While in San Diego, stay in Paradise

Updated May 13, 2016

“Would you like to upgrade to a convertible?”

It was spring break, and my husband and I had brought our two daughters, 7 and 4, to San Diego for the first time.

If ever there was a moment to upgrade to a convertible, I rationalized, this was it.

A few minutes later we were speeding toward the ocean, the wind whipping our hair as the setting sun began to cast an orange glow over the palm trees lining the highway.

We couldn’t have been any more quintessentially California if we tried.

But then we arrived at our resort, Paradise Point, and investigated our accommodations: a standalone bungalow, complete with waterfront access, a beachside fire pit and a s’mores kit at the ready.

Maybe this was the quintessential California experience.

It’s a 10-minute drive from the airport to Paradise Point, which is part of the Destination Hotels collection and located next door to Sea World on Mission Bay. The resort, which spans a 44-acre island, dates back to 1962, when movie producer Jack Skirball discovered the property and decided to create a “fantasy-island setting” called Vacation Village that catered to rich and famous guests including Natalie Wood and Johnny Cash. During a surrey tour of the resort we noticed that many of the artifacts Skirball brought in still can be seen today, including a porpoise fountain from the movie “Cleopatra” and elaborate masonry that frames the entrances to the original cottages.

Another fun thing for our daughters was trying to spot the historic bells that are also scattered around the property. In total there are more than 20, a portion of 50 original mission bells that were delivered to San Diego in 1914 to line the El Camino Real roadway.

Although we did plenty of sightseeing in San Diego throughout our trip, our daughters seemed just as content to sightsee at the resort.

In the mornings, the resident bird Harold greeted us as we chowed down on chocolate-chip pancakes and house-made granola overlooking the water at Barefoot Bar & Grill. Then we’d buy pellets at the on-site Island Market and watch the fish and ducks battle one another for breakfast. The market also sells coconut postcards. Simply write an address on it and ship your coconut off to Cousin Bob.

Because of its location on the bay, the resort also allows guests to rent jet skis, sailboats, kayaks and FunCats, which are like giant, motorized lawn chairs.

The 81-step observation tower, which our girls required us to climb five thigh-burning times, was probably our favorite feature. Once at the top, we were rewarded with panoramic views of Mission Bay. After that, we’d cool off with a swim in one of the resort’s five pools.

When it was time to leave, we piled back into our convertible and headed for the highway, our adventure in paradise replaced once again with California dreamin’.