Visit the Beach and SeaWorld on Your Vacation
With the vast number of beaches and aquatic attractions nearby, it may be hard to sort out which beaches are best when you have limited time. Luckily, some of the best beaches are close to SeaWorldⓇ San Diego or the downtown area. There’s no reason not to head to the beach on at least one day during your San Diego vacation.
Best Times to Visit
Like many warm-weather attractions, SeaWorldⓇ San Diego is busiest on summer weekends. Even on the hottest days of summer, you can find sizeable crowds across the park. If you want to beat the crowds, weekdays and off-season weekends are your best bet. Since the weather is warm and sunny in San Diego year-round, you can easily visit during fall, winter, or spring holidays.
The Pacific Ocean is warm most of the year but is most comfortable to swim in during the summer. This is also the time of year when beaches are most likely to have lifeguards, and when nearby restaurants and other amenities will have longer operating hours. With this in mind, consider visiting in late summer, right after children have gone back to school and the crowds have died down.
SeaWorldⓇ San Diego’s opening hours vary seasonally, and the park opens as late as 11:00 a.m. in the winter months. Beach operating hours also vary, and while some close at 2:00 a.m., some close at sunset. Many don’t have lifeguards before 9:00 a.m., so keep that in mind if you want to go for an early-morning swim.
What to Do at SeaWorld
SeaWorldⓇ San Diego specializes in thrill rides, shows, and animal exhibits. The world-class roller coasters here are some of the best in San Diego, so don’t miss the chance to ride them! Electric Eel and Tidal Twister are two truly unique roller coasters that are worth waiting in line for. Journey to Atlantis is a water flume that’s fun in any weather, and Skytower offers fantastic views of the city and beach.
Of course, all of SeaWorld’s parks also have a range of educational rides and shows that give you an up-close look at endangered animals. If you don’t get to see a sea lion or seal show, don’t worry too much, as you’ll hopefully get a glimpse of them when you go to the beach.
Balancing SeaWorld and the Beach
The amount of time you should spend at SeaWorldⓇ San Diego depends partly on your group’s interests, but you should consider spending two or more days there. If you have a family with small children, remember that they’ll probably want to spend a lot of time enjoying shows and entertainment at the park. Aspiring zoologists will want to learn all they can about SeaWorld’s rescue and conservation efforts, and will likely want to participate in a behind-the-scenes tour of the park’s animal habitats. It’s important to take advantage of the park’s once-in-a-lifetime opportunities.
Of course, the park also has excellent thrill rides as well! Make sure to allow enough time to queue for these rides, as wait times often last up to an hour or more. While it may be tempting to start each day at the beach to beat the crowds there, SeaWorld San Diego’s crowds also grow around noon and persist through the afternoon. If you want to ride one of the most popular roller coasters, it’s best to arrive first thing in the morning.
Each beach in San Diego offers its own exciting scenery as well, but you won’t need more than one day at each beach unless you’re a serious surf enthusiast. Swimming is a surprisingly draining physical activity, and even avid swimmers will probably be worn out after two solid days of swimming! If you want to spend a lot of time at the beach, consider spending your first day at the beach, followed by one or two days at SeaWorld San Diego before returning to the beach later on your trip.
This is the closest beach area to SeaWorldⓇ San Diego, and also one of the most popular beaches in the city. Luckily, it’s large enough that it can usually accommodate all the visitors. Since this beach faces directly west, it offers great sunset views and gets enough waves for boogie boarding and surfing. If you want to go swimming, look for signs in designated areas. There are also boat rentals, beach volleyball, and other recreational activities in abundance here.
This is a family-friendly beach with plenty of lifeguards, restrooms, and picnic areas. There is also Belmont Park, which has a large wooden roller coaster and other amusement park rides. Since sections of Belmont Park are open long after sunset, you can start your day at the beach and check out the park later.
If the main sections of the beach are crowded, try heading a little further south. There you’ll find quieter sections of sand that are just as vast as the central area. Parking is very limited in this area, so you’ll need to take Bus 8 from Mission Hills or transfer to that route from downtown. Getting to Mission Beach from SeaWorld San Diego can be tricky, as it requires an inconvenient bus transfer, but you may be able to use a hotel shuttle to move between the two.
North of downtown, you’ll find one of the most popular beach areas in San Diego. La Jolla is known for its sheltered cove, which offers a safe place to swim for families. In addition to swimming, this area offers stunning views of nearby cliffs. You can also find sea lions and seals near The Children’s Pool, a walled-off beach area that was originally intended for children to play in.
There are also sections that get choppy waves, so you can surf or boogie board to your heart’s content. Black’s Beach is a small, difficult-to-access section of the La Jolla area that offers optimal surfing for adventurous tourists and locals alike. Some of these high-wave areas are surf-only, so make sure to read the signs carefully before plunging in.
Parking is limited in this area, so try to beat the crowds by coming before noon or in the late afternoon. There are fantastic sunset views in this area, so you can come close to dinnertime for a spectacular free evening show. You can also access this area by bus, though it can take an hour to get to from SeaWorld San Diego or from downtown.
Soft, clean sand and small crowds are the hallmarks of Coronado Beach. While it has a little less offer in terms of nearby attractions and restaurants, it’s a relaxing spot for visitors of all ages. It doesn’t get busy even on holiday weekends, so if you’re visiting in the peak of summer, this is definitely the place to be.
Like with La Jolla, parking can be a little tricky in this area. Since it’s so close to downtown, though, you might as well take the bus! Bus 901 runs roughly every thirty minutes, making it a convenient and cost-effective option for small groups and families alike. It’s a little trickier to get to from SeaWorldⓇ San Diego, but the transfer point’s convenient downtown location means that it’s easy to check out another attraction or grab dinner on your way back to the hotel.
Best Hotel Locations
If you plan on spending most of your time at SeaWorldⓇ San Diego, getting a hotel near the park can be a great option. If you plan on spending at least half of your time at Coronado Beach or La Jolla, though, consider getting a hotel close to one of those areas near a bus route. Even if you plan on getting a rental car, parking at some of the beaches can be limited, making the bus a more efficient option if you plan on going at peak times.
For a centrally-located hotel, try a hotel downtown or in the Mission Hills area near the airport. If you have a rental car, look for a hotel near Interstate 5, which will give you easy access to La Jolla beach.
Don’t forget that with aResTravel, you can bundle your hotel with SeaWorldⓇ San Diego and other tickets to get a discount. You can search a wide selection of hotels and pick one that suits you and your family’s needs.
Traveling with Small Children
Toddlers and small children have their own special needs and interests, and it can be hard to keep them happy while traveling around San Diego. While SeaWorldⓇ San Diego is relatively easy to manage with small children, taking them to a nearby beach isn’t always as simple as it seems. Missed nap times and temper tantrums can derail a happy afternoon and send you back to the hotel fairly quickly.
Combining SeaWorldⓇ San Diego and the beach in one day can be too much for little ones, so consider doing them on separate days. At the very least, take young ones back to the hotel for a nap before heading out to watch the sunset at the beach. When headed to the beach, take an assortment of snacks and toys, and know where restrooms are before you even set foot on the sand. Life vests should be worn even in calmer, shallower sections of the beach.
Having a rental car and avoiding public transit becomes even more important with young ones. (Good luck fitting a stroller on a bus or trolley during rush hour!) Since La Jolla is the most car-friendly beach area, consider making this beach your main destination outside of SeaWorldⓇ San Diego. This makes it worthwhile to get a hotel north of downtown and away from the super-popular tourist areas.
Including Other Parks
If you’re eyeing SeaWorldⓇ San Diego tickets, you may also be considering including other parks in the San Diego area. While it may be hard to balance SeaWorldⓇ San Diego, the beach, and other attractions, the Go San Diego Card is a great way to include a third location in your vacation. The Go San Diego Card is available for up to 7-day periods and includes the San Diego Zoo, San Diego Zoo Safari Park, LEGOLAND® California, and more.
You can also use the Go San Diego Card to visit SeaWorldⓇ San Diego for multiple days. This is often the most cost-effective way to gain multi-day access to the park, so make sure to check it out.
Dealing with the Weather
San Diego is almost always sunny and doesn’t get hurricanes the way that the east coast of the United States does. It does, however, occasionally get rain and thunderstorms, especially during the summer months. These events are uncommon but can pop up unexpectedly in the afternoon. Watch the weather carefully during your trip, and consider planning an extra day at SeaWorldⓇ San Diego or an indoor attraction if a day at the beach might get rained out. SeaWorldⓇ San Diego has a handful of indoor attractions that can keep a family occupied for at least half of a day.
Heat and excessive sunshine are more common, so always pack sunscreen, a hat, and water bottles when you head out to the beach or an amusement park. SeaWorldⓇ San Diego lets you bring in water bottles, and the beaches generally let you bring food and drinks as long as there are no glass containers. At the very least, bring a reusable bottle filled with ice for each member of your party.
Before You Go
Carefully consider whether or not to get a rental car. San Diego is less car-friendly than other cities of its size, partly because parking is limited along the coast. Families with older teens can probably manage public transportation, though this becomes tricky when moving directly between SeaWorldⓇ San Diego and the beaches. You can also rent bicycles, but covering significant distances is hard for teens and adults alike if you’re not used to cycling.
If you plan on spending multiple days at the beach, consider packing an extra swimsuit for each person in your party. If you’re really short on luggage space, you can always buy cheap towels and sunscreen after arriving in San Diego. Unless you’re getting a rental car, leave unnecessary inflatables and other toys as home, as they’ll likely just be more of a hassle than they’re worth.
Families with pets should check the rules for each beach carefully before bringing their pets. Generally, the beaches are pet-friendly, but there may be parks and picnic areas that are not. SeaWorldⓇ San Diego has on-site kennels for a daily fee, but owners must bring their own bowls and food.
Finally, check around to see what concerts and other local events are happening the day or your trip. If there’s a particular type of beach party or evening concert you want to attend, check online or ask your hotel concierge what’s going on. In a vibrant city like San Diego, chances are you’ll find something memorable.
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