Leaping dolphins, waddling penguins, slow-moving manatees and the world’s “friendliest” killer whale all help Sea World maintain its status as one of San Diego’s primary tourist attractions, with more than 130 million visitors since its 1964 opening. During summer, Sea World fireworks explode over San Diego’s Mission Bay on a nightly basis and the theme park is festively decorated during the winter holiday season with lights and Christmas trees. Finding lodging near Sea World in San Diego is fairly easy–there are a number of reputable establishments within a few miles of the park.
San Diego’s Bahia Resort Hotel, located at nearby Mission Bay, offers a kid’s “passport” to help children track their activities while staying at the hotel. Children can watch seals dart through saltwater at the onsite seal pond, learn to play shuffleboard, play arcade games, attend a “Mad Science” class or snorkel in the swimming pool. The hotel can arrange activities at Mission Bay, including kayaking and sailing. You can also take a complimentary spin on the Mississippi-style sternwheeler boat, the Bahia Bell, which regularly cruises Mission Bay and offers cocktails and live dancing. The hotel regularly offers Sea World packages, which you can request upon making reservations.
The Ocean Beach Hotel, located within two miles of Sea World in the quirky beach neighborhood known to locals as “O.B.,” is a good option for travelers hoping to avoid the corporate hotel experience. Weekly farmers market feature locally grown produce, homemade soaps and occasional llama rides for kids, and there’s a dog beach where pet owners gather to toss Frisbees and check out the surf. The Ocean Beach Hotel anchors the neighborhood’s main drag, just north of the pier on Newport Avenue. Rooms offer basic amenities including free parking and wireless Internet. An outdoor courtyard beckons guests, and some rooms have balconies with views to the ocean.
If visiting Sea World puts you in the mood for fishing, choose lodging near one of San Diego’s many marinas. The Hyatt Regency Mission Bay Spa and Marina, located near Sea World in San Diego, features a marina equipped with jet skis, sailboats, kayaks and access to fishing and whale watching charters. Water slides grace the hotel’s three swimming pools, and guests can book seaweed body wraps, rose-and-sandalwood body scrubs or deep-tissue massages at the onsite spa. Guests can take a water taxi from the hotel directly to a special Sea World entrance, and the hotel offers late checkout for guests to accommodate theme park visits.
The Catamaran Resort Hotel and Spa, located on the pedestrian-friendly Mission Boulevard bridging two of San Diego’s popular beach communities, Mission Beach and Pacific Beach, feels like it could have been transplanted from a tropical Hawaiian island. Lushly landscaped walkways, fishponds stocked with koi and catfish, tropical birds and ocean-view suites contribute to the tropical vibes. The nearby boardwalk is an active place for jogging, riding beach cruisers, roller-blading or watching the area’s many surfers vie for waves. Rooms are equipped with wireless Internet, plasma TVs and iPod docks, and Sea World is a five-minute drive away.
- dolphin image by Earl Robbins from Fotolia.com