As if I need to remind my fellow Phoenicians that we still have at least three solid melting months of monsoon balminess and record heat. Instead, I’d like to pose an alternative to flash floods, thunderstorms and even unexpected spout tornadoes. How about an opportunity the entire family will enjoy and cherish? A fun-filled San Diego weekend – and the best part … it’s all planned for you, and in perfect time for Kid’s Free San Diego October 2017 promotion. Take a look.

Where to sleep

Parents, you’ll love the Catamaran Resort. Although it may appear dated compared to other resorts dotting Mission Bay, the Catamaran offers a vintage charm that includes cozy accommodations and plenty of amenities perfectly suited to the wants and needs of family visitors. Families can opt for a bay-front room and will love the added benefit of being across the way from the Pacific Beach Shoreline.

In addition to having an onsite restaurant, Oceana Coastal Kitchen – also boasting a beautiful bay-front view – the Catamaran has a collection of resident exotic birds. Don’t miss an opportunity to catch a FREE onsite bird show featuring Cornell, Bionchi and Scooter (macaws, cockatoos and parakeets) who perform fascinating fetes of aviary talent – from speaking to dancing and more.

After renting a paddleboard, sailboat, kayak or bicycle (available at Action Sports Rentals just off the bay), grab a bite from Moray’s and don’t skimp on dessert. You’ll thank me after indulging in the “New School Banana Pudding.”

Where to play

If you do nothing else besides bird watching and playing in Mission Bay, embark on a family visit to Belmont Park. “Grandpa John,” who spent many a summer in Mission Bay, remembered Belmont Park as an archaic ghostly amusement park in the late 60’s and 70’s. He, along with the rest of our family group was pleasantly surprised at the revitalization and charisma of modern-day Belmont Park.

A family can easily spend an entire day at Belmont Park enjoying rides like the historic “Giant Dipper,” while also playing mini golf, a laser maze, arcade games, shopping and even a zip line. Parents with children of various ages will appreciate the diverse age-accommodation within the compact amusement park. Toddlers can ride the speedway, while older sibs battle it out on the bumper cars.

Best of all, the price is right. It’s 100% worth purchasing wristbands for each family member for unlimited rides– and, be sure to check out ongoing discounts, especially during the month of October.

On the second day of your visit, catch a show at Sea World. The San Diego location has ramped up an educational element that most parents will (hopefully) appreciate, the “New Orca Experience,” as an example. The audience, in addition to literally getting soaked, has an opportunity to sop up everything there is to know about Orcas including their “pod,” species and breeding origins.

If you can’t see the Orca show, please pay a visit to Clyde and Seamore for an unforgettable Sea Lion performance. All I can tell you, is that I never thought an expose featuring two sea lions and an otter could make my girls (okay, and me too) laugh so hard we actually shed a tear (or twenty) – it’s otterly hilarious.

Where to Eat

An entirely outdoor restaurant? Grandpa John, a former southern California resident couldn’t (at first) wrap his mind around “Cannonball,” the all-air-exposed eatery … “What if it rains?”

Although it does occasionally rain in San Diego our waitress assured us that Cannonball’s business model not only works but also profits beautifully – whatever the weather. Here’s why: the menu is amazing. The view is priceless. The service is impeccable.

I had to admit, I was pleasantly surprised that the open, rooftop concept proved kid-friendly. Despite its trendy elegance, Cannonball’s ambiance is comfortable and conducive to a family (of at least seven) with its comfy Oceanside booths facing the Pacific.

The menu is downright delicious. Foodies in favor of fish will want to order the Chilean Sea Bass, and while you wait, munch on Calamari and Edamame. Kids can choose from a variety of meals while sipping on Ramune (a Japanese soda my 3 girls are now obsessed with – thanks, Cannonball!).

Grandpa John’s Epilogue

“Erin, make sure you tell readers that Grandma left her special pillow at the Catamaran, and they mailed it free of charge, and it arrived a few days later. We think the customer service was outstanding.”