What to Bring, Where to Stay and What to Do for a Great San Diego Family Vacation

For the last two years, we have taken our big kids on a little vacation that focuses on them. Since Franklin arrived, their wants and needs have at times taken a backseat to their baby brother, so a trip focusing on them has been important to us in making sure we do.  With the help of the kids’ Grammie and Poppie in watching the babe, last year we took the kids to Disneyland, and this year we took them to San Diego and Legoland.

Going on a vacation that is geared toward their likes and that is easier without the little one allows us all to go when we want to, eat where is convenient, and to make memories with the two bigs that will last a lifetime. And I truly think they appreciate and cherish the time with us when we can focus all of our attention on them.

We had SUCH a good time in San Diego and Legoland that I thought I would share some of our tips and tricks that we found helpful, fun, and that just made the trip an overall success!

So, here we go!

1. Pamper Yourself – When planning a family trip, I tend to think about everyone else’s needs before my own and then am scrambling last minute to get myself together. But with this trip I decided to do a few things that would not only save me time and effort while on my trip, but that would leave me feeling really good, too! The two most beneficial things I did for myself in preparation for the trip were to get lash extensions and a spray tan. I cannot even begin to explain how nice it was to wake up, feel put together as-is, and just GO! To see everything I did, go HERE.

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2. Surprise your kiddos! I just love surprises so very much, and surprising ours with this trip was an absolute highlight! Completely packed, we picked the kids up from school around 11:00, checked them out for the rest of the week and told them where they were going outside of their school. We then hopped in the car, got on a plane and went! I just love their reactions! Plus, we were going with some of our very best friends, so overall it was very exciting for us all!

 

3.What to Bring- There are a couple of things I recommend picking up before a trip like this for the kiddos, and the first one I recommend is a fanny pack! Ha! They’re back, baby! I cannot tell you how nice it was to have the kids be able to hold their own little “things” during this trip. From snacks and sanitizer on the airplane, to a place to collect and hold their own seashells on the beach, to a place to store their legos in Legoland; these were fantastic! HERE are the ones I bought. So cheap!

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The next best thing I brought on the trip were THESE packs of Wiki Stix! I whipped these out at just about every restaurant we ate at and suddenly the eating experience was super peaceful! The kids also played with these while in line at Legoland to help pass the time and I just cannot recommend these enough.

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4. Where to Stay – We rented a house right in the heart of Mission Beach and for our two families, it was a perfect spot! We were right in-between Mission Beach and Mission Bay and could easily walk to either side, as well as restaurants, shops, and the most delicious coffee shop I have ever been to (listed below)! Location is key! We were right in front of our house, here, and in this photo you can see the water.

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We could also walk back to the house for drinks or to use the bathroom and only be gone a few minutes, which was just so nice. This house was also spread out enough to accommodate two families, giving each family enough room.

This was mine and my husband’s room, and it had its own bathroom and walkout slider to the patio as well as a washer and dryer.

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And this was the master bedroom, which had access to the rooftop deck, and a queen blow-up bed in the closet as well as a Pack n Play for any little ones.

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And this is where Gwyn and Cal slept, which also had its own bathroom and shower.

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A little bonus, this house has Netflix! We took advantage of this when the adults needed a little more time to get ready and also after the kids went to bed and we wanted to watch something and unwind.

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This is when we introduced our friends to one of the best shows ever… Money Heist!

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And as I mentioned above, another big perk is how close we were to the beach, and because we were there so much it was extremely beneficial that there was also an outside shower at the house to hose the kiddos off because they got sand in just about every crevice possible! And I will admit, I was a bit covered in sand as well after playing frisbee on the beach. So much more fun than playing anywhere else! I had a blast doing this!

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Oh and the house also has a couple of boogie boards, some beach chairs and enough towels for us all that we could use, too, as well as a nice little patio with a bbq and seating/eating area. So nice!

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If you are looking for a place to stay in San Diego in the Mission Beach area, I highly recommend this spot. Tina, the owner, was super easy to work with and willing to accommodate our needs and requests.  HERE is the listing if looking for a great place to stay!

6. Where to Eat– We were located near some very good family-friendly restaurants that I would definitely go back to, all within walking distance from our house.

The Mission – We ate breakfast at this place twice! Get there before 10 and you can skip the long line waiting to get a table; a perk of traveling with younger kiddos.

Better Buzz- This place makes their own organic coffee sweetener and oh my goodness, it is so delicious! Plus, their avocado toast and acai bowls are very, very good.

Guava Beach Bar and Grill- This was a perfect spot to grab a quick bite and it was very entertaining for our kids with their giant Jenga and Connect Four sets and large fish tank.

Olive Cafe – We ate breakfast here as well and they have amazing acai bowls and large portions for their other selections

Baked Bear– We rode San Diego’s free bikes (explained below) to this ice cream shop and our kiddos were in heaven! You can choose which types of cookies, ice cream, and toppings you’d like on the side of your own giant ice cream sandwich.

7. Free Fun

Bikes and Scooters- San Diego has this free bike and scooter program! It is incredible! You just download THIS app, and then scour the city for these free yellow bikes and scooters! We had such a great time doing this that we did it multiple times! You can get regular bikes, motorized bikes, and motorized scooters, too; so fun! The bikes are GPS tracked, so once logged into the app you can see where all of the available bikes and scooters are. There’s practically one on every corner.
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Tide Pools- I was also told there are some amazing tide pools at Garbage Beach at the end of Sunset Cliffs, at Cabrillo National Park, at Dike Rock, and at Tourmaline Surfing Park. We didn’t end up having enough time to do this, but I really wanted to and hope we get to another time!

7. Attractions- Visit attractions that are difficult to see elsewhere. San Diego has so many amazing things to do, so do your research and find the things that will suit your needs best. I know the San Diego zoo is quite amazing, as I have been there a handful of times myself, but the kiddos have already been to a few zoos, so we decided on Legoland as our big activity, and oh my goodness did they absolutely love it! So much so that they asked to go back a second day! And coming next week are my top tips for doing Legoland! Stay tuned.

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Thanks for stopping by, and let me know if you have any other suggestions!

Comments

  1. This was super informative! Thank you for sharing.

  2. I have always wanted to visit San Diego and now I double do! Gorgeous pictures! Thanks so much for all of this great info!

  3. Lynsy Holden says:

    Did the house have a full kitchen? I am hoping to find an affordable place that we can do some cooking. Thanks for the tips!

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