Tag Archives: San Diego Tourism Authority

Pacific Beach Boardwalk Cyclists -Courtesy Brett Shoaf

San Diego offers free admission for kids in October

Arizona residents flock to San Diego in the summer to escape the relentlessly dry heat. But have Arizona families ever considered experiencing the coastal city’s plethora of family adventures in the fall?

With almost guaranteed perfect weather, weeks of endless fun and entertainment and special family discounts, families can celebrate the season with the second annual Kids Free San Diego month in October.

“San Diego is a world-class destination for family travel,” says a representative at the San Diego Tourism Authority (SDTA). “The area offers something for everyone, including museums and cultural destinations, family-friendly eateries and beach activities like whale watching and surfing. The first Kids Free San Diego in 2012 was a tremendous success. Our area attractions, like the San Diego Zoo and SeaWorld San Diego, reported a 10 percent increase in visitors from out of town.”

Az Business caught up with members of the SDTA to find out what families can expect to see, do, eat and save as Kids Free San Diego returns for an encore in 2013.

AB: What can Arizona families expect this year?
SDTA: Kids ages 10-13 will have the experience of a lifetime at SeaWorld – one child participates for free in the park’s dolphin and beluga whale interaction programs with a paid adult interaction. Every member of the family will enjoy exploring the famous San Diego Zoo and the 16 museums of Balboa Park, including the San Diego Air & Space Museum, San Diego Natural History Museum, San Diego Automotive Museum and many more.

AB: Any ocean-related events and activities available to children and their families?
SD: There are a lot of great options to get out on the water during Kids Free San Diego. Families can cruise around scenic Mission Bay aboard a turn-of-the-century sternwheeler (one child rides for free with a paid adult). Both Flagship Cruises & Events and Hornblower Cruises & Events are offering free tours of San Diego Bay for kids with paid adult admission. Older kids even have the chance to learn to surf alongside mom or dad with a free kid’s lesson from Surf Diva at La Jolla Shores.

AB: What are area hotels doing this year to welcome children and families?
SD: Kids can eat for free at 40 San Diego area hotels during Kids Free San Diego. Many hotels are also offering free welcome amenities just for kids. Little ones, for instance, can get a special milk and cookie delivery at the Tower23 Hotel in Pacific Beach.

AB: Can AZ families take advantage of any travel discounts?
SD: Kids can ride for free about the Old Town Trolley Tour. In addition to offering a great sightseeing tour of San Diego, the Old Town Trolley Tour is a convenient way to get from place to place during the day, with on-and-off privileges at stops around downtown, Balboa Park, Coronado and many more points of interest.

Amtrak is offering one child, ages 2-15, free rides per one paid adult rail fare aboard the Pacific Surfliner route, servicing San Luis Obispo to San Diego. Stops include the Santa Ynez Valley, Carpinteria, Ventura, Oxnard, Van Nuys, Burbank, Glendale, Los Angeles, Anaheim, Orange, Santa Ana, Irvine, San Juan Capistrano, San Clemente and more.

San Diego hot spots

San Diego Zoo: The zoo in Balboa Park houses more than 3,700 animals and is also one of the few zoos in the world that is home to the giant panda. Haunted Trail of Terror in Balboa Park, San Diego’s all outdoor haunted attraction, runs Sept. 27-Nov. 2.

Seaport Village: The waterfront shopping and dining complex houses more than 70 shops, galleries, and restaurants in an assortment of architectural styles, from Victorian to traditional Mexican.

LEGOLAND: The 100-acre theme park features more than 50 rides, shows and attractions. Brick-or-Treat at LEGOLAND in Carlsbad takes place on Saturdays and Sundays in October.

Gaslamp Quarters: If you are visiting San Diego and want time away from the kids, you would be remiss if you did not wander the Gaslamp Quarter for the the most amazing nightlife, eating, and drinking the city has to offer.

SeaWorld: The park features shows such as One Ocean, the Shamu show and Sea Lions Live, a comedic show with sea lions and otters. The Halloween Spooktacular at SeaWorld runs on Saturdays and Sundays from through Oct. 27.

Verandah Facing Glorietta Bay

San Diego’s Coronado Island is perfect family getwaway

I was sitting at breakfast when my 15-year-old daughter took a break from watching “Breaking Bad” on her iPhone and said, “Mom, we should take a girls’ vacation.”

After patting myself on my back for doing something right while trying to act like a sane Mom to four daughters, working full-time, and finding time for my spouse, I set my plan into motion.

With the skills only an experienced multi-tasker could possess, I moved into planning mode. I have always been jealous of friends who were better at balancing career and family time, particularly when they would take time to vacation in Coronado Island. I felt like I was missing out on some secret, some exclusive location where only the financially sophisticated and elite were allowed to vacation.

So I decided this was my time to shine, my daughters and I would discover for ourselves what lures so many Arizonans to Coronado Island. After a quick search, I landed at the San Diego Tourism Authority’s website (sandiego.org). I  wanted to explore Coronado, to figure out what makes Coronado such a unique destination. I wanted adventure, to discover things to do that were off the beaten track, and also to learn a thing or two about the island along the way.

We decided to stay at the Glorietta Bay Inn, which was once the home (OK, mansion) of sugar baron John D. Spreckles – also the original owner of the Hotel Del Coronado. The boutique inn, restored to look as it did in the 1920s, has 11 spacious mansion rooms in the main building for adults only, in addition to 89 contemporary rooms and suites.  Our one-bedroom suite came with a full kitchen, separate bedroom off the living room (with a fold-out couch), TV with DVD player.  The Glorietta Bay Inn also provides complimentary snacks each day off the grand music room, with lemonade and gingersnap cookies.  Each morning, they provide a complimentary breakfast, and guests may sit inside in the dining room, or outside on the patio.  The staff is incredibly helpful. The Glorietta Bay Inn is also located across from the beach.

Our first activity was a two-hour Discover Coronado Biking Adventure from Where You Want To Be Tours.  Husband and wife team, Darlynne and Marc Menkin were quick to point out that every house on the island is unique. We rode along the newly opened bike path that parallels the Hotel Del Coronado. We stopped by Spreckles Park and learned how on summer concert evenings, it becomes a large family-like picnic ground. We took in the downtown San Diego skyline from Ferry’s Landing (you may take your bike on the ferry over to San Diego), and rode along the Glorietta Bay. Water and light snacks are provided, along with trivia questions along the way.

The next morning, we met up with Crystal at Tourlands Park for a stand-up paddleboard lesson with SUP Coronado. Tourlands Park was on the other end of the island, (the Glorietta Bay side), and it worked out perfectly that we had done the bike tour the evening before, because the directions made sense, and I knew where I was going. Crystal gave us a brief 5-minute lesson on the basics of paddleboarding, and we were off into Glorietta Bay and out into the water like a gondolier in Venice.  We paddleboarded under the Coronado Bay Bridge, ducked under a catamaran, and learned much more about the culture of Coronado.

Of course, we couldn’t go to Coronado Island, without visiting the infamous Hotel Del Coronado.  A girls’ weekend is not complete without facials, so we went to the Del for spa treatments. The Spa at the Del features 21 treatment rooms, hydrotherapy tubs, steam rooms and its own private beachfront terrace with a vanishing edge pool.

For a vacation that was somewhat impromptu, I am thankful for the San Diego Tourism Authority’s website that easily allowed me to plan an off-the-beaten-track vacation, which turned out perfectly. The best part was the weekend came when my 15 year-old showed me a website she built in computer class. Under “My Favorite Places” she wrote – Coronado Island and the Glorietta Bay Inn. This time, I owe my Mother of the Year Award to Coronado Island.