San Diego with kids

Old Apr 17th, 2002, 12:24 PM
  #1  
Sondra
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San Diego with kids

Okay, we'll be in San Diego for 5 days at the beginning of June with kids ages 6 and almost-3. What are some things to do around there that they'll really love. I must say that while the zoo was on my list, I was offended at how much it costs, especially since we have access to the National Zoo, which is free. Is it really any better (we have pandas here too)? My 6 year old wants to go tide-pooling -- beach recommendations? What about great places to eat? Mom and Dad would like to go to at least one stellar Mexican restaurant ... hole in the wall is fine if the food is great.

Thanks.
 
Old Apr 17th, 2002, 12:40 PM
  #2  
Sue
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Hi Sondra,
Went to San Diego in Dec with my son and we really enjoyed ourselves... would love to go again when it is "beach" weather. We skipped the San Diego Zoo but opted instead for the Wild Animal Park. If you have never seen animals in their "natural habitat" (or reasonable facsimile), it is nice. We stayed in Ramada Limited in Old Town and liked it fine for the price. We ate at Casa De Bandini in Old Town - authentic Mexican and the serving were generous and everything was delicious. Heard about a place in La Jolla for the seals and tide pool - do a search of this topic and you will probably find it easily. Have a great time!
 
Old Apr 18th, 2002, 07:49 PM
  #3  
native
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I'm a native SD person. Tide pools can be found in La Jolla along the coast just south of Children's cove. This is where the 50-100 seals bask on a protected beach which was originally intended for people. Warning- it does reek or seal waste when you get close or if the wind is in the right place. Another great tidepool place is in Point Loma. Right before the Cabrillo monument entrance booth take a right downhill and follow the road until you see the parking. The Cabrillo monument is a must see on a clear day also because of the view. If you want a manufatured but very real looking tidpools (with touching) the Birch Aquarium across the street from University of California San Diego (in La Jolla)would be a great place for kids. It's also pretty cheap ($5) compared to sea world and the zoo. Good Mexican food can be found in a lot of places. With kids though try the Old Town Mexican Cafe (in Old Town) - very kid oriented and good basic authentic Mexican food (try carnitas if you've never had it). If you want fast food (which is also pretty good) try in this order Baja Fresh (Mission Valley, Hillcrest or Sports Arean areas), La Salsa (all over) or Rubios (everywhere). There are so many hole in the walls you'll have to ask around from wherever you happen to be at the time. They tend to be away from the coastline though. By the way, the SD ZOO is way better and bigger than National because the grounds are nicer and the exhibits are newer. But probably not worth the price if you have access to a free zoo. Animals are animals. I agree with the opinion on the Wild Animal park from the previous post but it's the same price range as the SD ZOO. Hope this all helps!
 
Old Apr 18th, 2002, 08:35 PM
  #4  
Lynette
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Hi Sondra
Just got back from San Diego a couple of weeks ago. We took the kids ages 8 &10 and stayed at the Ocean Park Inn right on the ocean in Pacific Beach. It is a fabulous location, lots of shops and restaurants in walking distance, and Sea World is less than a 10 minute drive away. The hotel has a microwave and fridge in every room and the pool while small is nice and warm and protected from the wind, Also has a Jacuzzi for after all those hours of sightseeing.
Check out www.oceanparkinn.com
Booked with Fun Sun tours in Canda and got a 4th night free.
We got a 2 day pass for Seaworld for the price of a single day. Of course you will want to spend a day on the beach.
Joe's Crab Shack is walking distance from the hotel. Has great seafood and burgers and a kids menu. Lots of fun. Also went out for Mexican food in old town to the
"Old Town Mexican Cafe"
Great for families and great food and
Margaritas. www.oldtownmexcafe.com Go early or see if they take reservations, as it is very busy.
There is free parking in old town but you will have to hunt for a spot.
Have fun planning
Lynette

 
Old Apr 18th, 2002, 11:17 PM
  #5  
Kathy
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I live in San Diego and I would highly encourage the Zoo and Wild Animal Park. To save $$, sign your kids up for the annual membership (Koala Club). I think it is $15 to $19 (your 3 year old, I believe, will be free). They will get a monthly newsletter written specifically for kids too. This gets you into both the zoo and animal park. If you only do one, go to the wild animal park. Lots of good shows plus the monorail ride. Check animal feeding times to watch lots of activity (cheetahs at 1:30p.m.)

Check out website for Sidewalk San Diego. In the summer, there are free concerts at the beach and free family movies in the harbor.

Sea World is worthwhile also. Very expensive, but lots of fun. Check w/ your credit union for discount passes.

My kids are too old, but for young children, I've heard Lego Land in Carlsbad is fun. If you go to Carlsbad, our favorite Japanese restaurant is Sushi Taisho. Most dinner entrees are below $7.00 and they play live music at the restaurant below them. They'll give the kids "helper chopsticks".

Have fun and enjoy your vacation.
 
Old Apr 19th, 2002, 01:32 PM
  #6  
travellyn
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This may sound like a membership campaign: I agree with buying the zoo/WAP memberships. When in SD last month, I bought memberships for both my children, and a dual adult membership ($84?) for my husband and me. We came out ahead by doing this.

In addition to admission to both places for a year, the adult membership included 2 one-visit adult passes that we gave to my parents for the WAP. If you don't want to visit either place more than once, you could pay for a single adult membership ($66?), and use the 2 passes for the spouse without the membership.

The memberships included a free zoo bus tour for the kids, and a 2 for 1 coupon for the adults; all that was probably worth about $15-20. The memberships also covered unlimited gondola rides over the park, normally about $1 each.

What made it a no-brainer for us was that the memberships were tax-deductible. We spent $126 on the memberships (probably $70 after taxes) and got 10 admissions right off the bat, even before looking at the other discounts/freebies. Also, it worked well for us to spend 3 hours or so at the zoo for 3 days rather than one long visit. The WAP was a bigger hit with our kids than the zoo.
 
Old Apr 19th, 2002, 02:05 PM
  #7  
Mo
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We took a 5 and almost 3 year old to SD in November. We did Disneyland (about a 2 hour drive), the Zoo, the Wild Animal Park, Sea World, and Legoland. If your kids like animals, I would say the Zoo, Animal Park, and Sea World are all musts. You can buy a pass for all 3 parks that'll save you a few bucks. It's good for like 7 days and you can return to any of the places as many times as you'd like. Legoland was fun for the kids, but not sure it was worth the price. We did Disneyland on Sunday to avoid highway traffic. There was also a light rain in the morning, so it worked out real well. Less than two hours to get there from Coronado, almost no lines at the park. Definitely doable.

Casa de Bandini in old town is very good. One word of caution, they don't have a kids menu. Fortunately, one of our kids likes shrimp & the other likes steak, so we ordered a surf & turf meal for them to split.

I'll say the Zoo is worth it. My wife has been to the National Zoo & says SD blows it away. I would say that the SD Zoo and the Bronx Zoo are pretty much on par with one another.

Look for discount coupons. You'll find them on almost any brochure in the hotel lobby. We saved a few bucks on Legoland that way.
 
Old Apr 19th, 2002, 09:25 PM
  #8  
Sandy
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You've gotten some great info. on things to do with the kids. For Mexican food I would recommend either Casa de Bandini (my favorite) or Casa de Pico in Old Town. I hope not to offend anyone with my next statement, but steer clear of Old Town Mexican Cafe in Old Town. It is very popular, but I am friends with a former waitress there, and they don't have the most sanitary practices (recycling salsa among other things). Also, a few years ago, I was having my house sprayed for ants and the pest control guy was telling me that his wife hated to go out to eat with him 'cause he always had "inside info." on pest problems and frequently refused to go into popular restaurants. He told me he flat out refused to go to Old Town Mex. He said I would be horrified at what was lurking behind the scenes. Sorry if I burst anyone's bubble, but I try to warn if I can.
 
Old Apr 20th, 2002, 12:20 PM
  #9  
Donna
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Sondra,
We took our boys, then ages 6 & 8, to SD 3 years ago and they still say it was their best vacation yet. We stayed on Coronoda Is. The kids loved the beautiful, wide beach with calm waters. Though jets from the marine corps base nearby could be noisy, the boys thought they were cool flying low over the shore. Like Mo, we purchased multi-day passes to the 3 major parks. I echo the advice of others above that it's nice not having to cram everything in on one day with young children. The SD Zoo is fabulous and I've been to National. The seals and tidepools in La Jolla were fun though the town was very crowded. I remember the boys enjoyed the waves at the La Jolla beach with their boogie boards. Large enough to have fun but not so large as to make me too nervous. Took in Cabrillo National Monument (great view) and Old Town State Historic Park (a disappointment) for exposure to yesteryear. Have fun!
 
Old Apr 21st, 2002, 08:50 AM
  #10  
stve
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I would certainly go to the zoo. I haven't been in years tho (It USED to be free for kids under 16. we would get dropped off with a big bag of fruits and vegtables to feed the monkeys).

Sea World is fun - feeding the porpoises and seals is alot of fun.

I would also consider taking the ferry across to Coronado, taking the harbour cruise, visiting the old ships in the harbor, visiting the mnodel train museum in Balboa Park.

This is probably the only time you can visit Legoland and enjoy it. It is very good for kids of that age.

Find a pier to walk on. Near Legoland, there is the one at Oceanside.

If they are into Thomas the tank Engine at all, visit Totally Thomas Train Depot
 
Old Apr 21st, 2002, 09:09 AM
  #11  
Dayle
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Hi Sondra!

Hint for the Wild Animal Park. Be there when they open! Head straight for the tram ride that takes you out to the African plains areas. Later in the day, the wait can be 1 1/2 or more! Also, the park is inland just enough that it can get hot in the summer afternoons (June shouldn't be bad though) so it's nice to see the animals moving around before it gets hot.

The animal shows are excellent, but there is a full day of them scheduled. If you want to see them all, you'll be there nearly a full day. Depends on how long your little ones will last.

Interesting isn't it how kids over 2 don't seem to require naps at Disneyland, etc.? They just run on adrenaline!

Have fun!
 
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