San Diego offers fun for Chicago families

My eldest niece Brianna has a talent that benefits our whole family: She plans incredible vacations for our extended clan. This year she focused her attention on San Diego, and I had the pleasure of joining three generations of my family there for a week in April.

After the adventure of my son’s first plane ride, our trip commenced and it was full of hits and some misses.

Zoom to the zoo

A visit to the San Diego Zoo was the main thing I wanted to do with my toddler Isaiah. Fortunately, my 14-year old niece Angelica joined us. Traversing the zoo with a toddler would not have been as easy or fun without her. With Isaiah snug in a baby carrier, we hopped on the Skyfari Aerial Tram that offers bird’s-eye-views of the zoo, which resembles a lush video game maze.

We darted around marveling at a baby orangutan playing with a parent, trying to spot certain species in the bird aviary and gasping as a huge hippo suddenly appeared in an underwater viewing window. We really wanted to make the most of our visit, so we spent a good chunk of time there and then did a final hustle (with stroller) as the sun began to set and the zoo was closing. The last round of our zoo game included seeing lions lounging and elephants swaying to a mysterious beat only they could hear.

Watch out for whale viewing boats

While the zoo was a big hit, whale watching was a miss. Boarding a whale watching boat seemed like a an awesome idea. I took shots of some sea lions and thought I would see so many other cool things and take a bunch of amazing pictures. However, I got so sick and was not the only one. I would say about half the people on the boat did not do very well. I noticed a couple of families with very sick kiddos and was thankful that my little guy was happily checking out the surf town Encinitas with his grandparents. Maybe your family includes mini boating pros, but I honestly would not take the risk, especially with kids. Trust me. Just trust me.

Beach bummin’ and hotel hoppin’

Hotel del Coronado is a destination in itself that offers a beautiful beach along the ocean and much more. Walking around the lavish grounds, savoring ice cream cones, playing in the pristine sand and noshing on the hotel’s yummy food filled our crew’s leisurely visit. This place is pretty swanky, but could be an incredible place to stay if you are prepared to splurge.

My sister scouted out a great bayside beach at the Catamaran Resort Hotel and Spa that offers chairs and umbrellas to the public. This was a great perk for us, especially as I wanted to keep my fair-skinned toddler in the shade as much as possible. Sporty families could choose from the hotel’s many activities, including paddle boarding and wakeboarding. If I were to return to San Diego with just my husband and son, this place could be an ideal fit for our trio to stay.

The idyllic Spanish-style vacation home offered bayside views and a sunset stroll nearby complete with palm tree silhouettes remains a simple and lasting memory of the trip.

San Diego had plenty of laid-back good times for toddlers, tweens, and, or course, the grown ups. Perhaps it could be the right choice for your next family trip, too!

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