Travel Advice: San Diego

In a few weeks, I’m going to be in the San Diego area for work [i.e. standing in front of a marketing display slapping backs and shaking hands]. The Prioress is going to meet me at the tail end for a few days. I’ve had a few conversations with people about “where to stay” and “what to do” and they have laid out agenda’s that seem would take a lifetime to fulfill.  We don’t want to try and see “everything a tourist should see when in San Diego” – I’m OK if we don’t even make it to the zoo.

I could use recommendations on a neighborhood to post up in and enjoy.  We would rather get to know a few city blocks pretty well on foot, then logging windshield time driving between “here and there” [we’ve got a 4K mile road trip planned for later this summer – plenty of windshield time there].  Criteria:

– walkable with access to interesting shops and restaurants.

– not interested in an “aggressive” night life.  would like to see some live music, but along the lines of The Dakota down in the Big City.  not interested in the club scene.

– less developed for tourist.  would like to be able to buy a coffee for less than $11.

With your comments on the area to stage out of, if you could also provide suggestions for the following – that would button up a lot of the planning:

1) beach?

2) lodging accommodations?

I posted something similar on Trip Adviser, but it’s not generating any discussion.  I’ve tried weeding through the volumes of information and suggestions available for this area – and it’s a bit overwhelming – we’re only going to have about two full days to ourselves in the area.

Thanks for your input.




about 11 years ago

I've stayed in Old Town at the Best Western Hacienda. I thought the hotel was nice. The area is tourist-y but laid back with great restaurants. Very walkable. Mission beach is close and accessible by public transit.

I've also stayed at the Manchester Hyatt by the convention center. Nice place. Right next to very tourist-y Seaport Village. Close to Gas-lamp district and downtown. That area is very walkable too and there is plenty to see & do.

Find something to do at Balboa Park. If it's not the zoo there are plenty of other interesting things there.

Only other beach I've been there is Coronado and I thought Mission beach was better.

Public transit there is pretty good. It's easy to get around. Have fun!


about 11 years ago

I am a San Diego native transplanted to Duluth.  For a different experience, I would strongly recommend North San Diego County, specifically the cities of Del Mar, Solana Beach, Encinitas or Carlsbad.  In that area along the Pacific Coast Highway 101. there are loads of hotels, and very easy access to beautiful beaches.  Especially in each city's "downtown" area near the highway, there are lots of shops, restaurants, and nightlife.  It would still provide for a great San Diego experience, but a more laid-back, beachy feel.


about 11 years ago

While it is rather touristy (and maybe spendy), I would still recommend Coronado Island. I've stayed there several times and it has a nice walkable vibe. Downtown and the gaslamp district are readily available via ferry as well. 

As for attractions, last time we were there we spent a day in Balboa park without even seeing the zoo. Amazing gardens, architecture, and museums. 

I'd also recommend the Turf Supper Club for a kitschy dining experience.


about 11 years ago

If you don't mind dogs - dog beach. The Gaslamp area of downtown. If you like craft beer - And of course Tijuana. Don't drink the tequila with the rattlesnake rattle in it.


about 11 years ago

One of my brothers lives in Encinitas, north of San Diego, and I've visited there many times in the past 25 years. I second the suggestion by Moosetracks to stay in one of the beach towns north of the city. Lots of little local cafes and shops near the beaches, and  just a cool SoCA vibe. Del Mar, Encinitas, Solana Beach, even La Jolla if you want upscale (pain in the ass to drive into and out of La Jolla, though, and it's seriously expensive). If you want to be closer to the city and all it offers, Coronado is wonderful, and it is fun to bike around the island. Be sure to check out the Hotel Coronado. It's much too expensive, but there are less expensive options available nearby.  I would not stay in Gaslamp Quarter, it seems to often be overrun by frat boys wanting to drink until they puke.

Wherever you stay, just park yourself, because the traffic in San Diego area is getting worse all the time, though not as bad as LA.

But seriously, check out the beach towns north of the city. San Diego is a city like any other city in Paradise, but the beach towns are unique and a lot of fun.


about 11 years ago

P.S. Pacific Beach, which is close to the city, is another great option. I love, love the boardwalk and Crystal Pier there. Lots of excellent and affordable restaurants right on the beach too.


about 11 years ago < Stay there.

Right at the head of Coronado Island.  Local eats are no more expensive than elsewhere in S.D.  Close to downtown.

That's what I would do.  Eat good food, drink good drinks, fool around.

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