Almost affordable rates seem a surprise at oceanside The Dana on Mission Bay (1710 W. Mission Bay Dr., 800/445-3339, www.thedana.com, $180–300). It’s so close to SeaWorld that you can walk to the park, and it has its own private marina for serious sea-lovers.
Pick from two blocks of rooms—the Marina Cove section offers less expense without views of the ocean—you might look over the garden or the pool. Inside, Marina Cove rooms are fairly small, with brightly colored, tropical-themed decor. The Waters Edge premium rooms have wonderful views out over the Pacific and a more subtle, elegant design scheme.
When it’s time to get out of the room and enjoy San Diego, take advantage of the many free shuttles to attractions such as the San Diego Zoo and the Gaslamp Quarter. Rent a personal watercraft or a boat directly from The Dana and take a spin on Mission Bay. Or stay on the 10-acre resort property and splash in one of the two large swimming pools.
If your reason for coming to San Diego is to loll about on the beach sipping fruity cocktails, the Bahia Resort (998 W. Mission Bay Dr., 800/576-4229, www.bahiahotel.com, $185–310) is the perfect place to drop your suitcase and change into your swimsuit. Set right on the beach in Mission Bay, you can stumble out of your hotel room onto a strip of sun-warmed sugar sand.
If you prefer your water a bit more contained, the charming Moroccan decor surrounding the large pool and tremendous (30-person) spa is for you. For the ultimate in splendid relaxation, order from the café and waiters will deliver right to you at poolside.
Inside, the understated guest rooms are done in a variety of styles. Enjoy the comfort of the plush beds, the overstuffed furniture, and the homey touches prevalent especially in the larger apartment-like suites.
The hotel restaurant, Café Bahia, offers tasty traditional breakfast, lunch, and dinner with just a touch of Middle Eastern flavor. For a treat, eat outdoors!
© Liz Hamill Scott from Moon California, 2nd Edition