In a city that's known for palm trees and sunshine, San Diego's Paradise Point Resort & Spa capitalizes on its coastal location with 44 acres of tropical plants, beach cottages, seaside fire pits and family-focused features.
The resort occupies a private island in Mission Bay and is within 10 miles of the San Diego Zoo and San Diego Airport. It's also close to SeaWorld San Diego, with direct water taxi service linking the property and the theme park.
Despite this proximity, Paradise Point feels refreshingly remote. Hollywood producer Jack Skirball developed the property in the 1960s, drawing on his set-design experience to create a vacation destination with a whimsical feel. His getaway, originally intended for film industry executives and their families, incorporates movie-set masonry and fountains, along with eight metal bells from the El Camino Real route that connected California's historical missions.
Today, more than 600 species of exotic plants and palms established by Skirball's team contribute to Paradise Point's secluded, South Pacific-inspired atmosphere. On a recent hosted visit, I passed birds of paradise, hibiscus plants and ornamental strawberry trees on the walk from the main lobby to my room. Lush, leafy greenery frames an 18-hole putting course near the fitness center. Blossoms line trails that lead to the island's waterways, where children can see ducks, turtles, fish and leopard sharks.
Paradise Point's 462 family-friendly bungalows range from 450 to 650 square feet. Some have microwaves and dining tables; all overlook lagoons, gardens or the mile-long beach that circles the property. Fourteen bonfire sites line the white sands, and the resort's Island Market sells s'mores kits, sunscreen and other beach necessities. Next door, guests can rent beach cruisers and four-wheeled surreys to ride on 14 miles of mostly flat bicycle trails.
Five swimming pools dot the Paradise Point grounds, including one adults-only pool, one with waterfalls and one offering food and drink service. Other on-site dining options include three restaurants serving pizzas, bar bites and upscale meat and seafood main dishes right by the resort's marina.
The marina rents motorboats, kayaks, paddleboats and stand-up paddleboards for use in Mission Bay. Groups can book waterskiing outings, sailing lessons and sunset sailboat cruises. During my stay, I piloted a FunCat (the craft resembles an oversize chaise lounge on pontoons) into the secluded Paradise Cove, on the island's northeast edge. The battery-powered catamarans are stable and simple to steer, making them a popular choice for parents exploring with their children.
After all that adventure, parents can slip away to the Paradise Point spa while the kids take a surf lesson or participate in summer-season camp activities. And it's worth gathering the family at the property's 70-foot-high observation tower at sunset. From there, the views extend toward downtown San Diego in one direction and across Mission Bay to the Pacific Ocean in the other.
Resort rooms start at $199 per night. Visit www.paradisepoint.com.