San Diego Getaway Guide Theme Park Edition

There are so many things you can do in San Diego. We visited last week to surprise the kids and stayed for 3 nights and 4 days to visit various San Diego attractions starting with Legoland California (on the way to San Diego), San Diego Safari Park, SeaWorld San Diego, and spent the 4th day driving around, visiting more free San Diego attractions on the 2018 Toyota Avalon XLE Premium. Here’s our San Diego Getaway Guide Theme Park Edition. Hope it guides you on your future visit to San Diego.

disclosure: Thanks to Toyota, Legoland California who made us Legoland Ambassador again this year, San Diego Safari Park, and SeaWorld for partnering with us to facilitate this post and surprising the kids with a fun trip. This post may contain affiliate links.




On your way to San Diego proper, reserve a whole day to visit Legoland California in Carlsbad. This LEGO-themed theme park is a huge favorite of our kids. There are so many rides geared for their age. And whether you’re a big LEGO fan or not, I know you’re gonna enjoy this theme park. There’s also an aquarium (SeaLife Aquarium), Legoland Water Park (open every summer), Legoland Hotel (steps away from the theme park’s entrance), and by 2018, Legoland Castle Hotel will open to accommodate more LEGO fans.

legoland california

Don’t miss out on the Ninjago ride while visiting Legoland and when you get hungry in between all those rides, make sure to grab the famous Granny’s Apple Fries or go over our Legoland Dining Guide for other suggestions.

Before &/or after your trip to Legoland California, stay at Legoland Hotel which comes with a good buffet breakfast or at Sheraton Carlsbad, which has a back entrance to Legoland. Legoland California opens at 10 AM typically but you get early entry by staying at Legoland Hotel so you can even book it the night before to avail of this perk.

legoland california

During our San Diego Getaway, the kids absolutely have no idea where we were headed. But as soon as we drove in into the Legoland parking lot, they started freaking out. Big sis’ chinky eyes got bigger and bigger. She goes, “We are in Legoland!!!! Are we going to Legoland? Ahh, I’m freaking out!!!” LOL!



Extend the fun by booking the night at Legoland Hotel. Besides the LEGO-themed room and fun hotel lobby, there’s a scavenger hunt upon checking in, story time, dance party, LEGO in your room, fun bunk beds for the kids, swimming pool, disco elevator, and a really yummy breakfast buffet in the morning. Check our Legoland Hotel Guide to know the perks of staying at this hotel and read up on Legoland Hotel VS Castle Hotel in case you can’t decide which Legoland hotel is better to book.



You’ve been to many zoos but have you been on a safari? Make sure to make San Diego Safari Park your day 2 itinerary during your San Diego trip.You get to experience going on a safari and exploring a zoo-like setting. There are also various shows and you can even stay overnight. Check out our Tips for Visiting San Diego Safari Park before going.

San Diego Safari Park opens at 9 AM. It was our first time and what we thought was going to be a few hours trip ended up being a whole day affair and we still didn’t finish everything. The park is very big and they are even adding an Australian exhibit into the park which will by 2018.

san diego safari park

There is also a separate San Diego Zoo that is located near Downtown San Diego. This Safari Park is located in Escondido, which is part of San Diego County. The safari park is located between Legoland in Carlsbad and SeaWorld San Diego. It makes for a fun, unique and educational trip to San Diego.



There are so many hotels in San Diego. We’ve stayed at quite a number of them, but if you’re in town to visit theme parks and attractions, DoubleTree Mission Valley is what I would suggest. The place is ideally located near a huge mall and is very clean and comes with delicious buffet breakfast. This hotel is just 10 mins. to SeaWorld San Diego which was our 3rd-day schedule in San Diego.


  • Our Stay at DoubleTree (to follow)

san diego hotel

doubletree san diego


A huge mall just blocks away from our hotel. We grabbed dinner at the food court before retiring to our hotel for the night. But if you can make the time, Fashion Valley Mall is huge and should be explored. Maybe on our next trip.

san diego getaway guide


The kids had been asking to go back to SeaWorld to ride the Octorock ride. So 3rd-day surprise – SeaWorld San Diego to enjoy all the kiddie rides and activities. Check out all the SeaWorld Rides for Young Kids plus all the activities they can do at Sesame Street Bay of Play. There are also a lot of thrill rides and shows at SeaWorld, but for the younger crowd, just the Ocean Explorer and the Bay of Play would be more than enough.

chocolate funnel cake

For the holiday season, you may enjoy Santa’s Village where the kids can meet Santa Claus at Santa’s cabin, watch a holiday show, see a reindeer, experience snow falling, and feasting on holiday treats like donut holes.

SeaWorld San Diego doesn’t open ’til 11 AM which gives you time to rest at your hotel longer before jumping in on your third-day adventure. I would suggest sleeping longer or lounging poolside at your hotel after getting breakfast.


Head back to DoubleTree Hotel after SeaWorld which is only 10 minutes North of SeaWorld. If you’re staying longer, you can also book a resort in San Diego for a completely restful vacation after visiting all those attractions.

toyota avalon


It was back to LA for us on the 4th day but we didn’t leave San Diego without visiting some free San Diego attractions on our last day. That is of course, after another buffet spread at the hotel.


We drove to Old Town San Diego to check it out and saw so many Mexican restaurants but we were too full from our buffet breakfast that morning. We do look forward to checking ’em out next time. If you’re from San Diego, leave your comment to let us know your favorite place in Old Town.

old town san diego


Before driving back home. I would suggest visiting Belmont Park for some beach play and maybe more carnival rides or a zip line if you want, then grab lunch at one of the restaurants in Belmont Park.

Take advantage of the KIDS FREE SAN DIEGO OCTOBER promotion to avail of free tickets to over 100+ participating San Diego attractions.


For this trip, we drove the Toyota Avalon Hybrid for 5 days and over 500 miles and we didn’t have to fill up the tank! That is how much you can save driving a hybrid car. We went from Palm Springs to San Diego to Torrance then back to Palm Springs. Seriously shocked by the savings!

2018 toyota avalon

We were also able to lugged in 3 pieces of luggage and 2 strollers in the trunk. Hubby also said it drove really well (he did most of the driving and I did most of the planning).

2018 toyota avalon hybrid

The drive from San Diego to Torrance was a sunny one and we didn’t realize ’til the next day that you can actually extend the sun visor. Too late! LOL!

2018 toyota avalon hybrid xle premium

Besides the roomy interior, huge trunk space, nice interior, and smooth drive on the 2018 Toyota Avalon, I like the fact that the side view mirror automatically adjusts or lowers whenever I try to reverse the car. This really helps me when I’m trying to park the car coz’ I do keep missing those parking lines and would tend to keep adjusting the car ’til I get it right. Visit a Toyota dealership to give it a closer look or maybe, a closer drive.


8 thoughts on “San Diego Getaway Guide Theme Park Edition”

  1. Your post made me nostalgic about my San Diego trip last year! I had so much fun! I also enjoyed visiting the San Diego Zoo and I saw Giant Panda for the first time!

  2. Talk about an awesome vacation for the family especially for the kids! I really like Legoland and love that they’re featuring Ninjago which my boys absolutely adore! The Safari Park and Seaworld would be tough to miss as well. Appreciate your guide!

  3. Isn’t San Diego the best? It’s been a long time since my husband and I’ve been there, and reading your post makes me miss it. When we’re able to go back you can bet we’ll be visiting Legoland (for him) and the Zoo (for her). Or maybe the other way around? We’re both big kids at heart. x

  4. San Diego is definitely a place of wonder. I don’t live far from there and like to drive there with the kids every once in a while for a fun day. Legoland is definitely a favorite in this family and I’m sure you can tell why! You listed some of the best spots in San Diego and it makes me want to go on another trip that way soon!

  5. Thanks for this detailed guide. San Diego is one of the places I want to take my boys to one day so they can experience the theme parks there. I’ll have to keep this resource in mind when planning our trip.

  6. We’re not far from San Diego here in Phoenix and I can’t believe I’m yet to make it down there. Every summer I say I’m going to go… this year I’m actually going to do it! I love the look of the Legoland resort, I didn’t know that was a thing and all three of my kids are crazy for Lego. Thanks for the recommendations!

  7. What in the world!? Apple fries, oh my goodness where have I been I can only imagine how amazing they must taste! The Legoland bunkbeds are unreal, I love the way the room and park is set up.

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