Diego Wild Animal Park and Marine World. That was the way to go
because individually they are all expensive and this made you
feel less bad when your kid gets pooped. Take some videos for
the condo while you take a little rest or are making meals. A
stroller is a must for all these places.
We loved Balboa Park. Our kids liked the train museum and the
little ride-on train ride. I wasn't that in to the Zoo nor Sea
World. 15-months is a bit young for Legoland because the rides
are for about three and up. If I had a 15-month old, I would rent
a cottage on the beach and explore the parks and beaches. The
ammusement parks are expensive and limited for a 15-month-old.
We just returned from 10 days in San Diego with our 25 month
old. We stayed at Paradise Island, a resort just out of the
city that sounds like what you are looking for. They have 2
room suites, heated pools & hot tub and a mini fridge to fill
with snacks. My son loved the tropical settings and we had a
lot of fun feeding the many ducks that were in the ponds.
There was a casual eating restaurant there that did not mind
toddlers running about and had an outside pond with sharks in
it that fascinated my little guy. The concierge also put us in
touch with a lovely baby sitting service and we hired them to
watch our son while we wined and dined in the upscale
restaurant right there on the island!
I'd highly recommend hiring a car as there are so many things
to do, but it all is a little spread out. For an 18 month old
I'd skip Legoland - it is really a lot of fun and my son loved
it, but you need to be 36 inches to get on the rides, even with
a parent. For the $100 you'd really only get to play in the
toddler area and it wouldn't be worth it. The San Diego zoo is
wonderful, but really large - you'll definetely need a stroller
and even then I suspect you will not get to see it all. They
have a petting zoo which is fun and you can catch a tour bus
within the zoo that will allow you to see most of it. Do not
go out to the wild life park - it is far too big for a toddler
and the animals are too spread out - my little one got bored
and tired there.
Balboa Park has many wonderful things for you to do. We got a
Museum pass and spent a lot of time looking at the many
museums. There is a children's discovery museum that has a
great toddler play area similar to Totland which we thankfully
stumbled across on the only day it rained. The playground near
there was fun too.
If you get a car you can drive for a day to Mexico - it is only
30 minutes away. Don't forget your sons birth certificate or
else you won't get in!
Have fun - we did!
Although I haven't stayed there for a couple of years, I've always liked the Balboa
Park Inn -- http://www.balboaparkinn.com/. It's got a slightly-funky flavor in a
gay-San Diego sort of way -- it's clean and comfortable. There are lots of
suites in various configurations, many with fridge, kitchenette, or even full kitchen,
and the prices are very reasonable. No pool, though.
It's very conveniently located if you want to go to the zoo -- pretty much ''just
across the street.'' And the zoo will be great for an 18-month-old, trust me. The
zoo is located within Balboa Park, and you'll also find a wonderful old merry-go-
round in that section of the park (plus a couple of other kiddie rides).
Legoland is up near Carlsbad and while there is probably a bus that will take you
there, it might be easier to just rent a car. Renting a car will also get you easily to
the beach, Old Town, Sea World, etc. etc. But I think Legoland is better for a slightly
older kid -- 3 to 7 years old.
I think that an 18-month-old will get just as much fun from what you can walk
to from the BP Inn. Kid-play-friendly fountains, the zoo, a lovely botanical garden
-- there's a ton of stuff to do and see in Balboa Park. See their website at http://
I'm all for keeping vacations simple, especially with a toddler.
re: stuff to do, I'd skip the zoo though Balboa Park itself
would be fun. The wild animal park is worth the drive if you're
wanting a zoo that's well, less of a ''zoo.'' Beautiful trails,
safari-like feel where the animals have lots of room to roam. La
Jolla has really nice beaches, and one in particular where lots
of seals congregate. I'd also highly recommend Cabrillo National
Monument in Point Loma- just gorgeous to go for a walk, see a
lighthouse, if it's the season you can often spot whales from
there. Nearby in Ocean Beach there's a great kid-friendly
organic and delicious Mexican food place called Rancho's they
actually have 2 restaurants near to eachother, one in Point Loma
and one in OB which has a nice small patio so I'd stop there
San Diego vacation rental sought (prefer house or condo)
My family is meeting in San Diego to vacation in late March and
would love your advice on where to stay. Specifically,
1) Can you recommend a house/condo that we could rent for a week
(March 25-April 2)?
2) Can you recommend a (not-too-expensive) hotel (pool OR
walkable beach access is a MUST) that is kid-friendly?
3) Can you recommend a beach or park that would be good for a
family to hang out on/in?
We are: 3 couples (me and my husband, my sis and her husband,
and my parents) and 3 children (my 7- and 9- year-old niece and
nephew, and my 1-year-old).
Please post your response and/or mssg me. I checked out the Web
site and found the San Diego postings pretty old, and not so
The travel agents on the Web site have either gone outa business
or don't return my calls. So if anyone has a travel agent that
would actually bother helping someone such as me, please let me
We went to San Diego last summer and had a fabulous time! We
stayed at this house
(http://www.pacificsunset.net/villa_paraiso.htm), which was
perfect because there 3 families and 11 people in all. It is
located two blocks from the ocean and two blocks from the bay in
Mission Beach. The property has a large main house, a cottage,
and a room off the garage with a large courtyard in the middle.
It is decorated in expensive-tacky, kind of like Graceland. But
my kids still talk about the ''fishy room'' that had an ocean
motif. Renting a house was fabulous for us - everyone had their
own space, we could do laundry, stock the fridge, cook meals
We are looking for a resort like place in San Diego area. We
are really ready for a relaxing vacation, but don't want to go
to faraway places like Hawaii (especially to pay $3000 for
tickets for our family of 4). We've been to Palm Springs a few
times in December and liked it a lot, but now want to try
something else. San Diego seems to have lots of interesting
things to do with kids. In addition to all this fun we would
like to have a nice hotel with comfortable rooms, suites or
cottages, heated pools, jacuzzi, close to the beach, kids
friendly, possibly spa. Does such place exist?
Thank you for all recommendations.
I'm not sure if it's within your budget but the Hotel del
Coronado would fit the description of what you're looking for:
I just returned from San Diego yesterday and stayed at the most
FABOULOUS resort, right on the beach, with suites, overlooking
the Ocean. Pacific Terrace Hotel was wonderful... we saw many
families staying there. They offer free breakfast in the
morning and a hosted wine hour in the evening. The staff were
excellent. I was able to get a signficant discount by booking
the room through AAA.com. Their website-
There is also a Hilton on Fiesta Island, right across the
street from Sea World. It is not on the beach, but in the bay
at Mission Bay. It was a little far from the friends I was
seeing there, but it is a wonderful place for families.
San Diego is GREAT for a family vacation. I can give a few
spots if to go if you want to email me directly.
Coronado is the perfect small town resort feel without leaving
California. The Hotel Del Coronado is a bit pricey but across
the street is the Spreckles Mansion hotel that is more
reasonably priced. You can go across the bridge and be right
back into the main SD downtown and thirty minutes to the zoo,
take the subway type train to Tijuana, if you desire. Its a
great place to go and the warmth of a family beach environment
is still accomplished.
We love San Diego and go about 4 times a year. The two places we
like are Paradise Point Resort (beach front rooms pricey) has
pools, spas ect and is walking distance to Sea World. The other
is Catameran Hotel. On Mission Bay, nice a few different price
points and on the bay. We like this area becuase you can get a
great, easy, fast workout on the walk way on mission bay that
loops to the beach side- about 3-7 miles depending on how far
you want to go. The bay beach is lovely and quite and the hotel
supplies alot of things , some free some for a price.(like
sailboats, jet skiis etc) Has a pool and spa. Then you can
walk across the street to the beach which is low key in the
winter and spring months, but not spring break. At leasst on
the beach side. The Zoo is 20 minutes, Sea World 5 mintues,
Wild Animal Park and Lego Land, 45 minutes. Both resorts have
resturants. It's our favorite. My husband surfs, I kayak surf
and the kids surf, boggy board and play in the sand for hours.
They are 5 & 2. We always find something new to explore each
Have fun. We'll be there in February!
love our SD vacations
We are planning a family vacation to San Diego in August. We
have been told La Jolla is the place to stay.
We'll be travelling with a baby and a 4yo. We are bargain
travelers that do not need a fancy place to stay, although a
pool would be nice. We like to walk to as much as possible.
My husband and I just got back from a wonderful trip in San
Diego (we went right before I went back to work after maternity
leave). We went down with our 3-month old son and 6-year old
dog. We stayed at the Lowes Coronado Bay Resort. It's not
cheap (I think our average Expedia rate was $178/night), but it
is amazingly family friendly and beautiful. We could bring our
dog, it has babysitting and dogsitting available, it has 3 pools
and 2 hot tubs, gorgeous grounds, across the street from the
beach, and nice views of the Coronado Bay and San Diego. We
were ready to book our August vacation even before we left!
Have fun and San Diego is awesome!! Definitely do the zoo.
My husband and I are planning to take our then 2 year old
daughter to San Diego this June. I checked the archives but
didn't see any recent recommendations for kid friendly,
reasonably priced places to stay. Also, do you think 2 is too
young to appreciate Sea World, Legoland and the Zoo or maybe
the Wild Animal Park. She turns 2 mid May. We thought this
would be a good trip because she LOVES animals and seems to
really enjoy the Oakland Zoo. Thanks.
We just returned from a spring break trip to Legoland, and Sea
World. I was very impressed with Legoland. The food was quite
good and well priced, the rides were very fun for kids and
adults alike, the park was clean and there were many activities
that just used the simple joys of creating with Legos (my son
could have stayed in the room where the kids build racecars and
race them against each other down ramps all day!). At ages 6
and 8, I felt my kids were just the right ages for this park
(we spent two days there, and there was plenty to see and do).
We also spent a day at Sea World, which was chosen over the Zoo
or Wild Animal Park based on what the kids wanted to see and
the fact that we had not been there previously. I was not as
impressed with Sea World. First of all, even with a $20 AAA
discount, it was $150 for the four of us for one day's
admission. The food was overpriced, and I felt that they were
pushing souveniers and stuff at you every time you turned
around. I enjoyed the animals, but there is always that
vaguely squicky feeling of seeing these magnificent animals
running through their repertoire of tricks. Frankly, I looked
at many of the other families at both these locations who had
brought very young children, and wondered why? I think the
kids would have been just as happy running around the beach or
playing in a hotel pool. If I had to choose from the list you
are considering for a two year old, I would think the zoo is
your best bet.
I don't have a good recommendation of where to stay in San
Diego, but I would recommend against going to the Wild Animal
Park with a 2 year old. The ride around the park gets pretty
long for a little one and the animals are pretty far away.
Stick with Legoland, the Zoo and Sea World and you will have
LOTS of good fun! We've done this several times with our little
ones and it's a great trip. My girls ask to go back and we're
just about due.
Our daughter wants to go to San Diego and Legoland (I realize that's not in SD) for her 5th birthday in early August. I was checking the website for recommendations for places to stay, but there is nothing more recent than 1999. We would like either a condo type place or a hotel/motel with suites. Any recommendations? We have not been to the area with her before and it's been ages since either my husband or I have been there. Thanks!
We just went to SD for a week while my husband attended a
conference. We have a 15 month old and we stayed at the Crystal
Pier Cottages. It was great. They are these cute little
cottages that are literally ON the pier in Pacific Beach. You
can hear the waves at night. It was perfect as it was walking
distance to lots of places to eat. And of course there is a
great beach right underneath you. The cottages were recently
renovated so they were nice and clean with a kitchenette so I
could store my son's food.
Legoland is pretty far north. But Pacific beach is a good
centrally located spot if you are also going to some other SD
attractions like Sea World (loved it!) Balboa Park and the Zoo.
To be closer to Lego land you might try a place in Del Mar like
the Del Mar motel. But I haven't been there for years so can't
give it a recommendation.
We stayed in San Diego for a week last December (and spent a
day at LegoLand). We stayed in a rental that was managed by
Foxwood Suites. The property manager was Darrin-- email:
Darrin@foxwoodsuites.com, Phone 619-236-0708 The unit we stayed
in was 802 San Luis Rey -- a house converted into two
apartments. It was very comfortable and clean and a great
location. Both the property manager and the owners were very
nice and it was reasonably priced (not sure what it's like for
Last summer we did a San Diego & Legoland vacation. I got a good
deal through Hotwire on the Woodfin Suites hotel near La Jolla /
La Mesa. Hotwire doesn't tell you the exact hotel, but I think
this was the cheapest suites type hotel in the La Jolla area. It
was very pleasant with a nice pool, nice breakfast, and a door to
the bedroom so when the kids went to sleep we could watch one of
the free videos they offered or whatever. The hotel was nicely
situated between Legoland and the rest of San Diego (zoo, balboa
park, mission bay, etc). You might also try directly with
Woodfin's web site for any deals they may have. Have fun!
We recently stayed at the Best Western Beach Terrace Inn in
Carlsbad. It's literally right on the beach, has it's own pool
and hot tub too, and is about 5 minutes from Legoland. We
requested a room with a beach view, a mini fridge and a
microwave. The room we got was large, with a great beach view and
a sizable ''kitchen'' area with a microwave, mini fridge, utility
sink, equipped with very basic kitchen supplies. No range or
hotplate, but we did fine. It was a decent value and we really
liked the option of being on the beach in a moment's notice. The
place was clean and well-run.
We just went to Legoland and stayed in Carlsbad at the Ramada.
It cost us $75.00 for a 2 roomed ''suite'' (I use inverted
comma's because it is small)which also included a small
kitchen. There was a fold out bed in a couch besides the queen
in the bedroom.There is a shopping ctr for food very close by
(2mins). The Inn also has a outdoors swimming pool and hot tub.
A note of caution, we went to Legoland on a Monday before
school has broken out for the summer and there were lines
already. We waited in some instances 40 minutes for rides that
last less than 2 mins. Having said that, the kids had fun
although we parents thought it was expensive and overrated.
We drive to San Diego often with family on Mission Bay. I can't
say enough good things about Mission Bay, clean, easy walking,
the bay and beautiful beach just steps from great hotels. The
Catermaran Hotel is lovely, can be pricey but has what I think
you're looking for.
Legoland would be about a 30 minute easy drive. There are other
hotels on Mission Bay too, I just forget their names. Sea World
is rightthere and has been my son's favorite since he was 1 (he's
now 3 1/2). have fun!
Re: Joshua Tree National Park (Jan 2003)
You are wise to think about how much time you want to spend in
the car in planning your post-San Diego camping trip!
Distances ''down there'' are indeed vast -- especially with kids
in the car. It's a great time of year to visit the desert, but
if you don't want to chew up your vacation time with a LOT of
driving, you should consider Anza-Borrego State Park.
To try to describe all the wonderful things about Anza-Borrego
in the few minutes I have to respond to this message can't be
done. Please look on the web for details. It's a vast expanse
of desert and mountains, with Native American sites, scary/fun
canyons you can twist around and get lost in, palm oases,
gorgeous ocotillo plants, colorful stories and much more. And
it's only about a 2-hour drive from San Diego (as opposed to all-
day to get to Death Valley).
Another advantage is that it's a state park rather than
national, so it's far more likely to offer some peace and quiet
over the busy Easter break than either Joshua Tree or Death
We went for several springs in a row when our daughter was a
baby/toddler. Even though we're campers, too, we chose to stay
in a motel with a pool. The desert gets hot! And the small
town of Borrego Springs is fun in a funky kind of way. We knew
some people in town through my husband's work, so were able to
line up good babysitters. We'd get up at dawn and hike until
about 2, come back and enjoy the warm pool, and take a short
hike with our daughter for sunset. Your kids are older now, but
I still wouldn't count on a full day of exertion under the
desert sun. I think some of the motels in town let you pay for
day use of the pool, even if you're camping somewhere else. (The
motel where we stayed is called ''Casa del Sol,'' I recall --
something ''del Sol,'' anyway -- right in Borrego Springs. It had
small bungalows with kitchens, plus the pool and nice desert
The one big campground (sorry -- name escapes me) is crowded and
unexciting. Better to camp higher up in the mountains, at the
smaller campground. Again, you can get details on the web site,
or by calling the excellent visitors center.
Wherever you end up, it should be a great spring in the desert.
Best Bets for a 2-day Trip
Hi. I'm planning a trip to San Diego for Labor Day weekend with my
husband and son who will be 4-years-old when we travel. We will only
really have 2 days to do stuff, so I'm trying to figure out what is best
to see between Legoland, San Diego Zoo, Wild Animal Park, Sea
World..... Any suggestions? Also, can anyone recommend a relatively
cheap but decent place to stay down there?
We were in San Diego in Feb with two boys-ages 5 and 4. I would recommend
Sea World and Legoland. We went to Wild Animal Park and I think they found
it a bit too much. We did not go to the San Diego Zoo for two reasons-
first we had stopped at the Santa Barbara Zoo on the way to SD, and second
some friends had found that it was too tiring for their young children. The
SDiego Zoo is big with long walks (at least for young children)between
animal habitats. There is good Mexican food in Old Town. We stayed at a
Holiday Inn near Sea World- this was certainly acceptable. The room,
actually a suite, was small and dark, but otherwise comfortable and not too
expensive. Of course our boys had the most fun running on the beach,
building castles, etc
We went to San Diego in December when (for some reason) it was "off-season" and
got a chance to do all of the things you mentioned with no waiting and no
We went with our 5 year old and (then) 6 month old and I think our
Legoland and the Wild Animal Safari. Legoland was surprisingly fun, but I
think it was made much better by the fact that we just walked onto all of the
rides, and could even go several times on the favorites. I have heard that,
"on-season" it can be like Disneyland with up to an hour wait for rides,
considerably cut down on the fun. The Wild Animal Safari has the advantage
if crowded, you don't have to stand on lines, but can walk around and see
in a really beautiful, lush atmosphere. The Zoo seemed somewhat dated and
comparison. I would also recommend bringing your own picnic, as the food is
at all of these places. In terms of a place to stay, we stayed in La Jolla
at the La
Jolla Cove Suites (800-248-2683). It is not at all charming, and the
furniture is somewhat
worn, but it is a wonderful location and the price is right. We got a two
with a big living room/kitchen area for under $200/night (but it may be
in different seasons). We loved staying in La Jolla. It is beautiful to
right across the street from the beach, and close to everything (all of the
parks" are outside of San Diego) Have fun!
Legoland definitely. You'll like it and so will your 4 year old, very
clean, fun, well organized and manageable with small children. I
wouldn't recommend the wild animal park unless your child REALLY loves
wild animals. It's at least 45 minutes away, quite warm in the summer
as it's inland and the wait for the train can be very long. That leaves
lots of walking for a 4 year old. The zoo would be a much better
choice. We found that our kids
(2 1/2, 3 and 4 1/2) loves just playing at the beach as much if not more
than the themes parks, zoos etc.
The zoo and Wild Animal Park are both fabulous. Ruth
We went to San Diego 2 years ago when our son was just
over four. The Wild Animal Park was fun for us, but
miserable for him. It was too hard for him to see the
animals and the train ride was too long; I would
definitly NOT go there. Sea World was wonderful, we
couldn't get him to leave. Legoland wasn't open then,
so I can't tell you about that,, but I've only heard
fantastic things about it. We are going with him now
6 and a 2 year old over Memorial Day. San Diego Zoo
is great. Sorry, I can't remember where we stayed.
I've stayed a number of times at the Balboa Park Inn, see
Their rooms and suites are reasonably priced, and loaded with a very funky
kind of charm. My
favorite suite is the "Monet" which has a bedroom and a living room with
sleeper couch, plus a
small eat-in kitchen (microwave, fridge), and balcony with table
overlooking the peaceful inner courtyard,
$119. The hotel is right across the street from the entrance to the zoo and
other fun stuff at Balboa Park
-- an old-fashioned merry-go-round (like Tilden Park's), a little train
ride, aerospace and science museums,
art galleries, wonderful botanical garden, great climbing tree (I think
it's a banyan), lovely Spanish plaza for
strolling, pools, fountains -- these are all the remains of the 1914(?)
World's Fair. Very nice.
With a four-year-old and only two days, I'd schedule as little as possible.
This location is perfect for getting in
a lot of fun, all in walking distance.
Wild Animal Park in San Diego
Has anyone visited Wild Animal Park in San Diego recently? I looked up some
information in travel guides and on the internet, and it seems that different
sources totally disagree with each other. While some of them say that it is
a great park to visit with encyclopedic variety of birds and mammals, the others
write that as most animals hide during the day, the visitors are likely to see
only dusty valley with an occasional glimpse of a deer in a distance, unless
they pay for a safari trip. Any advice will be appreciated.
We visited the Wild Animal Park in San Diego in Dec. 1998, with our then 4-year-old
son. We didn't pay for the safari trip, but did take the train ride around the
park, saw shows, etc. The weather was sunny but cool, which may have affected
animal behavior. We saw lots of animals wandering around, especially in the morning.
However, it is quite possible that in hotter months they do hide in the shade.
That said, the animals were far away from us for the most part on the train ride.
The adults enjoyed seeing the animals from the train; my son (a train nut) just
enjoyed the train ride. He did, however, enjoy seeing the shows, especially the
bird show, and liked to see the animals as we walked through the park. He also
enjoyed the petting zoo. For him, it wasn't much different from a visit to the
Oakland zoo, except for the animal shows. On a related note, we visited Legoland
this past Thanksgiving. Our son, then 5, LOVED it, but the adults were bored.
It has been about 3 years since I have been to the Wild Animal Park (we used
to live in San Diego) but I like it and actually prefer it to the SD Zoo. The
park is set in a valley which is full of free roaming animals -- giraffes, rhinos,
water buffalo, etc. It is different from a zoo in that you can only stand on
the edge of the very large paddocks and watch the animals -- sometimes they
come up very close and sometimes they are in the distance. It was built as a
breeding facility so their primary goal is to have the most natural habit for
the animals. Many of the paddocks are visible only from the monorail. There
are two good ways to see the animals 1) at the overlook (with picnic tables
-- a good place to have lunch with a view of East Africa -- giraffes galopping
in the distance, etc) or 2) on the monorail. I would recommend you do both.
The monorail takes about 45 minutes (I think) and takes you around the perimeter
of all the paddocks. You will definitely see animals from the monorail, but
there may be a line to get on if you go in the busy season. There is no extra
charge for the monorail. There are a few other exhibits to see -- the lorikeet
landing where you can feed the birds from your hand is good (but may be scary
for little kids) and the butterfly house is beautiful during butterfly season,
but empty the rest of the year (sorry, can't remember when the right season
is). The gorillas and elephants are good too. Otherwise you will probably be
disappointed if you just try to walk around the Wild Animal Park like a zoo.
My advice is to go directly to the monorail, then the overlook (bring a picnic
rather than pay exhorbitant zoo prices for bad food), then wander past the other
places on your way to the exit.
We went a couple years ago with a 7 and 3 yr old and had a great time. We took
the shuttle-bus tour first and then walked around some areas--it's huge. Bring
a stroller if there's any chance your kid will want it. Bring your lunch--food
was yucky and expensive (surprise surprise). Bring water bottles. Some animals
are out of view at times (I really wanted to see the bonobos, but no luck!), but
many were visible
Places to Stay in San Diego
Does anyone have recommendations for reasonably-priced places to stay in San Diego?
We are thinking of taking in the San Diego Zoo, Legoland, and Sea World. Thank
I'm so glad you asked this question! I have a hotel in San Diego
love. It's the Balboa Park Inn, at the corner of Park and Upas,
directly across the street from the zoo and the many other amenities
Balboa Park, San Diego's largest city park. I can't find their exact
address or phone # right now.
The Balboa Park Inn is a very old and slightly funky collection of
buildings. Every room is different, but I would say the decoration
toward an opulent gay style.
I've stayed there three times, most recently in June, when my
and I stayed for five nights in four different rooms (we made our
reservations quite late; they moved our stuff for us). All the rooms
stayed in were under $100, topping off at $95 for a suite with
living room (with convertible futon couch), and kitchen -- two adults
children would fit the space with breathing room. That room is called
either the Matisse Room or the Monet Room, I can't remember which
it had a lot of reproductions of both artists' work. It had a balcony
opening above (with staircase down to) the inner courtyard, a very
I thought we got a great deal, considering that my sister & her
a similar arrangement at the oh-so-corporate and hard-to-reach
Inn" for something closer to $200. No pool or hot tub at the Balboa
A continental breakfast is included, which means fruit, lots of
roll choices, coffee, juice, and milk. On our last day, we had to
cab to the airport before 7 am, so they delivered the rolls & milk
evening before (most of the rooms have refrigerators, I think). They
really very accommodating; even found a makeshift "stepping stool"
son to reach the bathroom sink.
So, if you aren't freaked out by, ahem, and insect or two (only one,
spotted in a hallway), or things like the fountain out front that is
painted the most vivid turquoise you can imagine, you should
check it out. Walk to the zoo!
Last March we stayed at La Jolla Suites in La Jolla, which we got out
of a book
about traveling to San Diego with children. It has two parts, one a
conventional hotel, but the other consists of little apartment-like
kitchen and bedroom(s) which is great for a family, and it was very
compared to other things we checked out. Great location, right on
the ocean in
La Jolla. It's also a good location for the things you want to do
Legoland etc). They have an 800 # and also a website i believe which
LaJollasuites.com If you can't find it, or want more info, e-mail me
only complaint was that the mattress on the bed was soft, (we moved
it on to the
floor), so you might want to specifically ask about the mattress
Wed, 31 Jul 96 From: Janette
As a native San Diegan, I wanted to respond to the letter about a trip there.
I would recommend looking into the Birdrock area of La Jolla. Its almost to Pacific
Beach and is pretty close to the water. There is a motel called La Jolla Shores
which I understand is reasonably priced and has a pool. (there are a number of
them in a row next to the La Jolla Shores but I can't remember the names...) From
there it is a short distance to Sea World and the zoo.
You might also consider going to the new Scripps Aquarium (at UCSD) and the Wild
Animal Park (go in the late afternoon and take the bus- all the animals are out).
The races are on in Del Mar so traffic gets pretty congested in that area (on
surface streets and I-5) from about 1-2PM and then again after the last race which
is at 6PM. Have fun...
Date: Wed, 31 Jul 1996 From: Lynn
Just got back from great vacation in San Diego. We have a 5 and 6 year old who
love water! So we stayed at the La Jolla Shores Inn, 454-0175, in La Jolla.
Management is mellow. The rooms are modest, sometimes noisy, but clean, and
you can get ground level. There are two fine, warm pools, a jaccuzi that sometimes
works, and you can see the ocean a couple blocks away. It is right on La Jolla
Blvd. halfway between Sea World and La Jolla Cove, both areas great for kids.
The beach at La Jolla is great, especially in the mornings, and there are sea
lions to see and tidepools to examine. I did some snorkling and it was great
too. (The hotel next door is under the same management, so you can use the pools
of both). This hotel is not fancy! It does have cable TV, closets, some rooms
with kitchenettes. We stayed there 10 days, in two different rooms, one your
standard two queen beds, and one a king with a rollaway. The rollaway was definitely
sunken in the middle, the beds middling, though the king was better. In one
room, the phone did not take incoming calls. But as I said, clean. Management
nice and unobstrusive. Restaurants of various ethnicities in walking distance,
including a french bakery, Japanese restaurant, etc. though the street is a
busy one. I just really liked it and had a good time.
If you have triple A, the rates are 68.00/night, otherwise 75.00. Use your own
long distance company when calling. They say on the phones that they charge
for local calls but they do not.
Have fun! Lynn
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