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Day In San Diego

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Day In San Diego

By: Kiki Gee
Photos: Allen Carrasco

Home to Shamu, the Chargers and even Ron Burgundy, San Diego is kind of a big deal. With a population of over 1.3 million, this seaside metropolis is the eighth largest city in the country and the second largest city in California. And since our headquarters happen to be located in San Diego County, we are giving you an all-encompassing, action-packed, in-the-know tour of our hometown…in a day!

Mission Beach

Ahhhh, Mission Beach, with its boardwalks filled with tan college students on skateboards and bikini-clad girls on rollerblades, is like a perennial spring break. Even if you graduated decades ago, you will be screaming like a little kid after a whirl on the roller coaster at the historic beachfront Belmont Park amusement center. Or, for those who don’t mind getting wet but aren’t quite ready to face the Pacific Ocean, the Wave House boasts the FlowRider and FlowBarrel wave machines that mimic the thrill of riding an ocean wave. But the most famous place to act like a kid again in San Diego is Sea World, located just up the street.

Belmont Park
3146 Mission Boulevard
www.belmontpark.com

Wave House
3125 Ocean Front Walk
www.wavehousesandiego.com
Sea World
500 Seaworld Drive
www.seaworld.com

 

Ocean Beach

Sun, sand, and surf. San Diego is well known for its 70+ miles of beaches. So a refreshing dip in the water and a moment with your toes in the sand is a must while visiting this beach community. Let your furry, four-legged friend run loose at the Ocean Beach Dog Park. Nestled at the end of Voltaire St. on the northernmost end of Ocean Beach at the mouth of the San Diego River, this is the perfect spot to let man’s best friend run, swim and play leash-free. And with the longest concrete pier on the West Coast, the Ocean Beach Pier is a prime hangout spot for anglers and tourists alike. Many come to this popular fishing spot with their rod and reel, no fishing license required. The top catch? Herring (also known as a Queenfish). Just below the pier, kids and adults can delight in hermit crab and anemone watching at the tide pools. On Wednesdays, the Farmers Market is not to be missed! Open from 4-8 pm in the summer months (4-7 pm in winter), the Ocean Beach Farmers Market boasts fresh local produce, flowers, art and more! While O.B. keeps visitors entertained year-round, the area comes to life in the summer months. In the summer, check out the Music and Art Festival on September 10th.

Point Loma

The hilly peninsula bordered on the west and south by the Pacific Ocean, the east by the San Diego Bay and Old Town and on the North by the San Diego River, is Point Loma. The Old Point Loma Lighthouse, perched on the southern point, is a major landmark. And don’t miss the Cabrillo National Monument commemorating the landing of Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo at San Diego Bay on September 28, 1542—the first time European expeditioners set foot on the West Coast of the U.S.!

Old Town

When you get to Old Town San Diego, rest your feet and have the good folks at Old Town Trolley Tours show you the sites. Soak in the charm and history during the guided tour of America’s Finest City, including some of these sights: 

Presidio Park: Home to the Junipero Serra Museum, Presidio Park is one of the most famous landmarks in San Diego. The Junipero Serra Museum is located at the top of the hill and is recognized as the site where Father Junipero Serra, a Spanish Franciscan missionary, established California’s first mission. Heritage Park: Boasting seven original Victorian homes from the late 1800s, Heritage Park is a popular venue for weddings and other private events. The Whaley House: Built in 1857, the Whaley House is classic example of mid-19th century Greek Revival architecture. Once the home of a prominent San Diego family, the Whaley House is the number one most haunted house in America, according to the Travel Channel. It is said to be haunted by Yankee Jim Robinson who was hung on the grounds prior to the house’s construction. Others say that the spirit of Violet Whaley, who committed suicide there in 1885, inhabits the Whaley House. Tours of the home, along with plenty of ghost stories, are available to the public daily from 10:00 am to 9:30 pm from Labor Day through Memorial Day. Visit whaleyhouse.org for more information.

If you are wondering the best time to visit Old Town, July and August are prime months as the history of Old Town comes alive during Stagecoach Days.

Balboa Park

Home to a slew of museums, gardens and various performing arts venues, Balboa Park could keep you entertained for years! But since we only have a day, here are the must-see and do’s:

Attractions:

  • Carousel: Since 1910, the Balboa Park Carousel has been delighting kids and parents alike. Open daily mid-summer through Labor Day.
  • Miniature Railroad: Little ones will love this three- minute, ½-mile ride through Balboa Park!
  • San Diego Zoo: The San Diego Zoo is home to over 4,000 rare and endangered animals from mischief-making meerkats to giant pandas.

Performing Arts:

  • Old Globe Theatre: Founded in 1935, this internationally acclaimed, Tony award-winning theatre is made up of three venues and produces 15 plays and musicals each year. The Summer Shakespeare Series is among the theatre’s most popular productions.

Gardens:

  • Japanese Friendship Garden: The perfect place to zen-out, the Japanese Friendship Garden boasts a Bonsai exhibit, koi pond and a Fujidana (wisteria arbor). Come on a weekend for sushi making or conversational Japanese lessons!
  • The Botanical Building: Home to more than 2,100 permanent plants and a gorgeous lily pond, the Botanical Building is a definite must-see.Inez Grant Parker Memorial Rose Garden:  The best place to stop and smell the roses. Voted by the World Rose Society as one of the top rose gardens in the world.

Museums:

  • San Diego Air and Space Museum: Take a peek into aviation history at the San Diego Air and Space Museum, home to a collection of air and spacecrafts from all over the world, including the actual Apollo 9 Command Module spacecraft. They even offer a 3D/4D Theater and Interactive Air & Space Technology Kid Zone.
  • Centro Cultural de la Raza: Dedicated to preserving Mexican, Chicano and indigenous art and culture, this museum features murals, a 150-seat performance space, and a 2000-square-foot art gallery.
  • Museum of Man: It’s all about people at the San Diego Museum of Man, where evidence of human developmentand archaeological objects are displayed to teach about people and their cultures.For a complete guide to all of Balboa Park’s offerings, visit www.balboapark.org.

Coronado Island

Get ready to live life on island time as you head toward Coronado Island. This affluent community first became a tourist destination in 1888 with the opening of the Hotel Del Coronado. Though also accessible by bridge, we recommend hopping on the Corona Island Ferry so you can breathe in the salty ocean air. Once docked, get ready to shop, eat and play with some of the finest boutiques, restaurants, art galleries and other activities in San Diego. For a fun way to get around, rent a bike from Holland’s located on Orange Avenue, between 9th and 10th Street. Then, check out a handful of our top Coronado picks:

Restaurants

Primavera Ristorante
932 Orange Avenue
www.primavera1st.com
Fine Italian dining. Entrees like linguini with clams and osso buco, along with an extensive wine list to wash them down with make this establishment a winner. If you can make it between 5 and 7 pm Monday through Friday, be sure to check out their happy hour menu.

Burger Lounge
922 Orange Avenue (several locations throughout San Diego)
www.burgerlounge.com
Pure. Simple. Delicious. Burgers that cater to health conscious hamburger hankerings.

Peohe’s
1201 1st Street
www.peohes.com
Pacific Rim inspired seafood located on the water’s edge.

Boutiques

The Attic
1112 Tenth Street
www.theatticgirls.blogspot.com
Modern vintage mix of home décor and accessories.

Blue Jeans and Bikinis
1113 Adella Avenue
www.bluejeansandbikinis.com
The two hardest items to shop for just got a whole lot easier.Bay Books
1029 Orange Avenue
www.baybookscoronado.com
A great place to curl up with a variety of page-turners.

Galleries

Dan McGeorge
1340 Orange Avenue
www.danmcgeorge.com
Photographic art featuring waterscapes, tall ships and plenty of scenic San Diego pieces.Art for Wildlife Galleries
1201 First Street, Suite 101
www.artforwildlife.com
Animal-inspired art.Beach House Gallery
1213 First Street, #142
www.beachhousegallery.net
Photography based gifts (think notecards and prints)

Embarcadero

As you approach the end of your daylight hours in San Diego, head to the embarcadero to enjoy some of the scenery and views of the San Diego Bay. If you still have the itch to shop, Seaport Village offers quality window shopping. Seaport Village also draws a crowd in the summer during its summer concert series. Once you’ve shopped ‘til you’ve dropped, the Maritime Museum is the place to go to learn about sailing history and tour beautiful, classic ships. And the USS Midway Museum allows visitors to come aboard the U.S. aircraft carrier that served for 47 years.

Downtown

Next up: Downtown -Your last and final stop on your day in San Diego. The Gaslamp District received its name in reference to the gas lamps that were commonly used in San Diego during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Now, the 16 ½ block area draws locals and tourists alike with a vibrant mix of dining and entertainment venues and year-round events. And in September,the San Diego Film Festival brings celebs and big names to the city for four days and nights. As the sun sets, drink, dine and dish about your fabulous day at one of downtown’s many restaurants and lounges. For a decadent seafood dinner, The Oceanaire Seafood Room tantalizes taste buds with offerings like chili calamari and plump, meaty crab cakes (save room for the Baked Alaska!) For a more casual, but still festive experience, try La Puerta for delish Mexican food and bustling bar scene. And if you have it in you, feel free to dance to your heart’s content at the always packed Stingaree or eye-candy filled ALTITUDE Sky Lounge. Or catch a play or concert at the historic Spreckels theatre (www.spreckels.net for ticketing info). From the beaches to the bars, San Diego is a pretty lovely place to blow 24 hours. Want to stay longer? Visit www.sandiego.org. Until next time…. You stay classy, San Diego!

Posted in: A Day In...FeaturedSummer 2011Travel
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