Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > United States
Reload this Page >

Where to go for single parent and son this summer?

Where to go for single parent and son this summer?

May 1st, 2009, 10:25 AM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 2,091
Where to go for single parent and son this summer?

Hello, this is a single father who has a week of vacation at the end of July. This is the first year that I will be without my ex, and I'm clueless as to where to take my son. My son is four years old.

I live in Austin, TX, and would like to go someplace within either a day's drive or a 3 hour plane flight (he doesn't do well on planes). I like anything with good scenery and good food, weather is not a concern for me as anyplace will not be hotter than where we're from at that time of year.

Some ideas: My son loves the beach and sand and can dig in sand for hours. I'm not sure if he's too young for Disney World or Disneyland. If given the choice, I'd probably pick Disneyland over Disney World as the weather will be less humid in Southern California than Central Florida that time of year. However, I'm thinking that S. Cal will be more expensive than Orlando, is that right? With either destination, we could combine a beach and theme park destination.

Mountains would also be appealing to me, but I'm not sure if my son would enjoy that at this age? A friend recommended a rent a cabin in the mountains and go fishing and do things of that nature with my son. Any insight would help from people that have done similar things. What I don't want is my son to be bored or this to be a wasted vacation.

Please help, I really don't know where to go.
bkluvsNola is offline  
May 1st, 2009, 10:49 AM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 22,317
What your son wants more than anything is to have your undivided attention for a week - that could be the local park if that would do it. The trouble with mountains/beach is that parents often see it as a place to relax - and even if you spend the morning taking a short hike, if you then want to read, nap or answer work emails, that is not going to work for him.

That argues towards a place with more "action". Not familiar with Texas goergraphy - but even a Gulf coast beach might work. Or do the Disney thing for a few days and then hed to a beach.

And while you like good food, eating in restaurants 3 meals/day with a preschooler is not fun for them - so try to get lodging where you can do a combination of this and non-restaurants - like a hotel with breakfast included, a locale with really good take-out. Having to sit still and wait for food for 21 straight meals is not going to work well with a likely active 4 year old.
gail is online now  
May 1st, 2009, 11:05 AM
  #3  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 2,091
gail,

Thanks. I thought about going to a local Texas beach. I was thinking about South Padre Island, as they have a Schlitterbahn Water Park and the beaches are really clean. Maybe some Fodorites can comment on this.

As far as food, take-out is fine for me. I will pick a place with a free breakfast, that's fine. I just don't want to be stuck in a place with only fast food restaurants. Another option is a condo and I'd cook a majority of the meals but then that is not a vacation for me!
bkluvsNola is offline  
May 1st, 2009, 11:25 AM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 92,778
When I was that age we always went camping. All the kids in our group LOVED it. Can't you find some place right in Texas with a cabin or platform tents near a lake/beach/river? Some kind of national, state, or private park?

I think southern California combining Disneyland with beach time is a wonderful idea (I grew up in LA) but yes it IS expensive, and your son's a bit young to apprecite it I think. Save that trip for a couple more years.
suze is online now  
May 1st, 2009, 11:33 AM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 1,834
San Diego would be a great destination for you. At 4, your son would love Legoland, the Wild Animal park, Seaworld, and the beach.
padams421 is offline  
May 1st, 2009, 02:49 PM
  #6  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 2,091
Thanks for the ideas suze and padams421.

I had thought about camping but I want his first camping trip to be a quick 3 day weekend to "test the water" so to speak. I'm actually thinking of doing that sometime in May. Next year I plan to take him on a "real" camping trip to Big Bend National Park.

I hadn't thought of San Diego. You see, there's a Seaworld in San Antonio and we've been many times. Is the San Diego one that much different/better than the San Antonio one? I would like a perspective from someone who has been to both.

The zoo and Legoland sound appealing. Is the surf "kid friendly" in San Diego? Last time I was there, it seemed kind of choppy and not real conducive to preschoolers swimming there. Perhaps there are sounds or inlets that are more protected and safer for kids?
bkluvsNola is offline  
May 1st, 2009, 02:59 PM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 9,285
I live in San Diego and I think the beaches are fine for little kids. Legoland is great for someone his age and Disneyland is only an hour away. There are some good hotel deals I read about in another thread. It is one of the nicest places to be in July in terms of the weather.
ncounty is offline  
May 1st, 2009, 03:13 PM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 92,778
Well I'm a big fan of Disneyland, so I'd never try to talk you out of that. You could pair it with the beach at Santa Monica, Malibu, etc. Sorry don't know the ocean conditions in San Diego.
suze is online now  
May 1st, 2009, 04:12 PM
  #9  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 2,091
ncounty,

Thanks. Do you have the link to the cheap hotel deals in San Diego?
bkluvsNola is offline  
May 1st, 2009, 06:05 PM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 2,729
San Diego!
Perfect weather..no humidity..beach will be gorgeous and warm..well around 73 degrees and we have Legoland, Sea World, SD Zoo, SD Wild Animal Park and its the greatest city in the world!
Catch a Padres baseball game too..
I use Expedia.com to get an idea on good deals..
Lots of 4* hotels deals right now..
This is a perfect father and son paradise..Southwest flies from Austin to San Diego for pretty cheap too..book pretty soon since it fills up fast.
Keep us posted!

www.sandiego.org
ksucat is offline  
May 1st, 2009, 09:05 PM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 9,285
hi bk,

it's hard to know without the specific dates but, on the other thread, we were discussing a great 4 star hotel called the Estancia, in La Jolla, that is available this month for $162/night. With a young child, I would also look at the La Jolla Shores area.
ncounty is offline  
May 2nd, 2009, 05:07 AM
  #12  
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 4,934
The Mts. of NC may be what you are seeking. I also have a 4 yr old son & we visit the Mts. frequently & letterbox & hike (treasure hunting to him). Please see links - www.letterboxing.org, www.atlasquest.com The Chimney Rock/Lake Lure area is easily accessible from CLT (maybe 1.5 hours). Lake Lure has a Beach & you can literally pull off the road about anywhere & jump in the river, have a picnic or whatever. Parks abound. www.chimneyrockpark.com, chimneyrock.org,www.townoflakelure.com. BTW - I always see your NOLA posts & assumed you were female (perhaps I don't pay enough attention), I am also oftentimes mistaken for a female, so we do have that & our love of NOLA in common, lol. Take care. Also, for places to stay, vrbo.com.
SAnParis2 is offline  
May 2nd, 2009, 05:09 AM
  #13  
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 4,934
You can also gem mine there (almost forgot), kids love that - www.chimneyrockgemmine.com
SAnParis2 is offline  
May 2nd, 2009, 05:23 AM
  #14  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 16,715
My first thought was also San Diego/La Jolla before reading the other responses.
mclaurie is offline  
May 2nd, 2009, 06:35 AM
  #15  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 2,091
SAnParis2,

Yes, I've been mistaken for a female on these forums because of my handle. Now with the picture on the handle, I'm hoping that won't happen.

By the way, I thought you were female as well!

Thanks for the advice.
bkluvsNola is offline  
May 2nd, 2009, 06:39 AM
  #16  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 2,091
ncounty and mclaurie,

I'm almost sold on the San Diego idea. I'll have to be frank, I've only been to San Diego once and it was for a conference so we couldn't have rental cars, we had to take those big tour buses everywhere, so I haven't a clue as to where anything in San Diego is in relation to each other.

Can someone please give me brief overview of the different parts of San Diego and their distance from the main attractions (the Zoo, Legoland, baseball stadium, the main beach areas). I would like to stay someplace that I'm not stuck in traffic driving all day getting to and from the various attractions, but also in a scenic place. Ideally, I would like to stay near the beach, but I don't want to pay an arm and a leg.
bkluvsNola is offline  
May 2nd, 2009, 06:48 AM
  #17  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 2,091
ksucat,

Thanks. Your post made San Diego sound very appealing. Catching a Padres baseball game would be fantastic. The nice weather would be a great break from the intense heat of Texas that time of year.
bkluvsNola is offline  
May 2nd, 2009, 07:23 AM
  #18  
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 9,285
Hi bk,

I think of San Diego as a necklace that is a strand of jewels along the coastline spanning a strand of about 25 miles. This analogy came to me when I was house hunting for the first time and fell in love with so many different neighborhoods. The southernmost pearl is Coronado with lovely beaches and a tony quaint gorgeous town. There aren't many budget places to stay there but it is worth a visit. Just north of that is Point Loma/Ocean Beach and another few miles north is Pacific Beach/Mission Beach which is the classic image of the california culture with rollerbladers on the boardwalk, lots of very young people, and busy. It is not my favorite spot; a bit too young and edgy for me. I was never that young....lol.

Next neighborhood north is La Jolla which is just lovely. You should definitely take him to see the seals on their own beach. There is a walkway out into the water that looks back on them. La Jolla cove also has a nice beach you can swim in that is fairly sheltered and the village has great restaurants.

North of that is Del mar which is roughly where I live....another great beach and one you could walk for long distances. Great for building sand castles, etc., also with a lovely village center with shops and restaurants. Solana beach is another 2-3 miles north. The beach is less populated here and it has a train station stop that can take you to Disneyland or San Juan Capistrano. I highly recommend a train ride with your little boy if he likes trains. The views are fantastic and hard to get with any other way. The coaster is a good way to go that is less expensive; I think kids are free.

other points north are encinitas with a great beach (moonlight beach)....this is one of our favorite beaches because the waves are bigger for boogie boarding but your needs may be different. Beyond that is leucadia, then carlsbad then oceanside. So much to explore, eh?!

When he is older, my favorite recommendations are to hike the Torrey Pines state reserve beach path and to rent kayaks and do the La Jolla shores. We were surrounded by leopard sharks, it was so exciting! and I fell in the water, lol.

If you avoid rush hours, you can get to most places within half an hour. The gaslamp area which is the highlight of downtown and petco park are all south and close to the airport between coronado and Point Loma. The zoo is also in this area. Legoland is north near Carlsbad. The wild animal park is the greatest distance away but can still be reached within about 35 minutes north and inland.

I think you could stay in any of these areas and just get around by car....this is definitely a car town to see as much as possible. Hope this helps!
ncounty is offline  
May 2nd, 2009, 07:38 AM
  #19  
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 9,285
btw, the zoo is right next to Balboa Park which is a lovely walkaround as well. They have a model train museum which my son enjoyed at that age and he might also like the Reuben H. Fleet museum of science and the Natural History museum, in that order of preference for my son.
ncounty is offline  
May 2nd, 2009, 08:43 AM
  #20  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 2,729
Wow ncounty..great description of our lovely SD!!

I don't know what your budget is but LJ Shores would be a great beach for your 4 year old and easy access to and from the freeway to get to all the attractions in SD.
Keep in mind that you are coming at one of the most popular times but you can have an incredible time without breaking the bank.
From riding waves on the boogie board, to Legoland, SeaWorld and a baseball game, you and your son would have a blast!

Let us know whats your price point and we all can give you our thoughts on hotels in SD.
ksucat is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -

FODOR'S VIDEO

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 10:56 AM.