With temperate weather and loads of entertainment options, San Diego is a top family travel destination. The hotel choices are endless, so where should you stay?
Six Reasons to Stay in the San Diego Gaslamp Quarter
The San Diego Gaslamp Quarter is centrally located and just a few minutes from the major San Diego attractions. It is the perfect spot to stay if you won’t have a car and need to rely on other transportation.
The Historic San Diego Gaslamp District
The San Diego Gaslamp Quarter is a 16-block historical neighborhood in downtown San Diego. It was developed in the 1860’s to bring commerce closer to the waterfront. For a time it was a district known for soldiers entertainment meaning bars, adult book shops, and massage parlors. But thanks to preservation efforts it is now a family travel destination. The Gaslamp Quarter is filled with restaurants and stores and is known for the Victorian-era architecture.
The San Diego Old Town Trolley
Old Town Trolley provided us with complimentary tickets to try out the San Diego Old Town Trolley and SEAL Tour. The trolley has two stops in the Gaslamp Quarter making it a convenient option for anyone staying in the area. The route includes seven major San Diego attractions including Old Town San Diego, the USS Midway, Seaport Village, PetCo Park and Coronado Island. For one price, you can exit the trolley at any stop, and hop back on again when you are through with your visit. At the end of the day, the trolley will take you back to the Gaslamp Quarter where your tour began. At the Seaport Village stop, you can hop off to take the SEAL amphibious vehicle tour of the San Diego Bay (additional charge). Old Town Trolley also has San Diego by Night and a Day Trip to La Jolla.
The PetCo Park and San Diego Padres
San Diego Padres hosted our family for a Sunday afternoon ball game against the Colorado Rockies. Unfortunately, the Padres lost. But we did see a fantastic play where one of the Padre outfielders ran full force into the wall to catch a ball. We also happened to end up seated in front of legendary sportscaster Dick Enberg. It was an easy walk from our hotel to PetCo Park even though they were located on opposite ends of the Gaslamp Quarter.
The USS Midway was in service from 1945 until 1992 before it retired to San Diego. Compliments of the San Diego CVB, we spent hours exploring the ship, learning its history, and getting a small taste of life aboard an aircraft carrier. My favorite part was seeing the difference in sleeping quarters for each rank. Enlisted men sleep in bunks three beds high like sardines, and they get just a small space under their bunk to stow all their gear. The USS Midway is in walking distance of the Gaslamp Quarter, but we decided to treat ourselves by taking the short Lyft ride from our hotel
San Diego Zoo and Balboa Park
If you can only see one thing in San Diego, make it the San Diego Zoo. We spent almost seven hours exploring the zoo, and we never go to any of the shows or animal entertainment. It is the best zoo I have ever visited. The zoo is home to the trifecta of zoo cuteness – pandas, koalas, and sea otters.
The San Diego Zoo is just one of the attractions at Balboa Park. There are also seventeen museums, an outdoor organ, performance spaces and restaurants. The park and the zoo are just a short 15-minute ride from the Westin Gaslamp Quarter.
Coronado Beach and the Coronado Hotel
Disney fans may think the Hotel Del looks familiar. It served as the inspiration for the Grand Floridian Hotel at Disney World. It was also the backdrop for the Marilyn Monroe movie Some Like it Hot. But it should be on your must-do list because behind the hotel is Coronado Beach, the best family beach in the United States. The beach is open to the public, and the Hotel del Coronado rents beach chairs and umbrellas to non-guests. We spent an afternoon hosted by The Del enjoying the beach. The island is accessible by a ferry (located on the opposite side of the island from the Hotel del Coronado), car, or by the Old Town Trolley.
The Westin San Diego Gaslamp Quarter
We spent four days exploring San Diego from our home base at the Westin Gaslamp Quarter Hotel. The location is just a quick ride to all the places we wanted to visit. (The Westin provided us with a media rate for our stay in San Diego.)
We stayed in a room with two queen beds on an upper floor. We had plenty of room to spread out, and a view of the city. In fact, the first thing my husband did was turn the chair around so he could drink his coffee and look out the window. The beds had a feature I loved. There were small lights built into the headboard that gave enough light to read, but not so much that it disturbed someone sleeping in the other bed. As a night owl, I could stay up late reading without disturbing my family.
The weather was too cold to use the pool during our stay, but on our last day, I snuck a peek. Boy, do I wish it had been warmer. Next to the pool was a lovely covered area with lounge chairs as well as tables and chairs. During the summer months, there is a pool bar serving a limited menu of food items.
We were able to stow our luggage with bell services before enjoying our last day in San Diego. Before our flight, we took advantage of the comfortable lobby and found plenty of plugs to charge our multiple electronic devices.
Pinzimini Restaurant at the Westin Gaslamp Quarter
The Westin Gaslamp Quarter treated our family to the breakfast buffet at Pinzimini. The restaurant is conveniently located in the lobby and was perfect for days when we were tired and didn’t want to walk to a restaurant. We had our fill of standard breakfast fare including scrambled eggs, bacon, and hash browns. There were plenty of options for my husband who is diabetic and prefers yogurt and fresh fruits. My daughter was delighted to discover that multiple types of breakfast sweets were available. They even had her favorite chocolate muffins. Breakfast left us full and ready to catch the trolley for a full day of San Diego adventures.
On most days, we grabbed breakfast at the Grab ‘N’ Go Cafe located in the lobby. My husband could get Starbucks coffee, and there was a small selection of breakfast and lunch items.