In the early stages of planning this trip, I assumed we would hit the most well known and popular San Diego tourist spots - Sea World and the San Diego Zoo. As our planning came together though, it dawned on us that none of us really cared much about going to the zoo. Pandas are one of the main attractions there, and we had seen pandas recently on our trip to the Atlanta Zoo. I think we are learning over time that we just aren't a big zoo loving family. I initially felt a little weird parental guilt about taking my kids all the way to California and not taking them to the iconic San Diego Zoo, but I got over that. It was the right call for our family. As for Sea World, as much as I have enjoyed previous trips there, after seeing the movie The Cove and reading a lot about the movie Blackfish, I came to the conclusion that I just couldn't ethically in good conscience support Sea World any more. It was a fun, entertaining park in the past, but it needs to make some changes.
So... there went the two biggest San Diego attractions. My next phase of planning called for us to visit the U.S.S. Midway on our second day in San Diego, after the Seal tour. Then on the third day, we would hit the Safari Park. The heat changed all that though. After the Seal tour and a visit to Old Town, we were all hot, sweaty, run down, and exhausted. The forecast for the next day was 85 on the coast (where the U.S.S. Midway is) and 95 inland (where the Safari Park is located). Nobody had any interest in walking around a safari park in 95 degree weather. It was an easy decision to drop the safari park completely and move the U.S.S. Midway to the morning when the weather would be cooler, and we would all be well rested. That proved to be a great decision.
I highly recommend visiting the Midway in the morning right when it opens if you choose to go there. It is a lot of walking, and you want happy, energetic, well-rested kids.
Also, when we first arrived, we spoke with one of the volunteers who recommended that we quickly head straight up to the island which is the section of upper most decks where the radio room, control deck, and captain's quarters are.
He said that first thing in the morning there is no line at all for the guided tour. Apparently later in the afternoon the line gets really long and often gets shut down well before the end of the day. We were so thankful for his advice. We quickly made our way over there and enjoyed our tour with very little wait.
The tour guide chose Nina as our captain for the day.
J.C. decided he was definitely too tall for an aircraft carrier. Despite repeated warnings about watching his head from every volunteer docent we passed, he still managed to bang his head several times. It was almost impossible not to.
All the girls enjoyed the visit to the Midway more than I thought they would. It was mostly on our itinerary because *I* wanted to see it. Everyone in the family got something out of it though, and I never heard "I'm bored" or "When can we leave?" Nina, in particular, was really intrigued by all of it. Every time we turned around, she had her headphones on, listening to a part of the self-guided audio tour. She filled out the entire junior captain scavenger hunt. It is fun to watch your kids get completely absorbed in history or art or something a little unexpected.
One of the big highlights for me was showing the girls the SBD Dauntless, the plane that their great grandfather flew in WWII. They certainly came away from this visit with a much better understanding and appreciation of what his life was like while stationed on a carrier.
We had lunch on the Midway (surprisingly great food there...I recommend it), wandered around a bit more after lunch, and then headed back to the condo for naps.
Addison had other plans though. Apparently I had said that we "might" go to the beach or would "probably" go to the beach or some other such vague wording about our afternoon plans. She was not going to let me forget that. She begged and pleaded. Elise, J.C., and Nina stretched out on the couch to watch Star Wars while Addison gave me her best pitiful look, imploring me to take her to the beach.
The last thing I wanted to do was brave San Diego traffic on my own, but I didn't want to let her down. Plus, I'm a sucker for the beach. I told her we would drive to Mission Beach. If we found parking, we would stay. If we drove around for half an hour and never found a parking spot, we were coming back. That sounded fair to her, so off we went. Thankfully, a car pulled out of a prime parking spot shortly after we arrived.
I'm so glad she convinced me to go. We had the most wonderful afternoon.
I couldn't have asked for a better way to spend the afternoon. As much as I thought I wanted a nap, my afternoon with Addie was so much better.
As we were leaving, we got a little taste of the quirky world that is the Mission Beach Boardwalk. This character was playing piano on the boardwalk. Addie will tell you that seeing him was one of her favorite parts of the entire trip.
Day three was a great day. The Midway was one of those sleeper hits that I had predicted the girls would tolerate but not necessarily enjoy. Instead, they all enjoyed it, and then the beach was fantastic.