Sticklers of San Diego
• San Diego (and the rest of coastal Southern California) is often plagued by a thick marine layer (aka May Gray or June Gloom) during late spring and early summer, making a trip to the beach cool and cloudy.
• Although popping into Mexico seems like a great idea, a trip below the border is often more hassle than it's worth. It can often take an hour or two to get back into the US because of traffic congestion at the international crossing, and the best beaches are at least an hour-drive south of Tijuana.
• Southern California beaches are known for their tip tides and undertows. Swim only in designated areas (marked by lifeguard flags), and always keep on eye on your kids when they're in the water.
Perks of San Diego
• From surfing and skateboarding to sailing and golfing, San Diego is a great place for kids to learn a new sport or outdoor adventure. Combine ordinary tourist activities with single or multi-day camps. San Diego is also birthplace and hometown to many of the modern icons of these sports, like Tony Hawke, Shaun White, Dennis Conner and Phil Mickelson.
• San Diego is also a great city for professional sports--a place for kids to get up close and personal with their sports heroes. Chargers games almost always sell out and tickets are hard to come by on short notice. But there are almost always tickets for Padres baseball games at Petco Park, PGA golf events at Torrey Pines, tennis tournaments at La Costa, the summer X Games, and other pro events.
• San Diego's landscape includes more than a pretty beach. Its typical landscapes include lush, urban spaces like Balboa Park, cliff-top forest reserves like Torrey Pines State Park and typical chaparral and sage brush like Penasquitos Reserve and Mission Trails Park. All of these make great terrain for a family hike and a look at Southern California the way it was before the Spanish arrived.
• Summer might be the high season, but San Diego winter is full of special events, like holiday boat parades on Mission Bay and San Diego Harbor, evening light shows at the Zoo and Quail Botanical Garden in Encinitas, the eclectic December Nights celebration in Balboa Park (during which most of the museums are free of charge) and many other Christmas-related happenings.
Pros and Cons of San Diego -- what you should know
Kites fly over the Cool Globes sculptures at Seaport Village in San Diego. (Ann Tatko-Peterson//MCT)