Southern California Itinerary Help

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Oct 20th, 2003, 12:09 PM
  #1
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Southern California Itinerary Help

My boyfriend and I are going to California next week from NYC. We're flying into LA on Saturday and are staying one night in the Marina Del Rey Marriott to do Venice and Santa Monica. Then we are moving to the Beverly Hilton ($85 on Priceline, although since then I've read countless reviews that say it is quite rundown.) We will spend 3 nights there to see the touristy LA things. Then we are driving to Laguna Beach for one night. We plan to drive to San Diego from Laguna Beach on Thursday. I don't know much about San Diego, but I've found a 59-mile scenic road that supposedly covers the city. So we may not spend the night in San Diego. My question is what we should do on Thursday night (stay in San Diego...if so where?) and what should we do on Fri/Sat before returning to LAX Sunday morning? I think we'd like something inland and scenic. Some possibilities are the desert and wine country. I went to Palm Springs last year, though, and wasn't that excited by it. Is there enough to see in the Temecula area for 2 days? I'd love to hear ideas about scenery between San Diego and LA inland, nice drives, and other ideas. Thanks.
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Oct 20th, 2003, 03:58 PM
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There are wineries and spas in Temecula that you might enjoy visiting. That's not my cup of tea and if you'd like to sample the flavor of the desert, you might want to take a drive through the Anza Borrego State Park, north east of San Diego. It's not too much further out of your way than going to Temecula would be.

A nice drive from San Diego is north on I-15 to The Poway offramp (about 15 miles), east through Poway to Hwy 67, then northeast through Ramona and Julien out Hwy 79 to Ocotillo Wells. You can double back and take the cutoff to Borrego Springs and follow Rt 22 to Ranchita, Warner Springs, and Temecula.

Have a great visit. Right now the weather is perfect. I hope it stays that way (it should) for your visit.
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Oct 20th, 2003, 04:31 PM
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Do you need any suggestions while in Laguna?Where to stay?where to eat? Coincidentally, someone recently recommended Anza Borrego as a beautiful destination--haven't made it there yet, myself, so couldn't comment but the Orange County part I could help with.
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Oct 20th, 2003, 04:39 PM
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The Beverly Hilton is a GREAT property with a great location - ENJOY. San Diego has a lot to offer. I'd avoid the desert and just stay a couple of extra days there. Spend a day in Coronado, go to La Jolla, day trip to Tiajuana, etc. You could also do some Orange County stuff - Disneyland, Dana Point, Huntington Beach, etc.
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Oct 20th, 2003, 05:07 PM
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It's touristy, but hey, you're a tourist

Go to the Hotel del Coronado ("Hotel Del") for breakfast or lunch, then hang out on the beach if the weather's decent. One of America's best beaches, and the hotel itself is a ball. Watch "Some Like it Hot" before you come.

Inland, how about a visit to the 200-inch telescope on the top of Mt. Palomar? The observatory building is architecturally fascinating, and while you can't use the various telescopes, you can see a very interesting gallery of famous starry images taken by the big eye. Pretty drive, too. See http://www.astro.caltech.edu/observa.../visiting.html
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Oct 20th, 2003, 09:37 PM
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San Diego is fantastic! You could go to San Diego Zoo or Wild Animal Park, Seaworld, having dinner and strolling around the Gas Lamp district (5th Ave), La Jolla is a gorgeous beach area, lots of restaurants, galleries, watching the pelicans and seals. In Summer, you could go snorkeling. There's lots to do in San Diego.
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Oct 21st, 2003, 05:44 AM
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Thanks for all the ideas. I know that the zoo and Wild Animal Park are all nice things to do in San Diego, but my boyfriend doesn't like zoo-type places, so they are not on the itinerary. Also we've both done Seaworld so we don't want to do that either. And Tijuana, I don't think, is my cup of tea. So wiping out those major things, how much time should we spend in San Diego? If we spend the night there, what is the best neighborhood to stay in. We would like to stay in a neighborhood that has lots of bars and restaurants.

I'm a little intrigued by the drive to Anza Borrego State Park. Is it worth spending the night in Borrego Springs? Is there a better town or should it just be a day trip?

To Acereid: In Laguna, we are staying at La Casa Del Camino. It looks like a pretty place. I would love to hear ideas of restaurants and bars there, too.

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Oct 21st, 2003, 06:35 AM
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For staying in the San Diego area, I would strongly recommend La Jolla to meet your preferences. Great restaurants and bars to be found there, and Pacific Beach with more bars (and a slightly younger crowd) is not a far drive away.

Referring to your drive to Anza Borrego, you ought to be aware that that is a pretty remote area. Borrego Springs with the Casa del Zorro and the (a bit lower key) Palm Canyons Resorts is basically your only option. You might consider Julian for an alternative, though.
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Oct 21st, 2003, 06:16 PM
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Great suggestions above re:Coronado (so magical, someday I want to stay in the old hotel....have only stayed nearby but still loved the sleepy feel of the island and the ability to rent bikes and sense that we were a million miles away)--I've also heard, from friends who know, that the La Valencia (which I believe is in La Jolla) is also a very special and romantic place to stay (if you're looking to splurge anywhere.....I doubt you can go wrong with either the Hotel Del or La Valencia)---we've been to Julian, which is fun, but small and slow-ish---you aren't sounding like the "let's take a nap" type!It's claim to fame are their apples and apple pie.
As to Laguna, I've never stayed at your hotel but know that the location is good....they have a restaurant right on the ground floor but I don't hear too much locally about it. Woody's, which I think is right across the way, is supposed to have good food. You'll be just a block off the beach which is great.
There are plenty of great places to eat in town. One great, often locals only spot (do I dare say it?!), is Cafe Zoolu. It's tiny so reservations are a must but the portions are huge and fabulous...they call their swordfish "The Softball".
French 75 has a wonderful romantic feel to it...as if you're in a real European bar. Five Feet (which is not overly easy to notice since the sign out front states " 5' " only) is known
for its really creative Asian influenced dishes and the chef is something of a local celebrity. French 75 is on Pacific Coast Hwy just South of your hotel...and you might be able to walk to Zoolu, too. Five Feet is more in town. I'm not sure how many nights you'll have in town but be sure to spend one sunset at the new Montage Resort and have a cocktail there. Their restaurant, The Studio, is apparently booked up 3 months in advance because it's so new...and I hear is very expensive, but there are benches overlooking the cliffs and sea where one could drink in the fabulous view, as well as a cocktail!
Mosun's, again on PCH not far from your hotel, is good for sushi and often has live music--they'd be worth calling, too.
As you can tell, Laguna could probably feed you well for a week. All of these spots may not be the cheapest but I doubt you'll be disappointed.
The White House, on PCH, is the bar which has live music, I think, every night. Las Brisas is often recommended by guide books, etc. but should be known primarily (IMHO) for its view (which is spectacular) but would be another sunset spot for a drink and not where I'd want to dine.
For breakfast the locals hit Cafe Zinc, which is also a little tough to spot but is right next to the bus depot on Ocean--they do yummy things for lunch, as well.I'll stop before I just get you confused. Let me know if I've left anything out?
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Oct 21st, 2003, 06:56 PM
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Dear rhg108,
So sorry, just re-read your post...with only one night in town, forget the above, you want to eat, drink and be merry in the village. The beauty of Laguna is that it really is a quaint little town and after driving the LA freeways you deserve to be free of your car.
That said, I might still consider a wander around the Montage to see the cliffs (which'll require a a short drive down PCH)...but if you're truly sick of the car by the time you get here...set down your keys....walk North on PCH all the way thru town to Las Brisas for the sunset and then into town and check out the menu at Five Feet. Sorrento Grille is right across the street and has a good martini bar (but is pretty noisy for dinner). From there you can hit Forest Ave. which has other night spots, the White House on PCH or trek back toward your hotel to Mosun's on PCH, the sushi spot, which also may have something musical happening--(I'd call ahead to Mosun's to see what they might have going--Thursdays are Jazz Nights, I think).
If you're in the village at lunchtime be sure to stop by La Sirena on Mermaid, right next to Sorrento Grille and a stone's throw from Five Feet.They serve incredibly fresh, delicious Mexican.
There....I think I've divulged almost every one of Laguna's secret spots. Hope you have a great day in town....with the beach and all the shops, art galleries and great places to eat....you might want to stay longer!
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Oct 21st, 2003, 09:38 PM
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If the weather holds up another week, you'll probably want a 2nd night in Laguna.

In San Diego, I'd recommend HumphreysHalfMoonInn.com (also compare rates on hotelkingdom)

Seems like there's plenty of availability everywhere this time of year, so book something cancellable in case you change your mind from day to day.

Ever been up to Santa Barbara?

If you still want something inland and scenic, try Idyllwild.

For your Saturday night, you might enjoy a return to Santa Monica. Or, on Saturdays, the higher-end airport hotels usually have some great rates(try hotwire) and their just 5 minutes south of the Marina.
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Oct 22nd, 2003, 01:48 PM
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Thank you everyone for all the help! I'm really looking forward to it.
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Oct 26th, 2003, 10:41 PM
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Sounds like the Gas Lamp area (downtown SD) suits you and your boyfriend best, lots of nightlife, restaurants, nightclubs, etc..and shopping at the Horton Plazza.
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Oct 27th, 2003, 06:17 PM
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Hi. Just wanted to send one more posting. I live in Orange County, not far from Laguna Beach, and we've seen most of the SoCal sites by now. Southern California is so spread out and once you get to San Diego, I would just stay put. This may sound kind of corny, but if you go to Old Town San Diego, north of the city, you can take a trolley all the way from Old Town, with stops in downtown, Seaport Village (shops, restaurants) and Coronado. It's a good way to see the sites without driving, and you could easily spend the day doing that if you made the various stops. It's too bad your boyfriend doesn't like the zoo or Wild Animal Park because they're fantastic... they're so beautiful to walk through. And the San Diego Zoo is world famous. At any rate, I'd also recommend La Jolla and Coronado, and if I had my choice I'd stay in one of those areas. Laguna Beach is also beautiful and you'll probably love it. It's small, but as a visitor I'd like to stay at least two nights, just to walk the beach. It's one of our favorite places. In fact, we're going there for dinner tonight! Hope that helps. Have fun! (and remember to bring a sweater or two and a jacket, as the nights get chilly!)
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Oct 27th, 2003, 06:27 PM
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I'd skip Anza Borrego if I were you.

Several years ago, someone raved about that desert to us, so we decided to drive there - only to find the most god-awful desert ever! Worse than the drive to Las Vegas, worse than...well, just be careful! Depending on the time of year, some flowers MAY be in bloom! Be sure to check for the time when you are visiting!

Jason
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