Who Knows San Diego?

My daughter and I are gonna take the train out to San Diego this spring to see the zoo, Marine World, and the beach. Anyone have recommendations for moderate nearby hotels/B&Bs, etc? Any other recommendations?

  • Jill

If it is still there, the TraveLodge at Old Town was where I used to stay all the time. Very nice rooms, very reasonable prices. It is just a couple blocks from Old Town, and about a 10-minute drive from the Zoo, Balboa Park, Sea World, and Mission Bay.

Anybody heard of the Aztec Budget Inn on El Cajon Blvd?

Look around the newsracks for a magazine called THE TRAVELER it’s free.

Read the Coupons for SD lodging. You can save a bundle. Expect $39.00 nights for big hotels. Only catch is you have to walk in after 6pm, you cannot make reservations. But the next night you get the same rate without having to walkin.

I’ve no idea about hotels. My relatives stayed with me when they were in SD.

I will say that at 2:00 on Sundays they play the big pipe organ in Balboa Park. It’s located south of the zoo amidst a bunch of good museums. Definitely worth a visit.

Lucie mentions Old Town. It’s a park containing old buildings and some cunning tourist kitsch. Good restaurants. In that line, you might try Da Kine’s in PB (following the instructions to Mission Beach below) and Bit of Britain’s on Midway north of the Marine base. Various Ethiopian places line El Cajon Blvd. Sorry, all I know is ethnic when dining out.

There’s a tall ship, a ferry, and a sloop at the harbor. Tijuana is…instructive, shall we say, also too intense for small children (I hated that town myself, but you do need to now what border towns are like).

Your best bets for the beach are Mission Beach - take I-5 to Garnet out to the ocean, then drift south on Mission Beach Avenue to the amusement park at the latest - and La Jolla Shores - I-5 to La Jolla Village Drive, loop UCSD to La Jolla Shores Drive, turn west again till you pass Scripps Institute, then west through the housing development - and Torrey Pines - go like you’re going to LJ Shores, but go north past that street and on into the park.

And find a Trader Joe’s grocery. Stock up on stuff. Any stuff. Mail it me. Please. I’m starving.

The correct response is, “we have a guest cottage,” don Jaime. But it appears you don’t live there anymore?

[[on Sundays they play the big pipe organ in Balboa Park]]
Hope this isn’t a euphamism…

[[Various Ethiopian places line El Cajon Blvd. Sorry, all I know is ethnic when dining out]]
You’re apologising for this?

[[Tijuana is…instructive, shall we say, also too intense for small children (I hated that town myself, but you do need to now what border towns are like).]]

Hah. I live in New Mexico and my daughter and I were in Juarez last month. She’s used to this kind of thing, too. The interior of Mexico is much nicer, but border towns are a trip.

[[Your best bets for the beach are Mission Beach]]

Many years ago when I was insane, I ran the Mission Bay Marathon. It will be fun to visit now, when I’m normal.

[[And find a Trader Joe’s grocery.]]

Ah yes, just visited Trader Joe’s in Tucson. Keep thinking Albuquerque will be big enough to have one soon.

Donde vivas ahora, don Jaime?

Just remembered you’re the OKC guy. Didn’t we talk about armadillos once? - Jill

I went to UCSD so Im all for visiting La Jolla!! Blacks beach for the surf & beautiful walk, ignore all the nude people there. Torrey Pines road, The Salk Institute & the Nuclear test reactor (in back of UCSD) are also fun, although you can’t get into most of that stuff.

If you get tempted by Tijuana, take the bus over the border and walk a couple of blocks into town. Lines are long for cars and you have to have special papers from your insurance company or a minor accident can land you in jail.
The bus is easy, and in all the brocures/web info.

Yep. OKC. Sorry, I thought from your post you had never been in SD at all. You were insane, running that marathon.

What I had was a two room apartment, and a beach chair in the living room/kitchen when visitors took the bed. I guess it’s the same thing.

When I eat out, I go ethnic. I’m not especially interested in restaurants that present food I already know how to cook, so my knowledge of those is limited. BTW, go into La Jolla and look for the Persian restaurants. Those are also good.

I can’t stress the pipe organ enough. It’s two stories tall and outdoors. Great to hear Bach how he played it - on a honkin’ huge organ. There’s a botanical garden nearby and a collection of weird little huts run by ethnic heritage groups. Also buskers. Balboa Park is so cool.

Handy - I went to UCSD, too. It was a great learning experience, but was hell fighting the administration and my department every damn day. Can you believe that the Geisel Library, with its Geisel Collection of Seuss’s own original material, still didn’t have a permanent exhibit up even a few years ago? I mean, WTF? Do you know if this has changed?

“Do you know if this has changed?”

Nope. I went in the 70’s. What was funny was the Central Libary, so pretty, yet so unexpandable.

Another San Diegan and UCSD graduate here. You’re going to have a great time here JillGat! Since I’ve given over the Viet Nam idea at least for this year, I hope you’ll drop me a line when you’re coming to San Diego.

Everyone’s had good suggestions so far. I also like the Hotel Del Coronado and La Jolla Cove. “Marine World” is really called Sea World, but I prefer the zoo and especially the Wild Animal Park. Something I’ve never tried, but which looks fun, is ballooning in Del Mar. Apparently the weather conditions there are ideal, so every afternoon you see dozens of them filling the Del Mar skies.

Sea World, right. Yes, the zoo is the main thing I want to see. My daughter Olivia, age 8, just informed me that she’s never seen a zebra. Jeez. We had two kinds in the zoo here until about seven years ago when they moved them out during an expansion (guess they’ll bring some back at some point, but what’s a zoo without zebras?). Anyway, there will be lots of animals there she’s never seen before – and some won’t even be around in their native habitats before long. I took the train out there once before and it’s a great ride, too. Thanks for all your advice.

Another former San Diegan and UCSD attendee here. We go down every year for Christmas. What are you looking for in a hotel? Atmosphere or location? I’m kinda cheap, so we stay at the Motel 6 in Mission Valley. It’s pretty central to everything. If you want to go really classy, go to the Hotel Del Coronado. It’s expensive though. In fact, even if you don’t stay at the Hotel Del, consider going there to check it out; it’s pretty impressive. And it’s right on the beach, so in the same afternoon, you can hang out there as well.

If you’re looking to see zebras and such, the zoo is fantastic, but a very cool alternative is the wild animal park. It’s built on thousands of acres, and has the animals in much more spread out, natural locations. You can’t get quite as close to the animals, but it’s pretty impressive.

Tijuana’s interesting, but sad in it’s way. It’s not really Mexico. If you’re there long enough, you may want to drive down south a ways to see the real place.

If the Belly Up Tavern is still around in Solana Beach, that’s plenty fun to check out bands at.

Old Town’s cool. Balboa Park’s cool. Of course, check out the beach. Any are good: La Jolla cove, Mission, Pacific…

I’m looking for something under $80 that’s near the zoo, etc. We’ll probably go to the beach and these organ pipes sound interesting, too. We go to Mexico all the time (through Chihuahua), so will probably skip Tijuana.

Yes, the Belly Up is still in Solana Beach, on Cedros Ave., within easy walking distance of the new train/Coaster station. It’s maybe not the best place for an eight-year-old though.

Hey, no problem! I trust you totally as a babysitter.

I don’t know, but only the dead know Brooklyn.

El Cajon Blvd was rather rough a couple of years ago, when last I was stationed there. Like-wise, Mission Beach was pretty tough also. Old Town is always a good bet, if a bit pricey. LaJolla, same story: Nice/pricy. Both are nice and fairly close to the places you want to go, unless you’re going to Tijuana. If you /must/ go to Tijuana, take the Trolly, not the bus: It’s faster and easier.

Stay away from National City, save to pass-through to TJ. Also avoid East SanDiego like the plague.

Corronado and Seaport Village are must-see, as is Horton Plaza (downtown) and the Gas Lamp district. Anthony’s Sea Port is a very fine place to eat on the waterfront near the Amtrak station, (near the Naval Supply Depot, not far from downtown.

Tranquilis wrote

Hey! I went to high school at Hoover on El Cajon Blvd. And I lived in Mission Beach briefly. And I didn’t turn out so bad. I can’t say I’ve heard of the ‘Aztec Budget Inn’ though.