Mar 14 2012

A Room with a View: Family-Friendly Beachfront Hotels in Southern California

During our time in California, we stayed at three different water/beachfront hotels.  All had room for a family of six, and beyond that, their amenities varied.  Read on to learn more about these California beachfront hotels.


Embassy Suites Mandalay Beach, Oxnard, CA

Mandalay Beach Partial Ocean View

  • The hotel: Resort-style hotel laid out in several buildings with beautifully landscaped grounds and large pool and whirlpool.  Restaurant on-site.  Reasonably priced room service.  Quiet except for baby crying next door.  Most rooms open directly to outside walkways.
    Embassy Suites Mandalay Beach
  • Our room: Spacious 2-queen, 2-bath suite with living room, dining table for four, small fridge, and microwave.  Large balcony with doors to both the bedroom and living room provides views of beach and ocean; has bar-height table and two stools.
    Embassy Suites Mandalay Beach Bedroom
  • Breakfast, etc.: Free breakfast that includes made-to-order omelets and other hot items in large breakfast room.  Complimentary evening reception includes snacks (nachos, popcorn) and drinks (alcholic and non-alcoholic) in breakfast area.
  • The view: Hotel gate opens directly onto beach.  Some areas are dune-like and others flat beach.  Channel Islands and California mountains can be seen in the distance.
    Mandalay Beach View
  • What we paid: $166/nt (“partial view” AAA rate)+ $15 for parking in the hotel’s underground garage.
  • Best for: A beach getaway with time to relax at the pools and enjoy the hotel’s resort feel.
  • Hints:  Ask for a partial view room for the best combination of view + cost.


Quality Inn and Suites Oceanview, Dana Point/Capistrano Beach, CA

Quality Inn and Suites Dana Point View

  • The hotel: Small (30 rooms?) hotel directly on Pacific Coast Highway.  Restaurants within walking distance.  Highway noise and passing Amtrak trains can be bothersome.  Rooms open to outside walkways.  Bathroom fan is loud and on when bathroom light is on.  Hotel has outdoor whirlpool.  Balconies face each other.  Free underground parking.
  • Our room: 2-king bedroom with huge living room, dining table for four, small fridge, and microwave.  Mid-sized balcony off living room with patio table and chairs.
    Quality Inn and Suites Dana Point Bedroom
  • Breakfast, etc.: Free continental breakfast (waffles, pastries, fruit, cereal, toast) in breakfast room with just four tables.
    Quality Inn and Suites Dana Point Breakfast Area
  • The view: Beach is located across the road/railroad tracks; crossover walkway is about 2 blocks from hotel.  Higher floors have best views of ocean and beach/park.
    Quality Inn and Suites Dana Point View
  • What we paid:  $95/nt (organizational rate); free parking.
  • Best for: Budget-minded travelers who want to be close to the beach.  People looking for a somewhat central location between LA and San Diego.
  • Hints: Parking garage entrance can be hard to find at night.  Our GPS had a hard time finding the hotel.
    Quality Inn and Suites Dana Point Parking entrance

Homewood Suites Liberty Station, San Diego, CA

  • The hotel: Two lodging buildings plus central “lodge” with lobby, breakfast area, etc.  Outdoor pool and whirlpool, various patios and terraces, some with fireplaces.  Game room with pool table, exercise rooms.  Variety of restaurants (Greek, sushi, Thai, pizza/brewpub, Mexican, Starbucks, Subway) in strip mall just across parking lot. Snack shop in lobby.  Grocery store (Von’s/Trader Joe’s) nearby.  Airport is nearby but plane noise not an issue.  Within 20-minute drive of most San Diego attractions.  Quiet/no highway noise.
  • Our room: 1-king, 1-queen, 2-bedroom, 2-bath with living room and full kitchen (except oven) and table for four.  Tiny balcony with patio chair off queen bedroom.
    Homewood Suites Liberty Station Queen Bedroom
  • Breakfast, etc.: Free hot breakfast each morning.  Weeknight manager’s reception includes light meal offerings and includes beer and wine.
  • The view: Some rooms overlook the harbor inlet, greenway, and walking path.
    Homewood Suites Liberty Station Water View
  • What we paid: $204/nt (AAA rate); free parking.
  • Best for: Families looking for nice, centrally-located lodging in San Diego.  People who want to cook instead of eating in restaurants.
  • Hints: You pay the same whether you get a waterfront view or a parking lot view, and it’s luck of the draw whether you get a room with a view or not.  One of the top-rated hotels in San Diego on TripAdvisor.  Price fluctuates so keep an eye on it and rebook at a lower rate if you find it.  Larger rooms can sell out quickly.


So there you have it–the skinny on three waterfront lodging options in southern California.  Of all of them, the one I’d most like to return to is the Embassy Suites Mandalay Beach with its convenient beach access and relaxed feel plus well-designed room and beautiful view. I would, however, stay at any of them again.

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One comment so far

One Comment to “A Room with a View: Family-Friendly Beachfront Hotels in Southern California”

  1. mary on 14 Mar 2012 at 2:47 pm

    Wish I could click my heels and be at any one of those hotels right now!

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