1404 Vacation Road
San Diego, CA 92109
Movies are featured near the main pool on certain nights
If your family craves a tropical, exotic vacation, but is short on the time or cash for such an undertaking, instead consider booking a cabana at Paradise Point Resort in San Diego. Once you pass the resort gates, you feel as if a transparent line into an aromatic rain forest has been crossed, though you somehow didn’t have to traverse any great oceans. Once known as Vacation Village, this lovely 44-acre resort is replete with waterfalls and lagoons, watch towers, and forested pathways with crossing ducks. Although you may need to remind yourself that the resort is situated in the heart of San Diego (a short boat ride from SeaWorld), you can indulge in a sensation of being on a far-away island--perhaps in the South Seas.
My kids (ages 9 through 11) were so excited to explore the lush gardens of Paradise Point, asking if they could buy duck food for the roaming ducks at the Island Market, the gift store which also conveniently sells the fixings for s’mores to use on one of the twelve bonfire pits spread out along the property. After sauntering through folds of lush gardens, ponds, waterfalls, and meandering paths, we came upon a high watchtower that my kids climbed up which overlooks the expansive property with views of the scenic San Diego bay and of nearby SeaWorld.
Eventually we found our way to our bayfront cabana, which resembled an upscale beach-trendy house, including a complete living room, kitchen with microwave and refrigerator, and high-speed Internet. The patio couldn’t have been more inviting with its flowing ocean breezes and beautiful view of Mission Bay. My husband and I sat on the lounge chairs in utter relaxation watching the kids splash around in the bay. My kids loved that they could swim in the ocean without having to field waves, as this bay is calm and placid. Boat and Jet Ski rentals are available and many happy guests were zipping around the resort’s alcove in the distance. One mile of sandy beaches encircles the island. It was hard to pry the kids from the water, but alas, one has to eat.
Walking to the Barefoot Bar and Grill through the resort island afforded another opportunity to saunter through the Garden of Eden like setting, true to the resort’s name. We ate at the Barefoot Bar and Grill both nights. Each night a local band played while kids danced to the music. For the adults, the menu featured cioppino, burgers, ribs, salad, and fish selections as well as kid-pleasing entrees such as Green Eggs n’ Ham, Carnitas Hash, Oatmeal Crusted French Toast, Shock Top Fish and Chips. Attire was casual and many customers were sporting beachwear. The restaurant sits prominently on the active marina of Mission Bay and remains consistent with the resort’s tropical theme with its waterfalls and lagoon. Parents should just note that this restaurant is also a complete bar, and there were some semi-rowdy guests on our Saturday night visit. If parents know this in advance, and ask for seating away from the bar, the restaurant can remain kid-appropriate. Though not a fit for my energetic kids, the resort’s upscale restaurant, Baleen, adjacent to The Barefoot Bar and Grill, offers fine dining and is also bayfront.
Cabanas overlook the shimmering San Diego bay
One of the premier features of this resort is its onsite full-service marina near the Barefoot Bar & Grill. Water-aficionados can find everything available for rent there: aquacycles, motorboats, sailboats, jet skis, speedboats for wakeboarding and waterskiing, and kayaks. This marina also offers stand-up paddleboard lessons as well as deep-sea fishing charters. A water-taxi is also available to transport guests to Seaworld and around the bay.
Paradise Surf Academy is a surf school available to the resort guests located a ten-minute boat ride away from the island. Guests can take a two and a half hour surf session for $100.00 where they learn about “Creatures and Currents” of the sea, basic surf moves, then experience in-ocean instruction on the waves.
The resort provides a special “Passport to Paradise” arrangement, a mandatory $15.00 per day charge providing unlimited use of several resort amenities: fitness center, bocce ball, basketball, tennis, ping pong, croquet, horseshoes, and internet. Bicycle rentals and miniature golf are also available for a fee. The next morning, with just a minor wait time, my kids enjoyed playing croquet on the nine-wicket course and they also had fun playing ping-pong. Paradise Point was recently named one of San Diego’s top hotels for tennis by USA Today. The resort owns five courts and offers professional tennis lessons by USPTA certified coaches for players of all levels. The Banana Beach Putting Green is an 18-hole course which stretches along the property.
Other fun activities for no additional charge include the Saturday evening “dive-in movies” featured in the main pool, which is styled like a beach with sand, palm trees, and a gentle slope into the water, from July through Labor Day. On this warm August evening, my kids enjoyed an “Alvin and the Chipmunks” movie projected on the big screen by the pool. Adults watched nearby in lounge chairs while kids floated and watched the flick.
The following day, my family biked around the resort, which was one of the most memorable aspects of the stay. The 14-miles of bike paths surrounding the resort are flat, smooth, and encircle the bay, providing stunning views of San Diego’s unique bayfront landscape as well as Seaworld and the University of San Diego. It was a truly remarkable biking experience that starts by the restaurants, runs throughout some beachfront parks, passing volleyball players and barbequing families, revealing some local San Diego flavor, and ends up at the other side of the resort near the tennis courts. The Island Market rents beach cruisers and four-wheeled quadracycles.
The lively Barefoot Bar & Grill appeals to the whole family
After so many interesting and colorful activities compacted into one weekend, I found that leaving Paradise Point was a difficult thing to do, especially for the kids. But isn’t that the measure of any successful almost tropical vacation? Even a short weekend stay at Paradise Point will give the kids a taste of an exotic getaway, without breaking the bank.
Ping pong is one benefit of the "Passport to Paradise"
The upscale cabanas are situated on the beach