Southern California Family Vacation Deals

When it comes to landing a great deal on a summer getaway, sometimes it pays to procrastinate. If you've been California dreamin', it's time to wake up and get packing for one of these top SoCal resorts.

Snag up to $500 credit at San Diego's Paradise Point

Spend your vacation in a town with a lot of kid-friendly attractions -- theme parks, museums, zoos -- and you'll blow a good chunk of your budget on overpriced, concession-style meals.

So we were intrigued by the Experience More Paradise package at San Diego's Paradise Point Resort and Spa, which works on a sliding scale: Stay three nights and you get a $300 resort credit; four nights earns a $400 resort credit; five nights comes with a $500 credit. You can use the credit at the resort restaurants, shop and spa -- and, according to the reservations agent we spoke to, also at the kids' club and bicycle rentals (online, the site says the credit is only for dining). But even if you do only use it for dining, $100 a day would cover at least one meal a day at the resort.

VIDEO: Budget Travel explore pools around the world.

And this is just the kind of resort that you would want to log some good time at, and not just as a base camp for area attractions. The 44-acre, 460-room resort, set on the edge of San Diego's Mission Bay, feels nicely isolated, thanks to the bay on one side, and the lush, tropical vegetation that surrounds the rest of the island-style resort (proof: they call the patios "lanais"). It has a bayside beach; five pools (one for adults, one for little kids); tennis; an 18-hole, kid-friendly putting course; water sports rentals and a summertime kids' club for ages 4-12.

The resort is also blessed with a fantastic location, just a couple minutes' drive into the heart of Mission Bay and funky, neighboring Pacific Beach, with an ocean beach, restaurants and a small, Coney-Island style amusement park. You're also within a half-hour drive of the San Diego Zoo or Legoland and, best of all, within walking distance of SeaWorld.

Now for the bad news: The Experience More Paradise offer is good only on the Garden Bungalow or Bayside Bungalow suites, one-bedroom-plus-living rooms accommodations priced at $645 a night on the dates we checked. The good news: We quickly saw a better deal, good for all room types: a Summer in Paradise -- 4th Night Free promo which offers a 25-percent break on rooms that start at a more modest $279 a night for standard digs with two double beds and a garden view.

The offers are based upon availability for stays through Aug. 21. To book the Experience More Paradise or 4th Night Free promo online, look next to rates after you punch in dates. Alternatively you can book by phone at 800/344-2626 and mention the offer by name.

Save up to 30 Percent at Redondo Beach's Portofino Hotel

Heading to the L.A. area this summer? The beach towns of Redondo, Hermosa and Manhattan Beach provide easy access to major draws (Hollywood, Disneyland) while offering a laid-back base away from the tourist throngs. In Redondo Beach, the 161-room Portofino Hotel & Yacht Club is intimately scaled and qualifies as family-friendly for its pool, firepits and free bicycles to borrow. Plus, you have easy walking access to the beach, a festive pier, and the sea lions in nearby King Harbor.

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