San Diego Princess Resort (1404 W. Vacation Road, tel. 800-344-2626 or 619-274-4630, fax 619-581-5929) . Balancing rates and resources, this must be the foremost family resort within city limits. It's a 44-acre island, about a three-mile bicycle ride from Pacific Beach, about half a mile from Sea World. Opened in 1962 as Vacation Village, it was bought by Princess Cruises in 1983. 462 rooms and suites, three restaurants, five pools, croquet lawn, volleyball court, marina, water-sports equipment and bicycle rentals (the paddle boats are a local institution), workout facility, 18-hole putting golf course, landscaped botanical walks. In summer, there are children's programs for ages 3-18, ranging from two hours to five hours. At the outdoor Barefoot Bar and Grill, there's a sand-covered dance floor and live music on weekend afternoons. A swim-up bar is being added in the main pool. Rack rates: $130-$170, rising May 26-Sept. 4 to $150-$195 (more for suites). Weekday special rates May through September: $99. AAA and AARP members often get 25% off rack rates.
Quality Resort Mission Valley (875 Hotel Circle South, San Diego, tel. 800-362-7871 or 619-298-8281, fax 619-295-5610). Known as the Mission Valley Inn until last Sept. 30, this formerly limping property has been renovated inside and out over the last year. Centrally located alongside Interstate 8 in Mission Valley, it includes three pools and two restaurants on 20 acres, with 150 of 202 rooms now in service. Guests also have access to the tennis and racquetball courts and spa facilities of neighboring Mission Valley Health and Racquet Club. On the night my wife and I spent there, the only problem we detected was the sound of passing freeway traffic, which could be bothersome to light sleepers in rooms closest to the freeway. Rack rates: $59-$89. AAA and AARP members often pay $49.