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Tips for Parents Visiting the Zoo with Children

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We know that planning a day trip with children can be a taxing task at times. So to ensure that everyone has a great time at the San Diego Zoo, sit down with your children the day before you head to the park and plan out a possible itinerary of shows and exhibits you would like to see. This allows time for each child to contribute their opinion and helps ensure your family will get to enjoy as many animals and shows as possible. Also, read up on the following tips that will make your day a walk in the park:

  • Bring your own stroller or rent one at the park – $12 for a single or $16 for a double – if you have kids that won’t be able to walk around the 100 acre park for an entire day. Additionally, make sure everyone wears comfortable shoes!
  • Pack a backpack full of any necessities like sunscreen, snacks and juice boxes. Having snacks and drinks on hand is a great way to avoid spending extra money throughout the day and can keep kids from getting cranky! If you don’t feel like carrying a backpack or diaper bag around the park, you can rent a large locker for $1.50.
  • Need somewhere to nurse a newborn in privacy? You can use the Zoo’s First Aid office, the Health Office or the women’s restrooms with designated nursing stations. Most restrooms also have diaper changing stations for your convenience.
  • Make your trip a fun, educational experience by introducing your youngsters to new plants and animals online before arriving at the park. The Zoo’s website has a special section just for kids where they can learn all about the animals on display, play games and watch videos. Getting to know more about the Zoo ahead of time will make them more eager to interact when your family visits.
  • Don’t forget to take frequent breaks. A long day of walking around the Zoo can be tiring for children and adults alike. Be sure to take a break every few hours to eat, rest and regroup. Break time would also be a good opportunity to catch their sea lion show, hop on the Skyfari aerial tram or watch a film in their 4-D theatre.

If you’re in need of a family-friendly hotel near San Diego Zoo, then look no further than Marina Inn & Suites. We’re located less than three miles away from the Zoo and offer 15% off your hotel stay with the purchase of Zoo admission tickets! We also have a Kids Suite which is great for large families as it has two queen beds and an adjoining room with twin bunk beds.

To learn more about the rooms, rates and discounts offered at our affordable San Diego hotel, click here or call 1-800-571-2933 and speak with a reservations specialist.

Ringing in the New Year in San Diego?

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What better place than San Diego to welcome the New Year? With the downtown district full of options for dining and entertainment, you can create the perfect New Years itinerary. If you’ve never spent the New Year in downtown San Diego, here is a bit of information on what you can expect and the top events where everyone wants to be seen.

Staying Downtown on New Year’s Eve

It’s always best to make accommodations as far in advance as possible, however with New Years landing in the middle of the week, making plans ahead of time might be a bit tricky. A few select hotels in downtown San Diego are offering NYE Packages, however you can expect to pay upwards of $300 per night the entire week leading up to and following New Years. Opt for cheap accommodations near the Gaslamp Quarter, a few blocks away from the center of the action. This will provide you with additional savings to put toward the event or party you plan on attending!

2014 New Years Events

The typical cost of a New Years event in the downtown district is about $125. Some of the most highly anticipated events include:

  • Black and White Party at the W – If you’re looking for a fabulous party to ring in the New Year in style, the W will be hosting the event of all events. As its name suggests, guests are only allowed to wear black and white and ties are preferred. Those attending will be able to indulge in a 4 hour premium open bar from 9:30pm to 1:30am and can dance the night away in one of two music rooms with live DJs. The heated outdoor patio will also be open for those looking for a bit of fresh air.
  • New Year’s Eve at the Hard Rock Hotel – This event will take place on 3 different floor and include 5 different venues where attendees can enjoy sets from Tony Arzadon and Chris Garcia, DJ Loczi, Scooter and Lavelle, Starry Eyed Music and DJ Fingaz. Promising a balloon drop to remember and some of the hottest crowds in San Diego, those ready for a full night of lavish partying should consider the Hard Rock event.
  • More Affordable Options – The Andaz in San Diego will also be hosting a fantasy themed NYE party with 4 levels of live music and entertainment for a mere $40. The popular nightclub Fluxx will also be hosting their yearly New Years bash ranging from $20-$60 per person. General admission includes entry and a midnight Champagne toast, and if you’re looking for the VIP treatment, they have a special reception which includes d’oeuvres from 8pm to 9pm and champagne from 8pm to 10pm.

Transportation on the Eve

If you are staying at a cheap hotel close to San Diego Convention Center, your best options will be to walk or catch a cab. Fortunately, with the high demand for transportation on New Years, hailing a cab shouldn’t be too much of a problem. Uber and Lyft, popular ridesharing companies will also be offering service on New Years to accommodate late-night partiers. Leaving the downtown district? The San Diego Metropolitan Transit System will be extending service on all three trolley lines and four major bus routes to help visitors get back to their hotel or home safely after the midnight countdown.

If you haven’t booked a hotel yet, it isn’t too late! Click here to make an online reservation at the affordable Marina Inn in downtown San Diego or call 1-800-571-2933 to speak with a reservation manager who will be able to provide you with the best possible prices and additional discounts.

San Diego Shopping Districts for Last Minute Gifts

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How time flies! Christmas is just over a week away so it’s time to finish up all of that last minute holiday shopping. The question is- where should you go to get fun and affordable gifts in San Diego? There is certainly not a lack of shopping destinations in America’s Finest City, it’s just a matter of choosing the right mall or shopping center that’s right for you.

Seaport Village is a great place to go if you’re looking for handmade gifts or San Diego memorabilia. This quaint shopping village is less than a mile from the Marina Inn, an affordable San Diego hotel, and its bayside outdoor setting makes for a great day trip. If you have time, check out the village’s Christmas decorations. Those who are lucky might even get to chat and take a picture with Santa.

San Diego’s Gaslamp District is just a few miles up the road and offers a vast array of boutiques and stores around every corner. Whether you are looking for antiques and art or clothing and shoes, you’re sure to find it here in the Gaslamp. Horton Plaza mall is also located downtown and they offer three-hours of parking free with validation.

Fashion ValleyMall is the place to go for upscale gifts at designer stores like Coach, Prada and Hugo Boss. You can also pick up gifts for your techy friends and family at Microsoft, Apple and Brookstone.  The mall is also home to a movie theater, an outdoor food court, as well as a variety of sit-down restaurants, perfect for relaxing after getting a gift for everyone on your list.

For classic one-of-a-kind gifts, hop on the trolley and head to Old Town San Diego. Here is where you’ll find their Bazaar Del Mundo and the Old Town Market where you can buy authentic Mexican handmade items like well décor and purses. If you’re in town visiting a marine for the holidays or are staying at a cheap hotel near the MCRD for graduation, Old Town is just minutes away and will offer some of the most convenient shopping in the area.

As an affordable hotel next to SeaWorld, major shopping districts and public transportation we believe we’re the best spot for people who are looking to get their holiday shopping done while on vacation. And you can fuel up on our complimentary breakfast before you hit the stores! If you’re interested in booking a room, call a reservations specialist at 1-800-571-2933.

Ways to Unwind in San Diego

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Does your 9 to 5 have you feeling stressed, tired and achy? There are some easy, surefire ways to unwind and refresh your senses, the first of which is planning a trip or staycation in San Diego. Be sure to book a cheap hotel room near Petco Park in Downtown San Diego so you don’t have to worry about driving. San Diego’s downtown and Little Italy districts are the heart and soul of San Diego, with everything you could possibly need within walking distance: spas, shopping, restaurants, bars… you name it.

After your reservations have been locked in, here’s how to enjoy and decompress during a weekend stay in San Diego, with options that are all within walking distance of the Marina Inn:

  1. Enjoy some alone time. Whether it’s taking relaxing inside your affordable hotel close to the beach and San Diego Bay or grabbing a cup of coffee at a local café, do what you know helps you relax and unwind.
  2. Plan for daily meditative exercise at your own pace. Make time to practice yoga at Infinite Yoga, just steps from Vagabond Inn. They hold a free intro class on Sundays and also offer Mysore, which allows yogis to come and go as they please.
  3. Pamper yourself at Flourish Bodywork. This unique spa offers customized treatments and styles based on your goals and preferences.
  4. Enjoy all that the surrounding neighborhood of Little Italy has to offer. Cruise down Kettner Blvd. and India St. for shopping, wine tasting and dining options galore!

Whether you live in San Diego or are looking to visit, the cheap San Diego hotel rooms at Marina Inn are a great option for those looking to escape the monotony of weekly responsibilities without spending your entire paycheck. Book your room in advance and we can give you up to 12% off our normal rates! Call a reservations specialist today at 1-800-571-2933.

Fun Christmas Activities for Kids

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Did you know that there are only about two weeks left until Christmas? With so little time, let’s pack in as much holiday fun as possible, especially if you have children. Here are some good kid-friendly holiday ideas that you can do as a family:

  • Play “Elf on the Shelf.” Each night you place a small elf in a different area of the home because each night he has gone to talk to Santa about whether your child’s been naughty or nice. Children wake up in the morning racing around the house to find where Santa’s elf has been hiding.
  • Jungle Bells! The San Diego Zoo is hosting wild and adventurous Christmas activities for kids starting on December 14. The park will be transformed into a winter wonderland where kids and adults alike can enjoy a Christmas trolley, festive shows, entertainment, holiday treats and appearances from Santa. Parking is limited so try to get a discounted hotel near the San Diego Zoo so you can take an inexpensive MTS Bus or taxi.
  • Write a letter to Santa online. Let’s admit it, nobody sends snail mail anymore. If kids visit aletter4santa.com they can send a message to Santa and receive a message right back! A personalized message from Santa will remind kids to be good while showing  them whether or not they’re on his “nice list” (hint: everyone is).
  • Donate used items to teach kids about giving. With so many families in need this Christmas, what better time is there to teach kids about the gift of giving to someone less fortunate. Tell your kids that if they want new toys from Santa that they need to give one or two of their old ones to someone who would enjoy them. You can take lightly used clothes, toys and food to any local homeless shelter, orphanage or Goodwill.
  • Head to Seaport Village for some shots with Santa. Every weekend until Christmas, Santa will be stopping by this seaside town to chat with kiddos about their Christmas list and to take a precious keepsake photo. On December 14 and 15 you can even make reservations to have breakfast with Santa at Harbor House Restaurant.  The $25 cost includes breakfast, a child’s gift bag, face painting, balloon animals, carolers and a photo.

In need of a family-friendly budget hotel near Seaport Village? Marina Inn is located less than a mile from Seaport Village, three miles from the San Diego Zoo and two miles from the San Diego International Airport.

Top San Diego Wineries

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Most people with affordable accommodations in San Diego don’t know that the city has 39 wineries in our county alone, which is more than the 35 in Temecula Wine Country, located an hour north of San Diego. San Diego Wine Country isn’t concentrated in one area, instead we have an eclectic array of wineries scattered throughout so that no matter where you are chances are there’s a world-class wine maker right around the corner.

A full list of local wineries can be viewed at sandiegowinecountry.com, but here are our top 5 picks:

  • Vinavanti Urban Winery: This top-rated wine bar is San Diego’s only certified organic winery. Their minimalistic take on wine making has garnered attention from wine enthusiasts across the country. Stop by this Saturday for their first ever Farm-to-Wine Party where a ticket will get you access to a five-course five-to-table dinner paired with some of their most popular wines. (9550 Waples Street, Suite 115A, 92121)
  • Bernardo Winery: This winery has the feeling of a small quaint village, complete with a restaurant, beautiful outdoor patio and a “shops & artists village.” They were voted #1 local winery by the San Diego’s Best U-T Poll this year due to their phenomenal wine, impeccable service and winery events. (13330 Paseo Del Verano Norte, 92128)
  • San Pasqual Winery: This micro winery produces small lots of wines using local grapes in a warehouse that they’ve retrofitted to serve as a winery and wine tasting room. They take a simple yet elegant approach to making their wines, which you can taste for just $7.50. (8140 Center St, 91942)

If you are trying to avoid driving yourself then sign up for a local wine tour! San Diego Beer & Wine Tours can chauffer you around San Diego Wine Country and pick you up from your affordable hotel near the Convention Center or wherever you and your group may be.

So don’t take a trek all the way to Temecula or run from your SAN airport hotel to take a flight to Napa when San Diego has all the best wines within driving distance! If you need a place to crash after all the wine goes to your head, have a room already booked at downtown San Diego’s Marina Inn. Call 1-800-571-2933 and be sure to ask about our discounted rates.

Parade of Pets in San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter

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Calling all dogs, cats, lizards, hamsters, birds or whatever other pets you want to bring down to the Gaslamp Holiday Pet Parade this weekend! This parade is going to be unlike any other because come Sunday, animals of all shapes and sizes are going to be flocking to the Gaslamp Quarter of San Diego with eager owners in tow.

The parade will start at 3 pm on Sunday, December 8 at the Hilton Gaslamp Park at 401 K Street.  Owners are encouraged to dress up in festive costume, along with their furry or feathered friend, and enter one of the many costume contests. Winners will be announced at the Pet Parade Awards Ceremony and will receive prizes and a certificate. Contestants will have an opportunity to win in the following categories:

  • Cutest Critter
  • Best Non-Canine Pet Costume
  • Best Costume Made out of Duct Tape (be sure not to hurt any fuzzy animals!)
  • Best in Show
  • Ugliest Christmas Sweater
  • Best Group Costume
  • Best Costume Duo
  • Best Dog Costume
  • Best Pet Holiday Costume

If you left your pet at home during a San Diego vacation and you don’t want to participate in the parade, you can always watch the entertaining spectacle from the sidelines and join in on the fun at the Pet Expo from 1 p to 5pm at the Hilton Gaslamp Park. Guests will receive a free goodie bag and have access to over 20 booths and maybe a treat or two, for both you and your four-legged companion.

Registration for the parade is now open and available for $15 for you and your pet. The day of the event registration will be open at 12:30 pm for $20. The parade will start by heading north from the expo on Harbor Dr., near Little Italy and the San Diego Convention Center, before turning left on 5th Ave. The group will then be guided to march left on E St and left on 4th Ave. in order to circle back to the Hilton Gaslamp Park for the Pet Expo.

If you’re looking for an affordable pet-friendly hotel that’s near downtown San Diego, look no further than the Marina Inn. Just give us a call at 1-800-571-2933 or visit marinainnsd.com and let our Reservation Specialist know your pet is coming along so we can make sure we accommodate both you and your companion.

How to Enjoy San Diego’s Winter

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Did you know that San Diego’s average wintertime high temperature is 65 to 69 degrees and the average low doesn’t typically drop below 48 degrees? This is why a San Diego vacation in the winter is perfect for those that want to escape the cold and avoid the San Diego summertime tourists while still enjoying the same perks.

Here’s how to enjoy a winter vacation in America’s Finest City:

Don’t skip all the beautiful beaches just because the water might be a bit frigid. You can buy or rent an affordable wetsuit to enjoy some surfing, swimming and snorkeling along San Diego’s 70 miles of coastline. Pack up a picnic and enjoy the sunset at La Jolla Shores, Sunset Cliffs, or Del Mar’s Seagrove Park. You can also round up some family and friends for a bonfire at Mission Bay or Coronado.

Theme Parks are usually less crowded during winter months but still offer the same amount of fun. In fact, many local attractions turn into Winter Wonderlands, bringing in real snow and special shows to celebrate the holidays. Pick a weekday to ensure the lowest lines possible and enjoy the rides and games at SeaWorld, Legoland, Belmont Park or the San Diego Zoo.

Catch the myriad of holiday events happening around the county! You can go ice skating on Coronado Island, watch America’s largest balloon parade at the San Diego Bay, participate in Balboa Nights at Balboa Park and experience drive-through Christmas Lights at the San Diego Fair Grounds. The options are seemingly endless.

Stay tuned to Marina Inn’s blog as we cover upcoming holiday events in San Diego and how to get the best bang for your buck when it comes to vacationing in this wonderful city. And if you’re looking to book an affordable room downtown for your winter getaway, call a Marina Inn reservations specialist to ask about our discounts and availability: 1-800-571-2933.

How to Show Appreciation for Our Military

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Veterans Day is a national federal holiday to show respect for all of the men and women that have fought in our country’s military. This day also signifies the end of World War I, which officially ended on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918. Honoring our nation’s veterans is very important and San Diego will be celebrating today with a Veterans Day Parade through the city’s historical Gaslamp district. The parade will include a marching band and The Band of Pride tribute to veterans.

However, it’s important not to forget about all the men and women who are currently serving this country overseas. There are many ways the people of San Diego can help our city’s military make it through a long deployment in another country.

  • Adopt a U.S. Solider. Visit www.adoptaussoldier.org to “adopt” a U.S soldier who is currently overseas. You can send them a one-time care package or offer to keep in regular contact with them.
  • Donate or volunteer at Homefront San Diego. This non-profit organization provides help to military families in a time of need, from delivering food to repairing a fence.
  • Donate or volunteer at San Diego MOM (Military Outreach Ministries). This outreach organization does monthly food drops for lower ranking military families in San Diego.
  • Hire a Patriot. The San Diego founders of hirepatriots.com, which received The Congressional Medal of Merit, and hiremarines.com designed these sites to help military members find extra work when they get back home from deployment.

For more ways to help, aside from heading to the San Diego International Airport and flying overseas to visit the dedicated service members, you can go to sandiegotroops.com for a list of more local organizations.

Since San Diego is one of the biggest military towns in the country, it’s important that we thank our current and past military members for their service on Veteran’s day and continually throughout the year. Do you have a family member or friend who has served? Just send them a thank you note. Don’t know anyone personally? Get connected to a soldier and let them know they’re appreciated and that their service means something to you. A little gesture can go a long way.

At Marina Inn Hotel and Suites, we’re saying “thank you” by offering a 10% military discount on already low prices. To ask about our rooms and to book a reservation, please call 1-800-571-2933. And from Marina Inn to our military, thank you!

Snow, Santa and Shamu at San Diego Sea World

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Would you like to celebrate Christmas with Shamu? Well you can from November 16 through January 4! San Diego SeaWorld is soon going to transform into a winter wonderland complete with more than 6,500 square feet of fresh snow every day. Kids will have the opportunity to make snowmen and snow angels or even go sledding.  Some other seasonal attractions at Sea World’s Christmas Celebration include:

  • Santa’s Cottage: Bring the kids to meet Santa in his festive cottage and take a picture with the whole family. Visitors will also have a chance to decorate cookies and meet a few of Santa’s elves.
  • SeaWorld’s Christmas Tree of Lights: Every night SeaWorld’s famous 320-foot Christmas tree will be lit up and visible from all over San Diego. This bright and delightful tradition has been going on since 1969!
  • Breakfast with Shamu and Santa: Make reservations early for this special treat. For $16 to $26 a person you and your family can enjoy a delicious breakfast with Santa Claus, right next to Shamu’s enclosure.
  • Santa’s Reindeers in Training: Two of Santa’s reindeer will be staying a SeaWorld this holiday season. The two friendly reindeer, named Jingles and Winter, can be seen at their corral right next to Santa’s cottage.

With so many families planning a San Diego holiday vacation this year, SeaWorld will surely get a little crowded. If you don’t want to battle the masses in their parking lot, there are other transportation options:

  • If you’re coming from Downtown San Diego you can find the green trolley line stop near Petco Park and then get off at the Old Town Trolley Station. From there just take MTS BUS route 9 Pacific Beach via Sea World / Ingraham Stand get off at Sea World.
  • Amtrak also offers affordable public transportation options for those who are traveling from the coastal communities of San Diego.

For a family-friendly place to stay near the theme park, that also offers discounted SeaWorld admission tickets, contact Marina Inn at 1-800-571-2933. We’d be more than happy to provide affordable accommodations during your holiday travels!

We believe sharing is caring! If you know someone who would love to attend any of the above SeaWorld events, share this blog with them on Facebook or Twitter.

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