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La Jolla Mom

12 Best Kid-Friendly Hotels in San Diego

Insight from a local hotel expert that you won't find anywhere else (updated for 2020)

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The twelve best family hotels in San Diego that I review below are scattered across the county — on the beach, near the beach, and further inland — and are perfect for vacations and staycations. I specialize in helping plan San Diego family vacations so look at our hotels with a keen eye toward amenities for kids and parents.

Below, I’ve summarized what stands out (and also what you need to be aware of) about the best kid-friendly hotels in San Diego, CA so you can find a place to stay that suits your travel style.

Why This List Is Different

Unlike other online lists of San Diego family hotels, this one is based on my personal experience, feedback from clients and readers, and insight from VIP contacts that I have on these properties. I live in San Diego, but I’ve also lived in a luxury hotel so I know what a stay should be like.

Tip: If there’s a clear way to book that will give you the best value, I’ve mentioned it here because through me you do have access to perks at some of these hotels. If not, there will be a link that will help you find the best price across multiple travel sites.

(I’m not a fan of paying full price when I don’t have to, so in addition to sharing hotel discounts and extras, I’ve also written extensively about San Diego discounts and how to get discounted California theme park tickets so that you can save on a San Diego vacation.)

See also: 45 Best Things to Do in San Diego with Kids

Fairmont Grand Del Mar

Neighborhood: Carmel Valley (East of Del Mar)
Kids’ club: Yes. The Explorer’s Club offers half-day, full-day, and evening sessions for kids ages 5–12 year-round. It is complimentary for two hours when parents book a spa treatment, whether you’re staying overnight or not.
Category: Luxury

Why go: For those who with kids love five-star hotels, Fairmont Grand Del Mar is the best hotel in San Diego for families. In fact, this kid-friendly San Diego luxury hotel is one you may just not want to leave. This is my top pick.

Its central location with easy access to the I-5 freeway makes exploring attractions like LEGOLAND California to the north and San Diego Zoo to the south a breeze.

Amenities for kids:

  • State-of-the-art supervised Explorer’s Club with daily scheduled programming or drop-in use for kids ages 5–12, including the latest video games, fully-stocked arts, and crafts center, traditional games, foosball, ping pong and more
  • Horseback riding lessons at the onsite Equestrian Center
  • Children’s pool with wading area and sand play area
  • A family pool with underwater music
  • Personalized family tennis lessons
  • BMW bikes (including kids’ bikes)
  • Children’s menus at Amaya, Club M, the Resort Pool and through in-room dining
  • Junior golf and complimentary junior golf club rentals (kids 12 receive complimentary tee times when playing with an adult while 13-17 play at half-price)
  • Seasonal activities such as s’mores and dive-in pool movie nights

Amenities for parents:

  • Private Tom Fazio-designed golf course with exclusive access for hotel guests
  • One of San Diego’s best spas complete with gorgeous lounging areas, couples treatments, and a private pool
  • Explorer’s Club kids’ club during the day and evenings
  • Complimentary two hours of Explorer’s Club included with spa treatments
  • Addison, a culinary sensation that is San Diego’s only Michelin-star restaurants
  • Two pro-style tennis courts complete with instructors and clinics
  • Designer boutiques
  • Guided canyon hikes
  • Courtesy transportation to/from Del Mar, La Jolla, and Solana Beach (must be reserved 24 hours in advance)
  • Top-notch service everywhere

Beach access: Reserve The Grand Beach Service 24 hours in advance which includes round-trip transportation to Del Mar’s 18th Street beach (fantastic). They’ll take you with chairs, towels, bottled water, and umbrellas.

Good to know: Guests receive twice-daily housekeeping, in-room bottled water, and coffee, free WiFi, daily newspaper, complimentary self-parking included in a $45/night plus tax resort fee that is charged at check-out. The resort fee usually does not appear in rate quotes. There is not a lot to do within walking distance so a rental car is advisable for sightseeing off of the resort.

Awards: #1 on TripAdvisor, AAA Four Diamonds, three Forbes five-stars each for Addison, the hotel and spa. Addison has one Michelin star.

Reservations: You have access to special Virtuoso amenities that add value to a stay and may include breakfast for two, an activity credit, upgrades, occasionally a 3rd night free, and more.

Book with Virtuoso Amenities*

*If viewing on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the page and click “Full Site” to access rates and booking. When searching rates on Virtuoso, do not input your children as it will price them as adults. Mention how many kids you’re traveling with (and ages) in the special requests section and I’ll add them when I double-check your reservation.

Book at Fairmont.com

See also: 10 Reasons Why Families Choose Fairmont Grand Del Mar


Hotel Del Coronado

Neighborhood: Coronado
Kids’ club: Yes. DelVentures offers 1-hour activities and daily evening activities between 6–9 p.m. so that parents can enjoy dinner onsite in peace.
Category: Moderate-Luxury

Why go: The red roof of this historic San Diego hotel has become one of the city’s icons. The roster of Hollywood celebrities, U.S. Presidents and other dignitaries who have stayed at Hotel Del Coronado since its opening in 1888 is nothing short of impressive.

It’s the best full-service San Diego family resort on the beach—Coronado Municipal Beach is considered one of America’s best beaches by the Travel Channel.

Amenities for kids:

  • DelVentures kids’ club for kids ages 5–12
  • A gorgeous flat sandy beach in front of the hotel with (usually) gentle waves and tide pools at low tide
  • A delicious ice cream shop on site
  • Stand-up paddleboard and surf lessons
  • Water toys and fun in the main pool
  • Summer s’mores and dive-in movie nights
  • Spa services for ages 14 and up
  • Bike and surrey rentals
  • Adorable two-bedroom family suites with bunk beds and sea-themed decor in the kids’ room

Amenities for parents:

  • 17 shops to browse (Babcock & Story is my personal favorite)
  • Several beachfront dining and cocktail areas that are amazing venues during sunset
  • Yoga on the beach
  • Beachside spin class
  • Mermaid fitness classes (yes, really)
  • San Diego’s best Sunday brunch
  • Family portraits arranged through the Concierge
  • Full-service Spa at The Del
  • Boat rentals
  • Del Beach rentals (where adult drinks and snacks are served)

See also: 15 Things to Do at Hotel Del Coronado

Beach access: The beach is right in front of the hotel.

Good to Know: This is a busy resort. Most of the time, the service is very good and the guests are very happy. During peak seasons, it’s advisable to make spa and dining reservations (including breakfast during winter break) before arrival. Restaurants and shops on Orange Avenue are within walking distance and there is a ferry from downtown San Diego to Coronado on the other side of the island (a quick Uber or 30-minute walk from the hotel). There is also quite a bit to do during the holidays at Hotel Del Coronado from a seaside ice skating rink to other special programming.

I have also written a very detailed guide to Hotel Del Coronado that you should read. It addresses how to select a room and much more. A $200 million renovation is underway and construction is visible around the resort. You need to know the following before making a reservation:

  • From September 26, 2019–May 2020, the main pool will be closed for renovation.
  • From September 2–May 2020, the California Cabanas will be closed for renovation.
  • Book into the Victorian Building for the best experience due to main pool work near the Ocean Towers.
  • Book ocean view rooms if possible (avoid resort view for now as they may overlook construction).
  • Read the latest updates regarding the renovation here (click under terms and conditions) before booking in.
  • Winter programming is scheduled per usual.
  • Guests continue to book in and have a great time!

Awards: AAA Four Diamonds (2005-2019); Top 10 Best Hotels in San Diego, U.S. News & World Report, 2019; and many more.

Reservations:

Note: If your stay falls between now and May 2020, please book into the Victorian building due to Main Pool and California Cabana work near the Ocean Towers. Or, ideally, consider Beach Village at The Del (details below).

If you’re considering a specialty suite at Hotel Del Coronado, take a look at Beach Village as pricing can be similar.

Book with Virtuoso Amenities*

*If on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the page and click “Full Site” to access rates and booking. When searching rates on Virtuoso, do not input your children as it will price them as adults. Mention how many kids you’re traveling with (and ages) in the special requests section and I’ll add them when I double-check your reservation.

Book on Hilton.com

Beach Village at The Del

Neighborhood: Coronado
Kids’ club: Yes. Guests also use DelVentures at the sister property, Hotel Del Coronado.
Category: Luxury

Why go: You want the most luxurious beach vacation possible in San Diego. Only Beach Village guests can access the property’s pools and exclusive Windsor Beach Club. Plus, as the sister property to adjacent Hotel Del Coronado, you’d have access to amenities on the main resort like the spa, fitness center, classes, dining and more on the main resort listed above. Accommodations here are outfitted like designer residences.

Amenities for kids:

  • Everything listed above at Hotel Del Coronado

Amenities for parents:

  • Everything listed above at Hotel Del Coronado
  • Dining at the members-only Windsor Cottage
  • Access to the members-only Windsor Beach Club (Memorial Day through Labor Day)
  • Exclusive VIP shopping perks at Fashion Valley Mall
  • Complimentary Del Beach lounge chairs and umbrellas

Beach access: The beach is right in front of the hotel.

Good to know: Expect to pay over $999/night plus $35/night resort fee and tax for a double queen villa room, the entry-level accommodations. Larger families can fit into these accommodations as the double queen Coastal View and Ocean View Villa Rooms have two queen beds and a double sofa sleeper. The Windsor Beach Club is for guests and local residents with memberships. It can be crowded due to the latter.

Hotel Del Coronado is going through an exciting multi-stage renovation through 2021. If you want to enjoy the main resort’s activities with the least possible risk of disruption, please stay at Beach Village between now and 2021.

Reservations: The Virtuoso amenities you can book in with through us at Beach Village at The Del are the same as Hotel Del Coronado, and usually more advantageous than Hilton Honors rates if you will eat breakfast on the property. You’ll need to request a rate as Beach Village is unable to be booked online through Virtuoso.

Request a Virtuoso RateBeach Village reservations Book on Hilton.comBeach Village Hilton

La Jolla Shores Hotel

Neighborhood: La Jolla
Kids’ club: No
Category: Moderate

Why Go: You’d like to base the family in La Jolla (near UCSD) at a beachfront San Diego family resort that won’t break the bank. La Jolla Shores beach here is one of the best places to learn how to surf, stand-up paddleboard, or kayak La Jolla’s rare 600-acre underwater ecological reserve. It is very easy to take the kids to the beach for an hour or two, break in the room, and return to the beach again in the afternoon. We staycationed at La Jolla Shores Hotel a few years ago and loved it but the rooms have all been refreshed since then.

Amenities for kids:

  • A flat, sandy beach right in front of the hotel
  • Kellogg Park playground is next door with swings, slides and a huge grassy area for picnics and games
  • Heated outdoor swimming pool and wading pool
  • Ping pong on the patio

Amenities for Parents:

  • Gorgeous ocean views from The Shores Restaurant and the famous Marine Room restaurant next door
  • Private beach BBQs and s’mores can be arranged
  • It’s an eco-friendly hotel
  • Tennis lessons on two courts by USPTA pros
  • Complimentary beach chairs, umbrellas, and towels
  • Nightly beach BBQs available by reservation (BYO food or order from their beach cookout shopping list for delivery)
  • Small fitness center
  • In-room massages
  • Complimentary shuttle within local La Jolla area (includes Birch Aquarium)

Beach access: A small boardwalk separates the hotel from the beach. Run back and forth from your room to the sand with ease.

Good to know: The swimming pool isn’t huge. It’s not a fancy hotel, and family-owned and operated, which means that things like sandy bare feet are okay when going from beach to room. They want families to feel comfortable here.

The awesome shops and restaurants on Avenida de la Playa are a short walk away including Piatti, the Cheese Shop, Surf Diva and more. As the name implies, this hotel is located in the La Jolla Shores neighborhood and not in the main village of La Jolla. It’s much quieter over here and the beach is miles better.

See also: Guide to La Jolla Shores

Awards: TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence

Reservations:

Check Prices on Top Sites

La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club

Neighborhood: La Jolla Shores
Kids’ club: Seasonally in summers only
Category: Moderate

Why go: You’d like a unique San Diego experience with access to one of the state’s few remaining private beaches. Or, you’re traveling with a large family or extended family as they have accommodations for up to 8 people in a room. La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club is an exclusive, members-only club with 99 accommodations, some of which are as close to the beach as you can get in San Diego. The experience is intimate and one that generations of families return for annually. It’s next door to the La Jolla Shores Hotel and the La Jolla Shores shops and restaurants are a short walk away.

Amenities for kids:

  • A private beach
  • Heated pool
  • Summer kids’ club
  • Kellogg Park playground just steps away
  • Junior golf and tennis programs
  • Swim lessons

Amenities for parents:

  • Food and drink service on the sand of the private beach
  • Complimentary beach chairs, towels, and umbrellas
  • Access to club facilities including the par-3 pitch-and-putt course and tennis courts
  • Yoga and personal training
  • Family beach cookouts
  • Most rooms have kitchens

Beach access: Beachfront and about as close to the beach as a hotel can get in San Diego.

Good to know: This property is incredibly popular for multigenerational trips. The buildings have an older appearance on the exterior but accommodations have been recently refreshed on the interior. It is considered a three-star property but does appeal to luxury travelers because of the private beach and intimate experience. They also have two-bedroom accommodations for larger families. The beachfront rooms and suites are so close to the beach that you will hear the ocean at night and the occasional BBQ smoke may waft into your room. Light sleepers may want to book rooms in the garden area.

Reservations:

Check Prices on Top Sites

Omni La Costa Resort & Spa

Neighborhood: La Costa (South Carlsbad)
Kids’ club: Yes. They have a nursery for kids ages 6 months–3 years old (two hours only). Kids ages 3 years and older (who are bathroom independent) may join for half-day, full-day, and evening programs that are year-round.
Category: Moderate

Why go:  Omni La Costa Resort & Spa provides a well-rounded San Diego family vacation spot because they do golf, spa, dining, and family activities each extremely well. LEGOLAND California Resort is just minutes away by car as is the beach.

Amenities for kids:

  • Kidtopia kid’s club, designed by an architect that specializes in theme parks and museums, offers supervised play for infants and toddlers in a nursery and separate programming for potty-trained kids ages 3 and up.
  • Splash Landing Pools with a water play area and water slides
  • Sandy Beach Family Pool with a sand play area
  • Vibz game lounge offering pay-per-play high-tech games and activities for ages 10 and up
  • A pretty awesome daily activity schedule that can include anything from reptile shows to s’more roasting
  • Sports courts

Amenities for parents:

  • Kidtopia has evening camp on Wednesday—Saturday evenings for date night on the resort
  • The adults-only Edge Pool
  • Lifestyle boutiques for golf, yoga and beach gear among other finds
  • Diversions sports lounge to catch a game, smoke a cigar or read the paper
  • Dining with views at VUE
  • Two world-renowned golf courses
  • A unique opportunity to address inner wellness at The Chopra Center
  • The Spa at La Costa’s awesome lounging facilities and nature-inspired treatments
  • One- or two-bedroom villas that blend vacation and home
  • Family suites have two bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a living room
  • Seasonal twilight golf
  • A huge variety of fitness classes on offer throughout the day

Beach access: Drive or take an Uber.

Good to know: It’s more of a four-star property. Many first floor rooms have French doors that open to a nice patio. Signature rooms and La Costa suites are closest to the family pool (location can be requested but not guaranteed). La Costa rooms are a further walk to the lobby and family pool. I have written a detailed guide to Omni La Costa Resort & Spa that addresses how to select a room and other important details. Food and drink service at the family pool is seasonal and the pools can close early during the off-peak season based on occupancy.

Awards: Golf Digest Editor’s Award (2019), Condé Nast Traveler  –  15 Best Hotels in San Diego, 2018

Reservations: We can add these benefits to Omni La Costa’s best available rate (not sale rates). Given this, check here first to see which rate works best for you. If you have decided on a room and would like the value-added benefits, please use this form.

Check Prices on Top Sites

Four Seasons Residence Club Aviara, North San Diego

Neighborhood: Carlsbad
Kids’ club: No, but they do have a sizeable game room.
Category: Luxury

Why go: Most of the villas at Four Seasons Residence Club Aviara, North San Diego have kitchens or kitchenettes, separate bedrooms, and living areas. They feel like home away from home and are excellent for extended stays in addition to large families. This Four Seasons here offers upscale touches present in sister properties around the globe and excellent service, which fans of the brand will appreciate. This another top pick for San Diego family hotels that earns a lot of repeat guests.

Amenities for kids:

  • Kids Club 760 with fun activities such as arts and crafts, ping pong, video games, and dive-in movies
  • Board games to check out and use in the villa
  • Child-sized bathrobes and slippers
  • Special bath amenities
  • Two swimming pools and a special children’s pool
  • Childproofing, high chairs and other amenities available upon request
  • Surf Concierge for ages 6 and up who want to shred waves

Amenities for parents:

  • A full-service spa and fitness center
  • Babysitting services
  • Seasons barista bar for gourmet coffee drinks and to-go items
  • Special dining experience like the chef’s table and kitchen counter where guests pull up a stool to interact with chefs to taste bites in the open kitchen
  • Spacious villas with full kitchens

Beach access: Drive or take an Uber.

Good to know: The Park Hyatt Aviara is next door so guests can enjoy dining there, too. As mentioned previously, Aviara is inland from the beach so a rental car is advised. I’ve only received positive feedback from guests at this hotel. It’s somewhat of a hidden gem but people love it. They now have a $25/night hotel fee that includes self-parking.

Reservations: Cadence is a Four Seasons Preferred Partner agency which means that we can book you in with additional value-added amenities and services. (I lived in a Four Seasons hotel, stay in them regularly, have written for Four Seasons Magazine, and can tell you in detail about nearly every property in their portfolio.)

Request Preferred Partner Rates

Park Hyatt Aviara Resort

Neighborhood: Aviara (Carlsbad)
Kids’ club: Yes. Camp Hyatt is seasonal, usually in the summertime. Hours and days vary so call to check.
Category: Luxury

Why go: You want to base the family in a secluded San Diego luxury resort in North County with exquisite service, excellent golf, and an award-winning spa. Suites and connecting rooms are reasonably-priced.

Amenities for kids:

  • Aviara Kids Academy by Camp Hyatt for ages 4–12 during the summer
  • Lessons at Aviara Golf Academy
  • Bird watching over the wetlands
  • Seasonal junior tennis clinics
  • Outdoor family swimming pool with underwater lights
  • Shallow wading pool, splash pad, and sand play area (open seasonally)
  • Poolside cafe with kid-sized picnic tables
  • Surf concierge including transportation to Ponto Beach and 2 hours of boogie board or surf lessons for ages 6 and above
  • Kids DVD library
  • Game room

Amenities for parents:

  • Arnold Palmer designed golf course
  • Six state-of-the-art lighted tennis courts
  • Adults-only pool with panoramic views
  • An awesome 15,000-square-foot spa with solarium lounge area, whirlpools, saunas, steam rooms, couples treatment areas, and locker and dressing areas
  • TaylorMade Performance Lab for a 2-hour custom club fitting experience
  • Impeccable, five-star service
  • Exquisite, varied dining between Argyle steakhouse, Vivace (Italian) and California Bistro
  • Frette robes and pillow-top beds
  • Jogging trails
  • Complimentary shuttle service to the nearby Carlsbad Premium Outlets
  • Reasonably-priced suites

Beach access: Round-trip shuttle service to Moonlight Beach in Encinitas ($10 per person charge).

Good to know: This incredibly beautiful part of Carlsbad is inland of the I-5 freeway so you’ll need to drive to the beach. Park Hyatt Aviara usually has VERY reasonably-priced suites and can guarantee connecting rooms Read about our recent stay at Park Hyatt Aviara Resort. Note that they are renovating through May 2020.

Awards: AAA Five Diamonds

Reservations: I have access to Virtuoso amenities at Park Hyatt Aviara.

Book with Virtuoso Amenities *

*If on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the page and click “Full Site” to access rates and booking. When searching rates on Virtuoso, do not input your children as it will price them as adults. Mention how many kids you’re traveling with (and ages) in the special requests section and I’ll add them when I double-check your reservation.


Rancho Valencia

Neighborhood: Rancho Santa Fe
Kids’ club: No
Category: Luxury

Why go: You’d like a luxury resort with a long list of activities where you can mostly stay put. Rancho Valencia is an all-suite property which means that you won’t lack for space but also a wellness destination due to its famous spa, fitness classes, and yoga pavilion. It’s also a Relais & Chateaux property which means that you can feel confident that the food is outstanding.

Amenities for kids:

  • Complimentary board games
  • Kids ages 14 and older can take advantage of nail salon treatments (16 and older for facials and massages)
  • Main pool (saline)
  • Tennis and basketball sports courts
  • Junior tennis programs that start as young as age 5
  • Recreational games like ping pong, badminton, croquet

Amenities for parents:

  • Fitness classes including spin, TRX, boot camp
  • Personal training
  • A yoga pavilion that hosts multiple yoga classes per day
  • Adults-only spa pool (also saline) with Rein pool bar
  • A fantastic full-service spa
  • Complimentary Callaway golf sets to borrow for use at nearby courses
  • Tennis clinics and lessons
  • Craft cocktails at The Pony Room

Beach access: It takes a bit less than 20 minutes to drive to the beach (depending on which beach you’re going to). The resort does not offer beach service so you’ll need to drive. The nearby beach is Del Mar City beach.

Good to know: It’s about a 15-minute drive inland from the I-5 freeway to the resort.

Awards: #1 Relais & Chateau property in California, AAA Five Diamond award (2018), Forbes Five-Star hotel and spa (2018)

Reservations: I have access to Virtuoso amenities at Rancho Valencia.

Book with Virtuoso Amenities *

*If on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the page and click “Full Site” to access rates and booking. When searching rates on Virtuoso, do not input your children as it will price them as adults. Mention how many kids you’re traveling with (and ages) in the special requests section and I’ll add them when I double-check your reservation.


Catamaran Resort Hotel and Spa

Neighborhood: Pacific Beach
Kids’ club: No
Category: Moderate

Why go: You’d like a casual San Diego family resort near the beach at a (usually) lower price point than others on this list. The Catamaran Resort Hotel & Spa is located on a waveless bay beach but it also just a few blocks away from the ocean beach. They offer the most activities of any Mission Bay resort which is one of the reasons why it’s popular.

Amenities for kids:

  • Ducks and turtles live in the resort ponds (cute)
  • Resort exotic birds and bird show
  • Game arcade next to the main pool
  • Water sports rentals on the beach that include kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, sailboats, bikes and more.
  • A calm bay beach

Amenities for parents:

  • First come, first serve beach chairs and umbrellas on the bay
  • A fantastic full-service spa and fitness center
  • Ocean Coastal restaurant with outstanding sustainable seafood (and breakfast)
  • Complimentary family hour Bahia Belle stearnwheeler cruises
  • Seasonal activities like summer luaus on the beach.

Good to know: The rooms have recently been refreshed but the building exteriors still have a dated look. Book Bayfront Rooms or Bayfront Suites on the ground floor for direct access to the beach. Bayfront Suites also have sofa beds in the living room and a choice of either a king or two double beds in the bedroom.

Awards: TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence

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Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego

Neighborhood: Downtown San Diego
Kids’ club: Yes. Camp Hyatt is seasonal and has summer hours.
Category: Moderate

Why go: You want a downtown San Diego hotel with water views and don’t mind size. This hotel is huge with over 1600 rooms spread over two towers. However, it’s located on the San Diego Bay and within walking distance to some of San Diego’s best restaurants, attractions, San Diego Convention Center and PETCO Park.

Amenities for kids:

  • Seasonal Camp Hyatt for kids ages 4–12 which offers arts and crafts, sea life education and more fun during the summer (check the schedule)
  • Seasonal rooftop cinema
  • Sports courts on the 4th floor include basketball, shuffleboard, volleyball, tennis, or even horseshoes
  • Main outdoor swimming pool
  • Seasonal outdoor activities such as foos ball, table tennis, giant-sized Jenga, kites, and a multitude of arts and crafts

Amenities for parents:

  • The extraordinary view from Top of the Hyatt restaurant
  • Four tennis courts by the bay with a USPTA pro available for lessons
  • The full-service Marilyn Monroe Spa
  • 24-hour gym
  • Pool cabana rentals
  • Bayside running trails
  • Adults-only pool
  • Grab-and-go options including Starbucks, open 24 hours
  • Reasonably-priced suites
  • Club Lounge which can be added to any room for an additional fee

Beach access: You’ll need to drive or take a ferry to Coronado beaches. Or, drive to La Jolla. If you plan to spend a lot of time at the beach, downtown isn’t the best spot.

Good to know: Again, the hotel is large and a bit corporate, but it’s well-located and families love having so much to do within walking distance at this downtown San Diego hotel. I’ve written a detailed guide to Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego that goes over the various room types and more. Do not expect personalized five-star service and amenities as the hotel is simply too big. The Club Lounge can be busy.

Check Rates and Reviews

Bahia Resort Hotel

Neighborhood: Mission Bay
Kids’ club: No
Category: Budget

Why go: Bahia Resort Hotel is voted one of the top 10 best value hotels in the nation and it’s easy to see why. The well-rounded San Diego family resort boasts a nice Mission Bay location while also being about a 10-minute walk to Belmont Park and Mission Beach. Rooms are comfortable (they are in the process of being refreshed) and the staff is friendly. Bahia shares some amenities with sister property The Catamaran (mentioned above) and they do earn quite a few repeat guests.

Amenities for kids:

  • A small onsite playground
  • Rescued seals on ducks that live on the resort
  • A game arcade
  • Waveless bay beach
  • Shuffleboard courts
  • Swimming pool

Amenities for parents:

  • Access to the spa at The Catamaran
  • Fitness center
  • Tennis courts with loaner racquets and balls
  • Complimentary beach cabanas on the secluded bay beach
  • Bahia Belle stearnwheeler cruises along the bay
  • Access to a variety of water sports rentals like kayaks, sailboats, stand-up paddleboards and more
  • A really neat Airstream grab-and-go spot for salads, breakfast, coffee and more
  • Onsite restaurant and bar (with weekday happy hour)
  • Rooms with water views
  • Free parking

Good to know: Bahia is going through a resort enhancement that refreshes all guest rooms and some facilities that will finish in March 2020. The resort is open during this time.

Reservations:

Check Rates and Reviews

San Diego Family Hotels Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

I spend a good chunk of my days talking to families about where to stay in San Diego with kids. These are the questions that I am asked the most.

Where should a family stay in San Diego?

There are three major factors that weigh into this decision that include what you plan to do in San Diego, what kind of accommodations you prefer, and how important beach access is. When it comes to San Diego family hotels, you will have to find the right balance between the three. Often times, the answer isn’t clear cut.

As you can see above, some of the best kid-friendly hotels in San Diego are not near the beach, and a lot of the most popular tourist attractions in San Diego are scattered widely around the county.

In general, if your plan is to hit most of the city’s top attractions and go carless, look at hotels in the heart of downtown (or maybe even Coronado). If you want to stay right on the beach — and maybe learn to surf — without putting too much of a dent in your budget, then the La Jolla Shores is a wonderful choice (though it can get pricey during peak season). If you want a full-service resort on the beach, Hotel Del Coronado and Beach Village at The Del are hands-down the way to go.

Families who prioritize luxury accommodations should check out Fairmont Grand Del Mar, which is one of the best hotels in San Diego and tops when it comes to family-friendly activities. Mission Bay resort hotels tend to provide the most value so those in search of lower rates at larger resorts should look here.

Where should I stay in San Diego with a baby?

The San Diego family hotels that I work with (my portfolio is here) provide complimentary cribs or Pack ‘n Plays. Babysitting is available. If you’re looking for a kids’ club that takes babies, guests of Omni La Costa can reserve two hours per day of supervised play for ages 6 months to three years through its Kidtopia nursery (extra fees apply). It’s just enough time for parents to enjoy a treatment at the fantastic spa or a meal alone.

Many of these hotels also can provide microwaves and refrigeration for baby milk in addition to babyproofing and other helpful baby amenities by request.

Which parts of San Diego are best for young kids?

If the beach is important to you, the best places to stay in San Diego with young kids are La Jolla Shores or Coronado. Both family-friendly beaches are staffed by year-round lifeguards. A beachfront location makes it very easy for families to run back and forth from the sand to the room for naps, diaper changes, and snacks. Here are some differences between these two very safe neighborhoods.

Two very family-friendly La Jolla beachfront hotels are on this list: La Jolla Shores Hotel and La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club. They’re owned by the same family and deliberately very casual so a little squeal here and there isn’t a big deal. La Jolla Shores here is a gorgeous, wide, sandy beach with designated swimming and surfing areas in addition to seasonal tide pools and a lovely beachside playground.

Coronado is also a popular choice for families and they tend to choose Hotel Del Coronado and Beach Village at The Del (they are more upscale choices than the two above) for access to lots of hotel amenities, onsite shops, and the stunning Coronado beach. The properties are larger and usually busier, especially when holiday activities are in full swing as is the beach. It’s easy to take a stroller along Orange Avenue to shops and restaurants.

What do you really think are the best kid-friendly hotels in San Diego?

I receive this question almost on a daily basis mostly because families have a hard time weighing the choices. I have loved our stays at the best family hotels in San Diego and feel lucky to live in a city with so many wonderful accommodations to choose from. I do try to answer this based on what readers have told me are their most important criteria.

However, there are certain hotels on this list that receive consistently rave reviews from readers and clients while also offering fantastic front-facing and behind-the-scenes service (I see the latter when I work with them). These are:

  • Fairmont Grand Del Mar
  • Four Seasons Residence Club Aviara
  • Park Hyatt Aviara
  • Rancho Valencia

I believe that once Hotel Del Coronado is finished with renovating in 2021 that I can also put them on this list.

Is there a best time of year to book San Diego family hotels?

For all of its laid back character, San Diego is still a big, busy city. Hotel occupancy rates hover at around 75% throughout the year (because there’s not really an off-season in San Diego) and they can jump as high as 90% during the summer with many properties completely selling out. In summer, you can expect even budget hotels by the beach to price like luxury hotels in other cities.

The months with the lowest hotel occupancy rates tend to be January, September (after Labor Day weekend), early November, and early December (outside of winter break). Your best bet is usually to book as early as possible. It’s not uncommon for travelers to book a flexible rate and then keep an eye on it to see if it drops to either rebook or have the rate adjusted by the hotel. In the summer and during peak season, you’ll find that rates will usually increase closer to the date.

Remember, we can give you access to exclusive VIP amenities at San Diego hotels where indicated on this list where you can enjoy extras like complimentary breakfasts, room upgrades, spa credits, and more at no extra cost to you.

Which best family hotels in San Diego are missing from this list?

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11 thoughts on “12 Best Kid-Friendly Hotels in San Diego

  1. Thank you for the list of hotels! Next year I will travel through the USA and a stop in San Diego is planned 🙂

  2. Thanks for this great article! I am planning a two week trip to SoCal next month for our family of four and want to concentrate on San Diego . It’s hard to find a balance with things for adults and kids. Don’t want to be stuck out in a resort miles from anywhere but also don’t want to be in a downtown hotel with nothing for the kids. This gives me somewhere to start. I am very excited about seeing San Diego, it looks beautiful!

    1. Thanks for your comment! That is sort of the “problem” with San Diego. Deciding where to base yourself can be a tricky decision but it really depends on what your family wants to do.

  3. This post has been very helpful to me! My husband, two year old daughter and I will be visiting San Diego in late May. I will be staying in La Jolla for work earlier in the week and I am debating continuing to stay in La Jolla (The Kimpton), or moving somewhere else. I’m thinking it may not be quite beach weather, so perhaps closer to downtown will be better for us? (Do you agree?) Do you have any other downtown hotel recommendations?

  4. Thanks so much for the great descriptions here! I am visiting San Diego with my two boys ages 7 and 4 in late July and I can’t choose between the Grand Del Mar and La Jolla Shores hotel. Typically my boys don’t love the beach but those are hot, sticky east coast beaches. I know the Del Mar has beach access but I’m wondering if it feels like a porcess to get there. Which would you choose for our first trip out west!

  5. Great reviews! Is there a lot of shopping and coffee shops available around most of these hotels. Coming to visit in February and anticipating cooler weather? Looking to escape snow and walk and eat and shop with a toddler

    1. It will definitely be a little cooler and there may be some rain. I would say temperatures probably range from 50s to mid 60s. Have fun!

    1. Hi Monica. There are not hotels with large villas but there certainly are homes with 7-8 bedrooms, even some on the beach, that you can rent. If you want to email me your dates, I can suggest a few – [email protected]

  6. Hi there,

    We are planning to head to San Diego the first week of April. Do you know anything about the Welk Resort?

    We have two kids ages 10 and 5. We are probably doing a night at LEGOLAND hotel. Looking for a resort that Isn’t a hotel style room.

    Thoughts?
    Thanks!

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