San Diego--Hotel help needed

Apr 9th, 2005, 01:45 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Apr 2005
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San Diego--Hotel help needed

Hi—Trying to get some info on Leg 1/San Diego, of weeklong first trip to West Coast. We are coming with certain commitments, therefore have really one short day in San Diego. We’re not big on shopping, one of us on a cane, so a little slow on walking but do have disabled parking permit. Mainly want to take in the ocean views, see a little of the mission-era sites. Usually look for accommodations of the AAA 3-diamond type, but anything okay if clean, safe, decent, and where a non-smoking reservation is met with a non-smoking room, breakfast a plus, since we’ll just about have time to sleep in the room. If you can answer any questions, provide helpful comments, or tell me if I am way off-base, or getting ripped off, I would greatly appreciate it!

Day 1
Arrive San Diego 8:30 pm, P/U Car. Originally had thought of Holiday Inn Express-Mission Bay ($60 King w/breakfast), but thanks to someone here, discovered a trip advisor site and now not so sure—does that area just have a few street folks around, or, is it really a dangerous/drug/crime area? Anyone know? Another thought was the Holiday Inn Express in La Jolla ($107 queen w/breakfast).

Day 2
We had thought to have an early morning first look at the ocean--Pacific Beach, La Jolla, Soledad Mtn, (not yet sure what order, depends where we stay), then over to have a look Old Town and maybe Coronado in the late morning, then early afternoon a look around Balboa Park and maybe the RR Museum and Spanish Arts Center before heading out around 3-4 pm. to El Cajon and Santee areas.
Anyone familiar with El Cajon area, Singing Hills ($158), Best Western Courtesy Inn ($70 w/breakfast) on Main St, and a Best Western Continental ($53 w/breakfast) on Mollison. Since we will just about have time to sleep, I was considering one of the cheaper places, but would appreciate input as to the decency and safety, since there is such a difference in price. Near to Sycuan Resort would be best—so far have found Singing Hills, though we don’t golf and don’t need most of what they offer.

Any help you can offer will be appreciated! Thanks! (My first post here, so please forgive if I’ve get the format wrong—will post questions about other Legs separately.)
sunupdj is offline  
Apr 9th, 2005, 02:40 PM
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My first question is out of sequence...why on earth are you going to El Cajon and/or Santee?

I strongly suggest you visit the Cabrillo National Monument on Point Loma in the morning. There is some uphill walking, but you can get by without the hill part if you prefer. You will see fantastic views of the Pacific, San Diego Bay, the city going all the way inland to the mountains - if it's clear. (If it's a misty/foggy morning either go later in the day or do something else). There is also an intersting museum explaining the beginnings of San Diego.

Old Town would be good after that as it follows on historically, almost. You could have lunch in Old Town maybe.

If you're dead set on going out to El Cajon or wherever at 3 or 4 pm, then after lunch I think you'll have to choose between La Jolla or Balboa Park. If you omit the East County, then you could do a little of both the Park and then La Jolla where you could have dinner.

You're trying to do an awful lot in one day, but you should be able to touch on quite a bit, you just won't have much time in any one place.

I'm not sure where the HI Mission Bay it around Sports Arena Blvd? If so, I think the La Jolla location may be preferabe, but the Mission Bay area is closer to Point Loma.
Barbara is offline  
Apr 9th, 2005, 08:41 PM
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you are trying to pack too much in on day 2.
El_Swainer is offline  
Apr 9th, 2005, 09:34 PM
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Unless you are visiting relatives/friends in Santee & El Cajon; these areas would not be recommended to stay per your itenerary. They are not nearby popular tourist points.

Based on what you want to do & see, it is better to stay either in Pacific Beach or La Jolla area.

kayla is offline  
Apr 10th, 2005, 04:01 AM
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My 2 favorite areas in SD are Coronado and La Jolla. It would be more convenient I think to stay in Coronado if you can find a place that suits your budget. The beach there is gorgeous, there's a boardwalk, some beautiful victorian homes, a small village feel and the famous Hotel Del Coronado where many scenes from Some Like It Hot were filmed. It's very close to the airport (assuming you're flying in) and just over a bridge from downtown SD.

There is a tourist tram/bus called the Old Town trolley that costs about $24/person and takes you to most of the highlights in the area. You can get on it at any of it's stops. It has a stop on Coronado. With just 1 day, that's what I'd do. You will miss seeing La Jolla which isn't on the tram tour but in 1 day you can only do so much. Here's the link for the tram.

I agree with others, unless you're heading to visit people there is nothing of great interest in the El Cajon area. Balboa Park is fantastic with many small but wonderful museums, botanic gardens not to mention the zoo. The El Prado restaurant is surprisingly good there and is where the trolley stops.

Another scenario is stay in La Jolla (I think the Best Western gets better reviews than the Holiday Inn and is right near the water). Have a look around La Jolla in the morning. Have breakfast at the Brockton Villa restaurant across from the water in La Jolla and walk along the beach to see the seals. Then head to downtown and take the trolley tour.
mclaurie is offline  
Apr 10th, 2005, 09:25 PM
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Thanks to all for your help thus far. Just to clarify, we are heading out to El Cajon/Santee area for part of the social commitments that brought us to the West Coast. Is Rt. 8 well-lit and safe for late night driving? Any animals to watch for on the local roadways? I ask because there is a chance that we will come back toward San Diego instead of remaining east once our night is over--won't be sure of that for another day.

Barbara, to answer about the HI-Express Mission Bay, it's just off Rt.5, about 3 or so miles north of the Rt.5/Rt.8 intersection, and appears to be closest to Balboa Ave on the west side of Rt.5. Anyone familiar with this area? I heard a comment about "bums" in the area and wanted to check if it's generally a safe enough area.

After considering everyone's input, we are considering several possibilities, keeping in mind that it may be 10 pm before we even check-in.

One is to stay in Coronado--found a small place, La Avenida ($99 Queen w/Lt Bkfst)--anyone familiar with it? Then to get up very early and see the ocean, the Del. Then drive by the Maritime Museum--actually, is the Star of India viewable without committing to the whole tour? Then to Old Town, then Balboa Park. Though I have long considered the trolley tour, we might save time by just going to the couple of places we will have time for and parking near to them (in Boston tour we found they could arrive full, or, if you miss it, it's a 30-min. wait). This plan would probably mean we could not do Cabrillo or Pacific Beach/La Jolla.

Another plan would be to stay at either the HI-Express in Mission Bay or La Jolla and do the loop, seeing the beaches and maybe Soledad, or, then head down to Old Town and if time, 1/2 to 1 hour in Balboa Park. At some point I think I'd have to go over to Coronado, briefly, just for a look.

Also, we kind of liked the Cabrillo Monument idea, but weren't sure about where we'd stay. It looks like it would take alot of time to go there from the Coronado hotel.

After our El Cajon night, we are heading to LA area (another commitment there), but we are thinking to keep our plans a little flexible so that we could possibly spend a couple of morning hours seeing either La Jolla or Balboa Park if ran out of time and had missed them.

Thanks to all and please, continue to suggest--I have another day or so before I throw in the towel!

sunupdj is offline  
Apr 11th, 2005, 07:26 AM
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OK I have figured out where this HI is. it's very close to one of the busiest intersections in San Diego at Mission Bay Drive and Balboa. There used to be an adult bookstore there, but that may be the building which is now the HI.

I-8 is an interstate highway and is not lit.Between San Diego and El Cajon, it's very busy, so be sure you know your exit. Be prepared for very heavy, rush hour traffic at 3-4pm.

You're packing too much into less than one full day. In half an hour, you will not have time to see much in Balboa Park. How about going to Mission San Diego de Alcala instead, the first of the California Missions? You'd still want about an hour there, but you could visit on your way to El Cajon as the Mission is at the east end of Mission Valley.
Barbara is offline  
Apr 11th, 2005, 08:09 AM
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wow, i'm dizzy just trying to keep up with your plans. right off the top of my head, since you say you want to see old town, why not book a motel there. there are several that are reasonably priced. el cajon is not that far from san diego. instead of switching motels, just stay at the one in old town. it is easily accessed from the freeway that goes to el cajon.
ltt is offline  
Apr 11th, 2005, 08:42 AM
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I would recommend the Pacific Beach area- it seems to get a bad rap but I love it there- there are a few scruffy looking people around but have never been bothered by anyone - and most people are just regular appearing beach lovers. The upside of this location for you would be the boardwalk- a paved
walk alongside the beach that is very flat and would be perfect for someone with a cane to enjoy the views and the ocean.
I have stayed at the Best Western Blue Seas Lodge- its right on the beach- you can hear the waves all night long- last time I was there they were updating some of the rooms so would definately look into that- there is a good restaurant right across the street.
There are a few other hotels that might be more upscale in the same area - all with ocean views- but I think the biggest plus for someone with a cane would be the ease of getting around .
sunbum1944 is offline  
Apr 11th, 2005, 09:09 AM
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The Star of India is docked at the pier at the end of Broadway. Parking is across the street. In the immediate area is Seaport Village, Gas Lamp Quarter, & the Embarcadero. I think you are trying to see too much in one day whereby you are not going to see much of anything from all the driving around. I would try to confine visits to areas immediate to where you are lodging. You could stay at Shelter Island in the Point Loma area which would be close to Cabrillo Nat'l Monument then could go straight down Rosecrans to Old Town. Staying on Coronado Island I would visit the Del & check out the Promenade down at the Ferry Landing then drive to see the Star of India & maybe Seaport Village, then continue on Harbour Drive taking a right onto Laurel which takes you right to the entrance of Balboa Park. Around the Cove at LaJolla is also nice but you are kind of removed from some of the attractions in San Diego & close by parking can be a real problem. One hour or so at any of these places just isn't enough time to do them justice. Pick a couple of sights & come back later for more. San Diego area is beautiful & has lots to see, the Zoo, San Diego Wild Animal Park, Julian, some of the 21 missions at Oceanside, San Juan Capistrano, & San Diego itself, the beaches up Hwy 1, etc. Hope whatever itinerary you choose works out for you & you have fun.
Shea is offline  
Apr 11th, 2005, 09:11 AM
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Don't stay at the Holiday Inn Express Mission Bay. It is right next to the 5 higway at one of the busiest intersections in SD. I've always wondered just who the heck would stay there...

Barbara - It was an F Street Bookstore and I'm 99% sure it's closed...
Alice is online now  
Apr 11th, 2005, 09:46 AM
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Alice, that's what I thought, but I don't go by there very often and when I do I'm more concerned with the traffic than hotels, bookstores, etc.
Barbara is offline  
Apr 11th, 2005, 08:25 PM
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Thanks to everyone for the input and insight. I think we're getting closer. We sat down and each chose one attraction or area we definitely wanted to see.

At this point, looks like we will take the room over in Coronado near the Del--really didn't feel I could justify a splurge on the magnitude of the Del itself considering we probably won't check-in until around 10 pm. Energy permitting, we may poke around the Del a bit. Plan to get a very early start in the a.m., see the Pacific (my first time), admire the Del a little more, then head over for a quick look at the Star of India on our way to Old Town State Historic Park (my choice) which is said to open at 10 a.m. Spend a couple of hours, get some lunch there (any suggestions on lunch--any good Mexican food?)

When it's around 1 p.m. or so, if we feel we're done with Old Town, we might either go over to Cabrillo National Monument, or, to the Mission.

Is this beginning to sound more realistic?

As stated previously, we will need to head out to El Cajon/Santee area by 3 or 4 p.m. where we have commitments for the rest of the night.

Still tweaking the plan, but our overall itinerary calls for us to head to LA the following morning. We might, however, when leaving the El Cajon area, swing back for that look at Pacific Beach and La Jolla before heading north. (In the next leg of our journey, we plan to see Santa Monica, Malibu area---if we didn't see the Pacific Beach/La Jolla area, would we be missing something uniquely San Diegan?)

Thanks, again to each of you!
sunupdj is offline  
Apr 11th, 2005, 11:07 PM
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It's possible but sounds like a marathon! Hope you are not traveling w/ a baby or kid(s). Have you included the driving (w/ traffic delay buffer)& parking time? It sounds like you all will be running around a lot fr. the early morning to 3PM. Would the person on the cane be comfortable @ this speed?

I used to travel at high speed-- 9AM till I drop. I guess I'm getting old & slow down w/ a baby stroller! gt;

La Jolla is worth the time to check out-- the cave & the cove, the shores, & the seals, etc. Allow yourselves at least 2 hrs to get in the village, parking, strolling & smell the ocean breeze or adoring the seals, pelicans. Relax.

kayla is offline  
Apr 12th, 2005, 07:15 AM
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One more thing... Learn how to prepare for earthquake. We just turned around and slept through the 4.0 quake in El Cajon early this morning. gt;

It's one of California's things.

kayla is offline  
Apr 12th, 2005, 07:29 AM
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sunupdj, yes, it's beginning to sound more reasonable and you might even accomplish most of the things you set outto do.

When will you be coming to San Diego? This may make a difference regarding where to eat in Old Town.
Barbara is offline  
Apr 12th, 2005, 08:13 AM
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sunupdj. It sounds like a plan. Unless something unusual delays you, early am coffee/breakfast (maybe at the Del), see the ocean, beach, Ferry Landing for a nice view of the San Diego skyline, then drive to Old Town via the Broadway Pier (Star of India). Depending on the amount of time you stay at each site you could have time to visit Cabrillo Monument before hitting the road to El Cajon. Map your routes ahead of time to save some time & you should be just fine. San Diego for a city of its size is extremely easy to maneuver. Barbara mentioned something of interest & that is Old Town is going to be undergoing major changes in the near future. The Bazaar Mundo & some of the restaurants are closing for good on May 8th as the State of California has awarded a lease to a new vendor to operate the park. Casa de Bandini is closing May 22, one of our favorites. The food is O.K., the margaritas dynamite, & the atmosphere absolutely great. Due to the closing we are ;making a special trip on May 1st to see it as we know it for the last time. If you are going to hit Old Town Apr 30/May 1, there will be a Cinco de Mayo celebration there. Some of the streets will be closed & stages will be set up for Mexican dancers to do their thing. In the past it has been a very colorful event. Upon departing El Cajon I would recommend driving to LA for your flight with maybe a quick stop in Santa Monica. The traffic in & around LA can be a real bearcat so you need to allow extra time, just in case. Save La Jolla & the other things in the San Diego area for another trip. You need days here, not hours to really do La Jolla/San Diego area justice. Hopefully things go well for you guys & with the small taste you are going to get of the beauty of this area I believe you will start planning a more extended trip in the future. We are from Alaska & you can probably tell we fell in love with San Diego the 1st time we visited several years ago. We make a trip to the area a least once a year. Drive safely & have a great trip.
Shea is offline  

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