Combined Suggestions, San Diego
SHOPPING: For great prices, go to the outlet mall that's located at the last exit before you get to the Mexican border. Since you're staying near the airport, just get onto the 5 Freeway going South and watch for the signs. You can actually see Tijuana from the back of the outlets! Prices are 40-60%+ off dept store prices but they are from last season.
There's also Horton Plaza which is over by the Gaslamp District. Just park rt in their parking structure. Validation is free for a couple of hours with purchase at most of the stores or if you go to one of the restaurants or watch a movie.
DRIVING: The freeways do tend to get a bit congested but they're roomy and easy to navigate. Suggest you print out driving instructions on www.mapquest.com for places you want to go to before heading out. Around the beach areas, streets are kind of narrow and parking could be a bit difficult. When at a corner to make a rt turn, stop first before proceeding. If the traffic light is red, you can still make a rt turn if it is safe so long as you stop first. Make sure you stop at all stop signs for a full 3 seconds - no rolling stops. No cell phone usage while driving unless it's hands-free and make sure you're all using your seat belts.
EVENTS: The Del Mar Fair is a 3-week event that's fun to go to. It opens 6/11-7/5. Check out the website for details: www.sdfair.com/fair You'd drive there by getting on the 5 Freeway and head North.
BEACHES: La Jolla Beach is more upscale. They have tidewater pools but they also have the annoying (to me, anyway) seals that hang out over by what should be the Childrens' Pool. Friendlier to humans is Pacific Beach which is south of La Jolla. Lots of bars, restaurants. There's a pretty good, authentic hole-in-the wall Mexican place for tacos: TACO SURF TACO SHOP (4657 Mission Blvd). Local hangout! Water is great at Pacific Beach for body surfing though probably colder than what you're used to. Between Pacific Beach and La Jolla is another local spot known as Windandsea Beach. Very picturesque with big boulders on the beach. Wilder surf-no beach services (i.e. restroom/snack bar). Lots of surfers. Ocean Beach which is North of DelMar has a nice avenue lined with lots of shops/restaurants but the area is kind of scuzzy. Drug sales abound esp at night but good to check the area out in the daytime.
GASLAMP DISTRICT: Area around Horton Plaza. Lots happening at night. Party scene on wkends and nights. Scarce parking but you can always park at Horton Plaza which is about 1-2 blocks away. Clubs/restaurants. Movie theatre and shops.
Fondest memory: Bodysurfing and playing in the water in Pacific Beach. Finding deals at the Fiesta Americana Outlet.
FOR LOW BUDGET VISITORS:
- walk around Gaslamp District,
- do window shopping hehe in Horton Plaza,
- walk around Balboa Park (use FREE Balboa Tram), visit free Botanical Garden and a few FREE mueums on each Tuesday,
- go (trolley $2.5 each way) to San Isidro and walk to Tijuana, Mexico for a dinner/lunch + drinks (less expensive than in San Diego),
- go to a free public beach,
- walk around residential areas (the most beautiful are close to the ocean, I suppose),
- go to public library to get FREE internet access,
- eat good breakfasts (lunches and dinners are more expensive) or eat in supermarkets (sandwiches, chicken, sometimes Mexican food),
- if you have a car: watch gas prices (you can save even up to 10-15%), look for free parkings (there are around Balboa Park) or less expensive (sometimes they want $5 for up to 1-2 hour)
DETAILS: in my Must See Activity tips.
SAN DIEGO FOR KIDS:
ZOO packages: San Diego ZOO + San Diego ZOO's Wild Animal Park + San Diego SeaWorld
Southern California City Pass: like above + Knott's Theme Park + Disneyland and Disney's California Adventure
Details in my Must See Activity Tips.
Each place I visited in and around San Diego was worth of my time but when your time is limited you must choose what to visit and what to skip in San Diego. The answer depends on your (and your company, kids) interests, weather, season of the year or even day, means of transportation, your budget, your energy etc., etc.
So a few my suggestions for travellers with a lot of energy hehe:
1. FOR A FEW HOURS VISITORS (longer lay-over or busy business trip or...):
- Gaslamp District especially but NOT only in the evenings (easy and fast access from the airport): walking, eating, shopping in nearby Horton Plaza,
- Old Town District,
- Heritage Park,
- Villa Montezuma,
- Coronado Island (by ferry).
How long does it takes? Minimum a few hours with dining.
Or in summertime one from the first above suggestions + BEACH (the best is in Coronado Island) hehe!
2. FOR 1 FULL DAY VISITORS:
I would try to add to the above suggestion either ZOO (at least a few hours) or Balboa Park (even a full day maybe not enough if you wish to visit all museums)
3. 2 DAYS
Look at point 1 + ZOO + Balboa Park
4. 3-4 DAYS
Like in point 3 + trip to Mexico (Tijuana) or/and Point Lloma, La Jolla, San Diego ZOO's Wild Animal Park, Anza-Borego Desert State Park + SeaWorld (hmm... 1 full day).
WARNING: If you have not so much energy - multiple the above times at least by 2 hehe!
Fondest memory: VT-er Linda (lmqluque) :-))))))))))).
Sure - there are a lot of things to do in the San Diego area, from golf to sightseeing to surfing to theme parks and zoos. But don't try to cram it all into a couple of days. Allow yourself plenty of time in this fine city,
Fondest memory: The relaxing strolls through Balboa Park, Seaport Village, along the beach fronts.
I have Many nice Memories of this Lovely town. But Crossing CORONADO BRIDGE.... our first night.....was really spectacular....
Fantastic view!!!!!!! of San Diego skyline!!
Sea World was also so nice......so much to explore....
We bought a 2 day pass, so we could see everything!!
1) Go to the far end of Harbor Island at sunset so you can look back at the city and watch it turn gold;
2) Visit the Torrey Pines Glider Port and watch the hang gliders, paragliders and sail planes soar off the cliffs and out over the beach below;
3) Take a walk along Fort Stockton Drive and Sunset Blvd. in Mission Hills and look at some of the finest examples of early 1900s architecture in the city;
4) Visit Children's Pool in La Jolla in the early evening and watch all of the seals come up on the beach to sleep;
5) Visit Sunny Jim's Cave in La Jolla
Go to the San Diego Mission and the hillside presidio, San Diego Zoo, San Diego Wild Animal Park, Sea World, Balboa Park, the Beaches, etc.
Fondest memory: The wonderful weather here.....but it can get hot though....but fortunately, there are beaches and public pools nearby :-)
San Diego Zoo is a must. Go across the Coronado Bridge to North Island and Silver Strand. Make sure you do not miss the beaches. La Jolla is nice but crowded and expensive. Mission Beach, Ocean Beach and Pacific Beach are great. My favorite is the Point Loma Light House.
Fondest memory: The ocean. I moved away in 1979 but I miss the sound and smell of the water.
WELCOME TO SAN DIEGO,YOU MUST SEE ,LA JOLLA,PACIFIC BEACH,CORONADO ISLAND,OLD TOWN,GASLAMP QUARTER,MISSION BEACH,OCEAN BEACH.
Fondest memory: SAN DIEGO HAS IT ALL, BAY, BEACHES,BORDER,DESERT,MOUNTAIN SNOW,WARM WEATHER, GOOD SUNSETS, DOWNTOWN, IT'S ALL GOOD, SUN DIEGO!
Fondest memory: The best thing about San Diego was the laid back mentality of those that lived and worked there. Everyone was so friendly and went out of their way to make sure you had a good time. Keeping my kids(6,10years old)entertained was no problem at all.The San Diego Zoo,Sea World, and The Wild Animal Kingdom were entertaining as well as educational. The rest of the time was spent at the house chilling at the pool.With no humidity and highs in the mid to high 70's one could not ask for more perfect weather.
Favorite thing: See Balboa Park especially on a Sunday afternoon. Also take a ferry across the bay to Coronado Island. Make time to visit the zoo. It is world famous and once there you'll know why. Go to the ocean...buy a sandwich at a deli and have a picnic watching the waves. Ocean Beach has many antique and collectible shops if you like that and or go to the Pacific Beach area....lots of clubs to party in and lots of great food (like World Curry) with very reasonable prices.
Go to Mission Bay, Belmont Park rollercoaster, Sea Port Village, Down Town, Old Town, Prospect in La Jolla (the greatest shopping ever), Sea World, SD Zoo
Fondest memory: My fondest memories are the four years I spent in college. The memories can go on forever from nights out in PB, Old Town, or Down Town, shopping sprees in La Jolla, and let's not forget studying on the beach. Some of the best times were spent at Aztec football games or should I say the tailgates before the games.
Visit San Diego downtown, the Oldtown, Coronado area, Seaport Village, San Diego zoo.
Don't forget to ride in a trolley.
Fondest memory: Sailing in San Diego Bay!