San Diego Trip Advice

Monday, December 23, 2019 10:15 AM

My wife and I are taking the kids (ages 9 and 10) to San Diego on Sunday. We have never been. We ended up getting the 5 day Go San Diego pass because it had everything we were looking to do and ended being cheaper in the long run. We are staying in Escondido. I'm looking for any advice on places to eat, park, visit, etc. Thanks!

Our itinerary is as follows:

  • Arrive and check out some local attractions. Beach, tide pools, etc.

  • Harbor Cruise
  • USS Midway Museum
  • Belmont Park

  • Whale Watching
  • San Diego Zoo

  • Knott's Berry Farm

  • Air and Space Museum
  • Sea World (including Penguin Encounter)

  • San Diego Zoo Safari Park
  • Legoland

  • Fly back home

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Monday, December 23, 2019 11:01 AM

That sounds like an awesome trip.
I’m not from the area so I’m no help. Things around here tend to get slow on weekends and holidays so I hope a Californian steps up with advice before you leave.

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Monday, December 23, 2019 11:31 AM

The San Diego Zoo is amazing, gigantic, and not like any zoo in the country plan to spend most of a day there.

The Midway is also amazing, although I’m not sure kids will like it, thought I could polish it off in a few hours, ended up spending 2/3rds of a day there. Be sure to talk to the volunteers up on the deck, nearly all of them are veterans who served on air craft carriers and have great stories and knowledge.

Sea World San Diego is my favorite Sea World of the 3. The standard shows (dolphin, whale, sea lions) typically involve a much larger cast and are the best in the chain. Manta is more fun then it looks. I’ve never been to San Diego’s Christmas event, but Orlando’s is one of the most surprising events I’ve been to, I throughly enjoyed it. If that is up your alley I highly recommend buying the show lovers ticket for the holiday shows to save you the hassle of getting into all of them.

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Monday, December 23, 2019 11:33 AM

I can't help with the San Diego area questions, but I will say the following:

If at all possible, try to take the Pacific Coast Highway for at least a portion of your trip between San Diego and Knotts Berry Farm. That stretch of road offers some of the most awesome visuals anywhere in the US. You get a little bit of that feel driving I5, but it's much better seeing it along the PCH.

There are two restaurants near Knott's that I'd recommend. One is Porto's, which is a very popular bakery/restaurant. You'll probably need to wait in line for 5-10 minutes no matter the time you go, so take that into account if you go. The other is New Moon, which is a Chinese restaurant just down the street from Knott's. The food there is excellent. They serve these little crunchy wontons with plum sauce as a before meal treat, and I'm telling you, that plum sauce is one of the best items I've ever tasted.

I hope you have fun!

Last edited by Gary Dowdell, Monday, December 23, 2019 11:35 AM
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Monday, December 23, 2019 1:45 PM

Knotts seems pretty far from the rest of the trip, but if you do go there and want to credit whore it up, the Adventure park about 1 mile down the road offers a coaster enthusiast discount, and the Rewind Racers coaster is actually worth the trip.

I don't know where you live, but I found out recently that if you buy memberships at SWSD, (Or San Antonio,) an all inclusive Busch/SW/Seasame membership (11 parks) is $215/year. That's about what I paid for a Florida only pass. Just something to think about if you were considering passes.

Oh, and why not swing by Knoebels while you're in the area. :)

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Monday, December 23, 2019 2:19 PM

Touchdown said:

The Midway is also amazing, although I’m not sure kids will like it, thought I could polish it off in a few hours, ended up spending 2/3rds of a day there. Be sure to talk to the volunteers up on the deck, nearly all of them are veterans who served on air craft carriers and have great stories and knowledge.

I think the kids will enjoy the Midway. We visited the USS Iowa a few years back in LA and talked a length about my grandfather's time on the USS New Jersey in World War II. The Midway also has an F-4 Phantom which the kids are excited to see. Their grandfather helped design the bomb rack. Since he has passed it's a timeless reminder of him.

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Monday, December 23, 2019 2:26 PM

Gary Dowdell said:

There are two restaurants near Knott's that I'd recommend. One is Porto's, which is a very popular bakery/restaurant. You'll probably need to wait in line for 5-10 minutes no matter the time you go, so take that into account if you go.

We'll have to check them out. I love a good Cuban sandwich.

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Monday, December 23, 2019 2:34 PM

Check out the Hotel Del Coronado the 19th century beach front hotel and inspiration for the Grand Floridian (if I have to tie it to an amusement park)

Last edited by Kstr 737, Monday, December 23, 2019 2:34 PM
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Monday, December 23, 2019 2:55 PM

Tommytheduck said:

I don't know where you live, but I found out recently that if you buy memberships at SWSD, (Or San Antonio,) an all inclusive Busch/SW/Seasame membership (11 parks) is $215/year. That's about what I paid for a Florida only pass. Just something to think about if you were considering passes.

Oh, and why not swing by Knoebels while you're in the area. :)

We live in Chicago. The nearest Sea World to us is in Ohio...I mean used to be.

We did look at different pass options. We are going to Orlando this summer so Sea World Orlando was a consideration on that visit but we're probably going to spend most of our time at Universal and the Kennedy Space Center. The Go San Diego pass was the best value for everything that we wanted to do.

Knott's is an hour and a half from where we are staying. Knoebel's is only a 40 hour drive. We might not have time on this trip. :)

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Tuesday, December 24, 2019 3:18 PM

Belmont and SWSD are basically next door to each other.

Belmont is fantastic, but small. Very family friendly experience. Also, if it isn't included with the GO pass, check Belmont's website before going. When I was there, website was ~40% savings over buying at the park. (which still was not expensive)

Be careful of tourism this time of year. The Holiday Bowl is on Friday the 27th, and WILL cause crowds at the big attractions (Midway and zoo especially).

Have a nice trip!

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