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Rating the SD Attractions: from the parent of a 2 year old

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Instead of a trip report, I thought I would rate the top San Diego attractions from the perspective of the parent of a 2 year old. This is for the benefit of future travelers and is not meant to be an endorsement or negative against any of the attractions listed, just merely something others who follow (in my same predicament) could read. Attractions rated in order I went to them.

Childrens' Beach- This is a great idea in La Jolla, Being able to get close to seals (water unheatlhy for swimming). Unfortunately when we were there my 2 year old couldn't see them (my wife and I could see them out in the water a little). The reason the seals weren't near shore is because 2 fat guys decided to set up shop drinking beers on the beach and snorkelling. Apparently the beach and water are not off-limits (just suggested) and they want to prove that anyone can use the beach (even though there is an equivalent beach 50 yards furher). I would recommend going in the morning or during the week for this. It is probably an enjoyable place to go. We walked a little further to La Jolla Cove so that our son could take a dip in the ocean. Very crowded but very calm water for little guys.

Seals Tour of San diego- very fun. mostly on the water but also on land. got to see lots of sea lions out on the water. My son also enjoyed the car accident our boat/bus got into with the Lexus that cut us off! That is not a joke (how do you miss a giant blue bus/boat?)

Balboa Park- We went on a Sunday when the International Village was open. Food samples and music. Very neat. We walked a lot and he really enjoyed the fountains, flower garden and cactus garden. Avoid if hot outside. Lots of walking. Stunning park though.

San Diego Zoo- Not sure I will agree that it is "The best zoo you will ever see", but it was very nice. Polar bears, pandas, hippos and elephant exhibits were a hit for us. As were the "green bucket" sky lifts. It is certainly the steepest zoo I will ever see. Not stroller friendly and I got a nice workout. It was significantly nicer than our local zoo but we found the Oregon Zoo in Portland to be better. We were dead by 5:00. Squeezed in the railroad ride in balboa park which is right next door. Diaper changing stations need improvement.

Legoland- This was a huge hit. Make sure your kid is at least 34 inches (we just made it) or you will not get on many rides. We rode the little rides multiple times each. The food options here were as good as any attraction I have ever been to. HEalthy alternatives and pretty tasty as well. I do recommend the apple fries (not healthy but tasty). The new water section was a big hit as well. This park was easily navigable multiple times after the exercise at the zoo. Separate family bathrooms for chaging little ones. Very helpful. Stayed from opening until closing. Park is perfect for 2-8 year olds. Question if older kids would get a full day's worth of enjoyment.

Wild Animal PArk- Avoid in August. I read the warnings, but went ahead anyway. It was 30 degress hotter than the coast. We almost passed out (and we're from Texas). The tram ride is great (Journey to Africa) and worth the extra money. The rest of it was nothing sopecial (after the zoo) and we actually thought it was just another gimmick to get $22 more by the zoo (running an internet special for adults and kids prices) otherwise $33 per person. Our kid couldn't see much from the overlooks (neither could we personally). The goriall exhibit was better at the zoo. We left around lunchtime and went to the beach.

DEl MAr beach-We stayed relatively nearby and highly recommend. Easy entrance onto the beach (no steep steps), playground nearby and not that crowded. Great beach. We didn't bother going anywhere else. Went 3 times.

Seaworld- This was the bets of all of them. HAd considered skipping because there is one here in San Antonio but am grateful we opted for it. Our son loved every show and the viewing areas at most exhibits are constructed for minimal lifting of little ones. He loved feeding the animals as well. While he napped we also enjoyed the Anheuser Busch sampling. Enjoyed that more than the brewery tour we did a few years back in STL! We opted for the Dine with Shamu extra which for dinner for $35/person (no charge for little guy) was actually quite reasonable considering it was a full buffet and drinks included (also considering how much food costs in the park). Great pictures as the whales did tricks. We made it to 10:00 (2+ hours past bedtime) and had to pull him out of there. Can't believe we made it to the fireworks. Very family friendly.

Padres game- This is a great stadium. New in a nice area with plenty of legroom and places to walk around. Our son loved the Petco costumed animals. We even opted for a few innings at the "Park at the PArk" grassy area so he could run around. Highly recommend. We made it the whole game.

Brich Aquarium- LAst day activity. It was the 3rd saturday so it was also "Family Day". Our son loved the tidepools and the different types of fish. Very neat collection. View is great from the tidepool area overlooking the beach.

Miscellaneous- Homewood Suites at carmel Mountain and I-5 (near del MAr) is perfect for family travel and convenient to all attractions (no more than 20 minutes to any attraction). As a Hilton Honors member I chose this property over the golf resort and don't regret it for a minute. While it is not on the beach it does have a pool, free breakfast, dinner (we passed, but got our son some snacks), internet, parking etc.. Thye also have maps to everywhere and very helpful in making dinner reservations and offering general advice. Plus, a full kitchen if you need it and extra space so son slept in living room. Can not recommend enough.

On the flip side, Dollar Car Rental in San Diego is beyond awful. Extremely cheap but awful. We waited over an hour to pick up our car. (me in line, my wife and son in the parking lot). The waiting area is the size of a hot dog stand and they triple park cars so it takes forever to get your car. They also are located a few miles away from the airport in downtown. Highly inconvenient. Alos we got a filthy car that was scratched, dented and chipped. Due to the line, I opted to keep it and move on. Oh, they are rude as well. Consider yourself warned.

Sum: Outstanding city. Great attarctions. Perfect for a family with toddler. Plan wisely.

Will gladly answer questions.

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