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-   -   first time trip to San Diego with my family (https://www.fodors.com/community/united-states/first-time-trip-to-san-diego-with-my-family-522014/)

kevinnj Apr 17th, 2005 07:27 PM

first time trip to San Diego with my family
 
Hi I am planning a trip to San Diego from 6/24 to July 1 with my wife and 2 girls (6 & 4). We would like to spend a few days in San Diego and one or two days in Disney Land. I'd appreciate any suggestion re: hotels in San Diego and Disney, things to do, restaurants, maybe a trip to Mexico, etc. Thanks very much.

rjw_lgb_ca Apr 17th, 2005 08:26 PM

Disney Land is not a city. Disneyland is a theme park located in Anaheim, CA-- roughly ninety minutes north of San Diego.

San Diego is a big city with lots of lodging and entertainment options. Anaheim is a hole, but the greater Los Angeles area (Anaheim is just thirty minutes south of downtown LA) is a HUGE area with countless lodging and entertainment options. Tijuana is not worth the border crossing.

You need to give us more guidance. How much money do you want to spend? Do you realize that June is generally overcast on the coast in southern California (our famous "June Gloom")? What do you want to do/see while you're here? What kind of foods do you like (there are literally thousands of restaurants in Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego restaurants-- many of which are world-class places!)?

DownSouth Apr 18th, 2005 04:42 AM

We have taken our children to San Diego several times. I would recommend concentrating in San Diego, not going to Disney and definitely not going to Mexico with small children. San Diego has so much to offer. In my opinion, Disney is just a crowded over-priced theme park full of gift shops with many rides that small children cannot ride. One year we tried to do it all and were sorry that we chose to leave San Diego early. The zoo alone takes a full day with small children. Old town will give you the Mexican feel. Don't know your price range but we like the Bahia. Rooms are available with a small kitchen which is a must with kids. They have a beautiful pool area. Trust me, San Diego is a beautiful special place that you will fall in love with. Focus there and you won't be sorry.

gail Apr 18th, 2005 05:10 AM

Also think you should skip Tijuana - we went for an afternoon with our teenagers 2 years ago - not a good use of our time. The border crossing going north took forever waiting in a long line with creepy people. The INS arrested people while we were standing there. And we were in the "express" with passports line. Tijuana is dirty, filled with t-shirt shops, bars, liquor stores, and lots of pharmacies selling all sorts of medications and "supplements" only available by prescription in US. The public bathroom was beyond description in its grossness.

On a more positive note - with kids that age, definitely the zoo, a short harbor cruise, some time at the beach - although it may not really be warm enough to swim.

ltt Apr 18th, 2005 08:36 AM

are both your kids tall enough to get on the disneyland ride? if not, it can be frustrating for the one who can't go on them. i love disneyland and if you've never been, then the kids will love it.
as mentioned above, san diego has a lot to offer especially for just a week's visit. a lot of relatives that came to visit me said that they wished they hadn't try to crame so much into a week and got tired from the "amusement parks" and had the best time at the beach or the hotel pool. if you've never seen anything similar, i highly recommend sea world. it is a bit expensive. if they are open late into the evening, i recommend going first thing in the morning and seeing all the shows. then you could head to mission beach which is only 10 minutes away for a couple of hours for beach time and lunch. then return to sea world for the evening and fireworks. the zoo is good but it is big so it's a full day with kids. head out to point loma or la jolla just after the tide goes out to check out the tide pools. some people with kids your age say they prefered lego land over disneyland. it's in the carlsbad area between san diego and la.
skip mexico.

sprin2 Apr 18th, 2005 05:26 PM

When our boys were that age we spent a week in San Diego. They loved Balboa Park, and the older one visited the Science Museum twice. Also enjoyed the zoo, and carousel and just wandering the park. Spent time at the beach. La Jolla was also a big hit with the kids, there is a good playground near the beach there (north?) of town, and they loved the sea lions. Liked walking down to the cave through the shell shop (can't remember the name, but it is pretty famous). My kids also liked watching the hang gliders at Torrey Pines. We visited Legoland and found it perfect for that age, and a shorter drive than Disney. I would not visit Mexico with young kids either.

kevinnj Apr 18th, 2005 07:54 PM

Thanks very much for all your responses. Okay, we will happily skip Mexico, orginally we were planning to drive to some coastal towns in Mexico. Our hotel price range is from $150 to $200 a night, preferably a suite. We love going to the beach. Since June is not a good month to go, shall we go in July instead? Thanks again.

knute Apr 18th, 2005 08:10 PM

kevinnj,

Stick to your original plan. Your first instinct is often right for you. June Gloom is a silly superstition bandied about but I have travelled to California every June year for a decade and have enjoyed plenty of sun. No one can predict the sun, and you could hit clouds in July too. If you haven't been to Disney, it is a great experience once or twice in your life. You just need to time things right. Young children are awed by the place and will enjoy it if you don't try to overload them. For beautiful scenic beaches I would head up to Laguna Beach (40 minutes from Disney). I second the recommendations of others--definately skip Tijuana!!

Barbara Apr 18th, 2005 08:56 PM

Much as I hate to admit it, June
Gloom is not just a "silly superstition". I actually live here and it happens every year, some years worse than others and some days are worse than others. The areas most affected are the beach and coastal regions. The beach can be overcast and chilly all (or part of the) day, but not far inland (3-4 miles or even less) it will be sunny and warm. Even if the weather is sunny and warm, and we all hope it will be, the ocean water will still be in the 60s and quite chilly.

Great beaches for kids are La Jolla Shores, Torrey Pines State Beach, Del Mar Beach and Coronado Beach.

Your kids will love Disneyland, but it will exhaust them. It will be sunny and hot there, so it's a good idea to stay at either a Disney hotel, or one close by, so that you can take them back for a nap and some pool time then go back to the Park for the evening and the fireworks.

Definitely give Tijuana a miss.

rjw_lgb_ca Apr 18th, 2005 08:59 PM

"June Gloom" is most assuredly NOT a superstition-- especially for those of us who actually LIVE and WORK on the coast. The timing may fudge a week in one direction or the other-- but it definitely does exist.

desertgirl Apr 18th, 2005 09:17 PM

Our favorite place to stay in San Diego with our kids is Coronado, across the Coronado Bay Bridge. It has a small town feel, beautiful beaches and a grand old hotel (The Del). If you look around on Hotwire or hotel websites, you can probably find a reasonable priced hotel. If you stay in the city, hotels near Seaport Village would give you access to shopping, entertainment (including ferry boat rides) and food, all in one area. Have a great trip!

rjw_lgb_ca Apr 18th, 2005 09:23 PM

But as Barbara says, the gloom doesn't extend all the way inland-- just on the immediate coast. It will be sunny and warm inland, so just go and enjoy yourself!

wtm003 Apr 19th, 2005 07:11 AM

We were in San Diego last year during "June Gloom". Although, I was chilly at the beach, it didn't bother my kids a bit. They had a blast playing in the sand and water. They also enjoyed the zoo and Legoland (which is geared to younger children).

Disney is also worth a visit. We went several years ago when my kids were 4 & 7. They were able to do most of the rides. Just check out the Disney website beforehand to see what the height requirements are for the various rides. As recommended above, take a mid-day break for a swim and nap and go back in the evening. Most of all have fun!

Kal Apr 19th, 2005 08:28 AM

"Gloom me Gloom me Gloom me!"
Ahhhh...nice and cool by the coast in June? How odd! ;)

A nice trip to the tip of Point Loma and Cabrillo Natl Momument would be worthwhile. Take film. You'll get some nice pics of your kids with all of SD as your backdrop.

Kal Apr 19th, 2005 08:31 AM

Oh...
and speaking of "June gloom", coastal fog/clouds, it will only be a matter of time when the great "San Francisco 4th of July fireworks can't been seen due to fog" debate to begin.:-?

JJ5 Apr 19th, 2005 08:53 AM

While we were there we stayed in Old Town and in Coronado at different times. Both are great, but with kids you might like Old Town better. It seemed more kid friendly to me. It is delightful to walk around in the evenings and there are lots of cantinas / restaurants that had family visibility evident- when we were there.

Sea World is definitely an entire day also, if you have never been. Your girls will adore it. We dined with Shamu there and if you have a chance- do. The food was family friendly as well, -better than run of the mill and worth the price/experience.

We are zoo people, and are zoo members at Brookfield near Chicago- and even I would consider the San Diego zoo a real trek. Everything is distant and little legs will probably wear down. And it can be hilly if you want to see it all. You might want to consider rental strollers- large size- even at 4 and 6. Not in Disneyland- that area is small in comparison.

If you are budget minded you might want to do a Hotwire.com gander, just to see if you can get a better bid on a property in your chosen areas- I think they have a suite choice in some cities, as well.

We got a Priceline room in Old Town that was fabulous for $65 about 3-1/2 years ago. It's worth a look at the Hotwire or hoteldiscounts.com just to see what is offered in your categories.

I think San Diego is one of the most interesting places in the USA to visit. We loved to look at the incoming ships and drive the coast- looking and walking in several beach/ military cemetary areas. So much to see besides the Balboa Park / Museum and all the rest. We spent 5 days twice and I still have not seen all I would like to there.

jomomma92024 Apr 24th, 2005 05:46 PM

I wouldn't come during June. I live in Leucadia, which is in costal north county. A really fun place to visit, that isn't hogged by tourisits. I would say to come here during late July/August or September. June gloom is a real thing, but it varies in strength from year to year. Last year, it wasn't bad. The year before, however, the month of June literally had only 3 days of full sunshine. If the water is cold, than there will be a big marine layer from the contrast in the warm inland temps and the ocean. If the water is warm, than it won't be so bad.

Go pick an Åvacodo off one of the many trees. They are great! The Leucadia area was a avacodo farm in the early part of the century and the smart residents have kept their Avacod trees.

Do all the stuff you can do in downtown, I'm sure you can find somebody that will guide you through that part. A part I reccomend is to drive up 101 to Carlsbad and take in the coast. Go hiking in one of the Lagoons. Please visit downtown 101 Encinitas. Walk along the sidewalkk and ask people why this is a great place to live. People are very friendly and nice. Then go down to the beach and take a walk. I also reccomend the Self Realazition Fellowship. The view of the ocean, cliffs and palm trees is world class.

I wouldn't do Tijuanna, as it is a dump. I would also skip Anaheim, as most call it Anaslime.

Go see the races in Del Mar!

Above all, HAVE FUN!

Feel free to email me.


franciestan May 19th, 2005 07:36 AM

What about the Hot Air Balloons in Del Mar? Are they fun? We want to go up in June for our anniversary.

Gekko May 19th, 2005 08:33 AM

I just returned from San Diego and can suggest the beautiful Paradise Point resort on Vacation Isle in Mission Bay. Your children would love it (don't miss the fish & shark in the "lagoon" at the Barefoot Bar & Grill).

www.paradisepoint.com

Also, the location is perfect -- convenient to everything.


bear900 May 19th, 2005 09:44 AM

I have to agree with Barbara's post. I too, lived in San Diego and was surprised at the fog we got in June, while we were playing vollyball on the beach in February!

When we lived there, we enjoyed the zoo, Sea World, and the drives north (La Jolla, Del Mar and Carlsbaad). We also liked the strand at Coronado (nice hotel if you can afford it) and spent many days at Pacific Beach(watch for rip tides).

I second the vote on Old Town. We frequented Bazaar del Mundo in Old Town which had a great Mexican Restaraunt named Casa de Pico. In the evenings, they would have strolling mariachis. I hope it is still there.

We went with some locals who were raised in SD to Tijauna for a few dinners on Friday nights, but they knew their way around. When my wife and I went by ourselves, we felt pretty much like the other posters...not worth it. We cruised last May to Ensanada and that was slightly better. The last time we dove there, I was pulled over by a policeman who wanted a bribe!

I agree with the good and bad about Disneyland, but will add this: We had a company party at Disneyland hotel, stood overnight there, and the next day visited Disneyland. I had along an employee from Virginia, in her 30's who had never been. It was amazing to watch her soak it in like a little kid. She told my wife and I that she felt she had been deprived all her life! Take the kids and enjoy!

By the way, since Anaheim is inland from the coast, expect it to be hot there during the daytime, and no fog, perfect for the fireworks display!


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