We had finally settled on a destination for our family vacation. It was even listed on Family Adventures Await’s top destination list. Then my husband’s work schedule changed and we had to nix our vacation plans.
Not to be thwarted by work, and not to lose out on precious family time that we don’t often get, we decided to make this the summer of the staycation. Our first stop was San Diego.
My husband was able to take a day off, so we decided to make a long week-end of it. Packed the car and the kids and headed south. We didn’t do anything super out of the box during our stay but we did manage to pack each day with some adventure.
Day one – Old Town San Diego
We arrived late morning, ditched our bags and hopped on the train to Old Town, San Diego. One of my guys is obsessed with anything from a long time ago. He kept calling it “Old Fashioned San Diego from a long long time ago.” And while trying to explain time to a 3-year-old is seemingly impossible, it was super fun showing them how things used to be.
It’s important to incorporate not traditional kids activities. What they see and what they absorb can leave a lasting positive impact. It allows them to ask questions and use their brain in ways they otherwise would not. It is also a great opportunity for the entire family to get educated and participate in an activity. We learned that chocolate grew on trees and how it gets made.
Tip: Take the train, leave the car. The kids love riding the train and it beats having to find parking.
Day Two – The San Diego Zoo
In all honestly I am not a big zoo person. I have a hard time seeing wild animals in a city dwelling. For me, this was definitely a parenting moment when I had to choose between my own personal beliefs and something my children have always wanted to do. I choose the kids.
My kids are animal obsessed and the San Diego Zoo definitely delivered. They got to see every animal on their ” I want to see a…” list. We hit every corner of that zoo. If I had a fit bit it would have exploded with the amount of mileage I think we did. But it was worth it. Especially when your toddler gets to see his favorite animal.
Tips – 1. We made a lunch reservation prior to getting to the zoo at Alberts. It was well worth it. Being able to sit inside mid-day and relax gave us all the energy for the next half of the day.
Tip 2 – Save the bus tour until the end of the day when everyone is tired. Some people recommend taking the bus tour at the start of the day to get the lay of the land but the maps are pretty easy to use and most of the animals are active in the morning. You don’t want to be stuck on a bus when your favorite animal is alert and active.
Day 3 – Balboa Park
We knew we had to leave that afternoon. So we hit Balboa Park and just roamed around. There are so many incredible museums, and when you’re 3, little adventures can be had around every corner. We kind of let the boys run this day. While we did have a few spots picked out ahead of time, the boys determined most of the day. We told them to pick the direction and we followed, with a little directional guidance from us.
Tip 1 – Have a game plan. The grounds are so big, don’t try to see what is there before deciding what to do. Have a museum picked out ahead of time.
*We stayed at the Hampton Inn which was perfect. The location was ideal for families. A playground across the street. Right in front of the harbor. Within walking distance to a train stop and had free breakfast.