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It would take several family vacations to see all of San Diego’s blue-chip parks, museums, and beaches, but if you need a soild spring break idea in March you could do a lot worse than to focus on the Holy Trinity: The San Diego Zoo, the Wild Animal Park, and SeaWorld.
Go that route and you’ll want to buy a San Diego 3-for-1 pass, granting you unlimited entry to all three sights for five consecutive days from first use. The cost for the five-day pass is $121 per adult (visitors 10 and up) and $99 per child (3-9). This pass is an easy decision, as the combined cost to see each of these attractions just once during your trip would be $143 per adult, $113 per child.
Using that five days as a framework, your next decision could easily be to visit the Zoo’s website and book a hotel deal for 5 days/4 nights that includes the 3-for-1 pass for each room occupant. And if you picked the above-average Dana on Mission Bay, about half a mile from SeaWorld, you’d pay around $1,140 total for two adults and two kids in a pool-view room with two queen beds. That breaks down to $700 for the room, $440 for the passes.
Not a bad package, but Expedia’s early booking bonus – book by Feb. 28 and stay by March 31 – lets you book the same room at the Dana for four nights for about $490 total. The crazy thing is that if you add a car to your Expedia package (you’ll mainly need wheels to get to the Wild Animal Park in Escondido, about 45 minutes north of Mission Bay) your rate only goes up to $500 and you become eligible for two free full breakfasts each morning of your stay. You no doubt can do the rest of the math, but add in the $440 cost of the 3-for-1 passes and you’d pay $940 total, saving $200 and the cost of eight meals over the Zoo’s hotel-and-pass deal.
Plan on several visits to SeaWorld, manageable in two- to three-hour visits that can be pegged to scheduled shows, your stamina level, and your mood, since you’ll only be five minutes away by car or the Dana’s free shuttle. Spend at least two days at the Zoo, and decide after your first visit to the Wild Animal Park if you have the strength to return a second time (it’s a hearty, full-day affair).
Check out our San Diego Travel Guide for more trip-planning information, including general tips as well as recommendations for restaurants, shops, hotels, and attractions.