San Diego is one of the country’s best kid friendly travel destinations. With miles of beaches, Legoland, our World Famous Zoo, Sea World and an overall relaxed family friendly vibe it’s no surprise that more and more parents are starting to choose San Diego as their next stop for a family vacation.
Naturally, as parents start to plan their trips to San Diego and come across some of our most popular content, I end up getting lots of questions. Where were we in one of my Instagram photos? Which museum should people visit with their toddlers? What beach are we at? However, there is one question in particular that I get multiple times a week; Where do you recommend we stay when we visit San Diego with our kids? My answer to where families with kids should stay in San Diego is the same every time. So, instead of just messaging everyone back one by one with a quick answer I decided to share exactly why time and time again I recommend staying at The La Jolla Shores Hotel with kids.
La Jolla Shores Hotel
What most families visiting San Diego don’t realize is that the city is very spread out. You absolutely need to rent a car because you’re going to spend a lot of time in it. The Zoo and Legoland are over 30 miles apart and probably over an hour drive depending on traffic. Because our great city spans such a big distance, the location of your hotel really matters. If you stay in La Jolla shores, you’ll be right dead center between North County and Central San Diego and in a perfect jumping off point to easily get to whatever activity and adventure you are going to do while visiting San Diego. Most importantly, you are going to wake up and fall asleep to the sound of the waves in one of the most kid friendly beaches in the country.
Being at the shores (that’s local for La Jolla Shores Beach) is nothing short of outstanding. While La Jolla is actually one of the most expensive zip codes in the country, The Shores is laid back and maintains all the sleepy beach town charm that people want to feel when they visit San Diego. There is a tiny palm lined street filled with surf shops, coffee and restaurants. You might walk into the deli barefoot to grab a brown bag sandwich and not even realize that there is a Piatti’s and fine dining right there discretely mixed in amongst all the beach goers,people walking down to the water for kayak tours and surf shops.
I’m always surprised when I talk to someone who visited San Diego but never made it to the beach. Often times their excuse will be that that they ran out of time, didn’t realize how far their hotel was from the beach or simply got overwhelmed by which beach to go to and instead just stayed at their hotel pool. While I have nothing against a nice hotel pool, this is San Diego not Phoenix. If you are in the middle of the desert then by all means, of course find a hotel with an awesome pool. But when you are visiting a town known for its miles of beaches find a hotel that has a beach in their backyard.
Despite having miles of beaches in San Diego there are probably less than half a dozen hotels that are right on the beach. Of those hotels there is only 1 that is right on the famed La Jolla Shores beach, the The La Jolla Shores Hotel . This hotel is for San Diego beaches what the plaza is to Central Park. You literally step out of your room and are right on a 1 mile stretch of sandy beach with gentle waves.
The beaches of San Diego are diverse in who frequents them, what the waves are like and what the overall lifestyle surrounding them is. Sunset Cliffs is where the surfers go and a place you wouldn’t take your kids to swim. Pacific Beach is great for people watching but the waves are stronger. Then there is La Jolla Shores, which always has the calmest waters of all the beaches. So much so that it’s an Underwater Park and Ecological Reserve where you’ll see countless scuba divers and kayakers heading out over the calm waters to explore the underwater park and caves. The beach has become so notoriously kid friendly that there is even a large playground right on the boardwalk. Kiddos literally swing and slide going back and forth from the beach to playground all the way until sunset.
The The La Jolla Shores Hotel is an icon in San Diego. As a kid, we used to visit San Diego and always stayed at the shores. What makes this hotel extra kid friendly is that it’s not part of a large chain. Often times we’ll stay at larger chain hotels and feel like we’re trying to stay out of the way of all the frequent travelers and points members. At La Jolla Shores Hotel a guest is a guest and everyone is treated with equal importance. The rooms are all updated and have a simple beach charm. They are clean and comfortable with the biggest draw being their expansive beach view patios that draw you to stay outside, people watch and take in the beautiful scenery.
Almost everyone staying at The La Jolla Shores Hotel is visiting for pleasure so the entire property is filled with people in the same state of mind. During our stay we noticed that most of the guests we saw had kids of various ages. The teenagers were happy with the freedom to come and go from the beach and shops while their parents relaxed on the beach or sat at happy hour content in knowing that their kids were very safe. The school ages kids woke up and ventured off to kayak or surf with their parents and the younger kids headed off to the playground and sandy shores for loads of freedom on the endless stretches of sand.
Insider’s Guide to La Jolla Shores Hotel
It’s pretty hard to mess up your stay at The La Jolla Shores Hotel. Winter or summer cloudy day or abundant sunshine, simply staying at this iconic hotel on this beautiful beach is sure to be an epic memory in the making. If you want some tips to make your time extra awesome, here is what I recommend.
Upgrade Your View
Generally I never mind having the worst view in the best hotel but when you are at such a great beach it’s worth every penny to upgrade your room.
Check The Tides
Don’t forget to ask about high and low tide when you arrive. When the tide is low, if you head south (away from the pier) there are hidden tide pools that are fun for the kids to explore. Just stick with the crowd and don’t go out too far if the tide is coming back in.
Do NOT Skip the Playground
Playgrounds on the beach in southern California are very rare making Kellogg Park a total gem. San Diego moms even love it so much they have Stroller Strides mommy workout groups that come there to exercise and play weekday mornings. You really can’t underestimate the simple joy of letting your kids just play on the playground like a local instead of loading up and driving to another amusement park.
Pre-Game Dinner with Room Service
Spending a day in the sun, sand and water will leave you hungry. With dinner reservations made for a certain time we found ourselves hungry but not ready to leave our room and the perfect ocean view. Having wine, cheese, fruit and crackers delivered was the perfect way to curb the appetite but still get to relax in the room and let the kids unwind with their toys on the patio instead of dragging them to a happy hour.
Hang Out On Your Patio After Dark
Despite all the time I’ve spend at the Shores I was floored by how many people come out to the beach after dark. The hotel lights up the sand/waves around the property until 10pm so Ryan and I ordered a late night snack (we got a Piatti’s pizza to go) and sat out on the patio in bathrobes listening to and seeing the waves. Just like clockwork, the lights went off at 10pm everything turned quiet and we had a peaceful night’s sleep with both sliders open.
Plan To Wake Up Early
I’ve always had the best luck seeing dolphins in the morning so I recommend planning some extra time to just sit on the patio while drinking your coffee. Even if you don’t catch a glimpse of dolphins the contrast of a quiet beach in the morning is something not many people are privilege to.
If you are visiting with a large group and don’t want to try and negotiate dinner in a restaurant with a half dozen kids, definitely use the beach dining. You can have your dinner prepped or fully cooked right on the sand so your little ones can keep playing and don’t have to worry about restaurant manners. They’ll even set everything up for you to roast smores!
The Marine Room
If you are lucky enough to have a babysitter with you on your trip I highly recommend sneaking away to the Marine Room for an unbelievable fine dining experience. Not only is it one of the top rated fine dining restaurants in San Diego the restaurant sits right on the sand and during high tide will have waves crashing right onto the windows.
The Bottom Line
Whether you are coming to San Diego with teenagers or toddlers, picking a hotel on the beach is an absolute must if you want to experience the best of the California lifestyle. Whether you are looking to wave ride, kayak, swim in the pool, or relax and watch the sunset there is something for everyone at the iconic The La Jolla Shores Hotel . If you want a taste of just how great San Diego is and why all us locals are willing to pay the sunshine tax to live in such a beautiful place, staying at The La Jolla Shores Hotel will definitely do the trick. But just be warned, with the beach as your playground you aren’t going to want to leave!