(credit: Sharlene Earnshaw)

San Diego is filled with great family destinations from the museums of Balboa Park to its classic California beaches. One of the most family-friendly waterfront destinations in San Diego is Mission Bay. This 4,200 square foot aquatic playground was created when the city decided to dredge the former tidal marshland and turn it into recreational and tourism center. These days, Mission Bay is still focused on recreation and tourism, offering families a variety of ways to have a memorable weekend getaway.

(credit: Sharlene Earnshaw)

Where To Stay

Mission Bay is only a couple hours from LA, making it an ideal weekend destination. With its lush palm tree studded grounds, relaxing and eco-friendly Blue Marble Spa, and waterfront dining at Red Marlin, parents will find the getaway that they have been dreaming about. Kids will be thrilled to spend hours at the three lagoon-style swimming pools complete with three different waterslides. Everyone will love the resorts marina location where bikes, boats, and kayaks can be rented as well as the seasonal water taxi which takes guests to a special SeaWorld entrance.

(credit: seaworldparks.com)

What To Do

SeaWorld San Diego has long been Mission Bay’s most popular attraction. With splashtastic rides, world class shows like Blue Horizons, and exhibits featuring beloved aquatic species, SeaWorld is a destination unto itself. Scheduled to open Memorial Day weekend 2012, Manta is a roller coaster with a “launch station” where riders begin their experience enclosed in a tunnel with larger-than-life images of rays projected on a 270-degree enveloping screen.

(credit: Jarnott/flickr.com)

If you are looking for amusements with a more casual and “county fair” kind of feel, stop by Belmont Park on Mission Beach. Besides classics like the Tilt a Whirl, bumper cars, and carousel, Belmont Park is also home one of the two original ocean front coasters still in operation today. There are plenty of modern activities to keep your family entertained such as laser tag, sky ropes course, and FlowRider and FlowBarrel- two wave machines perfect for when the surf is flat.

(credit: Sharlene Earnshaw)

Mission Bay is home to the world’s largest instructional waterfront facility, the Mission Bay Aquatic Center. Here patrons can rent kayaks, windsurfers, sailboats, and stand up paddle boards and enjoy the bay’s calm waters. While locals enjoy taking classes and participating in camps, private instruction is available for those who want to try their hand at a new water sport and are short on time.

(credit: WorldFamousPB/flickr.com)

Straddling the Mission Bay/Pacific Beach border is World Famous, a beachfront restaurant popular with locals and tourists alike. People flock to this spot for its delicious breakfast featuring omelettes, seafood benedict, and Baja inspired options,this is the spot to get your morning grub. World Famous is also known for its scrumptious fish tacos and especially popular Taco Tuesday. Dinner options definitely have a seafood focus but steaks and pasta are also available.

Sharlene Earnshaw is the editor for Trekaroo, a website dedicated to helping families travel better.