Looking for a great babymoon or family vacation in the colder winter months, but don’t want to become human icicles for the week? That’s so weird! So was I. The good news is that you don’t need to look any further than San Diego, California. There is just something about this beautiful city by the sea that satisfies what the soul craves. It must have something to do with the smell of the salt air, the warmth of the ever-present sunshine and that intangible feeling in the air that everything is going to be okay. And the best part? You can do San Diego with a baby.
The Rockstar Mom Guide to San Diego with a Baby
There are so many challenges that come into play when traveling to a new area. What neighborhoods are safe to stay in AND close to the attractions that you want to see? What attractions do you actually want to see? Some admission prices to destinations and events are high. Is it worth the initial sticker shock? It can be quite overwhelming!
So let me be your guide to making your winter getaway dreams of exploring San Diego with a baby a most beautiful reality without all the stress and hassle of researching every aspect of this expansive yet beautiful California city.
Settling On a Neighborhood in San Diego
San Diego has a TON of neighborhoods to choose from and if you want to learn a little bit more about them, I definitely suggest this article by San Diego Magazine for the perfect synopsis of each one.
But if you want the quick overview, here you go:
When it comes to San Diego with a baby, I have found that staying in either La Jolla or Pacific Beach is going to bring you the best variety of all that the city has to offer. Both areas are located pretty close to the action of the main tourist attractions, but still leave you either on the beach or just a few blocks away.
Think about it. Long car rides are a no-no with screaming littles, but being on the beach is such a treat for those of us who don’t have access to one year-round. These areas are a win-win in my book.
The Ultimate Stay
Here at the Rockstar Mom Sisterhood, we have an eye for luxury. After all, I am originally from the “Go Big or Go Home” State, otherwise known as New Jersey, so I always figure that it’s imperative to make the most of any vacation – especially a beach vacation.
If you are in the market for some fabulously laid back luxury with amazing guest service, I have to recommend The Pacific Terrace Hotel in the Pacific Beach area. When it comes to their eye for hospitality, every detail is unbelievably on point.
From the light jazz music that played when we walked into our hotel room after checking in to the nightly turn down service and the evening, they had it all down to a beautiful science. We were even provided with a daily print out with photos and names of the staff that were on duty and what the weather for the next 24 hours was going to be. It was such a nice personalized touch!
Just because the weather isn’t super warm beach weather in the winter (think mid to upper 60’s for the high) doesn’t mean that there isn’t plenty of sun and fun to be had. It’s quite the opposite to be honest!
First and foremost, grab baby’s stroller, throw on some shades and a sweater and take a stroll along the boardwalk. Or better yet – You can even just sit out on your balcony and enjoy a cup of coffee before the kiddos wake up. It’s totally up to you – just get some fresh (warmer than home) air in those lungs, sister!
You can also head over to Balboa Park, one of the city’s most famous cultural epicenters. There you can find 1,200 acres of parks, museums, dining and botanical gardens. There is enough to do to keep you busy for hours, if not multiple days. May I highly suggest bringing along a baby carrier like this one or this one (these are my two favorites, especially when I’m going to be walking a lot because they have GREAT lower back support – super important if you want to be able to walk the next day!)
You’re an Animal!
Speaking of Balboa Park, one of the most amazing– and I mean AMAZING – destinations that you will find within its acreage is the San Diego Zoo. I know what you’re thinking, mostly because I was thinking it too. We’ve all been to a million zoos, so is it really worth the price tag that the San Diego Zoo carries?
In a word: Absolutely! First of all, the place is expansive, so I highly recommend getting a two-day pass if you’re going to be in town long enough, especially with littles. I think it’s safe to say that trying to spend the entire day at the zoo with kids is a surefire recipe for a very public meltdown. With a multi-day pass, you won’t feel so pressured to try to see everything in one day and you won’t feel as though you missed out on anything.
Secondly, the interactive nature of this zoo is beyond any other I’ve ever experienced. There are bus rides that will take you on tours throughout the grounds and give you a great overview of the zoo. Our bus driver/tour guide wasn’t just someone driving a bus either. She was a conservationist that had been on many safaris and gave us quite an educational experience. I highly suggest hitting one of these bus tours when you first arrive, so you can get a better idea of which route you’d like to take on foot.
The zoo also hosts Keep Talks and Animal Encounters, which offer so much insight into the lives of the animal and their caretakers. And have you ever fed a giraffe? Now you can.
We personally loved sitting at the Silverback Gorilla enclosure and watching the mom, dad and baby interact. Baby Gorilla literally took his burlap blanket over to the glass and played with all of the zoo-goers, even going so far as to watch a YouTube video with one woman in attendance. How freakin’ cool is that?!
Hit The Road!
If you’re looking for a bit of nostalgia mixed with beautiful art, architecture, adventure and a whole lot of luxury, hop in the car and head on out to Coronado Island.
The Hotel del Coronado is an absolute must see. As a huge fan of unique and boutique hotels, as well as history, this hotel is probably my favorite part of Coronado Island and on my list of places that I MUST stay in the near future. I could go on and on about it, but in the interest of time and the many other adventures I have to fit in this feature, I will give you the Readers Digest version.
Visitors to the Hotel del Coronado
Hotel del Coronado is abundant in American history. It was opened in 1888 and is one of but a few wooden Victorian beachfront hotels still in tact. Presidents, royalty and Hollywood greats have all visited the hotel throughout the century plus of its existence, which is all evidenced in the hallways of the common areas of the hotel.
As a visitor, you are welcome to walk throughout the common areas, including the lobby and the shopping area. We stopped at an ice cream shop for the absolute most delicious pistachio ice cream I’ve had in a long time, as well as a candy shop with homemade fudge. It gave me the feeling of being transported back to my childhood eating salt water taffy on the boardwalk!
You can also explore the beach area, where we found immaculate sand sculptures and a beautiful ocean breeze. The hotel even hosts s’mores roasting bonfires on the beach for its guests. Think about how fun that would be for the kiddos (and the parents)!
The Rest of Coronado Island
The rest of the island is exquisite as well, with multi-million dollar properties, amazing culinary experiences and plenty of shopping and entertainment.
If you’re looking for a great lunch, I highly recommend the Brigantine Seafood and Oyster Bar, but arrive early. It’s a very popular spot!
After lunch, you can have a ton of adventure on the island and all at your own speed. There are bike and kayak rentals and tours and you can even rent your own catamaran. It’s all up to you! Who says San Diego with a baby can’t be amazing AND relaxing?
Once you’ve enjoyed your day out on Coronado Island, there is plenty to do at night in San Diego. Make sure you have a sweater packed for everyone, as the nights in the winter get a tad bit chilly!
If you’re looking for great food, well good luck narrowing it down to a singular choice! San Diego is known for so many culinary delights, especially seafood, Mexican food, California wood-grilled pizza and amazing local wines. In the Pacific Beach area, I can absolutely recommend The Fishery and Taco Surf. Living in Nashville, I promise you that both of these places fulfilled my cravings for the great fish AND Mexican food that Tennessee lacks.
Turn in Early
Let me preface this by saying that this Rockstar Mom is an absolute night owl, but dozing off with the ocean waves crashing right outside of your window leaves your soul wanting nothing. And neither does waking up early feeling refreshed and sitting out on your balcony watching the dolphins leap as you sip that first sip of morning coffee.
So be sure that you and the kiddos catch your much-deserved Zz’s and get ready for a whole new day of adventure in San Diego, one of my favorite cities by the sea.