Roadtripping to SD. Need some suggestions please. Thanking you.
The classics are the San Diego Zoo and San Diego Safari Park. The Maritime Museum and the Midway are also fun visits. Sea World is a pretty nice place, a combination of amusement park and aquarium. Balboa Park in general is nice, especially if you’re into museums. Point Loma’s Cabrillo Lighthouse is scenic. It’s still a bit cold to hit the beach, but a lot of us like it when it’s cold: it helps keeps the crowds down!
I can’t help you with the dining and cultural arts scene; I know there are some ab-fab restaurants, but I’m more of an In-and-Out Burger kinda guy.
Whenever I go to other cities, I look for their zoo…and that’s what I recommend to anyone coming to San Diego.
Hope you enjoy your visit!
The San Diego Zoo is world-renowned, as Trinopus has mentioned. And I also highly recommend the Wild Animal park, which is outside of town if you have a car.
Old Town San Diego, with the old original buildings from when San Diego was first colonized is interesting, and there are lots of nice restaurants in that area, too.
One-handed golf clap.
The highest-rated (Trip Advisor) attraction in San Diego is the USS Midway Museum. If you are at all curious as to how things work, to say nothing of history, you don’t want to miss it. Full disclosure…I’m a volunteer Docent. It’s well worth the $20.00 price of admission. It’s on the downtown waterfront.
If you have some time and a rental car also suggest a leisurely drive up the Coast Highway to Oceanside and back. It’s a beautiful drive with lots of great views and places to eat.
Back to military history, the museum at MCRD San Diego (Marine Corps Boot Camp) is excellent.
Thanks folks. What about natural features, good hikes, that kind of stuff? Any beach related stuff, kayaking, that sort of thing? And Trinopus, I don’t want ab-fab dining, any local color kind of places?
One more question–any tips on how to find a cheap motel? This is all off the cuff, was going to Florida to see my snowbirding folks but flight got canceled due to Atlanta weather. No prep time at all.
Seconding the Zoo and the Midway. For good cheap eats just around - there are hundreds of great places to get wonderful food cheap. Give us some guidelines and we’ll hook you up. But just off the top of head - try Hodad’s for burgers, Los Indios for Mexican, Pizza Port for pizza and beer, and Stone Brewing for everything else.
My favorite hiking is Torrey Pines State Reserve: http://www.torreypine.org/. There’s a nice beach there too.
Cabrillo National Monument in Point Loma is nice, too. You can hike a bit, see some tidepools, visit the historic lighthouse (I think–it might be closed for a while), and there are a lot of nice restaurants at Liberty Station.
If you’re interested in architecture, take a tour of the Salk Institute.
For hiking in and around San Diego, check out the SD Reader column “Roam-o-Rama” and the excellent book Afoot And Afield in San Diego County. Iron Mountain is a good workout with great views on a clear day, but parking can sometimes be a pain.
When I lived in SD many many moons ago, my favorite place for scenic yet cheap eats was Anthony’s Fishette.
Hiking…closest to furthest to downtown (in addition to the aforementioned Torrey Pines hike): Cowles Mtn (20 min), Iron Mtn (35 min), Mt Woodsen (45 min) and Vulcan Mtn (1.5 hrs).
Absolute best Carnitas: Carnitas Snack Shack. Double check, but I think the address is 2650 University Ave.
Hiking: Mission Trails Regional Park.
(Oops, I just gave away the best secret in town!)
(I’m also insanely fond of the Bayside Trail at the tip of Point Loma, but I don’t think a visitor from afar would find it a high priority. Still, mighty nice place to stretch the legs and get a lungful of sea air.)
The Children’s Pool, which is a cove, let’s you see the seals as they beach for the night.
Go driving at 2 AM. Find an all-night taco shop in a small building with yellow and red décor and a Spanish first name on its sign (especially one ending in -Berto). Walk in and order the carne asada fries.
You won’t regret it.
If you really like tequila, they have more bottles than you can count at El Agave in Old Town. Their dinner menu usually features regional dishes that are a nice change from burritos and tacos. Try the corn smut!
If you’re into hiking and kayaking, I can tell you about a convenient little two-fer: for hiking, check out the Coast Walk Trail in La Jolla, which runs along the cliff tops overlooking the San Diego-La Jolla Underwater Park. It’s a pretty short hike (10 minutes at most one way), but it’s beautiful and has incredible views (plus, you’ll basically be walking through the backyards of about a dozen multimillion dollar homes). Then if you look down to the water, you’ll see the kayaks which have launched from La Jolla Shores, located just a few minutes down the street from the trail. There are several kayak tour and rental places. The underwater park has a leopard shark colony, no shortage of loud and smelly sea lions, sea caves, etc.
If they day is clear, go to the top of Mount Soledad for a wonderful panoramic sight of almost all of San Diego.
I’ll second Hodad’s, Pizza Port, the Midway and the Children’s Pool. The street Hodad’s is on in Ocean Beach is Newport Avenue which has a nice farmers market on Wednesday afternoons. Newport Ave has a lot of mom-and-pop stores and knick knacky antique shops.
Two great breakfast places with fantastic ocean views are Kono’s in Pacific Beach and Caroline’s on the Scripps Institute campus. For lunch, Con Pane at Liberty Station and The Cheese Shop in La Jolla Shores both have tasty sandwiches. And since Mexican food is in a league by itself, try Don Carlos in La Jolla or Bahia Don Bravo in PB. Order a California burrito.
Good call on Con Pane.