Where to Stay in San Diego

Where to stay in San Diego when travelling with kids? We stayed in Mission Beach. Read more at www.BabyCanTravel.com/blog

When we travelled 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 travelling 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!): 


Here is our list of the activities and places that interested us. The highlighted ones were the ones 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

Waterfront Park

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


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: 

San Diego with a baby - Google map of attractions

Use this link to open in Google Maps


From our map, we chose a central area where we wanted to stay.  We took into consideration driving times, but also what was nearby:

  1.  We looked for 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.
  2.  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.
  3. 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. 



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.  

San Diego with a baby - where to stay

We found a cute little house 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:

San Diego with a baby - Free guide download

Baby Can Travel Guides - Be More Prepared by Doing Less

We'd love to hear about your San Diego experience! Share in the comments below.

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Where to stay in San Diego with kids? Mission Beach is a great spot! Find out why at www.BabyCanTravel.com/blog

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Have you been to San Diego with a baby or toddler? Where did you stay?