If you’re planning a family vacation to San Diego, you’re probably penciling in trips to the San Diego Zoo, Sea World and/or Legoland. You can balance out the crowds and long lines with some less structured running around and exploring if you book your room at the San Diego Marriott Marquis. There’s lots of food and kid-friendly fun at Coronado Island, Seaport Village, and Gaslamp Quarter, and they are all just a walk or ferry ride away. Here are some recommendations for you memory-filled time away:

Explore Coronado Island:

  • When you go out the back way from the Marriott Marquis toward the water, you are on a wide walkway facing San Diego Harbor and Coronado Island that’s lined with a marina. The Marriott runs a ferry from that marina that goes back and forth to Coronado. They run about every half hour. When you land on Coronado from that hotel shuttle, you will need to walk north about 50 yards to get to Ferry Landing, where the rest of the San Diego ferries land. The area around Ferry Landing is your home base, where you’ll find food and gift shops and bike rentals and island maps.
  • There are also ferries that depart from the Convention Center at 5th street every half hour and from the Broadway Pier every hour. Here is the schedule and pricing information.
  • The best bet for a fun day is to go and find a bike rental. We’ve used Bikes & Beyond on 1st street, where you can rent cruisers or a family-sized bike surrey that has with 2 bench seats and plenty of room for backpacks. Then pedal around the island! There are parks and beaches everywhere, and you can’t get lost. Just follow the map the rental shop provides.
  • For something a little different, ride down the Silver Strand toward Imperial Beach.¬†You’ll pass some lovely wetlands and beaches. It’s really a unique ride.
  • Make sure you stop at Sweet San Diego Chocolatiers in the Ferry Landing to treat everyone to one of their 30 or so flavors of candy apples!

    marshmallow covered candy apple

    Marshmallow and caramel covered Avalanche Apple is one of the many flavors made by Sweet San Diego Chocolatiers

Explore Seaport Village:

Seaport Village is a short walk from the Marriott Marquis; just to out the back way toward the Marina and make a right hand turn right on the Embarcadero path.

  • There are several casual restaurants, including a deli and fish and chips, a Ben and Jerry’s, and a Wetzel’s Pretzels where you can get pretzel hot dogs as well as traditional salted and sweet soft pretzels.

    soft pretzel

    A chewy soft pretzel next to the bay makes a delicious vacation treat

  • Next to Wetzel’s is a kite shop. It’s breezy there, and there is a lovely grassy Maritime Park jutting out into the harbor across from Seaport Village, so it’s worth the investment(beginner kites run about $35.00 kite). Plus, the walk from the hotel to Seaport Village and out to the park to fly a kite is a decent amount of fresh air, exercise, and fun for the kids.

    colorful kite

    A skilled kite operator takes advantage of the ocean breeze in the San Diego Harbor

  • Seaport Village also has a kiosk where you can get trolley tickets and tour information. You can stop there to make arrangements if you don’t want to do it on your own.
  • Keep going! The Embarcadero takes you to the Midway and beyond to the Star of India ship and the Maritime Museum. It’s a lively, interesting, and lovely walk, and very stroller-friendly if you have babies. Depending on the time of day and the weather, you’ll see different performers, buskers, street food vendors, and trinkets and other tourist items from tables or blankets on the grass.

    The Midway aircraft carrier

    The Midway is an unmissable feature of the Embarcadero walkway in San Diego Bay

Explore Gaslamp Quarter

  • Gaslamp Quarter is also an easy walking distance from the hotel. You’ll find many square blocks of as many kinds of food you can imagine, from high-end Italian to gastropubs to sushi to fondue to chocolate.

    Gaslamp Quarter palm trees

    Palm trees flank the entrance to Gaslamp Quarter and are creatively lit at night