We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Trip Report: Family vacation with teens

Which San Diego hotels are on sale?
mm/dd/yyyy mm/dd/yyyy
See hotels
Syracuse NY
Level Contributor
159 posts
6 reviews
Save Topic
Trip Report: Family vacation with teens

I wanted to write a trip report to share all of the wonderful experiences we had while vacationing in San Diego in July. It was myself, my husband and son 15 and daughter 14. We stayed at the Catamaran Resort for the week which was absolutely the best place. I loved the whole ambiance of this place. The grounds were beautiful, we had an ocean front suite with a beautiful view of the bay and just steps away from the beach. There were tons of activities for the kids and loved the patio area where you could just sit and relax at night around the fire pits. The location was awesome as we could walk one block to the Pacific. Tons of shopping, restaurants within walking distance and a great central location for all of the places that we visited. I was originally thinking of staying on the Pacific Beach side but thank you for whoever talked me out of that. While I loved spending a few hours over there, here and there, I would not want to have spent my entire vacation there. It was definitely for the 20 something crowd and would have been my place of choice 20 years ago but not now. Here is a run down of what we did.

Wednesday

Arrived In San Diego at 11am, picked up the car at Catamaran by noon, they allowed us to check in at that time which was great. We unpacked and then strolled around the area and came upon Rubicons where we had a fantastic lunch, sandwiches were to die for. We then hit Ralphs grocery store and picked up everything we needed for the week (decided to do breakfast in the room since we all wake up at different times) . Love that you can buy alcohol there as well, cant do that in New York State. They allowed us to use a visitors pass everytime we went so that we could take advantage of their preferred pricing. People were so helpful and friendly at this store. We ate dinner at the Catamaran, my husband and son ate at their special bbq night which they said was so so, and my daughter and I just grabbed some appetizers and ate on the patio which was nice. Went to bed early as we were beat from the long travel.

Thursday

We went to the zoo which was fantastic!! Loved the koalas, pandas and giraffes, stuff you dont see in Syracuse. We bought the tickets at the Catamaran gift store which saved us $5 per person, plus we could use the Tram and Skycoaster for no additional charge. We headed over to Balboa Park and we were exhausted and hungry so ate at an outdoor cafe which was good. We probably should have done this a different day because we had already done tons of walking at the zoo. We just kind of wandered around aimlessly trying to find different things. Loved the architecture and feel of the place but ended up leaving after a few hours. Went back to hotel very late afternoon and just hung out on the beach. The kids checked out the activities they wanted to do for the week. My son really wanted to the Jet Pack in the bay, but you had to be 16 and it was $150 for a 15 minute ride!!! We went to the Green Flash for dinner, which was okay, my husband and I had the broiled scallops which were nothing special and the staff was not overly friendly. We had a laugh as the hostess was wearing a short skirt and kept showing off her bright green underwear. We wondered if that was why it was called the Green Flash, but found out later it was related to the sunset. We strolled the boardwalk and then back to the Catamaran for drinks around the fire pit and watched the fireworks.

Friday

Spent the majority of the day at the Catamaran as kids and adults wanted to hang out at the beach and relax for the day. The kids rented the stand up paddle boards which they loved and rode me and hubbs around too, fun! The kids walked up to "The Baked Bear" and ice cream place near Garnet. They had build your own ice cream sandwiches where you pick out the type of homemade cookies you want and your favorite flavor ice cream, they said it was delicious. We walked over to the Taco Stand(next to the Catamaran)for lunch. It was quite good, the Caifornia Burrito was a favorite. It was huge and had the usual taco ingredients but french fries too. The kids spent the rest of the day in the water. We went to World Famous for dinner which we thought was excellent. I had the white sea bass wrapped in a potato crust, it was to die for. We shopped in and out of the stores on the boardwalk, bought a frisbee and played on the beach, very nice.

Saturday

We went to the USS midway, checked out the whole area, very cool, and took tons of pictures. We shopped at Seaport Village for a few hours, such a nice area, loved it here. We went to the Fish Market for a late lunch which was wonderful, we sat on the outer deck (just lovely) food-- the best seafood ever. Arrived back at hotel late afternoon and as we were still not real hungry for dinner, we just walked up to Garnet Ave to Ciros pizza and got some slices, very good. Back to the patio to listen to the band, there was a girl with a beautiful voice. Watched fireworks again.

Sunday

Hung out at the resort again. The kids rented bikes for the day and explored everything around the area, they had a blast and my husband and I just hung out on the beach and enjoyed some cocktails and lunch. The kids took the bikes over to Rubicons and ate there again. My daughter and I walked up to Garnet Ave. and did some shopping. We ate at atolls for dinner, surprisingly it was not very good, and quite expensive. We cruised on the Bahia Belle that evening. It is such a beautiful boat but nothing going on onboard, all of the famillies were falling asleep toward the end. I think they could do some type of entertainment to make it more enjoyable.

Monday

Drove to Coronado Island and checked out the Hotel Del. Truly amazing place. We wandered through the shops and museums on the ground floor, very interesting. We spent quite awhile on the beach, just beautiful. The kids climbed along the rocks and looked for crabs. We wandered around a bit in the village and then headed to Lajolla. This was the highlight of the trip!! We spent hours in the seal cove! It is just a breathtaking area! We went to Karl Strauss for lunch. The food was absolutely dellicious!! The staff was wonderful, they brought over different samples of beer with our food choices, and they sure know what they are doing. Ive done wine and food pairings before but never beer,, really enjoyed this. We shopped a bit afterwards, just love the look and feel of this place. My son loves high end cars so we stopped at the Symbolic car dealership. We walked right in and there were bunches of boys my sons age walking around taking pictures of all the cars with their iphones. My son was in heaven. Nobody in the dealership seemed to care that we were there. This is a great experience if you are into these cars.

Tuesday

Last day :(((( Decided to enjoy the last day at the resort. Kids rented bikes again, they also rented the Funcat pontoon boat. It was fun but went a little slow for their liking. We ordered sandwiches from Rubicons for lunch and my son biked over and picked them up and we ate them on the beach. Had to pack later so just ordered pizza from Ciros again for dinner.

We just love San Diego. We have been to Aruba, Dominican Republic, and Cancun to name a few, and I have to say this was a favorite. We will be back to see all the things we missed and would probably stay at the Catamaran again, and maybe Lajolla for a few nights.

One troubling thing happend. We had a very tight connection from DC to Syracuse. We had 25 minutes to get to the next plane and we had to take the tram over to a different gate. We were in such a hurry that my husband forgot to grab the camera bag, he left it under the seat in front of him. It held our new camera, his wallet, firedepartment i.d and badge and my car keys not to mention all the great pictures we had taken. We realized it when we boarded the next plane. They gave us a number to call, of course automated, cant talk to a person. They tell you to file an online report on the airlines website and basically dont call us, we will call you. This was extremely frustrating, as it was impossible to find a human body. My husband was sick about it so he drove out to the Syracuse airport and came across a new employee who was very willing and able to help us. He made countless calls for us and kept in touch with my husband. He located the bag and we will have it back this Wednesday (thank god!) We will be going back to the airport to give him a very large tip.

Thanks everyone for all of the advice and help in planning our trip. I would be happy to answer any questions.

San Diego
Destination Expert
for San Diego
Level Contributor
60,824 posts
67 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Trip Report: Family vacation with teens

Thanks for writing. It will be tremendously helpful to other families!!!

Glad you had a good time!

New Jersey
Level Contributor
182 posts
71 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: Trip Report: Family vacation with teens

This is a terrific report. I believe it was the other poster who directed me here for advice on a trip I'm planning for November. Now i really wish I had more time but I'm going to make sure we hit a few of the things that were highlights for you. We can sleep when we get home, right? Thank you for sharing your trip with us!!

San Diego...
Destination Expert
for San Diego
Level Contributor
22,164 posts
4 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: Trip Report: Family vacation with teens

Great Trip Report! Thank you very much especially for all the details. We really like hearing when people love San Diego as much as we do.

Corona del Mar, CA
Destination Expert
for San Diego, Orange County, California
Level Contributor
52,311 posts
423 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: Trip Report: Family vacation with teens

Great trip report and great details on everything..... except the USS Midway, curious what you thought of it and if you have ever been on the USS Intrepid in NYC?

Maybe with the kids a year old next year you should throw in some college visits to UCSD, USD and SDSU :)

Level Contributor
35,022 posts
898 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: Trip Report: Family vacation with teens

Wonderful report... You did a lot during your visit to this beautiful city! :).

Syracuse NY
Level Contributor
159 posts
6 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: Trip Report: Family vacation with teens

We did not do the USS midway tour, we were going to but it was packed and we didn't want to devote that many hrs. to it. We really just viewed it from the outside and all the ships in the harbor. We took tons of pictures. I would thoroughly involve your kids in the planning of your trip. My kids loved the sight seeing but they loved the freedom of renting bikes and touring the area on their own which gave us adults the opportunity to relax and enjoy the resort. The kids also loved renting the water sports equipment. My kids say if they could change one thing, they would have skipped Balboa Park but I don't feel that we gave that a fair chance as we were tired after doing the zoo and didn't have a plan for Balboa so we wasted a lot of time walking around and not seeing anything. All of us would have spent an entire day in Lajolla, it's such a special place. I also wish we had worked Torrey Pines into our trip. I know the kids would have loved that, but that will be next time :)

San Francisco
Level Contributor
36,629 posts
27 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: Trip Report: Family vacation with teens

Great report. So glad you'll get your camera back!!

New York
Level Contributor
950 posts
8 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: Trip Report: Family vacation with teens

Glad you enjoyed and you did everything to ensure the real SoCal vibe...I always advise people to check out the coast and the beach scene as it is quite different from anyplace else...sometimes people do too much touristy stuff and don't take time to just relax and enjoy all SD and its environs has to offer. Btw my daughter went to SU...

Syracuse NY
Level Contributor
159 posts
6 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: Trip Report: Family vacation with teens

How cool that she went to SU! My daughter is a huge lacrosse fan, plays all the time so I do wonder if she will go there as well! Scottca you mentioned checking out the colleges and my son is pretty sure he will be going to school in California. We actually looked at some of the real estate in the area(thinking retirement) and though we may not be buying , I could see us renting a condo for a few months each year, as the winters here are horrendous. Our kids were definitely at the age where hanging out and letting them do there thing is key and they loved the beach scene. We did head over to Pacific beach several nights to play frisbee and people watch..great fun!

Calgary, Canada
Level Contributor
1 post
13 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: Trip Report: Family vacation with teens

Hi -- I read your post and found it great! We are going to San Diego with our three teenagers this August. We had been looking at both Catamaran Resort Hotel and Bahia Resort Hotel. They are owned by the same company and are quite close to each other. The agent I talked to recommended we go to the Bahia Resort but, I keep wondering if the Catamaran would be better. What are your thoughts? He says all the rental stuff is the same -- the room we are getting is a bit bigger at Bahia. It seems that the Catamaran's closer access to the Boardwalk would be nice. Thanks kindly for any input!