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Hilton San Diego Resort & Spa: A Great Home Base for Exploring San Diego

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Whether you choose to spend your San Diego vacation touring the sites and visiting theme parks, or you just want to kickback poolside and soak up the Southern California sun, the Hilton San Diego Resort & Spa on Mission Bay makes a fun and convenient choice for families.

Hilton San Diego Resort and Spa on Mission Bay

Hilton San Diego Resort & Spa on Mission Bay (Photo courtesy of Hilton)

Prime Location

One of the most important parts of planning any family vacation is establishing your “home base”—the hotel, vacation rental or relative’s home where you’ll stay during your trip. If you don’t choose your home base carefully, you can wind up spending more time driving in the car than relaxing and having fun. When my family travels to large metropolitan areas, we try to pick a home base that’s centrally located to all of our chosen activities. That’s what makes the Hilton San Diego Resort & Spa a great choice for families traveling to Southern California.

Everything you’ll want to do in San Diego is easily accessible from the Hilton on Mission Bay. It’s just a few moments off of the I-5 freeway, but far enough away that you don’t hear any sort of road noise or traffic. The resort is eight miles from the airport, and a 15-minute drive to either La Jolla to the north or the Gaslamp District downtown to the south. Located just one mile from SeaWorld San Diego, the hotel is also short jaunt to Balboa Park and its many museums and world famous San Diego Zoo. Outside of rush hour, you can easily drive 35 minutes to reach the kid-friendly LEGOLAND California in neighboring Carlsbad.

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Hilton on Mission Bay pool

Pool at Hilton San Diego Resort & Spa (Photo by Gigi Ross)

Fun for Kids and Parents Alike

While at the Hilton, we spent most of our time sightseeing, but I’d definitely consider returning for a relaxing, hang-by-the-pool sort of vacation. There’s plenty to do without ever leaving the hotel. With its location on Mission Bay, the Hilton offers fun for everyone.

The beautiful pool areas offers plenty of lounge chairs, several hot tubs, a ping-pong table, a life-sized checkerboard and more. The rear of the hotel faces Mission Bay and boasts a narrow strip of sandy beach, where you can play beach volleyball or use one of the fire pits to have a bonfire or roast s’mores in the evening.

Hilton San Diego Resort and Spa on Mission Bay

Playing checkers poolside (Photo by Gigi Ross)

There are also bike and sailboat rentals available right on the premises, directly behind the pool area. There are over seven miles of paved paths on Mission Bay for family bike rides, and the calm waters of the bay make it a lovely spot for paddle-boarding, sailing, jet skiing and other water activities. Tennis courts, a spa, and fitness center round out the hotel’s offerings for exercise and relaxation. Nearby parks and playgrounds add to the family fun.

Mission Bay

A view of Mission Bay (Photo by Gigi Ross)

Spacious Rooms

My kids loved our room at the Hilton! We were on the ground floor and had a terrific view of Mission Bay. The rooms include a small kitchenette area with mini fridge, sink, microwave and coffeemaker. It was handy to have a place to put some milk, drinks and cold snacks for when we didn’t want to venture to the hotel restaurants.

The bathroom in our room had been somewhat updated, but definitely needed a little bit more on the renovation front. The Hilton is 50 years old, so there are spots where it shows some signs of age, and the bathroom was definitely one of those places. The bathroom counter are was nicely done, but I’d like to see them update the bathtubs.

Hilton San Diego on Mission Bay

Kitchenette area with small couch facing our large patio, a perfect spot for chilling out while taking in the view (Photo by Gigi Ross)

Delicious Dining

We ate two meals during our weekend stay, both at the Hilton’s newly renovated restaurant, Acqua, which overlooks the bay. We were lucky enough the first evening to dine outside at sunset. Heat lamps kept us warm, and the staff was incredibly kind and welcoming to the children. Despite this being an upscale restaurant at evening time, they had a fabulous kids’ menu at the ready. My 9-year-old made friends with our server, who kept bringing my son more and more delicious bread.

Acqua restaurant at the Hilton Resort, Mission Bay

Hilton’s newly renovated restaurant, Acqua (Photo courtesy of Hilton)

We enjoyed the morning breakfast buffet, which included lots of hot and cold options. There is also a coffee shop, poolside grill (only open during summer) and a nice bar.

We were so busy exploring San Diego that we didn’t get to partake in many of the organized children’s activities while at Hilton San Diego Resort & Spa. We did, however, notice that they show movies by the pool on both Friday and Saturday evenings and serve up poolside s’mores.

Kids at Hilton San Diego Resort and Spa on Mission Bay

My kids didn’t want to leave Hilton San Diego Resort & Spa…and neither did I! (Photo by Gigi Ross)

As we left the Hilton on Sunday, my 7-year-old daughter said, “Mom, this is the life. I don’t ever want to leave here.” I couldn’t help but agree. No matter what you plan to do in San Diego, consider making the Hilton San Diego Resort & Spa your home base for a fun family vacation!

A Note from The Organized Travel Mama: Thank you to Hilton San Diego Resort & Spa for hosting my stay. All opinions are my own.

About Gigi Ross, The Organized Travel Mama

Gigi Ross, The Organized Travel Mama, is a regular contributor to She is a tech-obsessed mom who’s lived in eight different cities in the last fifteen years. Her blog, KludgyMom is a sometimes-snappish, sometimes-heartfelt take on parenting and pop culture. Gigi’s writing has been featured at, BlogHer and Mamapedia. She currently lives in San Diego, California with her husband and two kids, who are all scheming to rid her of her fear of camping. Connect with Gigi on Twitter as @KludgyMom.

  1. Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

    Gigi – Did I tell you that my husband and I actually got married at the San Diego Resort & Spa nearly 12 years ago? We should go back for a romantic weekend away from the kids sometime…!

  2. You did mention it! It sure is a beautiful place – great choice for a wedding!

  3. Looks like a great resort! I think my kids would love the giant checker game almost as much as the pool!

  4. @Lisa, yes, the checker game was a lot of fun!!!

  5. The location of the Hilton is good because it is so easy to get in and out of the property.

  6. @ellen – yes,the access to freeways is terrific as well! Always a plus when traveling.

  7. Thanks for sharing your review of this resort! The photos are beautiful! I have heard that San Diego is the perfect spot for a romantic getaway.

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