|Subject: Re: New member in Spain wants California tips|
Here's a list of things to consider for your time in San Diego. If you'd like me to elaborate on any of this or if you have additional questions please don't hesitate to ask.
Start your day off at the Hotel del Coronado in the charming little "island" community (actually on a peninsula) of Coronado. Have a cappucino and pastry in the San Diego area's grande dame of hotels. Maybe you might want to rent Billy Wilder's "Some Like it Hot" with Marilyn Monroe, Jack Lemmon, and Tony Curtis to familiarize yourself with the hotel before you come. While on Coronado drive by the Old Ferry Landing to get a great view of the San Diego waterfront. And as you cross the Coronado Bridge back to San Diego look to the south to catch a glimpse of the Pacific Fleet docked at the 32nd Street Naval Station.
If you want to see more of San Diego Bay make your way into downtown San Diego to the foot of Broadway where you'll find the berths for the harbor cruises. There's nothing like seeing a city from the vantage point of its bay. The captain will give a short history of the bay's discovery by Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo in 1542. In addition, you'll cruise by the naval submarines docked at Ballast Point, the marinas at Shelter Island (where the America's Cup races were based in the 1990's), and past one of the U.S. Navy's huge aircraft carriers; the Nimitz or Reagan. And you can't miss the California sea lions lazing on the harbor buoys and barking at any boat that sails too close. San Diego's newest museum sits in San Diego Bay. It's the aircraft carrier Midway opened to the public just last month. And the other big development downtown is Petco Park the new home of the San Diego Padres. Come on down and watch America's favorite pastime...baseball.. Before or after the game you can pick from dozens of restaurants in the Gaslamp Quarter. Consider Blupoint for seafood, Cafe Sevilla for tapas, or Candelas for upscale Mexican.
Once you arrive back at the embarcadero (waterfront) make the short trip up to Balboa Park for a visit to San Diego's gem of an urban park. Park the car, stroll down the Prado enjoying the intricate details of the Spanish-style architecture on the House of Hospitality and the House of Charm both structures remaining from the 1916 Panama- California Exposition. Although the zoo is located in Balboa Park it is by no means the only sight to see in this gorgeous setting. Walk through the magnificent Botanical Building, the Desert or Rose Garden, the Japanese Friendship Garden, or take a seat in the serenity of the Alcazar Garden. Are museums more to your liking? There is San Diego Aerospace Museum, the Museum of Photographic Arts, or the Mingei International Museum with its wonderful collection of world folk art. And finally if you're a fan of design and architecture pencil in a stop at the Marston House a classic example of 1905 Arts and Crafts design. During the summer the Zoo will be operating with its nightime hours, staying open until 10:00 pm. Get a different perspective on the animals with an after dark visit.. If you happen to visit the park on a Sunday be sure and stop by the International Cottages next to Organ Pavilion. Every Sunday a different house/country has a festival showing off its traditional dances, costumes, etc. And there is always abooth set up offering homemade dishes. If you do visit the cottages do stop by the House of the Czech and Slovak Republics and the House of Hungary they always have some pastries available. And don't forget the free Sunday concerts at the Organ Pavilion. htm
Getting hungry? Let's head down to Point Loma Seafoods for a quick bite next to the docks in Shelter Island. Fresh tuna, calamari sandwiches, sushi, are all offered on the lengthy menu at this informal eatery. Grab a table outside and watch the sportfishing boats unload their catches of wahoo, dorado, and albacore. Just remember don't feed the seagulls!
Now we head up the hill and to the end of Point Loma where we'll find Cabrillo National Monument. Without exception the best view of downtown San Diego, Coronado, south to Mexico, and the Pacific. The information center will give you the full history of the European discovery of San Diego, as well as, some great insight into the natural history of the area. As you approach and leave the monument you will pass by Ft. Rosecrans National Cemetary. Feel free to stop the car and take a stroll amongst the thousands of white markers. A perfect place for some reflection.
Time to head north. Make the quick jaunt up Interstate 5 to La Jolla. Here you'll be able to do some shopping along Prospect St. Also, there will be plenty of opportunity for people watching. Head down to the Cove grab a seat on a bench overlooking the swimmers. Many are preparing for the La Jolla Roughwater Swim to be held a month after your visit. You'll see some swimming to the buoy markers at 1/4 and 1/2 miles out into the bay. Amazingly, others will be swimming to the Scripps Pier all the way across La Jolla Bay where the Torrey Pines cliffs begin; about 2 miles. And then they swim back! Stop off at the Children's Pool for a visit to Southern California's only beach haulout area for harbor seals and Caalifornia sea lions. Weigh in with your opinion; let the seals stay or move them out for the kids? Dinner in La Jolla can be had at both George's at the Cove or The Marine Room for award winning cuisine and inspiring ocean views. Interested in sea life? A visit to the Stephen Birch Aquarium at the Scripps Institute of Oceanography will get you up to date on recent research.
Continue north up the coast to the glider port at Torrey Pines. The views looking back towards the cove and La Jolla are spectacular. Watch the hang gliders float by on the ocean breezes. Look down the 200 ft. cliffs to the surfers catching the swells at Black's Beach directly below you. If your lucky you may catch a view of some dolphins cavorting in the waves adjacent to their human counterparts.
The Del Mar Thoroughbred Club will offer you a chanceto lay down a bet on your favorite pony. Track season runs from mid-July to early September. Walk the grandstands with the ghosts of Bing Crosby, Pat O'Brian, and Jimmy Durante.If you hit it big head on into Rancho Santa Fe for dinner at Mille Fleurs San Diego's finest French restaurant. Or head to the coast and dine overlooking the waves at Jake's Del Mar. Righ across the road from the track is The Fish Market restaurant with its exceedingly fresh seafood.
If you head to inland north San Diego County you can visit the San Diego Wild Animal Park in San Pasqual Valley. Along the way you'll pass by the Orfila Vineyard where you could stop by for a little wine-tasting. And adjacent to the Wild Animal Park is the San Pasqual Battlefield Historic Monument, the sole California location for hostilities between American and Mexican troops during the Mexican- American War.
For a little more extensive wine tasting you could head north up to Temecula just across the Riverside County line, approximately 30 minute drive, to visit quite a few other wineries including Callaway and Thornton Vineyards. If you prefer a getaway to the cool mountain breezes Palomar Mt.is a short 45 minute drive to the northeast of Escondido. While there you can visit the Hale Telescope at the Palomar Observatory. Along the way you can try your luck at the Indian gaming casino on the Rincon Reservation, one of several large Indian gaming casinos located in San Diego county.
Do you like live music? There are quite a few venues you could catch a concert including the House of Blues, Humphreys by the Bay, and The Belly-Up Tavern. Here are links with their calendars;
Some other helpful links:
San Diego Zoo and Wild Animal Park: http://www.sandiegozoo.org
Balboa Park: http://www.sandiego.gov/park-and- recreation/parks/balboa/index.shtml
Del Mar Thoroughbred Club: http://www.dmtc.com/
San Diego Padres: http://sandiego.padres.mlb.com/
San Diego Aircraft Carrier Museum: http://www.midway.org/
Birch Aquarium: http://aquarium.ucsd.edu/
A general San Diego website hosted by the local newspaper: http://www.signonsandiego.com/
John in San Diego