When we traveled prior to having kids, our attitude about our hotel was much more relaxed. We knew we would be spending very little time there and there was much less to consider. Now that we are traveling with young kids, we do a lot more pre-planning before booking our accommodations. We want to be central, but it can’t be too noisy. We need (want) more space. We want a spot to hang out while our kids are sleeping. We don’t want to worry about a crying baby disturbing other people in the middle of the night. On the flip side we don’t want late night party goers waking our baby in the middle of the night.
Here is the process we used for finding the ideal hotel or apartment for our stay in San Diego (spoiler alert: we stayed in Mission Beach!):
CREATE A LIST OF ALL THE ACTIVITIES THAT INTEREST YOU
To save time driving, you should stay near the attractions you want to visit. Here is our list of the activities and places that interested us. The ones in bold were at the top of our must-see list.
- San Diego Beaches
- Mission Bay
- Belmont Park
- San Diego Zoo
- San Diego Zoo Safari Park
- Sea Life Aquarium
- Coronado Island
- USS Midway Aircraft Carrier
- Gaslamp Quarter
- Old Town
- Birch Aquarium
- La Jolla Cove & La Jolla’s Children’s Pool Seals
- La Jolla Shores Beach
- New Children’s Museum
- Tide Pools
- Hike – Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve
- Salk Institute
- Hike – Los Penasquitos Canyon Trail
- Hike – Mission Trails (Cowles Mountain)
- Hike – Mission Trails (Oak Canyon Trail)
- Balboa Park
- San Diego Botanic Garden
- Batiquitos Lagoon
- Spruce Street Suspension Bridge
REVIEW A MAP TO FIND THE MOST CENTRAL AREA
Next, we spent time reviewing a map of the city and plotted the main attractions on the map to find a central area. This is a very simple task using Google Maps and it can be very useful if you are unfamiliar with the city. Save yourself some time and use our map from our San Diego planning:
Use this link to open in Google Maps
CHOOSE A CENTRAL AREA
From our map, we chose a central area where we wanted to stay. We took into consideration driving times, but also what was nearby:
- We looked for family-friendly restaurants nearby, so we could get back in time for bedtime or in case we wanted to get take-away while the kids were sleeping.
- We looked for areas that had nearby activities to do after nap time or to do with our toddler if our baby needed a morning nap.
- If both kids were napping, we wanted the option to take turns leaving the hotel/apartment. There’s no point in both of us staying back, so an area that is fun to explore is nice to have as well.
For San Diego, we decided we wanted to stay in Mission Beach. We loved the idea of having the bay and the ocean nearby to explore in the afternoons after naps.
DECIDE ON HOTEL OR APARTMENT RENTAL
Once we knew roughly where we wanted to stay, we made a decision to rent an apartment instead of a hotel. Now that we have a baby, we always look for a house or apartment rental so we can have our own kitchen and laundry facilities.
We found a cute little house on VRBO just steps away from the bay side. This was absolutely perfect for us. It had enough space inside plus a patio to hang out on. We were able to play on the beach almost every day after nap time, which our toddler loved. In addition, we were only a couple of blocks away from the ocean side and the Mission Beach boardwalk. Some of the driving distances were long from Mission Beach, but given what was on our list this was unavoidable.
To save you time, we have prepared some links to find family friendly accommodations:
- Family friendly San Diego hotels on Booking.com
- Family friendly vacation rentals on VRBO and Airbnb
- New to Airbnb? Sign up with our link for a $35USD credit towards your first stay.
We only write about destinations we have personally visited with our family. This post contains compensated links.