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At SeaWorld, a short drive from Shelter Island, you can have dinner alongside orcas.
by Jim Graves
San Diego is an outstanding vacation destination, with great weather, sandy beaches and much for families to do. I took my family, including my daughters, ages 5 and 7, to stay at Shelter Island, a man-made “island” (actually connected to the mainland with a narrow strip of land) on the north end of San Diego Bay.
We stayed in a King Suite ($239/night) at the outstanding Best Western Plus Island Palms Hotel & Marina . The suite had a master bedroom, a king-size sofa bed, and a fully stocked kitchenette. The interior was new and clean, and we enjoyed its high ceilings. We were on the second floor, and parked right outside the room.
Our suite had a perfect view of downtown San Diego, as well as the navy facilities across the bay on Coronado (one morning we watched a huge navy ship head out to sea). Behind us was a beautiful marina. Also close by is the Cabrillo National Monument, known for its tide pools and stunning views.
We had dinner at the Sheraton San Diego Hotel’s Harbor’s Edge restaurant, located on nearby Harbor Island (another man-made “island”) just south of the San Diego airport. The Sheraton is a large hotel. The Harbor’s Edge is its best restaurant, and features many excellent seafood dishes. It overlooks another beautiful marina, had great service and was accommodating to children.
Also on Harbor Island is Speed Boat Adventures. On this adventure, you drive a small speedboat across San Diego’s harbor led by a guide. You can enjoy a bay view of downtown, the Coronado bridge, the navy yards and Point Loma. Your guide, via a walkie-talkie, gives you an overview of the city. The boats go fast — up to 30 mph. Highlights included a close-up look at sleeping sea lions.
SeaWorld is a short drive from Shelter Island. We spent a day there.
One of our first stops was the Sesame Street Bay of Play, in which my children (and I!) could engage in such activities as climbing overhead in netting, going down slides, spinning in tea cups and bouncing in a bounce house. We also tried the park’s dizzying roller coasters Manta and Journey to Atlantis.
There are many animal shows and interactive animal activities throughout the park. At Pacific Point, you can purchase fish to throw to barking sea lions. We also fed flamingos, petted bat rays (stingers removed, of course!) and watched the dolphins.
The highlight of the day was Dine with Shamu. While eating a buffet dinner, you enjoy a private show featuring the park’s two Orcas. The whales leapt out of the water on cue, and came to the side of the tank to get fish from their trainers. Separated from the tables by Plexiglas, the whales were just a few feet away from us.
We had a great experience on Shelter Island and loved the nearby attractions; it was a great alternative to busy downtown.
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