Summer Staycations In San Diego

My husband and I were both born and raised in San Diego. Between our families and the beautiful weather, we just can’t seem to find anywhere else we want to be. While we love to travel and explore whenever possible, it’s a hobby that costs a fair bit of money. Sometimes logistically, it just makes sense to explore the endless experiences our home has to offer. 

For our 8th anniversary, we had 4 kids including a newborn baby. 4 kids with a lot of emotional needs, appointments, etc, taking an extended trip wasn’t going to happen. So we found a weekend where Grandma and Grandpa could come and stay and the hubby and I went to a hotel on Mission Bay. It’s only 20 minutes from our home and we only stayed 2 nights, but it was awesome. I think the ease of getting there only amplified the experience. I had less stress knowing I could get to my babies quickly if I needed to.

Now we are back down to 2 kids but the daily schedule is still a lot to manage between homeschool, activities, etc. Finding time to get away together is still hard to come by. That is why we have learned to make staycations a beloved alternative to adventuring around the world. 

It’s easy to write about San Diego staycations because we live in a vacation destination. It means there is no shortage of things to do but that can lead to indecision because the options are endless! What I’ve found works best is deciding what type of staycation we want to have. Are we in the mood for adventure or calm? Do we want to stay busy or lazy? Once we determine the mood we are going for, it narrows down the options. 

While we live in paradise, we do get cold weather. Rain, freezing nights, and chilly breezes in the winter months remove a lot of our usual staycation options. Here are some staycations we have done at various times of the year. Whether you’re a San Diego local or coming from out of state, I hope you can find some fun activities to fill your time with. 

#1) The Beach

This is the most obvious one. But as a busy mom, I don’t get to the beach as often as my soul would like, which makes a staycation near it at the top of my list. San Diego has some of the prettiest beaches around. Whatever the weather, a stop at the beach is restorative. La Jolla Shores north to Oceanside are more family friendly and calm. There are usually cute shops and eats nearby. Pacific Beach down to Imperial tend to have more interesting people watching experiences and cater to a younger crowd. Mission Beach in particular has Belmont Park and the boardwalk which are great for people watching. 

#2) The Bay

Mission or San Diego, both have their advantages. Mission Bay is a great spot to Jet Ski, Paddle Board, Wake Board, or Cruise on a Catamaran. There are a few fun resorts around it. Mission Bay Resort, Paradise Point, and Bahia have great locations right on the bay, offer watercraft rentals, provide delicious onsite dining, and are in convenient locations to Sea World, Belmont Park, and an easy Cruise to Downtown San Diego. 

#3) Inland Relaxation

Rancho Bernardo was known for many years as a sleepy retirement community. While it still houses a lot of 55 and up communities, it is now a very popular place for people of all ages. One of the best kept secrets around here is the Rancho Bernardo Inn. For a relaxing and rejuvenating experience, a stay at the RB Inn is just what you need. The beautiful full service spa, the delicious dining options with live music, cute cafe and access to a stunning Golf Course. The environment at the RB Inn is geared towards relaxation. Whether taking a spa day or a getaway. It’s one of my favorite places to be any time of the year.

#4) San Diego Area Casinos

This may come as a surprise, but I don’t actually gamble. Even so, the Casinos and Hotels around San Diego offer a really good time. From unique shows, to delicious buffets, full service spas and resort-like pools, there is so much more to do than gamble. If you’re looking for a mix of entertainment and relaxation, places like Harrahs, Viejas, and Pala, are all highly rated and offer a fun experience.

#5 Downtown

Downtown San Diego has it’s challenges, like most big cities, but if you stick to the populated and popular areas, you should be totally fine. Take advantage of the unique environment a downtown getaway creates. Seaport Village is a cute little cluster of tasty restaurants and unique little shops. Grab some ice cream and stroll along the harbor. A short walk away down the waterfront is the USS Midway Museum, I cannot recommend this enough. It truly helps you appreciate all that our men and women do at sea to keep us safe. Also along the waterfront, you can take a tour of the Star of India or hop on a Hornblower Dinner Cruise. Don’t forget to visit Balboa Park and the world famous San Diego Zoo!

#6 Old Town

An easy drive to Old Town San Diego, you can visit the Mormon Battalion and learn about the early settlement in San Diego, visit the Whaley Historic (haunted!) house,  stop by the National Comedy Theatre and enjoy a night of Improv, or visit one of the many delicious restaurants in the Old Town area. You’re near enough to both downtown and mission bay to take advantage of the many activities there as well! 

#7 Camping

Whether it’s on the beach or in the mountains, there are several awesome campsites around San Diego County. If you’re looking for a spot on the beach, it’s best to try looking a year before or a week or 2 before and snag the cancellations. If you’re wanting to grab a spot in the mountains or desert, there’s plenty of options too. Thomas Mountain is a bit of a drive, but has some great hikes and you’re far from neighbors.  

#8 Mountain Escape

If you’re looking to escape the hustle and bustle of summer in San Diego, head up to the mountains and find some peace and tranquility in nature. There are several cute mountain towns just a short drive from San Diego. Julian, Idyllwild, and Cuyamaca are some of my favorites. Whether camping or renting a cabin, enjoying the peace of the mountains, the bright stars at night, and the fresh mountain air are rejuvenating for the soul. 

Other activities we love to do are on every tourist list around- visit Balboa Park and the many museums there, spend at day at Sea World, The San Diego Zoo, or Safari Park, or spend a day at Coronado.

If you’re in the area and are looking for specific recommendations reach out over on Instagram. I hope you have an awesome staycation or vacation!