Don't pack the kids' swimsuits away just yet.
In balmy San Diego, the onset of fall and winter doesn't mean the end of pool season--the pools are all heated anyway--but it does mean fewer crowds, both at hotels (which are now offering low-season rates) and family-friendly attractions such as Legoland, Sea World and the famed San Diego Zoo. Here are five sunny SoCal hotel pools that will dazzle the kids and also keep the grown-ups entertained:
La Costa Resort
This plush, Spanish-style resort just north of the city in Carlsbad is legendary for its spa, golf and the yoga-and-wellness Chopra Center (as in Deepak), but it has also impressed families lately with its seriously souped-up pool area. There are eight in total, including the Sandy Beach Family Pool (with a lot of super-shallow areas for tots), and the Splash Landing Pools, featuring two 100-foot waterslides and one shorter, toddler-friendly slide. There's also a water play area, as well as a huge kids club, Kidtopia--though, granted, the siren's call of Legoland is also just a couple miles away.
The 429-room Hyatt Regency just off Mission Bay has a playground of pools and a festive activities calendar: each of the three lagoon-shaped pools has its own cockscrew slide, and one pool dedicated just to kids. The resort keeps a hopping pool party culture for families, with (depending on the month), waterslide relay races, hula hoop contests, airbrush tattoos and shaved ice stands. To up the ante on water fun, you can book whale-watching tours from the marina, or rent jet skis, kayaks, bikes, and boat rental available for use on neighboring Mission Bay.
Pools with a view: This 1,190-room waterfront hotel just got a big new pool area that sits right up against San Diego Bay. Its main swimming hole boasts of being the only saltwater pool in town--no chlorine-stung eyes--and sits next to the kids Splash Zone, which has a water slide and a shallow-water "immersion station" equipped with fountains and water toys. Proving that poolside lounging is not just for the grownups, kids get their own colorful, scaled down poolside tables and chairs. You also have easy access to the biking, walking and rollerblading along the waterfront and, come springtime, the Padres at downtown's Petco Park.
This rehabbed, retro hotel in Point Loma, near downtown San Diego, has a Rat-Pack, mid-century sense of fun, complete with a vintage, oyster-shaped pool. But the boutique hotel takes one modern hotel pool convention--the dive-in movie--very seriously. Every week, year-round, the hotel offers a movie on a projection screen over the pool, as well as food and drink service for kids and grownups. The lineup offers crowd-pleasers with a little dose of kitsch, such as Beetlejuice, Elf, Christmas Vacation, and Die Hard.
Located in Mission Bay--the 44-acre, tiki-style Paradise Point feels like a little island unto itself, even though it is hidden in plain sight across from Sea World. It has 462 family-friendly bungalow-style rooms (with separate living rooms and often pull-out couches), as well as a mile of beach and five pools interspersed with little lagoons and gardens. Aside from the main, family-friendly pool, kids will love the Lagoon Pool (with fire pits for s'more-making), the Meadow Pool (with a suitable-for-splashing fountain), and the Waterfall Pool, with its own cascades. Kids can feed resident ducks in the lagoons, and the sandy beach is shovel-ready for sand castles, as well as volleyball, bocce ball, horseshoes, and more.