Now that fall is in full swing, our family’s vacation schedule is now wholly centered around school breaks: minimum days, Thanksgiving, Christmas. Luckily, sunny San Diego is the perfect place for a family escape any time of year. When most of the country is cooling off rather drastically during leaf-peeping season, San Diego is just ramping up for the most beautiful time of the year. Soft, golden light. Moderate ocean temperatures. Gorgeous highs in the low 70’s – the ideal clime for recreation and relaxation for all abilities and ages: indoor or outdoor.
One of our favorite destinations for a SoCal stay-cation? The Catamaran Resort in Mission Bay. The Polynesian-themed property (think an ambiance defined by swaying palm trees, lush vegetation, tiki torches, koi ponds, waterfalls) is a stone’s throw from a variety of area attractions including theme parks (SeaWorld, Legoland and Sesame Place), the San Diego Zoo, USS Midway, Old Town and the Gaslamp District. But for our part, our family prefers to stay on site the entire weekend away. Guests can enjoy a vast array of fun-filled fall activities and events from hula lessons and lei making to outdoor movie nights, festive Oktoberfest and Halloween cruises, and more. Plus, The Catamaran devotes the entire month of October to free offerings just for kids (details to follow).
Each of the resort’s 310 beautifully appointed suites, studios and hotel rooms reflect the upscale coastal lifestyle that is synonymous with Southern California – each with its own balcony or patio with breathtaking views of Mission Bay, the Pacific Beach neighborhood and coastline or the property’s gorgeous tropical gardens.
For this trip, we opted to stay in the newly renovated Gardenia Suite. The coastal decor and color palette of our spacious accommodation had the feel of bringing the beautiful panorama outside indoors. Bonus! A private lanai afforded our family a front row experience of a live Polynesian musical performance and easy access to the arcade where our teens happily dominated their parents (particularly their mother) in air hockey, shooting hoops, auto racing and shooting games (all complimentary play).
The open-air eatery at the water’s edge, Oceana Coastal Kitchen dishes up equal parts inventive, seafood-centric California cuisine and sweeping waterfront views. Guests can opt to dine indoors or select a table on the terrace, but either way you’ll be hard pressed to think of a more perfect pairing: delicious culinary creations against such a beautiful backdrop.
The menu highlights the purity and flavor of California local produce and a commitment to sustainable ingredients in both its culinary offerings and the regional wines and brews to enhance your meal. While the menu focuses on ocean-inspired fare (which is great for me as the “seafoodie” in our family) and I was delighted to discover my favorite appetizer was still on the menu: the Hamachi crudo which arrives as fresh sliced hamachi, white miso, micro-cilantro and jalapeno. There are plenty of choices for my meat-and-potatoes husband as well, including a grilled to perfection flat iron steak accompanied by crushed fingerling potato, charred broccolini and macadamia nut chimichurri.
The Catamaran rolls out the welcome mat for children aged 12 and under during Kids Free San Diego Month in October. All month long, October 1-31, kids eat, play, and ride (aboard the historic Bahia Belle sternwheeler sightseeing cruise on Mission Bay) for free. Hotel guests who dine at Oceana Coastal Kitchen – the resort’s signature oceanfront dining destination – can enjoy a complimentary kid’s meal for each paid adult entrée. Additionally, Action Sport Rentals (actionsportrentals.com) offers kids a free stand-up paddleboard or kayak rental with the purchase of one adult one-hour or longer rental. With two onsite locations (one right at the Catamaran pier), it couldn’t be easier to explore the scenic environs by bike, boat (power and sail) and board.
A poolside Keiki Klub (Kids Club) occurs Saturdays and Sunday from 1-3 p.m., featuring complimentary interactive Hawaiian-inspired arts and crafts activities – and every Saturday at 1 p.m., an electrifying Traditions of Polynesia show featuring drummers, hula dancers, and a torch lighting carries on the island vibe.
Get up close and personal with Bianchi, a vibrant blue and gold macaw known for his animal impressions, and five other captivating parrots during the popular bird show – a real-life, outdoor enchanted tiki room. Shows take place daily at 3 p.m. (except on Sundays and Wednesdays) outside the lobby.