Earlier this month, Aron had a conference in San Diego one weekend, and a work celebration in Monterey the next. I try to tag along whenever possible, so I suggested we make a week of it and drive up the coast together. Usually I’d write up the travelogue as one long post, but each stop was so different: to start, San Diego.
After a 9-hour drive—figuring it would be worth it to drive when the kids were asleep—we checked into the Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina around 3am, and rushed everyone to bed as best as possible.
The hotel looks out onto San Diego Bay; with views of Coronado (and its long, blue bridge) as well as various naval base facilities. To its sides are Seaport Village and the Gaslamp Quarter. But most crucially for us, the hotel is adjacent to the convention center—to where Aron snuck out early, while the kids and I got a more leisurely start to our day.
The hotel is also right across the street from the Children’s museum—a wonderfully sprawling spot for hands-on engagement. I got a workout crawling through tunnels and following along after them. It’s a bit pricey for a few hours of entertainment, but it was perfect for a Saturday with the kids.
After a hotel-nap for Skyler and cartoon break for Hudson, we took a look around and scouted out the pool. It was a little chilly by San Diego standards, but the kids were too excited about the pools and sprinklers to mind. Aron was finishing up his meetings around 4pm and met us there. We were able to sit on the side and watch them play, which felt remarkable! The first time ever! Skyler was content to play on the steps and Hudson has become a pretty good swimmer!
We pulled them out when their lips were looking a little blue and got changed for dinner.
Our room had a view of the red San Diego trolley line, prompting Skyler to call out “choo choo” every few minutes, so we knew we wanted to go somewhere requiring a ride. Hudson recalls it as his favorite thing we did in San Diego, believe it or not.
We bought a ticket at the platform and boarded for India Street in Little Italy. Saturday night meant the street was buzzing. We put in our names at Ironside Fish & Oyster (I’ve heard they have a great lobster roll), but realized we were just down the street from The Crack Shack, with its outdoor tables, bocce court, and delicious chicken sandwiches.
Aron and the kids checked out Bocce balls while I scored us a table and some cocktails. Meal-wise, this was a highlight. I had a sandwich called the Señor Croque: crispy chicken, bacon, a fried egg, cheddar, and miso-maple-butter on brioche. Comfort food done just right.
The sun was just setting when we left, so we walked most of the way back to the hotel along the waterfront, checking out the floating maritime museum with its retired military vessels, merchant ships, and even a submarine.
Sunday was Mother’s Day, so Aron took the day off and—after some breakfast in bed—we all packed up for a day at the San Diego Zoo.
Tip: Buy your tickets online ahead of time to skip the lines, and add on a bus tour. Taking it first thing will mean you get oriented with a good overview of the park and see most of the animals before their midday naps. It also gives you access to the hop-on/hop-off kangaroo bus and sky tram (Skyfari) for the rest of the day.
Highlights included: watching the mother and baby hippo play in the water, getting up close to the pandas, walking through the new Elephant Odyssey enclosure.
We had stopped at a grocery store on our way to the park, and were grateful we had a million different snacks.
After we left, we drove onto Coronado Island so we could take a look at the Hotel Del (1888) and see the views from the top of the bridge before coming back for dinner in South Park. As I mentioned, Coronado is where my aunt and uncle lived, and where I’d come to stay when my mom and I visited. We’d often take a ferry between the island (really an isthmus) and Seaport Village—it runs from 9am-9pm daily.
Another gem: Station Tavern. It had a great young-family vibe. Good burgers and beers, a fun play space in the yard for kids, and a sweet stop for ice cream just down the way. I also spent some time shopping—picking up a few treasures at Make Good and Junc.Life. South Park Dry Goods Co. was closed, but I hear good things about it as well as nearby Graffiti Beach.
I anticipated more beach-going during our visit, but it was a little cool. Instead, on Monday while Aron was back in meetings, the kids and I played at the park across the street some more, and then walked over to Seaport Village to ride the carousel.
Alas the carousel was closed. Womp-womp.
Fortunately, Disneyland was coming next, so it wasn’t very difficult to move on…
It was such a quick visit to San Diego and we visited just a small bit; I’m looking forward to coming back soon.
What should we do next time?
P.S. A 5 Things Guide to San Diego from Jamie Street.