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.