Peachhead™ Approved Vacations: Hotel Solamar - San Diego
I decided to take my girls to San Diego for the weekend but this time we were going to explore a place I have never been before... Balboa Park. I heard they had a great science center so that was the first place we headed. The Reuben H. Fleet Science Center is really an incredible place for kids and adults. Everything is hands on. The girls were running from one exhibit to another. It was very educational as well. They have 11 exhibit galleries, they are:
"Motion Mania" – our newest exhibit all about motion. "Giant Worlds" – one of our traveling exhibitions (it will leave on September 7th and be replaced with a new exhibit in November) Visitors will explore the extraordinary giant planets orbiting our Sun and learn what they tell us about the formation of solar systems, Earth, and the conditions necessary for life. "Aging for All Ages" – see how you age and how you can live a healthy lifestyle "Gallery of Illusions & Perceptions" – This permanent exhibition will leave you wondering if you can believe what you see (and feel!). "Kid City" for kids infant to age 5- From conveyer belts and cranes to air chutes and grocery stores, young visitors, INFANTS THROUGH AGE FIVE, will work, create, play, and learn as they experience the wonders of the every day working world. "Do-Undo" – explore the symmetry in time! "San Diego's Water: From Source to Tap" – An exhibit on water distribution and conservation in San Diego County. "So WATT! An Illumining Look at Energy" – Energy is all around us – find out how many ways energy can be converted into electricity and what it is used for. "Origins in Space" – This photographic exhibition, created by the Fleet Science Center, looks at the scientific accomplishments and technological spin-offs that have resulted from NASA missions "Try Science" – Up to six people can embark on an individualized journey by playing games, exploring science and learning more about such topics as dinosaurs and outer space exploration.
Amber and Jasmine's favorite exhibit was the "DO-UNDO" room- Explore symmetry in time. A video camera records your movements and you can immediately see them played back forwards (as executed) and backwards (in time reversal). Learn which movements look the same both ways and which ones look strange when played backwards. Amber and Jasmine liked throwing a shoe and then watching the shoe fly back into their hands
They have an amazing IMAX theatre. The theater (which functions as both an IMAX theater and planetarium) underwent a major renovation last year September – December and re-opened in December. Renovations included: new NanoSeam™ Dome screen (that means the screen is seamless, unlike some IMAX theaters where you can see overlapping triangles). The Fleet has the world's first NanoSeam™ Dome screen in an IMAX theater. Also, a new lens on the IMAX projector transmits more light and produces great clarity across the entire image field. And yes – all new seating and carpeting. It was a MAJOR renovation that has immensely improve the IMAX viewing experience for the audience. The Fleet is home to Southern California's only IMAX Dome Theater. (Other IMAX theaters do not feature the 76-foot tilted dome screen as ours does). We saw Adventures in Wild California the first day which is a great action film where we went snowboarding, skydiving, surfing and more...a really great film. We enjoyed the film so much we went back a couple of days later to see the other Imax film called Under the Sea. It was narrated by Jim Carey. They have a great deal going on now through Labor day. With each gallery admission if you used this coupon – visitors get a FREE IMAX film with their paid gallery admission. It's a great deal for adults and kids ($10 adults; $8.75 kids and seniors – for galleries AND an IMAX film!) This is through September 7th only, and the coupon must be presented.
After the science center we walked around and looked at the other buildings in the area..the architecture is incredible. We visited the Natural History Museum where the girls had fun looking at the dinosaurs, including their bones and teeth.
They were getting pretty hungry and tired so we headed to the Gas Lamp District for dinner and shopping. We stopped at the Yard House for happy hour and dinner and then went to Horton Plaza to do a little shopping. We ended the night with ice cream at Ghiradelli's.
We finally made it to our hotel at 9:00 at night. We stayed at the Hotel Solamar (Kimpton Hotels) What a gorgeous hotel. Very upscale and modern. They are welcoming to families and pets. When we checked in they had the girls do a hula hoop contest to see if they could get our room upgraded. The girls had a blast doing that. They also offer afternoon popsicles, wii in the afternoon, complimentary wine and sangria in the late afternoon and complimentary coffee and tea in the morning. The room is beautiful and large. The bathroom has a great jacuzzi bath. Even the robes are unique in their design and patterns. Everyone that works there is very friendly. The valet/bell captains (Jim and Brian) were especially nice to the kids.
In the morning I tried to wait patiently for the kids to wake up to begin our busy day and when that didn't work I just woke them up by making lots of noise. We started our morning by eating breakfast at Chocolat Cremerie and having our nutella crepes (unfortunately they were not as good as the ones we get at Acadie Crepes in Santa Monica, but then again they never are). We then headed to the San Diego Zoo . Because it is such a big zoo, we got the best value tickets which gives you unlimited use of the guided bus tours, express bus, and the skyfari aerial tram (my kids favorite). We started the day with the tour on the double decker bus which took us around the majority of the park and talked about the different animals. After our tour, we headed straight to the gorillas and orangutans since those are our favorite animals...we could have hung out there and watched them all day (they were that entertaining) but we had a lot more to see. We walked, rode, and even took the skyfari around the zoo to see as much as we could in the time that we had. They have a cute play structure that the girls enjoyed climbing on. By late afternoon we were pretty worn out so we decided to head back to the hotel to hang out in the pool and the girls could not wait to take a Jacuzzi bath. The girls played in the pool a bit and then headed back to the room while I hung out and enjoyed the pool still.
Once we were all ready to go out we walked around the neighborhood to figure out where to eat. I was still craving an item I saw on the LOUNGEsix menu at the pool so after the girls ate, we headed back to the hotel so I could get my slow roasted sweet corn ravioli that I had been eyeing all day...it was so good, well worth my wait.
After dinner we raced back to the zoo (I had never been to the zoo at night and wanted to check it out). We got there in time to ride the skyfari again, see the Pandas, and then catch the bird show. After the bird show we took the bus back to the exit but drove by the rhinos and watched them fight (or play) depending on how you saw it... but nevertheless it was quite entertaining.
When we got back to the hotel I went to the pool bar LOUNGEsix for a drink. James Holland, the supervisor at LOUNGsix was especially nice...I met him earlier at the pool when I was having my dinner. I told him about the chocolate raspberry martini drink that I loved...he made a point of bringing the godiva from downstairs to the pool bar so that I could have my drink when I returned later that night and the bartender made it perfectly. The ambience is beautiful up there (and a pretty hip scene) and I was lucky enough to catch fireworks from the Padres game so I sat up there drinking my favorite drink and watching fireworks...what a great ending to a fun filled day. (Tip: the music at the pool can be a bit loud on Friday and Saturday nights so if you are a light sleeper you may want to request a room on the opposite side of the pool...we faced the pool and my kids did not have a problem sleeping with the music and they were able to see the fireworks from the room but wanted to give you the heads up just in case.)
Our last morning we went to breakfast at the Broken Yolk. It is just down the street from the hotel and with the wait outside I figured it would be good and it was. The hotel even gave me a coupon for 10% off. Jasmine thought it was the best hot chocolate she ever had and I loved my omelet.
We then headed back to Balboa Park to finish exploring. I took the girls into the Body Worlds 2exhibit. They were really amazed by it. I found it so interesting to see the lung of a normal person, a smoker, and a coal miner. Then we went back to the Rueben H. Fleet Science Center to see the Under The Sea Imax movie. It was beautiful to watch. We only had time for a few more museums so we went into the Railway Museum (if your kids love trains they will love this place) and the photography art museum. I saw a very moving piece by Larry Clark.
I wished we had more time to spend in San Diego. Discovering Balboa Park and staying at the Gaslamp Quarter District (approx 5 miles from Balboa Park, a 10 minute drive) brought a whole new adventure for us to experience.