Bahia Resort Hotel (998 W. Mission Bay Drive, San Diego, tel. 800-288-0770 or 619-488-0551, fax 619-488-1387). 325 rooms and suites (specify smoking or nonsmoking), many of them Spartan and brick-walled, most of them in one-story buildings on a 14-acre peninsula that juts into Mission Bay, two blocks from the surf of Mission Beach. (Units on west side have much better view.) A locally owned and managed property since the 1950s. Some studios and suites with kitchens. Restaurant, comedy nightclub. Pools (one for seals, one for people), tennis, shuffleboard, Ping-Pong and evening cruises aboard the stern-wheeler Bahia Belle, which also stops at the Princess Resort and at the Bahia's younger, pricier sibling, the Catamaran. Bicycles and water-sports equipment rental available. Free parking. Rack rates: $125-$155 (more for studios and suites). Special through June 30: $79 weekdays, $89 weekends. Entertainment cardholders often get half off rack rates.
Best Western Shelter Island Marina Inn \o7 (2051 Shelter Island Drive, San Diego, tel. 800-922-2336 or 619-222-0561, fax 619-222-9760).\f7 Unremarkable appearance and modest grounds, but among the best rates of the many hotels along Shelter Island. 97 rooms and suites, restaurant, pool. Free parking. Rack rates: $79-$99, more for suites. AAA and AARP members often get 10% off rack rates; Entertainment cardholders often get half off.
Catamaran Resort Hotel \o7 (3999 Mission Blvd., San Diego, tel. 800-288-0770 or 619-488-1081, fax 619-488-1619).\f7 A bay-front location (across the street from Pacific Beach) and a prominent Polynesian theme, from the Cannibal Bar to the many-colored macaws perched above the waterfall in the lobby. 312 rooms and suites, restaurant, pool. Workout room. Bicycles and water-sports equipment rentals. Heavily renovated in 1987. During my visit, service was weak in the lobby (no brochures) and restaurant (repeatedly tardy waiter), but the location is prime and amenities are numerous. If you can get in under $100, it's still a bargain. Parking: $5-$7. Rack rates: $140-$195, more for studios, suites. AAA members often get 10% off rack rates. Entertainment cardholders often get half off.
Dana Inn & Marina \o7 (1710 W. Mission Bay Drive, San Diego, tel. 800-445-3339 or 619-222-6440, fax 619-222-5916.\f7 A child-friendly complex of unglamorous gray buildings on the edge of Mission Bay, a half-mile walk from Mission Beach. Free shuttle service to Sea World. 196 rooms and suites, restaurant, pool. Tennis courts, shuffleboard, Ping-Pong, paddle boat, bicycle and in-line skate rentals. Free parking. Rack rates $74-$99, higher June 16-Sept. 4. AAA members often pay $65-$75 in summer. 60 bay-front rooms ($89-$129.50) just got new interiors.
Best Western Hacienda Hotel Old Town \o7 (4041 Harney St., San Diego, tel. 800-888-1991 or 619-298-4707, fax 619-298-4771\f7 ). This property was once a shopping center, but an enterprising entrepreneur came in about seven years ago and converted it into a 149-suite, family-friendly hotel in the heart of Old Town. Restaurant, pool. Cheerful Spanish Mission design, with courtyard fountain, rough-hewn furniture and high ceilings. Rack rates begin at $79 through June 15, $109-$119 in summer. AAA members pay $82-$92 year-round.
La Jolla Cove Suites \o7 (1155 Coast Blvd., La Jolla, tel. 800-248-2683 or 619-459-2621, fax 619-454-3522).\f7 It is across the street from a sprawling green park and La Jolla Cove, and is surrounded by some of the most seductive real estate in California. But these 90 studios and suites (all with kitchens) stand in and around an unsightly five-story 1959 building. Not even a little fancy, but for traveling families who want to eat in, this is a live option. Pool, no restaurant (but several within two blocks). Rack rates: $75, rising to $95-$165 from May 26-Sept. 4 (larger suites higher). Same owner and management as the very similar 46-unit Shell Beach Apartment-Motel \o7 (981 Coast Blvd., La Jolla, same phones as above) \f7 a block away. Rack rates: $60-$115 for studios, more for suites. At both properties, AAA members and guests over 65 usually get 15% off rack rates.