This article is sponsored by Kids Free San Diego. It does not reflect the work or opinions of NBC Los Angeles’ editorial staff. To learn more about Kids Free San Diego, visit kidsfreesandiego.org.
October is the perfect time for families to visit San Diego. Not only have the summer crowds thinned out, allowing you to soak up the sun on all the uncrowded beaches as well as around town, but during the entire month kids eat, stay and play for free throughout the city.
That’s right. With more than 120 participating partners — from hotels to attractions to restaurants — it’s a wonderful opportunity for Los Angeles families to enjoy an inexpensive, carefree and unforgettable getaway without the hassle of traveling a far distance.
One of the best places for young families to stay while in town is Mission Bay, a 4,600-acre aquatic playground surrounded by 27 miles of shoreline. Boasting funky boutiques, charming resorts, classic amusement parks and kid-friendly activities, it provides the ideal mix of adventure and relaxation.
Not to mention affordability. With so many Kids Free packages, parents can keep their little ones entertained without breaking the bank. Here are a few of our Mission Bay favorites to add to your list.
Classic California fun can be had at Belmont Park, where your kids can experience the thrill of the Giant Dipper roller coaster and the wave machines. Parents will love the four dynamic restaurants like nearby Draft South Mission, whose 69 beers pair perfectly with a delicious menu of pub grub staples.
Hop aboard this Mississippi-style steamboat for a 30-minute ride across the bay that your kids will love. Come nightfall, parents can ride back and forth between Bahia and Catamaran resorts, plus enjoy live music, DJs and — before boarding — The Tangier Bar's locally famous Bahia Mojito.
Surf, sun and sand abound on the 27 miles of shoreline. Stroll along the boardwalk at Mission and Pacific Beaches, where funky surf shops, beach bars and tasty restaurants can be found alongside upscale resorts. Ocean Beach bustles with a hipster vibe thanks to its vintage stores and eccentric locals, while Sunset Cliffs boasts the best Pacific Ocean views in town. And don’t forget nearby La Jolla Cove, a cozy little beach perfect for families.
Want to get the whole family hanging ten? Head over to Surf Diva for a family lesson. Acclaimed for both its eponymous beachwear boutique and its excellent school, Surf Girl’s skilled instructors will have you and the kids mastering the waves as well as the standup paddleboard.
Upscale, family-friendly resorts put you in the heart of all the action. Tranquility is the name of the game at Paradise Point, a 44-acre island retreat on the shores of Mission Bay. Book a bungalow-style guest room and slow down amid the surrounding tropical gardens. Or stay at nearby La Jolla Shores Hotel, a classic Spanish colonial with panoramic ocean views, relaxing balconies and a warm, welcoming staff offering amenities like beach barbecues to ensure your family enjoys an unforgettable stay.
Explore the vibrant waters of La Jolla — from the marine life to the jaw-dropping sunsets — via kayak with Everyday California, experienced outfitters that’ll unlock the majesty of this iconic coastline. Paddle through sea caves, experience sea lions, dolphins and even whales, and get an amazing workout.
To learn more about Mission Bay and all the participating Kids Free partners, visit kidsfreesandiego.org.