All of these choices offer relatively short walks to the park as as they are all so close to each other they also offer very similar offsite dining options, but since you have so many good choices, here’s a detailed break down in order from easiest (closest) to less easy (fartherst) along with notes on the dining options:
- Park Vue Inn- The walk to & from the parks is amazingly short (less than 5 minutes!) & is literally as close as you can get to Disneyland without staying at Disney’s Grand Californian that has an entrance into the DCA park. The hotel is connected to a Coldstone Creamery (ice cream!) and hotel guests get a 10% discount. We have stopped many a time here for ice cream as it’s directly across the street from Disneyland’s pedestrian entrance. For more than just ice cream treats, IHOP is just north of the Coldstone. Denny’s and Tony Roma’s close by going south along Harbor Blvd. All 3 offer affordable meals. While not gourmet, they are a decent alternative and a happy relief to your wallet from the theme park food prices. Also a minute more’s walk are a few options attached the Grand Legacy Hotel on Harbor Blvd- there’s a Jimboy’s Taco’s which we loved & as well as another ice cream place (that we haven’t tried) & a pizza place (was ok but we prefer the Pizza Press down the street for better prcie and better pizza).
- Desert Inn & Suites- next door to Park Vue to the South with almost exact same quick short walk as Park Vue. Offers all the same dining options as above. Both Park Vue & Desert Inn are close to dining options north along Harbor, but other hotels on your list below are closer to them, so I’ll work them into my notes for those ones below, but know that you can easily walk from either of these locations to anything I’ll include below (& vice versa for these options to the South).
- Tropicana inn- A few doors down to the north along Harbor Blvd from the pedestrian entrance and used to be the only hotel we stayed at for proximity to the parks going with 2 infants/toddlers. The walk is less than a minute more than the above two options so still very very easy. You do pass a buffet dining place called Captain Kidd’s or something on the way to/from the parks. We’ve done it once and were not impressed so have never returned, but it is certainly affordable. Again, all the dining options I’m mentioning above & below are very easily walkable from the Tropicana and the benefit to this option is that it is central to both the north & sides of your list so you can walk either way to all of the options.
- Camelot Inn- Sister hotel to the Tropicana & just 2 doorways to the north on Harbor this option is prime location for all the food (in my opinion) and you only add 1 maybe 2 min to your walk compared to all the above. Immediately to the north of the hotel is a McDonald’s which has always been very quick, efficient & affordable for quick meals to & from the parks. Even when busy & crowded, they are well managed enough to be efficient & we love being able to take the food just next door to our room and relax. Just north of the McD’s is also a Panera bread, but it’s closer to your next option, so moving right along.
- Fairfield Inn- tucked just behind the Panera Bread and McD’s it’s very close to all the food food like Camelot and you’ll have to pass every food option starting IHOP to Panera in order to get to the hotel so convenient to plan your meals on your way to & from the parks. We’ve never stayed here so I can’t speak to the walk from experience, but it would not be more than another 2 min from the easy walk of the Camelot. I do find that they are pricier than the other options and even though Fairfield is a Marriott chain I’ve never been able to pay that extra for being farther away & since we are hardly ever in the room, it doesn’t matter terribly how nice the room is, as long as it’s comfortable & clean.
- Lastly, the furtherst north on Harbor- Howard Johnson’s - Again you’ll pass all the food from IHOP to Panera on your way back to this hotel and also add one final option Mimi’s Cafe (walkable from your other options although after Tropicana might be a little long & out of the way). Again I haven’t stayed at this option but the walk would probably only be another 2-3 min from the hotels more central to the pedestrian entrance on Harbor.
Overall, if you look at the map compared to the parks, you’ll see that none of your options extend beyond what the parks themselves span going north-south so for food/location you really can’t lose with any of these. So, we’ll move along to your next priorities… Sunny pools & comfortable beds!
I can only comment on the three that I’ve stayed at, but of the ones I’ve stayed at, here are my thoughts on beds & pools (again, in order from best to worst):
- Camelot Inn- their beds are fairly comfortable (not the best hotel beds I’ve stayed in but far from the worst). What I like about their rooms is that their rooms are more spacious so it’s nice not to feel crowded. Their pool is a rooftop pool on the 4th floor but very small. I’m sure it is sunny, but since we literally only go back to the hotel to sleep at night and for a quick nap in the middle of the day, I’ve never experienced the pool midday.
- Tropicana Inn- Sister hotel to the Camelot, their rooms have always been clean & comfortable but I’ve had friends/family & read other reviews of rooms that are a little dingy. Their bedding is on the light side, but the beds are still far from the worst hotel beds I’ve seen. Their rooms are very small & compact but just fine if you’re looking for a place to sleep in between lots & lots of park time. Their pool is sunny BUT it’s also smack dab in the middle of the parking lot & small & lacks the relaxing ambiance you usually expect from a pool with not a lot of fauna to make the surrounding parking lot fade away into the distance. I have used their pool a time or two but both times it was crowded, but definitely sunny (not in a great way because again, it’s in the middle of the parking lot).
- Desert Inn Suites- We have only stayed here once and the reason was out of all the hotels along Harbor that we’ve frequented this was the most uncomfortable bed to sleep on. We were warned by a friend that the pillows were basically flat bricks so we were prepared with our own pillows, but even the mattresses were lumpy and the bedding thin & worn. Now, I have heard people comment similarly about Tropicana’s rooms, but in more than a dozen stays at Tropicana, I never experienced a room that was near to the lack of comfort of the one room at Desert Inn. It is quite possible that we had one really bad room & their other rooms are maybe just as comparable to Tropicana (the room location was also awful right next to the elevator and the walls were so thin I felt like the elevator was in our room all night long!). And lastly, their pool is indoors so definitely not sunny like you are looking for. However, their location & the fact they offer a decent & quick continental snack (I wouldn’t quite call it breakfast but the quality of food is above what most motels offer for a continental snack) makes up for some of these other failings so take that into consideration.
Of the 3 I haven’t stayed at, the pool for Howard Johnson’s rates very well & also has a water park for kids. The garden pool is separate from that water park and seems to offer all the serenity that the Tropicana’s pool completely misses out on. I’ve also heard great things about the Park Vue’s comfort & if I remember correctly they also have a rooftop pool (not sure how it compares in size to Camelot’s) but I know a lot fiends/frequent Disneyland visitors that love both Howard Johnson’s & Park Vue.
And a tidbit about the Candy Cane mentioned- it’s a great location, easy walk to the parks, but it’s on the opposite side of the street from all the dining options along Harbor so you’d have to backtrack from your hotel to try any of the food. The rooms also seem really, really small to me and for the price, I’ve never been convinced to choose them over the other usual hotels we’ve stayed at on Harbor. However, Candy Cane Inn is closer to some convenience stores in order to buy snacks/beverages at non-outrageous theme park prices (the Tropicana has a market adjacent to the lobby, but the prices are almost as high as what you pay in the theme parks for the convenience). When we’ve stayed at the Tropicana or Camelot we make an effort to either stop at the Target grocery store on our first day or bring from home our own bottled water, any other hydration we want and some snacks for the hotel room so we don’t end up spending those higher prices at their market on in the parks.
So, hopefully I’ve given you something helpful in making a choice, but I really don’t think you could go wrong with any of the choices you’ve listed (even the Desert Inn which I’ve said the most negative things about- the location really is fantastic & price isn’t awful either).