My picks for the best San Diego resorts are for guests who want their vacation needs fulfilled by a wide range of amenities and services without leaving the property. Through my deep knowledge of San Diego hotels and resorts, I’ve used specific criteria to select the true resorts in town that are popular with families, couples, solo, and even business travelers.

Red and white striped lounge chairs on the beach in front of Hotel Del Coronado.

Why This List is Different

Unlike other online lists and reviews of resorts in San Diego, this one is based on:

  • My personal experience.
  • Feedback from clients and readers.
  • Insight from VIP contacts that I have at most of these properties who I work with directly (and daily).

What Is the Difference Between a Hotel and a Resort?

The line differentiating hotels and resorts is often blurred, but here is the difference. Resorts offer a more self-contained, relaxing experience and are typically spread across more acreage rather than bound tightly by city streets. Resorts have pools with food and drink service, spas, planned guest activities, and multiple dining outlets — more things to do than a typical hotel. Resorts in San Diego, CA, are also bordered by golf courses, trails, groves, or beaches, providing even more leisure activity opportunities.

Resorts are destinations in themselves, where you don’t really have to leave to have a vacation. Hotel offerings are more limited, but that doesn’t mean they’re not perfect for vacations, too. Both can range in price from luxury to budget.

Be a VIP Guest! Don’t forget that you can use my Virtuoso and other VIP program benefits to add value to your stay at most of these resorts. VIP guests also receive my four-part San Diego vacation destination email series that is timed to check-in dates and updated with what is happening around town seasonally. I may be compensated if you book using the links below.

1. Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa

Location: Rancho Santa Fe
Hotel class: Luxury

The pool bar at Rancho Valencia, the best luxury resort in San Diego
Sip poolside cocktails. (Photo courtesy of Rancho Valencia)

Surrounded by 45 acres of lush greenery and magnificent olive groves, the Mediterranean-inspired Rancho Valencia Resort is an idyllic retreat that many people do not leave. This is the top luxury San Diego resort for world-class hospitality, wellness activities, and opulence. In fact, U.S. News and World Report ranks it as the best resort in California.

This sanctuary boasts 49 spacious Mediterranean-style casitas with private patios and fireplaces where fresh orange juice and a newspaper are delivered each morning.

The spa and fitness center, which is also home to a stunning yoga pavilion, is a highlight. Class schedules include high-performance cardio, such as spinning and TRX, and are included with guest stays. Play tennis on one of the championship tennis courts or take advantage of the other sports courts, bocce ball court, croquet, or take one of the resort bikes out for a spin. This San Diego resort’s location is also near some of the state’s most prestigious members-only golf courses.

After a full day in Southern California sunshine, relax in the saltwater main pool or adults-only spa pool. The drive to Del Mar beach takes about 15-20 minutes, depending on which beach is your final destination.

And, as the only Relais & Chateaux resort in Southern California, rest assured that the dining is fantastic. From cocktails and rustic American dining in The Pony Room to room service, your taste buds will be exceedingly happy here.

Good to know: It’s for guests who want to be spoiled by true five-star luxury and those looking for wellness retreats. It’s popular for staycations and those within driving distance (Orange County and Los Angeles) who just want a Southern California getaway.

Make Rancho Valencia reservations with these included Virtuoso Amenities:

  • Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
  • Daily full breakfast for two guests per bedroom (maximum $40 credit per person)
  • $100 USD Resort/Hotel credit, (Not valid in Sheridan, the resort’s boutique. Not combinable, not valid on room rate, no cash value if not redeemed in full)
  • Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi

When booking on Virtuoso.com use only the number of adults traveling to get the correct rates. Kids may otherwise be priced as adults. We will add them after we follow up to collect your arrival details.


2. Fairmont Grand Del Mar

Location: East Del Mar
Hotel class: Luxury

View of the main pool area with palm trees at Fairmont Grand Del Mar, one of the best resorts in San Diego.
The main pool. (Photo courtesy of Fairmont Grand Del Mar)

The Fairmont Grand Del Mar resort in San Diego is another Mediterranean-style paradise that has earned an exclusive Forbes Fifteen Stars. Its beautiful accommodations include deluxe villas, spacious rooms, and even adults-only room types surrounding an adults-only pool, all with large marble bathrooms, deep sigh-worthy tubs, and breathtaking garden views.

I think it’s the best resort in San Diego for families who enjoy luxury. You can read more about why families choose Fairmont Grand Del Mar, but it’s mostly because it’s a win-win for parents and kids.

Enjoy a day at the award-winning spa, yoga classes, or a round of golf on the Tom Fazio-designed course while kids enjoy the year-round, state-of-the-art kids’ club. Book date night at the Michelin-starred Addison (this is one of my favorite dining experiences in the world). Hit the hiking trails on a bike (the resort has kids’ bikes, too), a guided tour, or horseback — there is an onsite equestrian center.

While it is also inland from the beach, guests can reserve beach valet service (subject to availability), which will transport you to and from Del Mar’s 18th Street beach (a 15-minute drive) with umbrellas, beach chairs, and bottled water. Torrey Pines State Beach and Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve are also a short drive away.

Good to know: I think you can tell a lot about a resort by its behind-the-scenes service, which is top-notch here. They are excellent at handling dietary restrictions and special requests.

Make Fairmont Grand Del Mar reservations with these included Virtuoso amenities:

  • Upgrade at time of booking, subject to availability (excluding suites)
  • Daily breakfast for two guests per bedroom, served in Amaya or in-room dining (up to $70 per bedroom per day)
  • $100 USD equivalent Resort or Hotel credit utilized during stay (not combinable, not valid on room rate, no cash value if not redeemed in full)
  • Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi

When booking Fairmont on Virtuoso.com use only the number of adults traveling to get the correct rates. Kids may otherwise be priced as adults. We will add them after we follow up to collect your arrival details.


3. Hotel del Coronado

Location: Coronado
Hotel class: Luxury (with some caveats)

Red and white striped lounge chairs on the beach in front of Hotel del Coronado.
Del Beach in front of Hotel del Coronado, Curio Collection by Hilton

Hotel del Coronado, Curio Collection by Hilton is a historic property that opened in 1888 and has been frequented by U.S. presidents and Hollywood stars since then. I was married at this resort and have been an overnight guest multiple times. Hotel del Coronado is also the most requested and booked San Diego resort or hotel in my portfolio.

The reason is that people search for San Diego beach resorts because they want to take advantage of our sunshine and this one offers the most activities (I highly recommend booking a s’mores roast), waterfront dining, a stunning pool, food and drink service to Del Beach, the city’s best Sunday brunch, and ocean views. You are also within walking distance to other Coronado restaurants, shops, and other things to do on Coronado Island.

Winter is also a popular time of year to enjoy their beachfront ice skating rink and a long roster of holiday activities. Guests enjoy the Coronado beach here year-round.

You should read my detailed guide to Hotel del Coronado before booking. In it, I explain how to choose a room across The Victorian, The Cabanas, and The Views buildings, details regarding the ongoing renovation, and everything you need to know about staying there.

Good to know: The Oceanfront or Beachside fire pit rooms are my favorite, but remember that you can always book a beach roast separately. The Victorian building rooms are offline for booking through 2025. It’s not a bad choice for travelers who want to go carless. In addition to rideshare apps, the Coronado ferry (on the other side of Coronado) helps guests reach downtown San Diego, Little Italy, and the Gaslamp Quarter.

Beach Village at The Del and Shore House at The Del

The two separately booked hotels within the main resort of Hotel del Coronado are Beach Village at The Del and Shore House at The Del. Both offer rooms to three-bedroom suites and have pools and dining exclusive to their guests, which also have access to everything on the main resort.

I highly recommend Beach Village at The Del, the resort’s private enclave of cottages and villas, many of which are oceanfront. Beach Village offers an elevated level of service, privacy, and luxury, with all the benefits of staying at Hotel del Coronado. It is the most luxurious resort beach vacation in San Diego. It’s the quietest section of the resort because the residential-style accommodations are spread throughout separate buildings. Learn more in my Beach Village at The Del review.

Shore House at The Del feels more like a boutique hotel as accommodations are spread throughout a U-shaped building surrounding a beachfront pool. It is also one of the top San Diego resorts for multigenerational families who need kitchens. Lear more in my Shore House at the Del review.

All three sections of Hotel del Coronado can be booked with included Virtuoso amenities.

  • Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
  • Daily breakfast credit of $45 per person, for up to two guests per bedroom, served in Serẽa restaurant (credit is non-cumulative, restrictions if applicable)
  • $100 USD Food & Beverage credit to be utilized during stay (not combinable, not valid on room rate, no cash value if not redeemed in full)
  • Early Check-In / Late Check-Out, subject to availability
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi

Sign in or create a free Virtuoso account to see the discounted rate! When booking on Virtuoso.com use the number of adults traveling to get the correct rates. Kids may otherwise be priced as adults. We will add them after we follow up to collect your arrival details. If you see multiple rates for the same room type, choose the lowest rate. Check the status of ocean swimming in front of Coronado Lifeguard Tower as it changes. This is the testing station in front of Hotel del Coronado.

  • Upgrade not applicable at this property
  • Daily Buffet Breakfast for up to two guests per bedroom, served in Shore House Bistro
  • $100 USD Food & Beverage credit to be utilized during stay (not combinable, not valid on room rate, no cash value if not redeemed in full)
  • Early Check-In / Late Check-Out, subject to availability
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi

Sign in to your free Virtuoso account to see the discounted rate. When booking on Virtuoso.com use the number of adults traveling to get the correct rates. Kids may otherwise be priced as adults. We will add them after we follow up to collect your arrival details.

  • Upgrade is not applicable at this property
  • Daily full breakfast for up to two guests per bedroom at Ocean Concierge Club
  • $100 USD Food & Beverage credit to be utilized during stay (not combinable, not valid on room rate, no cash value if not redeemed in full)
  • Early check-in / Late check-out, subject to availability
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi
  • Beach Village Virtuoso guests have all-day access to Ocean Concierge Club. Services outside of the daily breakfast for two are paid for a la carte. This is way better value than the daily rate that all-day guests have to pay!

Sign in to your free Virtuoso account to see the discounted rate. When booking on Virtuoso.com, use the number of adults traveling to get the correct rates. Kids may otherwise be priced as adults. We will add them after we follow up to collect your arrival details. If you see multiple rates, choose the lowest one.


4. Park Hyatt Aviara Resort, Golf Club and Spa

Location: Carlsbad
Hotel class: Luxury

Two small water slides at the Park Hyatt Aviara pool.
Photo courtesy of Park Hyatt Aviara

Park Hyatt Aviara Resort, Golf Club and Spa is on my list of best Carlsbad hotels and solidly one of the best resorts in San Diego thanks to its robust offerings.

One of the most unique aspects is that the generous guest room size allowed them to transform two double bed rooms into two king bed rooms! Single king rooms have double sofa beds for families who don’t need that much bed space.

Also, the family pool area offers a splash pad and a water slide. If you must have suite accommodations to sleep separately from the kids or for extra space, they have quite a few nice options (one has a fire pit).

The award-winning Miraval spa is also not to be missed with its indoor solarium and relaxation areas. I also appreciate the grab-and-go market in the lobby, and everywhere I’ve eaten at this San Diego resort since the renovation has been outstanding.

Many people stay here also for the proximity to Aviara Golf Club, home to a championship golf course designed by Arnold Palmer, and the Batiquitos Lagoon. It’s less than 10 minutes to the Carlsbad beach and a popular choice for golfers and families visiting LEGOLAND California.

Good to know: They have quite a few sets of connecting rooms for larger families and groups of friends, but no rollaway beds. I can book you in with Virtuoso amenities.

Make Park Hyatt Aviara Resort reservations with these included Virtuoso amenities:

  • Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability.
  • Daily full breakfast, for two guests per bedroom
  • $100 USD Resort credit to be utilized during stay (not combinable, not valid on room rate, no cash value if not redeemed in full)
  • Complimentary daily Aviara Spa access for two guests including sauna, whirlpool, steam room and indoor solarium lounge.
  • Locally-inspired culinary welcome amenity
  • Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi

When booking on Virtuoso.com use only the number of adults traveling to get the correct rates. Kids may otherwise be priced as adults. We will add them after we follow up to collect your arrival details.


5. Omni La Costa Resort and Spa

Location: Carlsbad
Hotel class: Moderate

Aerial view of The Edge adults-only pool and lounge chairs at Omni La Costa Resort in San Diego County.
The adults-only Edge Pool. (Photo courtesy of Omni La Costa Resort and Spa)

Omni La Costa Resort and Spa’s casual atmosphere is one of the reasons why it makes my list of favorite San Diego family resorts. It’s the only San Diego resort or hotel with a year-round kids’ club that offers a supervised program for kids ages 6 months to 5 years old that will allow parents to rejuvenate with a spa treatment or spend a few hours of alone time together.

The amenities spread out over 400 acres include two golf courses, one of my favorite spas, multiple swimming pools, a kids’ splash pad and water slide area, a tennis center with tennis courts, a state-of-the-art fitness center, multiple restaurants, family activities, and much more.

Suites here tend to price well, and the rooms are comfortable. For longer stays or families who need kitchens, look to the villas, which are outfitted with designer appliances and feel like home. La Costa is a residential neighborhood located in inland Carlsbad, about 10 minutes from the beach.

Good to know: This is a popular resort with fantastic amenities. The rooms are a bit dated, however, and could use some modernization and they are renovating them currently.

Reservations: I used to book Omni La Costa with my extra benefits, but I find that people who stay here either book directly using Omni sale rates.

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6. San Diego Mission Bay Resort

Location: Mission Bay
Hotel class: Moderate

A couple holding hands walks into the San Diego Mission Bay Resort swimming pool on a sunny day.
A couple walks into the bayfront pool. (Photo courtesy of San Diego Mission Bay Resort)

Formerly the Hilton San Diego Resort and Spa, this rejuvenated Noble House property offers a beachy yet contemporary vibe that caters to travelers who want a more upscale resort experience at a reasonable price point.

San Diego Mission Bay Resort offers games and activities for the whole family, from a nice bayside pool with cabana rentals and a kids’ pool to lawn games to a water sports rental facility at the shoreline out in front.

Rooms also received breezy updates in a coastal color palette. Many ground-floor rooms have fire pits where you can roast s’mores (kits are available in the lobby market) though they also offer this on the bay beach seasonally. The Mission Bay boardwalk is right out front and nice for bike rides, jogs, and kid fun like rollerskating. You can also relax at the full-service spa or play tennis.

Good to know: This San Diego resort and spa is just off the 1-5 freeway, convenient for sightseeing—you can be at the San Diego Zoo and Balboa Park in about 10 minutes. However, you’ll have to drive around the bay to reach the ocean beach. It’s also pet-friendly.

San Diego Mission Bay Resort reservations: If you have AAA, book through the San Diego Mission Bay Resort AAA page for the best rate, with parking usually included.

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7. Hyatt Regency Mission Bay Spa and Marina

Location: Mission Bay
Hotel class: Moderate

Two of the three pools and three water slides at Hyatt Regency Mission Bay Spa and Marina, a top San Diego resort.
The outdoor pool deck. (Photo courtesy of Hyatt Hotels and Resorts)

Hyatt Regency Mission Bay Spa and Marina is popular because they have the most water slides of any San Diego resort (three). It’s located on Mission Bay but just a few walkable blocks to the ocean at Mission Beach.

There isn’t a bay beach here, but you can rent stand-up paddleboards and other water sports equipment from the marina, which offers deep-sea fishing and whale watching excursions. City, bay, and ocean views from the top floors and many guest rooms are stunning.

Speaking of the guest rooms, they were recently refreshed. Guests also highly rate eco-conscious spa treatments at the resort’s Blue Marble Spa and waterfront dining at Red Marlin. The resort’s suites afford beautiful views of the surroundings and include upmarket features, such as Hyatt Grand beds, flat-screen TVs, and private balconies.

Good to know: The resort’s location means it prices well, and it’s a great value with the benefits below. It’s a moderate resort and a little corporate in feel, but I know quite a few people who choose it for San Diego staycations. There isn’t a bay beach here though and not much to do within a short walk.

Make Hyatt Regency Mission Bay Spa and Marina reservations: I find that most readers book using Hyatt sale rates.

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8. Catamaran Resort Hotel and Spa

Location: Pacific Beach
Hotel class: Moderate

View from Tower at Catamaran Resort Hotel and Spa in San Diego
View over the bay from Catamaran Resort Hotel and Spa.

Catamaran Resort Hotel and Spa is another sought-after San Diego family resort located on Mission Bay but is also a few short blocks from the ocean at Pacific Beach, giving guests the best of both worlds. Its Polynesian theme, complete with ponds and streams full of turtles, koi, and ducks, makes you feel like you’re on a tropical getaway.

Out front is one of the nicer Mission Bay beaches where you can chill on the sand or take advantage of water sports. Bike rentals are available for exploring nearby neighborhoods, too. A game room off of the pool deck is popular with kids. A spa treatment in the full-service spa facility always also hits the spot.

We also quite like the onsite Oceana Coastal Kitchen restaurant for breakfast and seafood favorites. Sit on the patio for water views or inside near the jellyfish tank. Summer guests will want to book the authentic sunset luau on the bay. This seasonal tradition involves Polynesian food, music, and festivities. 

Good to know: This San Diego resort hotel isn’t fancy, but it sure is fun. Pacific Beach can skew young demographic-wise but you are insulated from this. The upshot is that the nearby dining is wallet-friendly. I like the ground floor Bay View Suites because they have a door that opens up to a grassy area and direct beach/bay access.

Make Catamaran Resort Hotel reservations: Catamaran offers some good book direct hotel offers and deals. Or, you can check rates below.

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9. Loews Coronado Bay Resort and Spa

Location: Coronado
Hotel class: Moderate

Loews Coronado Bay Resort Pool View Room.
A pool view room. (Photo courtesy of Loews Coronado Bay Resort)

The goal of Loews Coronado Bay Resort is to make it so that guests can experience the best of San Diego without ever leaving the property. The resort is located about 4 miles from the heart of Coronado Island (but there is a complimentary guest shuttle to downtown Coronado) on its own secluded San Diego Bay peninsula.

The gorgeous Silver Strand State Beach (one of San Diego’s best beaches) is just a 10-minute or so walk from the lobby, but they have complimentary shuttle service to the sand throughout the day. A seasonal stand sets up complimentary beach chairs and umbrellas for resort guests.

Guest rooms are comfortably outfitted in a coastal palette with bay, pool, or resort views. Speaking of the swimming pool, there are several on the pool deck in addition to outdoor games and a cafe that serves poolside food and festive drinks. Ingredients are sourced from the onsite garden and citrus trees in addition to local farmers and seafood mongers where possible.

Good to know: It is a secluded location, so you will need to drive to outside restaurants and sightseeing. However, this also makes it a good staycation resort for those who just want to unwind. The ocean at Silver Strand State Beach has been closed for swimming a lot lately due to pollution from the Tijuana River estuary. You can check sdbeachinfo.com for more details.

Make Loews Coronado Bay Resort reservations: Loews directly offers deals that are usually better.

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10. Rancho Bernardo Inn

Location: Rancho Bernardo
Hotel class: Moderate

The spa pool at Rancho Bernardo Inn, one of the best luxury resorts in San Diego.
Cabanas at the outdoor pool. (Photo courtesy of Rancho Bernardo Inn)

Rancho Bernardo Inn opened in 1963 as an inn with a golf course and 30 rooms. Today it is very much one of the best resorts in San Diego with 287 casually elegant and cozy rooms and suites, that very same championship golf course (designed by William Bell of Torrey Pines and La Jolla Country Club fame), and one of my favorite spas in San Diego.

It’s full-service with its saline pool, lounging facilities, and spa treatments that use skincare products with edible ingredients — what is more natural than that? You can even enjoy a treatment in an outdoor garden casita.

If you’re going to travel to tee off or use the spa, you should spend the night to take advantage of the four dining options, including highly-rated Avant’s approachable wine country dining. Or sip a craft cocktail fireside at Veranda.

Rancho Bernardo Inn is a member of Preferred Hotels and Resorts, a hotel and resort group I trust immensely and use as a stamp of approval when I book independent hotels worldwide.

Good to know: This resort is located about 15 minutes from San Diego Zoo Safari Park (this is my guide as we are involved with the park). Family-owned and family-friendly Bernardo Winery, which isn’t just a winery — there are boutiques, a coffee shop, and a restaurant — is also about 5 minutes away. I love this as a San Diego staycation option for residents and a fun weekend getaway for drive-market guests.

Make Rancho Bernardo Inn reservations: This hotel runs a ton of direct sale rates that are usually better than the VIP rate we can offer or anything I’ve seen on other sites.

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11. Bahia Resort Hotel

Location: Mission Bay
Hotel class: Value

Two kids swim in the Bahia Resort Hotel's outdoor swimming pool on a sunny day.
The outdoor pool. (Photo courtesy of Bahia Resort Hotel)

This bayside getaway is situated on a Mission Bay peninsula and is renowned for its exceptional service, deluxe suites, and a prime location that allows guests to walk to the Pacific Ocean at Mission Beach from the lobby in about 10 minutes.

Bay and Garden View Studios have amenities like 65″ televisions and kitchenettes. Larger families may enjoy the Bay View Suite with two queen beds and a full-size sofa bed as better value to connecting rooms at other resorts (which can be hard to guarantee).

Resort guests pretty much only use the secluded bay beach here. Other amenities include a small playground, shuffleboard, water sports, and an arcade.

There are several dining options on-site, including an Airstream serving grab-and-go. Karaoke nights are also a regular feature at the resort’s Tangier Bar as a craft cocktails. From June to September, the resort beach comes alive with vibey music, delicious clambakes, and fiery BBQ. Guests use the spa at sister property, Catamaran Resort Hotel and Spa.

Good to know: Of all San Diego hotels and resorts, I like Bahia for those who want a relaxing, wallet-friendly vacation near the beach. However, remember that it, like the other San Diego beach resorts, can price significantly higher during peak dates. The resort fee includes free parking and WiFi.

Make Bahia Resort Hotel reservations: Book direct promotions which they sometimes have or below.

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12. Paradise Point Resort & Spa

Location: Mission Bay
Hotel class: Moderate
Note: This property is turning into a Margaritaville resort sometime in 2024.

Interior view of a renovated junior suite at Paradise Point Resort & Spa San Diego.
Bayside bungalows and suites are my favorites. (Photo courtesy of Paradise Point Resort & Spa)

Paradise Point Resort & Spa is on a 44-acre peninsula on Mission Bay with about a mile of sandy bay beach that wraps around it. It feels a little bit like an island resort.

Added luxuries of Paradise Point include five swimming pools, beach bonfire pits, and a private marina with various water sports options. The award-winning spa and different dining venues also make for a wonderful stay.

Yes, it is a vast resort, but they offer regular shuttle service from the lobby to various parts, though you will park near your accommodations. It’s best for guests who mostly want to stay put as you’ll need to drive to the ocean beach, all sightseeing (other than SeaWorld San Diego), and the ocean beach.

Good to know: This hotel will gradually transition to a Margaritaville property sometime in 2024. I am not sure what it will be like after that just yet. While it is on our list of hotels near SeaWorld San Diego, it will take nearly 25 minutes to walk from the lobby to the park gates (it looks much closer on maps). The water here can be a little stagnant, and none of us swam in it during our last visit. Falling off into it from an SUP or similar is definitely no big deal though.

Paradise Point Resort & Spa reservations: Book directly to make a Paradise Point reservation or check rates below.

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Do you have a favorite San Diego resort missing from this list?

Katie Dillon is the managing editor of La Jolla Mom. She helps readers plan San Diego vacations through her hotel expertise (that stems from living in a Four Seasons hotel) and local connections. Readers have access to exclusive discounts on theme park tickets (like Disneyland and San Diego Zoo) and perks at luxury hotels worldwide through her. She also shares insider tips for visiting major cities worldwide, like Hong Kong, London, Paris, and Shanghai, that her family has either lived in or visits regularly (or both).

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