This blog post was inspired by my daughter who asked out of the blue this morning, “When are we going back to San Diego?” We spent eight days there last fall and despite the fact that she was only three when we went, she remembers quite a lot from that trip. I have to say that San Diego has to be one of my favourite family destinations ever. We mainly chose it for the theme parks and attractions; SeaWorld, San Diego Zoo, and Legoland, but I would go back with the kids even without the big attractions. So what make this city so attractive for families? Well, here’s a short list:
1) The Climate
When we were there in October, it was perfect. Warm but not too hot, no humidity, beautiful ocean breezes. Cooling off just enough in the evenings to need a light sweater a few nights. And the great thing is that the weather is like that for most of the year! A wee bit chillier in winter, maybe a few very hot days in summer, but for the most part the weather is about as perfect as you can get in the mainland USA.
2) The Setting
The reason behind the near perfect weather is another huge selling point for San Diego, It is surrounded by amazing beaches and the beautiful Pacific Ocean. I don’t even really like beaches, but I still loved it. We spent a day at Coronado beach with the kids playing in the perfect white sand with the cliffs of Point Loma on one side and the historic Hotel Del Coronado on the other. When the pods of dolphins swam by, close enough to be seen clearly from the shore it was almost too perfect; like they were just another part of the movie set that had been put there for our enjoyment, because surely no real place could be as perfect as this. And if Coronado Beach doesn’t strike your fancy there are more than a dozen others within the city limits, each with their own selling points for families.
3) The City Itself
We stayed in the Liberty Station area of San Diego, north of downtown and near the airport. I had never seen this neighbourhood mentioned in any guidebook so I didn’t really expect much, but we were blown away by how attractive the area was. Beautiful parks with palm trees, green grass and walking paths, lovely, well kept homes with yards overflowing with flowers, a high school that looked like some stereotypical, impossibly perfect, California movie set campus, great shops and restaurants and even an arts festival going on in the area the weekend we were there. I’m sure there are many areas of the city that aren’t as nice, but there are plenty of other nice neighbourhoods to choose from. Coronado? Perfect. La Jolla? Perfect. Do a little research and it’s easy to find a place where you can feel like you’re temporarily living the California Dream.
4) The Attractions
Sure, San Diego has a lot of big headliner attractions. Most people have heard of the zoo and Sea World, but you could easily spend a week or two seeing all the other things San Diego has to offer. Balboa Park alone has dozens of museums and gardens. We went to the Natural History Museum and the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center, and wandered the rose garden and the Alcazar garden, but we missed many more attractions including the Air and Space Museum, the Automotive Museum, several art museums, Japanese gardens, cactus gardens, multiple theatres putting on a variety of free and paid shows and many others. The rejuvenated waterfront area has a maritime museum, a retired aircraft carrier and a 100 year old working carousel. Coronado Island has beaches, great restaurants and an amazing historic hotel. And if you get tired of the sights on land you can book a cruise to see the city from the water.
5) The Costs
San Diego isn’t exactly cheap. But compared to many major cities, the prices are very reasonable. When researching my trip I found many great hotels with pools and free breakfasts in good locations for around $150-$200 per night. Restaurant, car rental and parking prices were good as well. I felt we got great value for our money in the city.
So, going back to my daughter’s original question; When are we going to go back to San Diego? Well, we will definitely be back some day. We decided that about day two of our trip last fall. Exactly when we go back is not quite so sure since we have a few other trips booked in the next few months. But I was able to tell her we’d be back some day for sure.
Here are a few of the pictures my husband took on our last trip to San Diego