By Merilee Kern, ‘The Luxe List’ Executive Editor
If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably started your Spring Break and even summer vacation planning to ensure availability for the desired away dates. It’s certainly never too soon to get yourself booked somewhere spectacular, which also feeds the excitement and anticipation of the excursion to come. No matter the occasion, reason or season, you’d do well to head over to San Diego—a region known for some of the most revered vacation options in the United States. It didn’t earn the moniker “America’s Finest City” for nothing!
If you find yourself in this enviable locale—or want to—and like to be where the action is, you’d definitely do well to schedule a trip to Harrah’s Resort Southern California.
Deemed the best resort in Funner, California, located in North San Diego County, Harrah’s Resort SoCal is an award-winning destination recognized as a top resort by Condé Nast Traveler, Los Angeles magazine, USA Today and more.
The property’s two looming towers boast nearly 1,100 luxurious guest rooms and suites, including 22 wellness-inspired rooms complete with yoga mats, Vitamin C infused showers and built-in sound systems.
Every corner of this 86,000 square-foot adult playground leaves plenty of room for escaping ordinary life. Not the least of which is the Spa at Harrah’s—an 11,000 square-foot getaway featuring a full-service salon, barbershop, salt baths and more. There, you can also kick workouts into high gear in their state-of-the-art fitness center or take a stroll on their one-mile nature trail.
Then, be sure to soak up the sun at ‘Dive’—an adults-only pool paradise including SoCal’s first swim-up bar, a 400-foot lazy river, 23 cabanas and eight hot tubs.
The 59,000 square-foot gaming floor is also tons of fun, boasting 1,700 slot machines and 60 table games. The casino holds weekly poker and blackjack tournaments, while their monthly promotions offer thousands in cash and prizes.
And for you foodies out there, culinary creativity abounds at Harrah’s at no less than eight restaurants. From the juiciest steaks, to mouth-watering burgers, to authentic Asian favorites—here you can treat your taste buds to a trip around the world, minus the passport. Plus, they are home to the first tribal owned brewery.
Heading south from Funner, California—you’ll find Hard Rock Hotel San Diego, an iconic property impeccably located at entrance to the city’s acclaimed Gaslamp Quarter district.
While the hotel is surrounded by the best of San Diego’s shopping, dining and entertainment, guests will find everything necessary for a memorable stay right on property.
The luxe hotel features 420 guestrooms and suites, including 17 celebrity-favored Rock Star Suites. On-site amenities include “Maryjane’s,” a retro-chic diner that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner; two award-winning bars—one of which a chic rooftop pool bar featuring expansive city views; and the world-famous Nobu Japanese restaurant for a truly unforgettable fine dining experience.
Guests of Hard Rock Hotel San Diego can also take advantage of a number of unique, complimentary amenities, including Fender guitars to play in your room during your stay, Crosley record players to add the perfect soundtrack to your San Diego experience and Electra beach cruisers to coast down the Embarcadero and experience the city’s nearly perfect weather.
Additionally, the property’s award-winning ‘Sunburn’ pool party takes place ever Saturday from late March through September with epic parties happening on all major holiday weekends.
For baseball fans, Hard Rock Hotel is located just steps from Petco Park, and just a short ride away from the city’s best attractions including the San Diego Zoo, Balboa Park and Sea World.
America’s Finest City is also home to the recently re-imagined San Diego Mission Bay Resort, a Noble House Hotels & Resort property.
Located on the picturesque waterfront of Mission Bay Park, the lavish 357-room, year-round lifestyle destination resort is another ideal basecamp for guests seeking to explore the city’s vibrant culture, nearby attractions and to experience San Diego’s idyllic, breezy beach lifestyle.
Having just recently completed a renovation, guests can relax in their brand new rooms and suites that have been updated with plenty of modern, welcoming touches like new decor, flooring, lighting and more. Here, beach chic meets modern sophistication. You can opt for a spacious traditional room in their tower or upgrade to a villa with expansive views of the gardens or the glistening bay.
With romantic palms and perfect sandy beaches, this bayside hotel retreat features an amazing spa and fitness center, beach fire pits for making s’mores and state-of-the-art event space.
Foodies will delight throughout their visit to San Diego Mission Bay Resort. With three waterfront dining options to choose from, fresh California fare is designed to dazzle diner’s palates as they sip, unwind and embrace mild ocean breezes. This includes Acqua California Bistro. This award-winning kitchen brings together a creative mix of classic American dishes with a European twist, over 3,000 bottles of world-class wine and a delicious rotation of craft beer.
This property is also decidedly family friendly, as children enjoy plenty of fun activities, including a kids camp, swimming, beach games and bike rentals.
Another hugely noteworthy Noble House Hotels & Resort property is Kona Kai Resort & Spa. Nestled within the Shelter Island oasis on the southern end of San Diego, this destination offers a range of amenities and experiences unique to its beautiful waterfront location and rich history.
The property has 170 luxurious guest rooms, including 41 brand new suites featuring contemporary island-inspired decor, deep soaking tubs and oversized balconies.
The also resort boasts its very own private beach, multiple swimming pools, waterfront restaurants, an award-winning spa, a 500-slip marina, and the renowned private Kona Kai Club.
You can sip and savor at the Paloma pool and bar, Kona Kai’s new and exclusive pool area for adults only, allowing guests to enjoy poolside craft cocktails and California coastal cuisine while overlooking some of the region’s most breathtaking sunsets.
It’s also extremely well-situated, located just minutes away from the San Diego International Airport, the historic downtown Gaslamp Quarter and all of the city’s top attractions. The locale is also great for groups, as they offer a 55,000 square feet of versatile indoor and outdoor event space.
Springtime is a wonderful time of year to book a stay at Kona Kai, as they have an array of special offers. This includes an exciting “Whale Watching” package, allowing guests to experience the incredible migration of gray whales off the beautiful coasts of San Diego. For families, there’s also the “Kidding Around” package where the kiddos enjoy and array of activities at the resort, like cooking, camp-outs and more.
Also on the getaways front in San Diego in terms of fun experiences—and something that’s also highly giftable—is Sandbox VR, with locations throughout California.
Sandbox VR is an immersive social experience offering unique combinations of motion capture and virtual reality technologies, allowing you to become anyone and go anywhere. Groups can see their friends and interact with each other just as they normally would. Guests transform into virtual avatars of themselves and enter experiences that are mapped over the physical world.
At Sandbox, you aren’t just inside an experience, you become the experience. With their full-body motion capture technology, you can run, jump, and even high-five your friends. Your virtual body is just like your real body—except better, stronger, and faster.
Various Sandbox experiences include, Amber Sky 2088, Unbound Fighting League, the new Star Trek: Discovery Away Mission and two that I’ve personally experienced: The Curse of Davy Jones and Deadwood Mansion—mind-blowingly fun.
So there you go, some great travel ideas to utterly ensure those San Diego-oriented vacations ahead are truly memorable.
As the Executive Editor and Producer of “The Luxe List,” Merilee Kern, MBA is an internationally-regarded brand analyst, strategist and futurist. As prolific consumer trends, lifestyle and leisure industry voice of authority and tastemaker, Merilee keeps her finger on the pulse of the marketplace in search of new and innovative must-haves and exemplary experiences at all price points, from the affordable to the extreme. The best-of-the-best across all product, service and travel categories—as well as noteworthy marketplace change makers, movers and shakers—are spotlighted in her prolific cross-media platform work that reaches multi-millions each month via broadcast TV (her own major market/network TV show “Savvy Living” and copious other shows on which she appears) as well as print and online publications. Connect with her at www.TheLuxeList.com / Instagram www.Instagram.com/LuxeListReports / Twitter www.Twitter.com/LuxeListReports / Facebook www.Facebook.com/LuxeListReports / LinkedIN www.LinkedIn.com/in/MerileeKern.
***Some or all of the accommodations(s), experience(s), item(s) and/or service(s) detailed above may have been provided or arranged at no cost to accommodate this review, but all opinions expressed are entirely those of Merilee Kern and have not been influenced in any way.***