So many choices! Best hotels for families visiting San Diego
San Diego’s hotel choices are overwhelming. What kind of vacation do you have in mind? First, check out KidTripster’s Top 10 Plays for San Diego. Once you decide on where you’re spending your time, then return here for the best family-friendly selections.
KidTripster Tip: Check the dates for the annual Comic-Con International and, if you aren’t attending, avoid those dates.
1/La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club
2000 Spindrift Dr., La Jolla
For a family-friendly and service-oriented experience in a gorgeous setting, there’s no need to read beyond this paragraph! Not pretending to be flashy or trendy, La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club is committed to maintaining its history and tradition of excellence. Of course, the property does have modern upgrades like flat-screen TVs and free WiFi. But it’s the service that makes the difference here - from instructor Steve who gave may daughter her first tennis lesson to golf pro John who made a round of golf “better than the beach,” according to my sons. But know, the beach is stellar, too. To see a full review, click here. Starts at $269/night.
2/La Jolla Shores Hotel
8110 Camino Del Oro, La Jolla
This older property offers unparalleled access to an amazing beach. My daughter proclaimed La Jolla Shores her “favorite hotel ever.” I highly recommend a coastal view or beachfront room; the sound of the surf, the ocean breeze, and that million-dollar view are worth the upgrade from a garden patio room. This mom found herself on the spacious balcony with a book, sipping a beverage known to enhance relaxation, watching the kids frolic below, and feeling absolutely decadent. The pool isn’t large, but it is, of course, a hundred yards from the Pacific Ocean. And if your family members want to take surf, diving, or kayak lessons, you are definitely at the right hotel. We enjoyed the beach BBQ option, grilling our own burgers and s’mores. The accompanying milkshakes (made by experts) were pretty awesome, too. Starts at $259/night.
KidTripster Tip: Do breakfast at the hotel restaurant. Registered guests (8 and under) eat breakfast daily and Sunday dinner free. Our entire family are members of the Clean Plate Club! One of my teenagers insisted that I include his recommendation: Scrambled Egg Chilaquiles.
KidTripster Tip: Do not be fooled by warm temperatures. Pack a jacket or sweater and wear it to your beach BBQ!
610 Diamond St., Pacific Beach
Location, location, location. With direct beach access to North Pacific Beach, Pacific Terrace is blocks away from eclectic, quality dining options. (My nearby favorites include French Gourmet, Enoteca Adriano, The Fishery, Kono’s Café, and Backyard Kitchen & Tap). Beach toys and kids DVDs are available from the front desk. Your family will be about 15-minutes away from SeaWorld and Birch Aquarium and about 10 minutes from Belmont Park. Starts at $335/night.
KidTripster Tip: For an even more mellow vacation (and possible savings), check out the Capri by the Sea condo rentals (4767 Ocean Blvd.) located across the street. Appropriate for a family of four or fewer, these condos have tremendous views and full kitchens. (Not recommended for those traveling with young children because of noise rules and high-rise balcony.)
4/Catamaran Resort Hotel & Spa
3999 Mission Blvd., Mission Bay
Lush and tropical, Catamaran Resort Hotel & Spa has plenty of activities to keep young and old busy. In the summer, the Catamaran hosts sunset luaus, outdoor movie nights on the bay, and complimentary cruises for guests on Mission Bay aboard the hotel’s three-story sternwheeler. There’s a kids’ club offering Polynesian-themed crafts. Open air yoga and summertime hula lessons may appeal to older children. A daily exotic bird show keeps the guilt at bay, if you can’t tear yourself away from here to make it to the Safari Park. Oh, and I did direct beach access and two phenomenal pools? Your ohana (Hawaiian for “family”) will love this resort! To see a full review, click here. Starts at $229/night.
5/Holiday Inn Express & Suites Hotel Circle
635 Hotel Circle South, Mission Valley
A new lodging option in popular Mission Valley, Holiday Inn Express & Suites Hotel Circle earns high marks as a budget stay. From its easy freeway access and fast check-in to its modern (albeit small) pool and terrace with fireplace, this hotel is definitely not the Holidome of my youth. Our complimentary breakfast was the standard spread, but those cinnamon rolls were yummy. Here Mom and Dad are able to savor a second cup of coffee, as the breakfast-in-jammies crowd is entertained with giant Connect-4 games and a plethora of Jenga sets. Starts at $144/night.
2592 Laning Rd., Point Loma
Like the adjacent Homewood Suites, Courtyard by Marriott Liberty Station offers proximity to the airport and a hub of dining options. Liberty Station is about a 20-minute drive from the Zoo and SeaWorld. This property gets a slight edge over Homewood because of its relative proximity to a park and playground (as well as Con Pane Rustic Breads & Café). Free airport shuttle available. Starts at $166/night.
KidTripster Tip: If you opt for one of these hotels, then consider the following nearby dining options: Stone Brewing World Bistro and Gardens, Slater’s 50/50, Oggi’s, Tender Greens, Figtree Café, and of course, Corvette Diner, as featured in KidTripster’s Top 10 Eats! Stock your room with goodies from Trader Joe’s or Liberty Public vendors.
5885 The Crossings Drive, Carlsbad
Legoland Hotel is the ideal home base, if your vacation is going to be Lego-centric. With Legoland California Theme and Water Parks a minimum of 30-minutes north of San Diego, a stay here will save you both time and aggravation. Factor in the Brick Restaurant, minifigure trading program, early access to the park, and themed rooms, and your little builder will be singing “Everything Is Awesome” from morning to bedtime. To see a full review, click here. Starts at $175/night.
9/Roar and Snore Safari
15500 San Pasqual Valley Rd., Escondido
For a memorable and unique experience unlike any other (that doesn’t require a passport), look no further than the Safari Park’s Roar and Snore Safari. Here you’ll sleep in comfy tents surrounded by the sights and sounds of the wild. The fee includes dinner, snack, and breakfast in addition to lots of after-dark activities. Minimum age for sleepover is 3-years old. Starts at $140/person/night.
KidTripster Tip: Another unique lodging option is available at the Crystal Pier Hotel & Cottages, where your family sleeps over the Pacific Ocean. Not recommended for families with active, wandering youngsters.
10/Hotel Del Coronado
1500 Orange Ave., Coronado
It’s like staying in paradise, presuming heaven gives one a choice of Victorian or modern rooms. The Del is the iconic destination on Coronado Island. With pristine sands behind the hotel, every amenity imaginable on site, and the business district of Orange Avenue just a stroll away (if the 17 boutiques in the lower level of the resort do not suffice), there’s no need for a rental car here. Seriously, you can take a lot of Ubers for the price of self-parking! Rent a paddle board, skimboard or 4-person surrey! In-room childcare is available should the grown-ups want a romantic dinner sans French fries. Check into the Octopus Suite availability for an exceedingly family-oriented room option. Starts at $469/night.
Moira Allbritton was voted “Least Likely to Live in So-Cal” out of 496 students in her corn belt-located high school graduating class. Despite this inauspicious designation and her general loathing of sand on the floor, she has called San Diego home for more than two decades as a Navy wife and mom to five boisterous, quirky characters.
This writer received some complimentary stays for the purpose of this review. However, all opinions expressed are solely her own.