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Concierge.com

San Diego

San Diego

By mspiegel
Trip Plan Tags: 
family,
luxury,
romantic and relaxing
Destinations: 
California,
North America,
San Diego County,
United States

Teenage (16 in 2008) daughter in wheelchair. Non-speaking and wheelchair is motorized by either parent.

ITEMS

See + Do

Balboa Park, California

San Diego, California
Tel: 619 239 0512
Website: www.balboapark.org

As Central Park is to New York City, Balboa Park is the center of this out-of-doors city: Its 1,200 landscaped acres hosts 85 attractions, including 15 museums, gardens, restaurants, and the Zoo. The best bets are the San Diego Museum of Man (1350 El Prado; 619-239-2001; www.museumofman.org), the IMAX theater at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center (1875 El Prado; 619-238-1233; www.rhfleet.org), and the San Diego Museum of Art (1450 El Prado; 619-232-7931; www.sdmart.org). Most Tuesdays, at least one attraction offers free admission.

See + Do

San Diego Zoo, California

2920 Zoo Drive
San Diego, California
Tel: 619 231 1515
Website: www.sandiegozoo.org

No other local attraction is more synonymous with San Diego than the Zoo, a 90-year-old institution that lives up to its reputation. One hundred acres of lush habitats are home to more than 4,000 rare and endangered animals, representing over 800 species and subspecies. Among the crowd favorites are the koalas and giant panda cubs. In October, admission is free for children 11 and under. Less well-known is the Wild Animal Park, the Zoo's sister attraction. This wildlife sanctuary is built on 1,800 acres in the San Pasqual Valley near Escondido, some 35 miles north of downtown. More like an African safari than a zoo, many of the Park's more than 3,500 animals are housed together in huge shared enclosures to better simulate their real-life habitats (15500 San Pasqual Valley Rd., Escondido; 760-747-8702; www.sandiegozoo.org/wap).

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
ALT HERE

Hotel

La Valencia, California

1132 Prospect Street, La Jolla
San Diego, California
Tel: 858 454 0771, Tel: 800 451 0772
Website: www.lavalencia.com

When it comes to location, it doesn't get much better than the venerable La Valencia. Opened in 1926, this pale-pink stucco and Spanish-tile-roofed hotel is perched just above the Pacific at famous La Jolla Cove. Meanwhile, its front door opens right onto the boutiques and art galleries of Prospect Street, San Diego's version of Rodeo Drive. Several towering palms stand guard as you enter the lobby, which is appointed with wrought iron, hand-painted ceilings, intricate Spanish tiling, and a stunning postcard view of the crashing waves below from a floor-to-ceiling picture window. The guest rooms are comfortable though the decor is a bit dated: Think grandmotherly printed upholstery with brass accents. The hotel is doing renovations here and there and recently unveiled 15 new terraced Ocean Villas with grade-A ocean views done up in subtle shades of brown with marble floors. La Valencia also has three restaurants and a pair of bars, all of which attract a mix of tourists and hip locals. It's extremely family- and pet-friendly, yet the hotel manages to maintain an air of casual grace.

$200-$299
Editor's Pick
ALT HERE

Hotel

Catamaran Resort Hotel, California

3999 Mission Boulevard
San Diego, California
Tel: 877 646 3726
Website: www.catamaranresort.com

Originally the Scripps family's summer estate, this property was sold and converted into a hotel in 1958. The new owners opted for colonial Hawaiian–style architecture that's still in place today. Mahogany woods and South Pacific–inspired furniture outfit the 315 rooms. Yes, the theme can get a little stilted, especially when it comes to the luau nights, the lei-making table, and the the canoe hanging in the fake waterfall–equipped lobby. But hokey or not, the activities and the relaxed and welcoming vibe keep the Catamaran on the short list for families. The location is great too: a narrow spit of land between the Pacific Ocean and Mission Bay, good for swimming, kayaking, and sailing. The beach and boardwalk are just across the street, and Belmont Park and SeaWorld are also nearby.

Information may have changed since the date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.