Ann Wycoff checks into a ocean-view condo in Carlsbad for a staycation and some quality family time.
When it comes to family travel, San Diego tops most people’s list because, frankly, it’s kid heaven. We’ve got beaches, tide pools, amusement parks, animal safaris, train museums, rollercoasters, water sports, surf camps, dolphin shows, koalas, pandas, fast boats, beach bonfires, seaside horseback riding, ziplines, go-kart racing, skate parks, Tony Hawk, LEGO villages, laser tag, water parks, a wave house, whales frolicking offshore and more. Not to mention, the sun shines more than 300 days a year, and there’s 70 miles of coastline, 248 museums in the county, 90 golf courses and 18 state parks! Whether you’re a toddler, teen or old-timer, San Diego appeals to all. If the small fry are tagging along, hotel stays can become very pricey with all those $100 breakfasts, expensive poolside snacks and steep nightly rates. But you can’t deny the kids a fantasy trip to LEGOLAND or a wild Manta rollercoaster ride at SeaWorld and the chance to see dolphins and sea lions clowning around. When people ask me where to stay in San Diego, I frequently suggest Carlsbad as it’s got expansive, family-centric beaches, pretty parks, kid-friendly eateries, gorgeous flower fields and easy access to LEGOLAND. And our world-famous Zoo, the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, Balboa Park, SeaWorld and SeaWorld’s Aquatica waterpark are all a manageable 30- minute drive away. Recently, I took my 11-year-old daughter and her best friend for an overnight stay at Carlsbad Seapointe Resort. It’s managed by Grand Pacific Resorts which has condo-style units in places like Kauai, Canada, Montana, Tahoe, Napa and SoCal. I was pleasantly surprised how much I liked Seapointe. Tucked across the street from Coast Highway 101 and the Big Blue, the 95-unit Seapointe commands great ocean views, and serves as a perfect perch for sunset. The one- and two-bedroom condos are spacious and smartly decorated, bright and airy with ocean breeze. The family pool also sports a splash pad with fun water features and playground with a pirate ship climbing structure and dolphins arcing across the lawn. If you’re in need of a little peace and quiet, the adults-only pool sits up on the hill with more ocean views and a bubbling Jacuzzi. In keeping with the theme of kid heaven, Seapointe has tennis courts, foosball, ping pong, billiards, arcade games, ice cream socials, movies, game nights, boogie boards and more. Dad can barbecue out back; mom can take a free shuttle to Ocean Pearl Spa, at sister property The Sheraton Carlsbad, for a massage or facial. The team at Seapointe can arrange for stand up paddle boarding in the Carlsbad lagoon, surf lessons, sailing, tee times and more. And of course there’s LEGOLAND, only 10 minutes away, where you can ride a dragon coaster, splash bomb each other on boats, wander through the miraculous Lego versions of Las Vegas, Manhattan, Paris and more; cool off at the water park or explore Sea Life, the aquarium. With San Diego being a beer mecca these days, families can hit Pizza Port where the kids can play video games and nosh on pies while mom and dad discover the local craft brews on tap. Karl Strauss Brewing Company sits up on the hill next to the Grand Pacific Palisades Resort & Hotel for pub fare and more brews. So if you are looking for beachside digs in Carlsbad, check out Carlsbad Seapointe Resort. Or if you want to find condo-style accommodations in other locales, check out ResorTime, which has over 1,000 vacation rentals. Wandermelon readers can get a 20% discount site-wide if you use this Discount Code: 55T81. Book by 1/31/14 and travel through 2015 (holidays excluded). And enjoy that family time in San Diego’s aquatic playground. Photos courtesy of sandiego.org, LEGOLAND, San Diego Zoo, Next Level Sailing and Grand Pacific Resorts.