San Diego with kids
By Michelle Rae Uy
We Just Checked Out
Paradise Point bungalow with Mission Bay in the background (Courtesy Paradise Point Resort & Spa)
When picking a hotel or resort to serve as the base for your family vacation, there are several factors to consider. Price, location, amenities – these are every family’s main concerns especially in a destination like San Diego. Some also factor in a property’s capacity as a destination in of itself – whether or not it has enough on-site activities and diversions as well as restaurants so they never have to leave the resort. And a few others factor in the view.
While San Diego has many fantastic hotels to choose from, there are only a number of properties that meet all these criteria. Paradise Point Resort & Spa is among the few.
A Bit of Everything
Paradise Point’s main draw is that it offers just a little bit of everything a family could want in a resort. Nestled in San Diego’s beautiful Mission Bay park, the 44-acre property is, first of all, in close proximity to many of San Diego’s biggest draws. They include the wonderful Balboa Park, which will take you more than just a day to completely explore, and the ever popular SeaWorld San Diego, located right next door to the resort!
Paradise Point also boasts terrific family-friendly amenities including waterfront guest rooms, kitchenettes, several outdoor pools and even beach fire pits; affordable rates; and a beautiful setting that includes a tropical garden with an extensive duck pond. (If you’re lucky, you’ll even see an adult crane perched on a rock in the pond.)
Best of all, families need not leave the property, especially if they’re less concerned about seeing the attractions and more interested in simply unwinding, since a plethora of activities – from biking to water sports – are available on property.
Rooms & Amenities
Bayside bungalow at Paradise Point (Courtesy Paradise Point Resort & Spa)
Paradise Point Resort & Spa features spacious bungalows, suites and guestrooms that each come with WiFi access, a marble bathroom, mini fridge, cable TV, and private outdoor patios with Adirondack chairs, making them the ideal home away from home.
A bayside bungalow at the resort is perfect for a family of 4. The waterfront, one-bedroom accommodation has reserved doorstep parking; a kitchenette with a microwave, coffee maker and mini fridge; a marble bathroom with two separate vanities, each with dual sinks and closets; a dining table; a fully-furnished living room; and a patio furnished with Adirondack chairs. Just steps from the front door on the beach is a fire pit surrounded with more Adirondack chairs for beach bonfires and s’mores.
Considering that the resort has been around since the 60s, some wear and tear are to be expected in many of the rooms. However, these don’t really affect the rooms’ functionality and comfort. And with the resort’s planned $25 million room renovation later in 2016, every single guest room and suite at the resort will be fully renovated and will feature completely brand new furnishings by 2017.
Tidal interior (Courtesy Auda & Coudayre Photography)
There are four family-friendly eats on-site so guests have several dining options. Casual dining is available at Caveman Pizza Company, where kids can build their own pizza; Barefoot Bar & Grill, which offers outdoor, waterfront dining; and the new Tropics Cantina, which serves Baja cuisine. Mediterranean-inspired seafood dishes, on the other hand, are great dinner options at Tidal, Paradise Point’s signature restaurant.
Barefoot’s delectable, casual dishes are perfect for a pre- or post-water sports lunch, especially since it’s steps away from the marina where guests rent all water sports equipment. Order crunchy calamari to share for starters, and their burgers are recommended for your hungry troop. Can’t decide on a drink on the menu? Feel free to ask your server if they can whip up a drink to your liking!
Fine dining restaurant Tidal, which offer both outdoor and indoor seating, is a great choice for a family dinner. Their Mediterranean-inspired menu revolves around light and thoughtfully prepared seafood dishes, but they also have several delicious options for the meat lovers in the family. The Puree of Potato & Leek, topped with crème fraiche and chive, is great for warming up the little ones’ tummies, especially on those cool San Diego nights. For your main dishes, sample the wood-roasted Mexican Prawns or the perfectly cooked Diver Scallops with a side order of Whipped Potato. If you’re in the mood for meat, the Prime Beef Top Sirloin, made with red wine sauce, is flavorful and very tender, even when cooked medium well. And that side of Yam & Creamed Spinach is completely addictive. Looking for a lighter option? Order the plate of cheese and fruit.
Marina at Paradise Point (Courtesy Paradise Point Resort & Spa)
While SeaWorld San Diego, Balboa Park and its museums, as well as shopping destinations Headquarters and Seaport Village are all within a few minutes’ drive from the property, the resort itself offers plenty of family-friendly activities so there’s never a dull moment. This is especially great for families who are simply looking for a much needed r&r and not planning on leaving the resort.
Paradise Point has five outdoor pools, four of which are kid-friendly; a full service marina with kayaks, paddle boards, jet skis, sailboats, and duffy boats; a 18-hole putting golf course; a basketball court and championship tennis courts; a luxurious spa; a fitness center with saunas and steam rooms; and bicycles, quadracycle surreys and Segways for rent. Kids will enjoy the supervised activities at the seasonal Island Adventure Club (ages 4 through 12) or the complimentary poolside activities every Saturday from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Moms and dads, on the other hand, will appreciate the complimentary wine and chocolate tastings at Island Market every Friday night.
Here are some of our favorite family activities onsite:
Paradise Point Resort & Spa (Courtesy Paradise Point Resort & Spa)
- Paddle boarding on Sail Bay. With the bay’s quiet and calm waters, paddle boarding is perfect for beginners and a piece of cake for non beginners. Depending on your speed, you circle Sail Bay within an hour. For a more relaxing time, rent the boards for two hours instead and spend some time floating around in the middle of the bay as you watch moon jellies pass by underneath you. Keep a sharp eye for harbor seals.
- Paradise Surf Academy. Surfing is a way of life in the Southern California coast. It only makes sense for your family to partake in this exhilarating sport during your visit. Luckily, the resort is happy to arrange a 3-hour surf class for your family. This includes a quick classroom lecture, a swim test, a short tutorial on the surfboard and, of course, actual surfing at the nearby beach. Don’t worry if you’re not a strong swimmer; you’ll be surfing on white water waves in super shallow waters under the supervision of an experienced coach. Even your four year olds can do it!
- Biking around the property and the neighboring parks. Rent cruises, or a 4-person surrey if you want a bit of a challenge, and bike around the property and to the neighboring parks. It’s a great way to get your bearings at the beginning of your stay.
- Swimming in the bay. With the beach just steps away, swimming at the beach is practically a required activity. And the bay water is very calm so it’s great for the little ones. Moon jellies are common, but they’re harmless.
- Bonfires on the beach. The resort has 14 beach fire pits, each one furnished with Adirondack chairs, and use is complimentary to all guests. Purchase a bonfire and s’mores kit at the Island Market (or have concierge arrange to have it delivered to your room), and cap off your evening with s’mores on the beach.
- Exploring the gardens. Grab coffee (hot chocolate for the kids) at the coffee bar in the lobby, and take a morning walk around the gardens. The tropical-themed garden boasts an extensive lagoon that is home to many birds as well as turtles. Bring some bread (or buy a bag of duck food at Island Market) to feed the residents; but take care, as they can be a tad assertive. While there, climb the 81-step Observation Tower and enjoy panoramic views of the area.
- For a more stress-free vacation, talk to the resort concierge prior to your visit and have them set up all your activities for you.
- Surf gear and equipment will be provided at the Surf Academy so all you need are your bathing suit and plenty of sunscreen.
- Arriving early? Don’t fuss. Have someone at the bell desk store your luggage for you and take advantage of that extra time to sample some of the resort’s offerings.
- Looking to visit SeaWorld? Have concierge arrange for the resort’s water taxi service to take you to the park’s private entrance so you won’t have to deal with parking! (Seasonal)
- The Spa at Paradise Point has been heralded as one of the best spas in California so be sure to experience it by scheduling a treatment. Treatments for kids and teens are also available so they can also partake in the pampering.
Michelle Rae Uy contributed this to MiniTime. She is a travel writer based in Los Angeles and MiniTime’s Head of Content, who spends her free time on adventures and film photography.