With its moderate climate and wealth of activities, San Diego is the perfect family vacation destination. We are chatting with Mary Solio from The World is a Book, who lives in Southern California, about Legoland, the San Diego Zoo, Balboa Park, and Coronado Bay. Best of all, she shares tips on finding the best tacos and how to get your kids in free to popular attractions.
ON THE PODCAST
:45 Welcome and weekly catch up
3:23 Kim and Tamara talk about past trips to San Diego
5:30 Welcome Mary Solio from The World is a Book
9:00 Ideal itinerary for visiting San Diego
9:55 Balboa Park
10:25 Sea World, San Diego Zoo or the Safari Park
11:00 Day 2: Beach hopping
15:32 Cabrillo National Monument
16:26 Where to Stay
18:20 Tips for visiting the Zoo
19:20 Kids Free Month
22:25 Must try foods
24:18 Where to take a family photo
25:00 Favorite travel gear
26:55 Tip of the week — finding good deals
About Mary Solio from The World is a Book
Mary lives in San Diego, California with her husband and two kids, who are 13 and 10. She was born in the Philippines, grew up in the U.S. territory of Guam, and believes all those years of island fever ignited her serious case of wanderlust. She currently works full time as a database developer and computer programmer. She writes about the familys travels along with tips and guides on her blog, The World Is a Book. She is also a family travel writer for Hilton Hotels and Resorts’ Hilton Mom Voyage site. The family loves cruises, castles, National Parks, and museums, from art to quirky. You can follow her family’s travels on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.
Five Days in San Diego
If you are in Southern California, it is easy to visit San Diego for a weekend or a day trip. But if you are coming from further away, Mary recommends at least a five to seven day stay.
Start with a two-hour bay cruise to see seals and the city skyline and then vary your itinerary between theme parks and other attractions. After the bay cruise, head over to Balboa Park to visit some of their 15 museums, gardens and Spanish architecture.
On the second day, pick either Sea World, the San Diego Zoo or the Safari Park. The Safari Park has a lot of open area and is different than a typical zoo.
For day three, go beach hopping or kayaking. One of Mary’s favorite beaches is the Coronado Beach near the hotel. She also likes LaJolla Shores to see the sea lions and to kayak near LaJolla Cove.
The next day, visit Legoland. If you are there from March through May there is a flower field on the hillside that is beautiful. If your family really loves Legos, a stay at Legoland Hotel seems like a special treat. They have four different types of theme rooms, including a new Lego Friends room.
For the last day, visit the tide pools at Cabrillo National Monument. Just check online first to find out when the tide is low. There are also other historical attractions at the Cabrillo National Monument.
Tips for Visiting San Diego
- Family friendly hotels are in the Mission Valley area.
- The Manchester Grand Hyatt near Seaport Village downtown is also a good pick for families.
- There are other new hotels opening in Liberty Station and a new public market is coming to that area also.
- When visiting the zoo, start with a half-hour guided bus tour and then take the tram all the way to the back and work your way to the front.
- Visit during October when kids get into many attractions for free.
Must Try Foods
You simply must have authentic Mexican food, especially carne asada and fish tacos, or the carne asada burrito with carne asada, cheese and fries rolled into a burrito. There are many taco stands throughout San Diego but Mary recommends anywhere with a “bertos” in it — like Umbertos — or Tacos al Gordo with a spiced pork taco.
She also loves the desserts at Extraordinary Desserts downtown.
Best Place to Take a Family Photo
There are many scenic spots in San Diego but Mary’s recommendation for a family photo is on the beach at Coronado Bay, with the iconic hotel behind you.
Favorite Travel Gear
Mary loves traveling in convertible pants from Columbia and Converse without laces to get through security quickly.
Tip of the Week
CityPass and GoCard are both available for San Diego, providing substantial discounts if you want to visit many attractions. Another tip when visiting a different city is to check their local Groupon and Living Social listings for deals on restaurants and attractions.
Mentioned in the Podcast
Balboa Park photo credit: Mary Solio
This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase, we may earn a small commission to help offset our fees.