Need help planning trip to San Diego

Old Oct 6th, 2003, 12:21 PM
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Need help planning trip to San Diego

My husband and I are planning on spending a few days in San Diego this December. I've only just begun looking into it. We would definitely like to stay by the ocean and we will be renting a car. So any suggestions as to where to stay or what parts of San Diego to stay on (i.e. Coronado, Mission Bay, etc)? Any suggestions to "must do's/see's" in San Diego? We are planning on the Wildlife Park. Any recommendations on restaurants? Thanks
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Old Oct 6th, 2003, 12:55 PM
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Some suggestions about what to do while in SD:

Old Town - the old square with several adobes and small museums. There is a free docent-led tour everyday at 11am I believe, which is really good. In the blocks surrounding the square there are several restaurants, shops, and a couple more museums.

Point Loma and the Cabrillo monument - great views of the city, harbor and Coronado Island from there. An old lighthouse you can tour, plus a visitors' center, an outlook point that you can spot whales from, and great tide pools down below.

Seaport Village - a little area with tourist shops and some restaurants, right on the harbor.

Coronado Island - beach, shops, restaurants, great views of downtown.

Mission Beach - funky, beachy atmosphere.

Gaslamp District - lots of restaurants, clubs, pubs.

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Old Oct 6th, 2003, 04:45 PM
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CR, we had a week long trip to SD in June. It's always difficult to make decisions on locations and activities when you are unfamiliar with your surroundings. I was happy with our decision to stay on Coronado Island and would recommend that. The island itself had a quaint small town feeling that I loved. Great for strolling, shopping and eating. If I had to make a second choice, I would choose LaJolla. More upscale and expensive here though.

Downtown SD is just that: a downtown and all that entails - it's easily accessible for a day trip. Just not my idea of a beach vacation.

We visited the Wild Animal Park (splurged on the photographer's tour). I went back and forth on this one: zoo, or Wild Animal Park. In retrospect I wish we had opted instead for the zoo and spent more time at Balboa Park. The Wild Animal Park is quite a drive away and the most exotic it gets is feeding hippos and giraffes.

I loved Torrey Pines beach. On our way there, we stopped at a place where there are a lot of hang gliders (sorry can't remember the name.) If you search for Maggi under the California forum you will find my trip report, for more info.
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Old Oct 6th, 2003, 05:19 PM
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We stayed at the Pacific Terrace Hotel ( in May 2003 that is right on the ocean. We had this ocean "requirement" as well and it's the only place that is this ocean oriented in SD I think.

It has a great heated pool (verrrrry warm) and jacuzzi that are behind a plexiglass fence so you can be in the warm pool and look out at the cold ocean from the water. We booked a standard room at what was a "good rate" at the time ($179) and then their website dropped, then dropped again, those same rates as our travel date approached. We rebooked at the cheap price ($129 a night) and then upon arrival upgraded to oceanview for $30 a night more, so the oceanview ended up being $20 less a night than our original standard room booking.

They don't have a restaurant but a really nice continental breakfast buffet, with bagels, pastries, cereals, yogurt and fruit, juices and coffee, and you are welcome to bring the food back to your room (we ended up bringing extra yogurt and fruit for afternoon snack for our three year old). They also do complimentary wine and ice tea in the afternoon.

You'll be in a less touristy area (in fact it seems downright residential), but to us that made it nicer. Since you'll have a car it's no big deal, you can drive wherever you want from there. We love San Diego, I'm sure you'll have a great time.
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Old Oct 7th, 2003, 03:53 PM
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Well here are a few thoughts about San Diego. First, I would not stay on Coronado. It is a beautiful island and fun in the summer, but it is a way from the general sights and you have to take the long bridge to get back and forth.

The Catamaran in Mission Beach is a great place. Easy to get around, very beach town, with lots of restaurants within walking distance. For a little funkier place, the Blue Sea Lodge (Best Western) isn't bad. Pacific Terrace is a lovely hotel.

Definately go for the zoo. The wild animal park is a nice place to walk around, but nothing special. Just driving around SD can be a great experience. Drive through Coronado, Point Loma, Mission Beach up the coast to La Jolla, Del Mar. Del Mar is also a quaint village further up north that is a great place to stay.

REstaurants: My favorite is the Fishery in Pacific Beach, between Mission Beach and La Jolla. Great food (mostly fish) and great prices. The Third Corner or the Bungalow in Point Loma. Downtown has the gaslamp area that is tons of restaurants and clubs. Lots of action. Many great Italian places there. De Medici comes to mind.

Be sure to go to Balboa Park and spend a day walking around looking at the museums and the archetecture. Quite amazing area, and right next to the zoo.

Old town is fun. A little touristy, but some people like the Mex food there. Try Old Town Mex Cafe. It is the best and most authentic. Cafe Pacifica, for fish, is excellent too.

San Diego is just a great place with so much to enjoy. Have a good time.
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Old Oct 8th, 2003, 08:17 AM
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We tried the Old Town Mexican Cafe when we were in SD - maybe they were having an off day, but we weren't impressed. The tortillas were good, but the salsa was really bland and the carnitas weren't very good.

A couple days later we tried the Coyote Cafe down the street - basically we found it by wandering around until we smelled something really good. They had fresh made tortillas there as well which were good and the carnitas were some of the best I've had. The salsa was decent.
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Old Oct 8th, 2003, 11:26 AM
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Have only been once, had to stay in Mission Valley due to business...if we were to go back we would stay in La Jolla hands down. We enjoyed The Cove, having breakfast outside at The Brockton Villa, walking along the coast, watching the seals, spending the day in La Jolla Shores. It's a very nice, clean area with a lot to offer the nature lover, shopper, people watcher, and food fanatic alike.

Other areas we enjoyed were Old Town (Casa di Bandini was deelish), a few hours spent in Coronado (just long enough to have lunch at Peohe's, though the views were better than the food and visit the Hotel Del), and Point Loma/Cabrillio National Monument.

have fun!
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