I've always felt like Little Italy San Diego was my own little secret.

Little Italy San Diego - kid-friendly family fun in the city

Nate and I come down to Little Italy San Diego for lunch or dinner on occasion and enjoy the vibrant, young scene. It's trendy enough to be making waves in the restaurant scene but quiet enough that the people are neighborly.

Little Italy San Diego - kid-friendly family fun in the city

In contrast to the hectic Gaslamp District about a mile away, we don't have to jump through hoops for parking in Little Italy San Diego. It's easy enough for us to load up the boys and walk hand-in-hand along the train tracks as Some Boy and Sidekick shout, “It's a toot toot, Dada! Toot toot!”

Where to Stay and What to do in Little Italy San Diego

Little Italy San Diego - kid-friendly family fun in the city

I had business downtown last week. Instead of commuting an hour back-and-forth from our house to the convention center area, I opted to bring Nate and the kids to family-friendly Little Italy San Diego. It's perfect, because they have room to roam and I can walk or Uber the mile to my meetings. Way easier than trying to squeeze them all into a pricey hotel near the nightclubs! The recently renovated Porto Vista hotel graciously offered to host us. We were seriously impressed with the size of our room, especially considering the budget (about $100 for AAA members on the night we stayed including parking, breakfast and WiFi). There was a ton of floor space and a pull-out bed, one of the first things I look for when traveling with the boys.

Little Italy San Diego - kid-friendly family fun in the city

Second thing? Family-friendly amenities such as a mini fridge and microwave.

Little Italy San Diego - kid-friendly family fun in the city

And third, the on-site restaurant had a killer happy hour.

Just kidding.

That's totally the first thing I look for.

Little Italy San Diego - kid-friendly family fun in the city

The view from the hotel's Glass Door restaurant was stunning, but the food is what really blew me away. Order Moroccan Chicken skewers and Duck Fries with a Strawberry Mojito. Trust me.

Little Italy San Diego - kid-friendly family fun in the city

After an early meal, the neighborhood is perfectly primed for exploring. The sun sinks slowly and basks everything in a golden glow.

Little Italy San Diego - kid-friendly family fun in the city

We headed straight toward the water to Piazza Basilone. The community courtyard offers casual outdoor seating, restaurants and a wishing fountain.

Little Italy San Diego - kid-friendly family fun in the city

The whole neighborhood seems to gather here for mingling and tail-wagging.

Little Italy San Diego - kid-friendly family fun in the city

My next favorite spot is about five blocks away from Little Italy San Diego. It's an easy walk, but there are a bunch of these bikes along the way if you're more the pedaling type.

Little Italy San Diego - kid-friendly family fun in the city

The waterfront park! This kid-friendly spot has the best play structures I've ever seen.

Little Italy San Diego - kid-friendly family fun in the city

Numerous wading pools and fountains offer a respite from the heat of day, or a dazzling effect at night.

Little Italy San Diego - kid-friendly family fun in the city

The harbor eventually beckons and we stroll along the waterfront looking at historic vessels such as the Star of India and the USS Midway.

Little Italy San Diego - kid-friendly family fun in the city

If your family is like ours, the lure of the lights may draw you far into the heart of the city. Fortunately, pedicabs are on-hand to tote you back to your basecamp in Little Italy San Diego

On your way back, stop in to Pappalecco for some drool-inducing gelato that is truly worthy of this district's namesake.

Little Italy San Diego - kid-friendly family fun in the city

All in all, everything from the airport to the Gaslamp District to Balboa Park is within a mile of Little Italy San Diego, making it one of the most walkable destinations in the city.

Are you on Pinterest? Pin the image above to your favorite travel board to remind yourself to check out Little Italy San Diego and the Porto Vista hotel whenever you're in town.