This year we did something my husband and I have been wanting to do ever since we got married, which was a trip to California where we would explore both Northern and Southern California. We’d dream of it, and plan it out countless times, but we never imagined doing it with two young kiddos. When it came time to start planning our yearly family trip, we braved it out and plunged deep into finally taking this long awaited trip of our dreams.
Before I begin, I do want to mention that I will break this post up into two parts [California Trip Part II] to highlight the best aspects of our trip to San Diego, LA and San Francisco. That way it won’t be a never-ending read, and you can easily navigate between these cities. That being said, let’s dive into the first part of our trip which began with our flight from Newark, NJ to San Diego, California.
San Diego, CA
When planning out our trip, we carefully chose points of interests with our littles ones in mind. And I must say, California is filled with attractions for the entire family. Here are the three activities we covered in three days.
San Diego Zoo
We couldn’t go all the way to San Diego and not visit it’s famous zoo. San Diego Zoo is huge, but it can be covered in one day. One advantage we had was our time difference allowed the kids to sleep early, and wake up early so our days began at 9:00am. Therefore we arrived at the zoo early, got great parking (free parking too!) and enjoyed the perks of being the first ones in the zoo.
Tickets cost us $41/each through my husband’s employer discount, and children under the age of 3 are free. Our eldest daughter Ridha (age 2) enjoyed seeing the flamingos, polar bears and riding the shuttle bus that transported us around the zoo.
San Diego is located in Balboa Park, which also has other attractions such as museums, carousel, tiny train ride, and more. So if you wanted to split up your day, you could do the zoo and another attraction just steps away.
When planning, we knew we wanted to do a theme park type attraction, but since our kids are so little, we knew we did NOT want to spend too much on Disney theme parks or Universal studios. So I did some research and decided on Legoland based solely on numerous Trip Advisor reviews. We were so, so pleasantly surprised at this park. This park was so fun not just for my kids, but for us too. I would definitely go back again.
We paid $69.99 each for a 2-day park hopper ticket, and the kids were free, as part of an off-season promo. It’s not a humongous park, so we easily covered it in one day. I do agree with many of the reviewers that this park is more geared towards a younger age group. There were several rides that my little one could go on, a large playground area, and colorful shows that kept our daughters entertained.
Some of the attractions we enjoyed most:
Coast Cruise – Loved!!
Fairy tale Brook
La Jolla Beach
California is known for its pristine beaches, and La Jolla Beach is a beautiful spot to take your family. Now we visited in February, so we needed a sweatshirt for most of the trip, it was especially chilly by waters. The stretch of beach is large, and plenty of space to walk along the boardwalk. We even spotted seals on the rocks! If I could go back, I would definitely try eating at one of the restaurants along the boardwalk, they looked very tempting.
Where we stayed:
Hyatt House San Diego/Sorrento Mesa
$155/nightly, complimentary parking
When choosing our hotel for San Diego, I was in search of a spacious suite at a great price with free parking. The Hyatt House named House because it mirrors a home in each suite, with a kitchenette, separate living room and even offers a free grocery delivery service.
Since our kids were falling asleep on eastern time, we were able to relax in the living room without disturbing them. Quick tip: Bring a baby monitor!
Can’t say enough nice things about this hotel. We had the most comfortable stay.
Hope this post is tempting enough for you to make a trip to sunny California for a family vacay. Believe me you won’t regret it! I can’t wait to go back. Would love to hear your suggestions for fun attractions to see/do there!
Read on about the second half of our trip here 🙂