3 Best Kid-Friendly Hotels Near San Diego Zoo on a Budget


Discover the top kid-friendly hotels near the San Diego Zoo that are affordable too. My chart compares cost, distance, and number of family amenities. Reviews with room tips help you choose the best lodging for your trip. I added hotel packages with San Diego Zoo tickets for more savings.

Family with kids checking into a hotel near the San Diego Zoo. Cartoon zebra looking on.

I have two nieces with small children who visit San Diego and the Zoo. Silly me, I thought that I’d help find their families some affordable lodgings. When I Googled “kid-friendly hotels near San Diego Zoo” it showed a map with 122 accommodations. That’s just overwhelming. Being a good aunt, I did 11 hours of research, and made more than 30 phone calls plus visits. I’ve narrowed that huge list down to three which are closest to the zoo and the best for frugal families.

Each of the top hotels and resorts in the chart below has the four family vacation necessities:

  • Pools
  • Free WiFi
  • Cable with kid-friendly programming
  • In-room refrigerator.
COST/HOTEL NAMEMiles to Zoo# of Most Requested Family Amenities
$ Kings Inn4.36
$$ Best Western Seven Seas3.84
$$$ Town and Country Resort3.66

The “Most Requested Family Amenities” column is a total of how many of the following 10 features the hotel has in addition to the basics.

  1. Kids Club/Scheduled Family Activities
  2. Family games – like ping-pong, foosball, video games
  3. Babysitting
  4. On-site guest laundry
  5. In-room microwave
  6. Family suites or connecting rooms
  7. Complimentary cribs/Pack N Play
  8. Complimentary breakfast
  9. In-house grocery/snacks/sundries store
  10. Free parking

Unfortunately, there aren’t any hotels with all of the four basic family-friendly features within easy walking distance of the San Diego Zoo. The closest one is 2.9 miles away (Homewood Suites by Hilton San Diego Downtown/Bayside). And it’s definitely not in the budget category. But with its prime downtown location and many upscale amenities, it is a good value for the price.

Since you will probably be taking some sort of motorized transport from your hotel to the zoo to save time you’ll be happy to know that there’s plenty of free zoo parking in the adjacent Balboa Park public lot. Rideshare services are also convenient and have their own pickup/dropoff point at the main zoo gate (in front of Rex the lion sculpture). 

Save 7% with a secret San Diego Zoo promo code on each 1-Day Pass. Go any day. Go straight to the gate. Click HERE to get your code, instructions & discounted tickets by email.

*By clicking the link above you agree to receive an automated email message. Valid only at aRes Travel, San Diego’s local authorized ticket seller. Read my full privacy policy.

Top Family-Friendly Cheap Hotels Close to San Diego Zoo

The best hotels near San Diego Zoo for families looking to save some money are:

  • Kings Inn
  • Best Western Seven Seas
  • Town and Country Resort
Kings Inn San Diego front entrance with 1950s car and surfboard
Photo courtesy of Kings Inn San Diego. Sunset sky added for a more retro feel by Nancy Ulrich.

Kings Inn – Best Rated Affordable Family Hotel Near the Zoo

Kings Inn in San Diego is TripAdvisor’s highest-ranked lodging in the convenient Mission Valley area. The San Diego Zoo’s only 4.3 miles away, the beaches 5 miles. Free parking, clean rooms, a large kidney-shaped pool, and two budget restaurants with kids’ menus make this a popular stop for families.

This is one of the best hotels near San Diego Zoo for families because they have special offers that coincide with the Zoo’s schedule. In October kids under 12 stay free and eat free at their restaurants; one child meal with every paid adult. Why October? Because that’s when the San Diego Zoo, and many other attractions, museums, and historical sites in San Diego offer children complimentary admission. Click HERE to find out how the zoo’s Kids Free program in October works. 

This family-owned lodging has a retro southern California 1950s surf culture vibe with updated rooms and amenities. They also have everything you’ll need to keep your electronic devices charged and connected.

Click the local aRes Travel’s discount price link below. You can add extra savings for seniors, military, government, AAA, and CAA at check-in.

CHECK PRICES

Kings Inn Kid/Family Amenities

Kings Inn of San Diego has the four family necessities for vacations; pools, free WiFi, cable with kid-friendly programming, and in-room refrigerators.

In addition, this lodging has 6 of the 10 most requested family hotel features as shown in the chart below. 

KINGS INN FAMILY-FRIENDLY AMENITIESAVAILABLE?
– Kids Club/Scheduled Family ActivitiesX
– Family games – like ping-pong, foosball, video gamesX
– BabysittingX
– Guest laundryYES
– In-room microwaveYES*
– Family suites or connecting roomsYES
– Complimentary cribs/Pack N PlayYES
– Complimentary breakfastX
– In-house grocery/snacks/sundries storeYES
– Free parkingYES*
* Important notes in detail sections below

1) Kids Club/Scheduled Family Activities – NO

Events specifically for kids are not a feature of this establishment. But their tour desk can suggest activities that kids will enjoy around San Diego. They’ve got information on everything from nearby playgrounds to child-centric attractions like the Children’s Discovery Museum downtown. 

2) Family games – NO

There are no ping-pong, foosball, or video games at this hotel. However, there are plenty of inflatables and noodles in the pool area. They’ve also got a small lending library (a bookshelf really) that has some children’s books left by previous guests. 

3) Babysitting Services – NO

These accommodations don’t have in-house babysitting services. But if you want a little time away from the kids look up SitterWise.com. They’re a San Diego local business with years of experience providing child care at major area hotels.

4) On-site guest laundry – YES

This lodging has a laundry where guests can wash their sandy beach towels and bathing suits. So much better than packing that mess home! There is also a valet laundry service.

5) In-room microwave (plus refrigerator) – YES but by request

Kings Inn will place a microwave in your room for an additional $10/day. All of their rooms come with retro-styled mini-refrigerators and coffee makers at no extra charge.

6) Family suites or connecting rooms – YES

There are some connecting rooms here. They are subject to availability and must be asked for at check-in.  Most of them are poolside and are king rooms connected to rooms with queen beds.

7) Complimentary Cribs/Pack N Play – YES

You can ask for a crib for your room at check-in. They are available at no cost but are subject to availability.

Photo courtesy of Kings Inn, San Diego.

8) Complimentary Breakfast – NO

There is no free breakfast at Kings Inn. But registered guests are given a dining discount of 10% at both of their restaurants. I suggest you take advantage of the offer. 

The Waffle Spot, their breakfast and brunch eatery made Yelp’s “The 10 Best Waffles in San Diego, CA” list. And the rest of their extensive menu is tasty too. On weekend mornings you and the kids can get your pictures taken with the costumed “Waffle King” who walks around the restaurant.

9) In-house grocery/snacks/sundries store – YES

There’s a small store in the lobby where you can pick up snacks and beverages. It’s open 24 hours a day for kid munchie emergencies (gotta have those Goldfish crackers NOW!!!)

10) Free Parking – YES

At Kings Inn, you can park one car without cost until September 1, 2022. On that date, this perk ends. You will have to pay $15+ after that date. Complimentary car parking is a vanishing perk at San Diego hotels. I’ve seen daily parking costs up to $50 at other lodgings. Take advantage of this freebie while you can. 

Kings Inn San Diego pool
Photo courtesy of Kings Inn, San Diego

5 Kings Inn Room Tips For Your Best Stay

  • Arrive 30 minutes before their 4:00 PM check-in if you want a specific room location. The desk can get busy and the poolside rooms go quickly.
  • The pool’s a short distance from all of the rooms. There’s no need to “upgrade” to a poolside room. But If your kids are really tadpoles masquerading as little humans a poolside room will be much more fun. Just be prepared to hear splashing and water play from 8 AM to 10 PM.
  • The quietest rooms are on the southwest side of the property backing up to the hillside. These accommodations are furthest from the freeway, pool, and restaurant.
  • Ask for the ground floor if you’ve got lots of luggage or mobility issues. There are no elevators for guests.
  • Parking can be crowded on weekend nights. There’s usually plenty of room on the east side of the hotel near the restaurants. Unload your luggage at your room, then go find a spot for the night.

Discounted San Diego Zoo Hotel Packages at Kings Inn

With the link below, you can save up to 30% at this hotel plus zoo and other attractions ticket bundles. 

PACKAGES 

  • Lions, Tigers, and Baby Elephants, Oh My! 
  • The Best of San Diego Adventure Package
  • Go San Diego All-Inclusive Pass Package
  • Explore the Ocean’s Wonders – SeaWorld San Diego

If you’re having a hard time deciding on a hotel package, I’ve written a couple of articles to help you. This article compares San Diego Zoo and Seaworld. I’ve also created another page that lists the pros and cons of San Diego Zoo vs Safari Park.

Best Western Seven Seas hotel pool in San Diego's Mission Valley.
Photo courtesy of Best Western Seven Seas in San Diego

Best Western Seven Seas-Inexpensive Family Getaway

Best Western Seven Seas in San Diego is a conveniently located kid-friendly budget hotel in Mission Valley. It’s only 3.8 miles from San Diego Zoo. It’s a top family lodging because of amenities like free parking, a pool, two on-site restaurants, a game room, and a workout room plus extras like a guest laundry.

It’s also close to beaches (5.5 miles away), shopping, SeaWorld, Balboa Park, and other San Diego attractions. 

I like this Best Western because even though it’s inexpensive for San Diego you can bask in a balmy, relaxing southern California vibe here. Most of the rooms have views of tropical plants and palm trees. There’s plenty of free parking. And Seven Seas Café has a good kid’s menu with outdoor patio dining. So no worries if your kids are messy eaters. 

Click the link below for aRes Travel discount accommodation rates. Add on military, government, senior, AAA, and CAA discounts when you check in.

CHECK PRICES

Best Western Seven Seas Kid/Family Amenities

Best Western Seven Seas has the four family vacation must-haves; free WiFi, pools, cable with kid-friendly programming, and in-room refrigerators. It also has 5 out of the 10 most requested family hotel features in addition to the basics.

BEST WESTERN SEVEN SEAS FAMILY-FRIENDLY AMENITIESAVAILABLE?
– Kids Club/Scheduled Family ActivitiesX
– Family games – like ping-pong, foosball, video gamesYES
– BabysittingX
– Guest laundryYES
– In-room microwaveX
– Family suites or connecting roomsX
– Complimentary cribs/Pack N PlayYES
– Complimentary breakfastYES*
– In-house grocery/snacks/sundries storeX
– Free parkingYES
* Important notes in detail sections below

Having only half of these kid-friendly extras may seem like a deal-killer. What puts it ahead of many competitors is its proximity to major attractions, restaurants, and shopping. Besides, it’s hard to beat that free parking.

1) Kids Club/Scheduled Family Activities – NO

At Best Western Seven Seas there aren’t any scheduled children’s events or kid’s clubs. The outdoor, heated pool is the main draw for families. 

For kids and teenagers looking for a challenge, head to nearby Mesa Rim Climbing Center less than half-mile away. This cavernous indoor rock climbing gym has bouldering and scaling walls that will keep your kids active for hours. Buy some day passes. Rent some shoes and go have some fun! Children over 4 years old are welcome. 

2) Family games – YES

There is a ping-pong table and billiards by the pool.

3) Babysitting Services – NO

I suggest you check out SitterWise.com. They’re San Diego locals with a long track record at major hotels.

4) On-site guest laundry – YES

The guest laundry room at Best Western Seven Seas is located near the back of the hotel grounds. The machines take quarters. If you need change, go to the front desk and they’ll be happy to exchange your bills for rolls of quarters. 

Each room also has an iron & ironing board for getting wrinkles out of your clothes.

And if you’re not feeling like doing it yourself you can use their dry cleaning/valet laundry service for a small extra fee.

5) In-room microwave – NO (Refrigerator-yes)

There are no microwaves in the rooms. But you are provided a small refrigerator and a coffee maker. Pack some soup or oatmeal packets and put them into a coffee cup with some hot water for a quick meal.

Best Western Seven Seas 1st floor room showing patio.
Photo courtesy of Best Western Seven Seas

6) Family suites or connecting rooms – NO

There aren’t any family suites or connecting rooms here. But if you reserve a room with 2 queen beds, you should have enough sleeping space for you, your partner and a couple of kids. Some of the ground floor rooms also have spacious patios.

7) Complimentary Cribs/Pack N Play – YES

Ask for a crib at check-in and the desk will be happy to provide it for you. 

8) Complimentary Breakfast – YES*

Best Western Seven Seas does not have a free breakfast with all reservations. But it has a Breakfast Package that you can add. This meal package includes hotel accommodations plus daily American-style breakfasts for all adults on your reservation. You get 2 eggs, french toast, or pancakes, with a side of juice, bacon, or sausage. Expect to pay $12 or more for this at most San Diego eateries.

If you’re not ready to commit to the hotel’s breakfasts every day, Jane’s Cafe is 3 minutes away by car. It’s a Mission Valley office workers’ secret. They serve a filling, affordable breakfast and lunch Monday-Friday. Check their website and menu out HERE

9) In-house grocery/snacks/sundries store – NO

This hotel does not have a store where you can grab some snacks and small necessities. But there are some vending machines within the hotel where you can get munchies. 

The closest store is the Food Mart & Gas 0.2 miles away (average walk 4 minutes). Here’s the address: Food Mart & Gas, 915 Camino del Rio S, San Diego, CA 92108.

10) Free Parking – YES

Best Western Seven Seas offers free parking, unlike most other San Diego hotels. And it’s even better here because you can usually park directly in front of your room.

5 Western Seven Seas Room Tips for Your Best Stay

  • Lines can get long at check-in time. Consider arriving later if you aren’t picky about your room location. After 6 PM there are rarely more than a couple of guests being helped at the front desk. 
  • If your kids love swimming ask for a room close to the pool. The hotel grounds cover 12 acres and it can be a long walk with toddlers if you’re also carrying bags with towels and pool toys.
  • Ask for a ground-floor room if you’ve got mobility issues, lots of baby gear, or heavy luggage. There are no elevators to second-floor rooms. You can also usually park right in front of your first-level room which makes unloading much easier. If you’re staying on the 2nd floor, ask for a room close to the stairs. Why lug your bags any further than you have to?
  • Are you a light sleeper? Ask for a room away from the freeway and on the second floor. The 100’s numbered rooms are close to the hill at the back of the property. You’ll be a bit further away from the office, restaurant and pool, but the freeway noise will be much quieter. 
  • The sound insulation between the floors isn’t the best. If you stay on the bottom level you may hear those above you.

4 San Diego Zoo Hotel Packages at Best Western Seven Seas

With the link below you can save up to 30% at this hotel plus zoo and other attraction tickets.

PACKAGES

  • Lions, Tigers, and Baby Elephants, Oh My!
  • San Diego Family Fun Vacation Package
  • Explore the Ocean’s Wonders – SeaWorld 
  • Go San Diego All-Inclusive Pass Package
Town and Country Resort in San Diego. Family pool and waterslide at dusk.
Photo courtesy of Town and Country Resort in San Diego

Town and Country San Diego – Best Cheap Resort in San Diego

Town and Country’s been a San Diego family travel fixture since 1953. And it’s located only 3.6 miles from San Diego Zoo. This mini-resort has multiple outdoor pools (including a toddlers pool), a 4-story water slide, kid-friendly restaurant options, and plenty of family-friendly recreational activities.

It’s inexpensive because of its Mission Valley location away from the beach (only 5.6 miles). But with its recent multi-million dollar renovation, you won’t feel like you’re slumming and your kids won’t get bored. The upgraded mid-century modern design vibe feels fresh. Original art by San Diego local artists provides a unique local flair.

Look over the local aRes Travel deals in the link below. Additional government, military, senior, AAA, and CAA discounts are available at check-in.

CHECK PRICES 

Town and Country Kid/Family Amenities

This resort has the four family vacation necessities; pools, free WiFi, cable with kid-friendly programming, and in-room refrigerators.

In addition, it has 6 of the 10 most requested family hotel features as shown in the chart below. 

TOWN AND COUNTRY FAMILY-FRIENDLY AMENITIESAVAILABLE?
– Kids Club/Scheduled Family ActivitiesYES
– Family games – like ping-pong, foosball, video gamesYES
– BabysittingX
– Guest laundryX
– In-room microwaveYES*
– Family suites or connecting roomsYES
– Complimentary cribs/Pack N PlayYES
– Complimentary breakfastX
– In-house grocery/snacks/sundries storeYES
– Free parkingX
* Important notes in detail sections below

The outdoor pools and Twister, the massively spiraled water slide, are favorite kid hangouts. You can relax poolside in a private cabana or daybed while they play. Ask a pool attendant or call the hotel for rental fees and information.

Town and Country Resort San Diego waterslide
Photo courtesy of Town and Country Resort

1) Kids Club/Scheduled Family Activities – YES

There are many family & kids activities at Town and Country Resort, especially on weekends. They change periodically, so verify with the desk at check-in. Events include:

  • Crafts on Saturday afternoons
  • Friday night s’mores
  • “Dive In” movie nights on the pool deck during the summer. Pillows and blankets are provided
  • 16 firepits scattered throughout the resort that you can reserve
  • Daily sunset socials (for adults)

2) Family games – YES

Kid-friendly gaming is easy to find at Town and Country. There are ping-pong tables on the main pool deck. Play cornhole on the “Lapper Lawn”. Then spike the ball on their sand volleyball court.

3) Babysitting Services – NO

This family hotel does not offer babysitting services or recommendations. But if you want a romantic night out I suggest you check out SitterWise.com. They’re San Diego locals with a long track record at major hotels.

4) On-site guest laundry – NO

There are no guest laundry facilities at this kid-friendly hotel. But there is a valet dry cleaning service that you can request. The nearest laundromat is Blue Moon Coin Laundry which is 2.5 miles away. It closes at 9:30 PM.

5) In-room microwave (plus refrigerator) – YES by request

All of the rooms have mini-refrigerators. But microwaves are by request only on a first-come basis for a small fee. This hotel does have coffee makers in each room. So you can enjoy a freshly brewed cup of java or heat up some water for quick instant soup or macaroni.

6) Family suites or connecting rooms – YES

Town and Country Resort has many suites. These kid-friendly units have a dining table and living room-style areas. Most of their suites also have private balconies & patios. There are some connecting rooms, but their availability is based on demand at check-in.

7) Complimentary Cribs/Pack N Play – YES

If you’re checking into Town and Country with an infant or toddler, request a crib or pack-n-play be delivered to your room. It’s easy, and you won’t have to burden yourself with yet another awkward piece of kid gear when traveling.

8) Complimentary Breakfast – NO

This kid-friendly hotel doesn’t have a free breakfast for guests. However, you can buy your morning meals at both Lapper restaurant and MRKT store. For one of the best San Diego brunches visit Breakfast Republic in Mission Valley which is about a mile away. They also deliver!

9) In-house grocery/snacks/sundries store – YES

MRKT at Town and Country has a wide selection of grab-and-go food.  There’s coffee, breakfast sandwiches, burritos, fresh pizzas from a wood-fired oven, sandwiches, and salads. It’s open from early morning to late evening.

10) Free Parking – NO

This hotel near the San Diego Zoo doesn’t have complimentary parking. Parking is $25 per night per space. So if you have a large RV it will cost you more.

3 Town and Country Room Tips For Your Best Stay

  • The quietest rooms are on the northwest side of the Regency Towers facing the San Diego River. That’s because there’s construction happening on a lot on the east side of the towers. Once that’s complete just pick any room on the riverside.
  • Ask for a room that’s been remodeled. They have a fun, updated 1960s vibe.
  • There’s usually parking on the river side of the Regency Towers.

Two Discounted San Diego Zoo Hotel Packages at Town and Country

With the link below, you can save up to 30% at this hotel plus zoo and other attractions ticket bundles. 

PACKAGES 

  • Lions, Tigers, and Baby Elephants, Oh My! 
  • Fab 4 The Best of San Diego Adventure

Final Thoughts-Best Family Lodgings Close to San Diego Zoo

I hope that you find the research that I did for my nieces helpful. After spending many hours reading internet reviews, visiting, and making my own phone calls I can say with confidence that I’ve found the best kid-friendly lodgings near the zoo.

Save time in your own search. Choose Kings Inn, Best Western Seven Seas, or Town and Country and you and your family will have a good time. If your family’s on a budget check out these kid-friendly hotels near San Diego Zoo.

Nancy Ulrich

I'm nuts...about animals, polymer clay, mixed media art & husband Bob. Happily planted in San Diego among good friends, family that I would have chosen if given the choice and optimism for a bountiful future for us all.

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