California. It’s one of our favorite places to visit. Living in Arizona makes it perfect because SoCal (Los Angeles or San Diego) is an easy drive for us. We’ve been to Cali a lot, and have learned when the best times to go there, especially when traveling with a family. Even better when traveling with a kiddo on the spectrum.
I remember the last time we went to the “Sunshine State” with the kiddos during it’s season. It was 6 years ago, in June. We stayed at a hotel, in Downtown San Diego, which was about a 10 minute drive to Pacific Beach. We packed all of our stuff up, got in the car and took a short drive on the crowded freeway. We got off the freeway and immediately stopped and sat for about 10 minutes. No accident in sight. There was just that many people there. The kids were growing weary, as any 4 and 5 year old would. Thank goodness we were able to turn around. Frustrated we decided to take a ride over the bridge to Coronado Island. Which was when we first realized this was the best place ever. Immediately found a parking spot within a short walking distance to the ocean and had a very fun beach day! Don’t get us wrong, we completely understand why ANYONE would go to California in the summer! Especially, us Arizonians. In the summer, during a day of 120 degree record heat, we all dream of a day a the beach! But, this was the very last time we went to California during their “season.” We haven’t regretted it since.
Fast forward to a few weeks ago. We’ve always wanted to make Christmas about the experience rather than what was under the tree. Don’t get me wrong, I love buying gifts and one of my favorite things about Christmas is seeing the boys faces light up as they’re opening them! As a parent it makes you so happy to see them happy! Also, as parent of 10/11 years in, you see lots of toys forgotten over the years.
This year, last minute, we thought we’d take a different route. We decided to wean our way into the whole “experience over gifts” and take the boys on a long weekend to Coronado Island! Nothing had us more excited than to take the boys to one of our favorite places and see why it is so special to us. The “off season” is our absolute favorite time to go to California! We usually head for a long weekend over there anytime from October to April. There are many reasons why we like to travel there during those times.
Like, dramatically less visitors! Unlike my story from the beginning of this post, the tourist count pretty much cuts in half, if not more! During our past visit, there was no need to worry about getting a spot in the sand, a long wait for any meal or having to push your way through a crowd walking along Orange Ave to all the shops. It was amazing! Same thing if you go North to Los Angeles. There will never not be traffic in that city, but there are less tourists certain times of the year. We went to Newport Beach a couple years back in February and it was so nice not having to worry about the crowd.
I always thought the reason why folks stopped traveling to SoCal during certain parts of the year because they thought it would be too cold to go to the beach. Not true. We did not see the weather go below 70 for the high while we were there a couple of weeks ago. It was perfect. The only thing that had a change in temperature was the water. Which was a bit cooler than normal, but nothing a wet suit can’t fix. If you’re like me and you just wanna relax in a chair on the sand, then it’s perfect! This also depends too, because other times in the off season we’ve never had a problem getting in the water. The weather by the beach, seems to be amazing all year ’round!
Hotels and resorts have dramatic price changes during the different seasons in SoCal. What you would pay in the summer, you will likely pay half during the rest of the year. The plus side to this, is less crowded resorts. One of my favorite activities we did this last time was just hanging out by the (heated) pool. This is usually a very simple activity but can be hard sometimes, especially if the pool is full of people. Since we went in December, the pool was empty, so we had it all to ourselves!
Even though it wasn’t summer there was still a lot of things to do! Besides hanging out at the pool, going to the beach, and walking to all the different shops. We also did a S’mores Roast on the beach (which was amazing and the Del does it year round, we HIGHLY recommend this!) and just feet away there was an ice skating rink right next to the ocean playing your favorite Christmas songs! If you’re going on a couples getaway, the Del also has a bar with live acoustic and it’s so relaxing to sit and chill while watching the waves!
Cue ultra cheesy photo op.
Overall, we highly recommend visiting Coronado Island anytime but our favorite time to visit SoCal is in the off season. It will not disappoint! We’re always looking for new places to go, let us know you’re favorite “off season” destinations!