The Best Family-Friendly Hotels to Book in San Diego, California

Get in some laps in the Olympic-sized pool at the Lafayette Hotel, Swim Club and Bungalows in San Diego
Get in some laps in the Olympic-sized pool at the Lafayette Hotel, Swim Club and Bungalows in San Diego | Courtesy of the the Lafayette Hotel, Swim Club and Bungalows / Expedia
Photo of Andrea Schulte-Peevers
9 December 2021
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It’s easy to see why California’s southern metropolis by the Pacific is such a big hit with vacationing families. Aside from the lure of endless sandy beaches as well as the popular San Diego Zoo and SeaWorld, there are lots of other activities to keep youngsters happy, such as exploring a science museum, catching a ball game or kayaking around ocean caves. And at the end of day, everyone can rest up at our carefully curated list of kid-friendly hotels in San Diego, bookable with Culture Trip.

Hotel del Coronado, for kids' paint parties and slime labs in Coronado

View from the beach of the majestic Victorian Hotel del Coronado in San Diego
Courtesy of Hotel del Coronado / Expedia.com
Lots of tiny footprints in the powdery sand provide a solid clue that the venerable “Del” is one of the most kid-friendly hotels in San Diego. Aside from the beach, fun frolicking stations at this full-service, Victorian-era resort include two swimming pools with water toys and a kids’ club where paint parties and slime labs keep little ones entertained. Their three-hour evening sessions allow parents to enjoy “just-us” time, a massage or a romantic dinner in one of the many hotel restaurants.

Hotel Lafayette, for Hollywood movie history in North Park

Raised seating area with swings by the pool at the Lafayette Hotel, Swim Club and Bungalows in San Diego
Courtesy of the Lafayette Hotel, Swim Club and Bungalows / Expedia
Part of the hipster North Park neighborhood, the stylishly retro Lafayette has enjoyed several brushes with Hollywood fame since opening in 1946. Scenes from Top Gun were filmed in the ballroom, and the Olympic-sized pool was designed by none other than Tarzan (aka gold-medal swimmer Johnny Weissmuller) himself. Not far from Balboa Park, the hotel offers lodging ranging from cheery poolside rooms and two-story bungalows to the kid-oriented Suze Suite with a bunk bed and chalkboard wall. The Hope 46 restaurant serves American classics with a contempo twist.

Pendry Hotel, for rooftop pool views in the Gaslamp Quarter

Aerial view of rooftop pool, lounge chairs and turquoise umbrellas at Pendry San Diego
Courtesy of Pendry San Diego / Booking.com

There are few false notes at this buzzy boutique hotel in the heart of the Gaslamp Quarter. The lobby with its coffered wood ceiling and massive chandeliers is the epitome of opulence, while the wood-paneled rooms and suites are decked out in a color scheme inspired by ocean and sand. With a rooftop pool and six trendy bars and restaurants, the Pendry is a perfect pad for party-minded parents who like to know their kids are just an elevator ride away.

The Westgate Hotel, for French-style elegance in the Gaslamp Quarter

The rooftop pool and jacuzzi with city views at the Westgate Hotel in San Diego
Courtesy of the Westgate Hotel / Expedia

With its crystal chandeliers, antique furniture and aura of timeless elegance, the Westgate is so fantastically French, you half-expect to spot the Eiffel Tower from your step-out balcony. After a day on the sightseeing track, retire to generously proportioned rooms that mix old-world sophistication with contemporary comforts and technology. It’s also a surprisingly kid-friendly hotel in San Diego, thanks in part to the fun rooftop pool. Grown-ups, meanwhile, can let off steam in the state-of-the-art fitness club or enjoy classic afternoon tea with pastries and champagne in the lavish lobby.

Blue Sea Beach Hotel, for surfing lessons in Mission Beach

The outdoor pool area with wall mural and oceanfront views at Blue Sea Beach Hotel in San Diego
Courtesy of Blue Sea Beach Hotel / Expedia

A Frisbee toss from sea and sand, this low-key surf-inspired hotel makes a handy base for a relaxed beach vacation and is considered one of best family hotels in San Diego. Learn to “hang 10” during summertime surfing lessons or hit the heated oceanfront pool if the Pacific is too chilly. The hotel’s fleet of beach cruisers makes getting around the lively Pacific Beach neighborhood a snap. Belmont Park, San Diego’s iconic amusement park with its Giant Dipper wooden roller coaster, is only a quick ride away.

Bahia Resort Hotel, for numerous kid-geared distractions in Mission Bay

Inviting pool area with lounge chairs, palm trees and bougainvillea at the Bahia Resort Hotel in San Diego
Courtesy of Bahia Resort Hotel / Expedia
SeaWorld is not far, but if you hear barking at this tropically inflected Mission Bay resort, it’s most likely the seals recuperating in its rescue pond. Boredom is banished from this sprawling compound that ranks as one of the most kid-friendly hotels in San Diego. Diversions are plentiful, from water sports and a playground with a rock wall to a classic game arcade and cruises on a vintage sternwheeler. A waveless private bay beach invites building sandcastles by day and bonfires at sunset.

Paradise Point Resort & Spa, for a plethora of pools on a private island

Aerial view of the outdoor lagoon-style pool area of Paradise Point Resort and Spa in San Diego
Courtesy of Paradise Point Resort and Spa / Expedia
Swaying palm trees, billowing bougainvillea, gushing waterfalls – this rambling tropical resort on a private island in Mission Bay is practically a mini-Hawaii right on the US mainland. Its privileged location is loaded with water-centric attractions, including a 1mi (1.6km) private beach, five pools and an aquatics center. These features, as well as the Kids’ Zone and other activities, make it one of the best family hotels in San Diego. The roomy bungalows with a patio and a separate bedroom are tailor-made for bunking with the kids.

Hilton San Diego Bayfront, for kid-friendly dining

Beachfront outdoor pool, jacuzzi and palm trees at Hilton San Diego Bayfront
Courtesy of Hilton San Diego Bayfront / Booking.com
This modern 30-story downtown property is anchored on its own well-manicured bayside park, offering easy access to bike and jogging paths. A footbridge links the hotel to the Gaslamp Quarter and Petco Park – handy if you’re in town to catch a ball game. Family-geared features range from a palm-tree lined saltwater pool with water slide to a free beach shuttle on the weekends. Fun feed stops include the self-serve frozen yogurt bar and a food truck serving burgers and tacos, along with sit-down options and room service.

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