Part One - San Diego Part Two - Disneyland + Los Angeles Part One Since moving to San Francisco at the beginning of the year, the distance to Disneyland (and LA as a whole) is ideal we can whiz down the I5 and be at Disneyland within 5 to 6 hours (traffic depending). However, despite our new found proximity, DH has very little holiday time so it is difficult to fit in as many trips as we otherwise might like. This summer I was determined to plan a trip of a lifetime to Southern California if we were to be going back home to England at the end of the year then we might never be able to experience such a trip without the hassle and expense of long haul flights. Planning began in February when DH had his holiday time confirmed. We would spend a week in San Diego at the Loews Coronado Bay Hotel followed by 9 days at Disneyland, taking in other area attractions from our Disneyland Hotel base. The drive to San Diego was tiring, especially when we hit the I5 traffic between downtown LA and Irvine. The trip took around 12 hours, but that included a diversion and stop at a mall in Ontario along the way. We arrived at the Loews around 7pm, having left home just after 6am. First impressions of the Loews were good great location on the marina and awesome 360-degree views of the bay and Coronado island. We settled into our marina-view room and then went to the Market Café for dinner. We requested an outside seat overlooking the marina and had a great meal the fresh seafood was gorgeous and the service was excellent. View from our balcony We had a great week in San Diego. As well as visiting the usual tourist traps such as the San Diego Zoo and SeaWorld, we also spent a lot of time just relaxing at the hotel. The Loews has a wonderful childrens activity programme with tons of things for them to do. Our three children enjoyed this immensely, highlights included pool games, surfing lessons, tennis academy and campfire marshmallow roasting. DH also took eldest DS out on a jet-ski ride which was the highlight of his trip. The Loews has little golf carts which drive you to the beach a nice touch and much better than having to walk (with all your stuff) back to the room each time (especially with three kids!). On the beach they have a nice private area with reserved chairs, towels and sun shades. SeaWorld was wonderful, and I preferred it to the SeaWorld in Orlando. They had a really enjoyable raft ride we got absolutely soaked and one of the people in our boat dropped their camera out of the boat! Im not sure if they got it back or not, but I sure hope so as the man said it had all of their vacation pictures on it. We also enjoyed the sky-ride over Mission Bay: there are some incredible views and this chairlift typifies how absolutely beautiful San Diego is. After a tiring morning, we enjoyed a delicious lunch at the Shipwreck Reef Café I had a wonderful piece of salmon and DH had the ribs. The children enjoyed typical chicken nuggets and fries. We rounded off a great day at SeaWorld with Shamu Rocks this show was amazing: the lasers, lighting and music in the dark were really effective. DD was getting tired by this point, so, unfortunately, we didnt stop for the SeaWorld firework show. San Diego Zoo was another wonderful day out. It was extremely hot the day we went here and many of the animals were hiding away from the sun when we took the bus tour in the morning. As the day went on, more and more came out and we got some great pictures. One of the best bits was seeing the pandas they ask you to remain silent as you go around as apparently the pandas dislike noise. Its incredible how close you can get we were so close to them, and they arent caged in either, there is just a small fence so you can see over. San Diego Zoo is in Balboa Park, and after we had finished at the zoo we headed to the park and enjoyed relaxing in the sunshine whilst my two DSs played football (I mean soccer ) with their Dad. The next day we went to Seaport Village which is a cute little shopping village beside the bay in Downtown San Diego. We had a delicious lunch at the Edgewater Grill sitting out on the veranda overlooking the bay made for a great atmosphere. There were lots of really nice, individual shops to browse, all with different themes there was a Mexican shop, a wonderful traditional toy store selling the most amazing wooden clocks, a Viking shop, Animal shop, Map shop and my fave a Wyland gallery. All of the shops are set around little streams and trees, and it is a great place to escape from the hustle of downtown for a few hours. We also had the pleasure ( ) of visiting San Diego whilst ComicCon was in town. DS persuaded us to go - this is a huge convention which is very difficult to describe. Probably about 10% of it actually to do with comics there is a huge hall filled with stands from TV shows, movie companies, animation artists, games console companies, everything you could possibly think of. Disney were there with a huge Pirates of the Caribbean display and walk-through they even brought a beach and pirate ship into the convention! There are so many freebies handed out we got back to the hotel room that night with bags full of stuff including some great Disney/Pixar postcard picture packs and posters. We even got some original Warner Brothers artwork! However, the highlight for my DS was meeting his idols Dylan and Cole who star as Zack and Cody in the Suite Life TV show on the Disney Channel. He was so pleased to have his photo with them and to get an autograph. After being at the convention for most of the day, we eventually left I must admit that I was pleased to get out, it was very crowded and in some areas it was almost impossible to move. Not good when you are claustrophobic! We also went up to the beach beside the Hotel Del Coronado. The Hotel Del is a beautiful hotel and looks like an exact replica of the Grand Floridian (although the GF was actually a copy of the Hotel Del, I believe). We had dinner at the 1500 Ocean restaurant which was delicious, although expensive. Service was a little slow but the gorgeous views over the ocean from the dining terrace made up for it. I had been contemplating whether to reserve a room at the Loews or the Del for a long time. In the end, I am glad we went for the Loews as although the Del is gorgeous and arguably in a better, more central, location I think I preferred the privacy of the Loews and the fact that there were not hundreds of guests everywhere all the time. At the Del people from all over San Diego visit clogging up the beach and public areas. At the Loews there is security on the front gate and only resort guests can access. The beach was also much quieter down the Loews end of the island and I think there were more organized kids activities, too. Sadly the week at the Loews flew by, but fortunately 9 days at Disneyland and LA awaited us.