An easy family getaway

Balboa Park Lily Pond Courtesy Lisa Field

Balboa Park Lily Pond Courtesy Lisa Field

San Diego has to be one of the best places anywhere to visit with kids. There’s so much to see and do and, with almost always perfect weather, you can be out and about every day enjoying the beautiful beaches and the endless array of family-friendly amusements in the area. Only an hour-and-a-half by plane from the Bay Area, sunny San Diego makes a perfect weekend (or week-long!) getaway for the whole family.

Where to Stay

Paradise Point Resort & Spa
1404 Vacation Road
San Diego, CA 92109

Paradise Point Resort & Spa is a sprawling resort that sits on its own private 44-acre island just minutes from the airport and San Diego’s top attractions. Spacious and well-appointed bungalow-style rooms are scattered amidst lush tropical gardens; you’ll feel as if you’ve escaped to a far-away tropical isle instead of a mere hour’s flight from the Bay Area. Opt for a beach-front bungalow and enjoy your own private beach, just steps away from your door.  Bonfire pits, lit by hotel staff at dusk, and Adirondack chairs invite you to sit and savor the sunset with a glass of wine  while the kids happily toast marshmallows for s’mores (s’mores kits are conveniently available at the resort’s market).

Though Paradise Point is just minutes away from many of San Diego’s best attractions, there’s no need to leave the resort if you decide that staying put is what vacation is all about. The resort features its own mile-long stretch of sandy beach, a spa, five swimming pools, an 18-hole putting course, bicycle rentals, croquet and tennis, and volleyball, and basketball courts. The resort also has a full-service marina where guests can take surf lessons, rent jet skis, kayaks, paddleboards, and FunCats, pedal-powered two-person catamarans.

What to do

Giant Panda Eating Bamboo -Courtesy San Diego Zoo

Courtesy San Diego Zoo

San Diego Zoo
2920 Zoo Drive
San Diego, CA 92101

Visit with the Giant Pandas! One of the coolest experiences to be had at the San Diego Zoo is the Early Morning Tour with the Giant Pandas. Visit the pandas with a small tour group before the panda area officially opens to the rest of the public. This is a rare opportunity to see the zoo’s panda family in their habitat, relaxing, enjoying a hearty breakfast of bamboo, and basically just doing what pandas do before they escape the public eye to snooze for the rest of the day. A truly fascinating experience.

Maritime Museum's Californian and Star of India-Photo credit Maritime Museum

Star of India – Photo credit Maritime Museum

Maritime Museum of San Diego
1492 N Harbor Drive
San Diego, CA 92101

Located on the San Diego Bay, the Maritime Museum of San Diego preserves one of the largest collections of historic sea vessels in the United States. The collection features the Star of India, an impressive full-rigged windjammer and the oldest iron–hulled merchant ship still at sea. Visitors can board and tour The Star of India, as well as the HMS Surprise, which has appeared in such movies as “Master & Commander,” and “Pirates of the Caribbean.” Other ships to tour include the Berkeley, an 1898 ferry boat from the San Francisco Bay, a Soviet B-39 submarine, the steam yacht, Medea, and the USS Dolphin, the deepest diving submarine in the world. Sailing tours of the Bay are also available.

Dr. Seuss Exhibit - Courtesy San Diego History Center

Dr. Seuss Exhibit – Courtesy San Diego History Center

Balboa Park
San Diego, CA

Balboa Park is a definite must-see on any trip to San Diego. Balboa Park is the largest urban cultural park in America and is a wonderland of arts and culture. The park has so much to offer that it would take days to explore, so plan accordingly. There are 15 museums, gardens galore, several restaurants, children’s play areas, 65 miles of hiking and biking trails, theaters (including the world’s first IMAX Theater), and so much more! If you get a chance, check out Ingenious! The World of Dr. Seuss exhibit, as well as the Model Railroad Museum—both favorites with the kids and adults!

Belmont Park

Belmont Park

Belmont Park
3146 Mission Blvd
San Diego, CA 92109

Belmont Park is a boardwalk amusement park located on Mission Bay. The park’s centerpiece is the historical Giant Dipper roller coaster, which was built in 1925 and designed by Frank Prior and Frederick Church, who also designed the wooden coaster of the same name at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. Ride the rides, play arcade games and snack on tasty beachside treats – classic boardwalk fun.

Where to eat

Paradise Point Resort & Spa
1404 Vacation Road
San Diego, CA 92109

Tidal offers creative food and drinks in a lovely bayside setting. The restaurant sits on the edge of Mission Bay, offering gorgeous views to go with the inspired dishes from the kitchen, along with craft beers and unique cocktails from the bar. If you get a chance, try the ultra-tender glazed pork cheeks! The restaurant’s stylish interior is lovely with a casual upscale beach-house vibe, but opt for a table on the patio where you can devour the view with dinner.

Corvette Diner
2965 Historic Decatur Road
San Diego, CA 92106

For a fun and tasty meal, enjoy lunch at this 1950’s-style diner which offers juicy burgers, platters of comfort-food favorites, and a variety of tasty milkshakes and refreshing soda fountain treats. The restaurant features three unique dining areas, including a glow-in-the dark Groovy Room. The jukebox and lively skits spontaneously performed by the sassy waitresses, dressed in poodle skirts and crowned with towering bouffant hair-do’s, provide diners with plenty of musical entertainment. A well-appointed arcade in the adjoining room rounds out the fun.

Seafood Tower

Seafood Tower

Oceana Coastal Kitchen
Catamaran Resort
3999 Mission Blvd
San Diego, CA 92109

Oceana Coastal Kitchen is the place to go for seafood and a lovely view. This waterfront restaurant offers a variety of the freshest seafood, as well as California cuisine made with the best local produce. Splurge on the Oceana Seafood Tower, a magnificent multi-tiered platter loaded with oysters on the half shell, crab legs, King crab, shrimp cocktail, mussels, clams and ceviche. With a glass of bubbly and a sunset view of the bay, there’s nothing better.

Bali Hai Restaurant -Photo credit Derek Plank

Bali Hai Restaurant – Photo credit Derek Plank

Bali Hai Restaurant
2230 Shelter Island Drive
San Diego, CA 92106

The Bali Hai Restaurant on the tip of Shelter Island, also known as “San Diego’s Hawaiian Isle,” has been a local favorite for 50 years. The restaurant offers an expansive view across the bay and of the San Diego skyline. The Polynesian décor and Pacific Rim cuisine will make you feel like you’ve landed on an enchanted island in the Pacific. Pupus (appetizers) and a tropical libation (try the boozy “Mr. Bali Hai”) completes the island fantasy.

Short Ribs to die for at Prado

Short Ribs to die for at Prado

The Prado at Balboa Park
1549 El Prado
San Diego, CA 92101

The perfect place to end a perfect day at Balboa Park. Snag a coveted table outside on the terrace surrounded by the trees and one of Balboa Park’s many gardens and prepare yourself for a most delightful evening. The wine braised short ribs are to die for. End the meal with the chocolate-hazelnut mousse bar, rich chocolate topped with heavenly marshmallow ice-cream—sublime!

Travel Tip: During the month of October, kids can stay, eat, and play for free throughout San Diego.

Visit for more details on where to stay and what to do in San Diego.

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