When you think of San Diego, what comes to mind? Palm trees, sandy beaches, and quite possibly Ron Burgundy? (Question mark intended). A lesser-known hidden gem located in San Diego is Liberty Station. The former naval base turned multi-district extravaganza of arts, shopping, market, gardens, museums and more offers a bounty for families living in the area to make the most of a staycation. There are two hotels within walking distance of Liberty Station–the Courtyard Marriott Liberty Station and Hilton Homewood Suites Liberty Station. Here are a few reasons you should staycation at Liberty Station.
Enjoy Your Staycation at Liberty Station
Liberty Station is a unique and hidden gem in the San Diego area, so much so that many people who are stationed here don’t even know about it. But there is so much to do there that you can easily make it a staycation at Liberty Station during your time at Miramar or Camp Pendleton. There are several hotels in Liberty Station that are within walking distance, plenty of restaurants and food venues to choose from, and plenty of things to see and do while you’re there
Hotels in Liberty Station
A breakfast buffet and menu are offered every morning in the hotel lounge at the Courtyard Marriot at Liberty Station. The buffet provides bread goods, oatmeal and accouterments, fruit, salmon, assorted vegetables, and four hot plates on rotation. In addition, pancakes, waffles, and omelets are made to order. Chocolate chip pancakes? Yes! A veggie egg-white omelet? Yes, again! The beauty of the buffet is that you can go back as many times as you want. Go in the late morning, because kids, and enjoy a leisurely brunch covering two meals for the day.
If you are headed out quickly for the day, The Bistro offers grab-and-go food and Starbucks coffee or tea with a quick exit to the walkways behind the hotel. A nod to the history of the land surrounds The Bistro with pictures of the Naval Base in its heyday. It’s a nice touch that is not to be missed.
Pool and Fitness Center
Even in December in San Diego, you can take a dip in the pool. The heated pool is a must, paired with a hot tub for the adult style R&R. The fitness center offers quality machines, weights, and a water refill station. The desire for a workout can easily be accomplished.
The driver, Joe, was quick to say hello when we arrived and provided kid-friendly tips on what to see and do in the area. The shuttle is available for trips to and from the airport, and if the shuttle service is not busy they can provide a ride to and from Liberty Station if adults or kids get tired from walking. Make sure to save their number in your contacts before you head out for the day. Liberty Station is within walking distance and can be managed easily, but the shuttle is a nice perk.
Every morning a large, hot breakfast buffet is offered. Monday through Friday from 6:00 am to 9:30 am and weekends from 7 am to 10 am, a buffet with a yogurt bar, hot oatmeal, cereal, and multiple warm dishes are available. Fresh fruit overflows from baskets, making it an easy grab-and-go snack for the day.
Complimentary Evening Social
Monday through Thursday from 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm, there is a themed menu. This is not a couple of appetizers–it is a full-on meal. When we stayed it was Pho Night. There were spring rolls, rice, broccoli lo mein, chicken and Pho, plus a salad bar. Free beer and wine are provided to adults over 21. Yes, you read that correctly. The beer is local and on tap so you can enjoy the tastes of the local area in the comfort of your slippers.
Traveling with children is not always easy and smooth. Sleeping in the same room with small children is challenging. The beauty of Homewood Suites is separate bedrooms with doors–plus a private bathroom in each room. Nap times are more easily managed, especially if you have children of varying ages. Separate bedrooms mean the adults can actually relax in the evening watching a movie or sharing a cup of tea and chatting on the sofa.
Like other Homewood Suites, the Homewood Suites-Liberty Station offers a kitchen with a stovetop, full-size fridge, microwave, and dishwasher. Preparing lunch and weekend dinners are easy and budget-friendly. Walk down to the conveniently located Trader Joe’s or Von’s for groceries then head home to cook. Meal-prep like this allows for budget-friendly vacations, all while still enjoying the break.
A shuttle runs to the airport hourly, making it easy to fly in for a vacation without a rental car, especially if visiting from further than a local staycation!
Location, Location, Location
The beauty of both hotels is the location of each. Along the back of the hotels are two wide paths–one sandy and one concrete, offering plenty of room for large strollers and running toddlers. A two-minute walk north of the hotels to the USS Recruit is a fun element of history where you can touch a commissioned ship. A five-minute walk south of the hotels and you’ll find a path to parks with slides, swings, and monkey bars.
Liberty Station Art District is a ten- to fifteen-minute walk (depending on the speed of the children with you) and well worth the visit to admire local artisans. Walk to a museum, walk to lunch, and grab some ice cream on the way back to your hotel. No need for a long-planned agenda if you don’t want since Liberty Station is so easy and walkable.
Family-Friendly Staycation at Liberty Station
Both hotels are perfect for families. Ample space allows for a pack-and-play, in addition to beds. The hallways are large enough for a double stroller, too. The staff is inclusive and considerate of people of all ages. Water is available in both hotel lobbies. Since we visited during the holiday time, we enjoyed a complimentary hot cocoa bar at the Homewood Suites with chocolate chips, peppermint syrup, marshmallows, sprinkles and the like. These sweet touches and the welcoming staff made the trip truly relaxing, which isn’t always easy on a family vacation.
Affordability of Hotels
The clean, spacious rooms and lobbies provide ample space for families of all sizes and ages to get comfortable and relax. A perk to a staycation is that it is more budget-friendly, and you can relax without the hassle of a long road trip or multiple layovers.
A Known Brand
Hilton Homewood Suites and Courtyard Mariott are brand names that military families know. We often seek them out for spacious stays and free breakfast when PCSing. But consider them as an option to enjoy where you live. Life gets busy–there’s work, school, kids’ activities, volunteering, and holidays, and vacations are often reserved for travel to see family and not actually vacation. Take a break and enjoy the hospitality and service level that Hilton and Marriott are known for–right in your backyard.
Looking for things to do while staying at Liberty Station? Check out these articles for things to do with the kids or a special date night:
The Perfect Kids Day at Liberty Station
Date Night at Liberty Station
A Special TDY/TAD Note:
If your active duty spouse is coming out to San Diego for work, consider joining if you can. Staying in Liberty Station means you don’t need a car because the area is walkable. While the active duty member will be working during the day, there are dinners at the hotel or in the local area to enjoy. Consider adding the weekend to check out museums or parks with the kids.
While stationed at local bases like Coronado, Miramar, or Camp Pendleton, consider a staycation to Liberty Station. A staycation means you can have an affordable vacation while exploring the local area like a tourist. No chores, no laundry. I repeat: no chores, no laundry. Walking distance to food, shops, and parks make this a vacation to remember and savor. A staycation at Liberty Station is worth the stay!
Able to ditch the kids?
Click here for Date Night ideas at Liberty Station
Photo Credit: Heather Walsh, Lauren Lomsdale