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By Whit Honea

Sunset in San Diego, Pacific Beach. Credit: SD Dirk.

Sunset in San Diego, Pacific Beach. Credit: SD Dirk.

Summer is right around the corner, and with it our dreams of California vacations. Sure, it may sound a little cliché, but really, what could be better than enjoying the Southern California sun and surf with your family, especially when we’re talking about San Diego? And with so many incredible San Diego hotels, you’ve got options galore.

San Diego has something for everyone in the family: sports, nightlife, culture, beaches and plenty of kid-friendly destinations, including the new LEGOLAND Water Park opening today! The key criteria for picking the right hotel can be as simple as location.

If your family is of the sporting variety you may want to choose a hotel in the downtown area for easy access to Petco Park, home of Major League Baseball’s San Diego Padres (one in every 10 guests guaranteed to see a win, in theory). The Hilton San Diego Bayfront is right across the street from the park and is literally right on the waterfront. In addition to the ballpark and easy beach access, the hotel is also a quick walk from the popular Trolly Tours — a family favorite!

Paradise Point Resort & Spa, San Diego.

Paradise Point Resort & Spa, San Diego.

Downtown also hosts the USS Midway Museum and the very popular, always lively Gaslamp Quarter. Bear in mind that the Gaslamp loses much of its family appeal shortly after the dinner crowd thins out (this is the nightlife part to which I was alluding), but during the day it’s a great place for dining and shopping with kids in tow. The entire area is pretty walkable. Also of note, just outside of downtown is the world famous San Diego Zoo — a must-see!

For easy access to downtown attractions, consider the Embassy Suites San Diego Bay-Downtown — the kids will love having their own room and TV, and you’ll enjoy being directly across the street from Seaport Village.  Or try The Westin Gaslamp Quarter, San Diego where you can relax on their famous Heavenly beds after a long day checking out the areas many attractions.

Miniland city at LEGOLAND, California. Credit: LEGOLAND.

Miniland city at LEGOLAND, California. Credit: LEGOLAND.

Of course, no California vacation would be complete without a trip to Mission Bay to visit SeaWorld, the beach, or the very kid-friendly LEGOLAND. You’re kids will also flip their lids for the just-opened LEGOLAND Pater Park, which features a bazillion creative water play features for kids, including a 45-foot-tall tower at the center of four main slides.

Catamaran Resort & Spa, San Diego

Catamaran Resort & Spa, San Dieg

Among the family favorites in the Mission Bay area are the Catamaran Resort & Spa, where you can relax in hidden gardens with over 1,000 types of eclectic plants, flowers and birds or rent various types of watercraft. Across the street from SeaWorld, you’ll also find the Paradise Point Resort & Spa, located right on its own private beach.

LEGOLAND is actually a bit of a drive (about 15 minutes) from Mission Bay, but it’s a worthwhile drive and it’s all freeway — the scenic type of freeway that California vacations are made of. LEGOLAND tends to close fairly early, and I suggest getting the family back to Mission Bay for dinner and a beautiful sunset (nightly). If you’re visiting the new LEGOLAND Water Park (and you should!), an overnight stay is definitely an appealing option.

The reality isthat you really can’t go wrong when it comes to California vacations, but these San Diego hotels can make them even more memorable.

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Whit Honea is a travel writer living in Seattle with his wife and two children. He packs light and travels often to far-away places, exotic lands and more than a few theme parks.

Tagged: California, Family time

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Nina Kokotas Hahn

Nina Kokotas Hahn

Nina Kokotas Hahn is a travel writer and Chicago journalist whose work appears in Chicago magazine, HuffPost Travel and Condé Nast’s HotelChatter. Globetrotting since infancy, she’s the daughter of a travel agent and considers thrill seeking part of the DNA. Find her on Twitter at @ninakhahn.

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