Sandy San Diego

Genie Davis October 7, 2010 No Comments


We like going to the beach in San Diego. It’s not that there’s a lack of beaches in our hometown of Los Angeles, but somehow San Diego’s feel is, well, more beachy. And possibly more pool worthy, too.   

We like both the calm bay side waters and soft sandy beach right outside the rooms at Paradise Point, located a stone’s throw from Sea World; or the Hotel Del Coronado with its gorgeous Victorian styling, all cupolas and gingerbread design and fantastic sunsets. Both hotels are located on islands – connected to mainland San Diego by bridges – and both offer different but wonderful beach and pool experiences.  

A sea bird shared our meal at Paradise Point Resort in San Diego


Paradise Point Resort is located on an island in Mission Bay, and has large, comfortable rooms decorated in California beach bungalow style. Some have porches, some have patios, all have a little outdoor private space facing gardens or the bay. The rooms are brightly colored, the bedding, towels and bathroom space all high quality. Many of the rooms have separate living areas and the hotel is very accommodating and roll away beds. The public spaces are the best part though, with a large, warm swimming pool for all ages in the heart of the resort and several adults-only pools and smaller all ages pools tucked around the resort. There’s a tower for bay and bird watching, pretty lagoons, artful bridges, and both casual and high end dining right on the property. It’s incredibly relaxing and it is hard to leave – particularly if you have a bayside room and the kids can just walk off the patio into the sand. They have watercraft rentals, too; we’ve often gotten a breakfast package that allows us to luxuriate over tea, juice, and the morning paper while the kids hit the sand – almost a mile of it.  

Sunset over the sea in San Diego.


For waves and broader sandy beaches, the beach access at the Hotel Del Coronado (also known as the Del) is fantastic. As a family destination, it’s even better. They have a kid’s camp and a teen program; beach rentals from wetsuits to boogie boards are reasonably priced, both pools have lovely settings and attractive loungers. Another all inclusive resort, and also on an island, like Paradise Point, it’s difficult to leave the Del. You can explore the island on foot or by bike, enjoy a beautiful sunset, dine on site at casual or upscale venues, and take advantage of the advice and perks of a full time recreational staff with plenty of activities from crafts to surfing lessons always at hand. The rooms are smaller here due to the historic nature of the hotel, but they’re beautifully appointed, and the bathrooms all have modern fixtures and excellent amenities.  

Now if neither of these destinations appeal to you, or you’re just out to explore other seaside escapes, there’s over seventy miles in all of white sand beaches in San Diego.  

And there’s more than the beach, as much fun as that is – there’s history in this historic port town, too. The Hotel Del Coronado itself made cinematic history – the property co-stars in films like The Stuntman and the Hollywood classic, Some Like It Hot.  

In downtown San Diego you’ll find the Gaslamp National Historic District, now a vibrant spot for restaurants and entertainment, featuring classic buildings and of course, gas lamps. Old Town San Diego Historic Park is a wonderful tourist draw with elements of old Mexico from the restaurants to the shops to structures such as the Whaley House dating from the Gold Rush era, and officially designated as ‘haunted’. Ghost tours run in the evening, but may be too intense for the youngest travelers. Kids of all ages will enjoy the colorful stores, mariachis, and exploring the Mason Street School, the first one room school house in San Diego.  

Sunset Mission Bay San Diego, CA

Sunset Mission Bay San Diego, CA


Of course, there’s the San Diego Zoo – one hundred acres and home to over four thousand animals from monkeys to bears to snakes, lions and tigers, too, oh my. A bus tour will take you painlessly around the zoo to see all the wonderful creatures and their habitats at least cursorily; you can walk back to see your favorites. The zoo houses two adult giant Chinese pandas and their young; other popular exhibits include the orangutans and siamangs which share a rain forest-like habitat at the Zoo, with plenty of room for simian play, and glassed in walls that allow kids to be up close and personal with these wonderful fellow mammals, safely.   

We loved the child-size vertical poles, similar to those used by the orangutans and siamangs, which reach into the visitor area from the enclosed portion of the exhibit. Kids can swing on these bendable poles at the same time the orangutans are enjoying them. For a little relaxation without the chattering of your simian friends, leave the zoo for beautiful, shady Balboa Park, which could be Central Park, if Central Park had palm trees and a more mellow vibe. There are beautiful gardens and kid’s playgrounds, and of course, once you’ve finished relaxing, museums to explore, many of them contained in gorgeous Spanish style buildings that were constructed at the turn of the twentieth century for the Panama-California Exposition. Our kids love The San Diego Model Railroad Museum with its wonderfully ornate six scale-model railroads. Also unique to San Diego is the Aerospace Museum. The San Diego Museum of Art houses works by Georgia O’Keefe in a wonderful, rambling space. Despite all the culture, the museums, like the park itself, exude a relaxed, California-laid-back vibe.  

The Spreckels Organ Pavilion offers free concerts every Sunday afternoon. You can’t beat the price and our kids loved the sound and the open air amphitheater not far from the museums. With over forty-five hundred individual pipes – the largest are about thirty-two feet in diameter – it’s the world’s largest pipe organ even now. It was built in 1915, like the museum buildings, for the Panama California Expo.    

After a day of history, music, monkeys, and art you’ll enjoy going back to whichever beach-side accommodation you’ve chosen and digging your toes in the sand – in sandy San Diego!

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Genie Davis is a multi-published fiction author, screen and TV writer, and travel writer. If it was possible, she'd like to spend every day traveling.

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