Travelling to San Diego in a week. I have never been to San Diego, and although folks tell me it is beautiful, I have not heard/seen a lot to do there. We plan on a day trip up to LA/Anaheim to catch an Angels game and do one of the Disney parks, then me and my GF will have 3 full days in San Diego.
I have checked out sites and looked at the tourism board for San Diego, but can you recommend some places for a 30-something couple. What about nightlife, day activites, etc?
Also, I will be in the San Diego area for one day by myself before my GF arrives. I know inland California is supposed to be amazingly scenic, so am curious are there any nature attractions or scenic roads that I should take a drive on on my day alone? I have thought about flying up to San Fran for one day (returning the following morning) but not sure if that is feasible, with airport security (spending a long time in the airport instead of in San Fran).
We spent four days in San Diego for a convention and found many things to do in our free time. (Actually skipped out of the meetings one day.) The San Diego Zoo and Wildlife Park is one the best in the world. There is also SeaWorld (Busch Gardens). The Old Town area is quite nice with shopping, dining, and nightlife. Though we didn't have a chance to visit, Balboa Park is suppose to be very nice. We did have dinner at the Hotel Del Coronado (aka Hotel Del) on Coronado Island (it was our anniversary and my husband lived next door to the hotel several years ago) and that was well worth it. It is expensive, but if you decide to splurge one night...
If you are into history, the USS Midway Museum is located in the harbor. The museum is housed in the ship itself. The adjoining park and embarcadero has been rehabbed with restaurants, other interesting old ships and ecclectic shopping areas.
Hope that helps.
The absolute best attractions in San Diego are the beaches! Visit Ocean Beach, close to downtown, for a hippie vibe and a walk on the pier to catch the wind in your hair and watch the surfers. A great drive up the coast should include the scenic and easy hiking trail at Torrey Pines State Beach, and a stop in La Jolla for beautiful beach coves and really great strolling/shopping. Check the web for driving and parking directions for these places before you go. It can be a little confusing. Inland california is beautiful but around SD, I don't think you'd find anything better than this. You can consider Temecula for winery tours. Check the drive time on that. I'm thinking 45 minutes.
I also vote for the San Diego Zoo as one of S.D's best attractions. You can followed it up with an evening in the Gaslamp District. You walk along block after block of restaurants, clubs, dance places, and choose which ones you want to go in. It is very lively! Trust me...you'll love it!
The last time I went to San Diego we did a tourist thing that was really fun. They have an amphibious bus that takes you on an informative tour of the downtown area. Then it drives right into the ocean and cruises through the bay and along Point Loma. Then it drives back onto the land and takes you back to the Embarcadero, where you started. It's a little pricey but a unique experience.
You can buy a trolley car pass and get off and on as you please (I think one version of this pass includes the amphibious bus). There are many good restaurants in SD and you can't go wrong with a Mexican restaurant anywhere, but I would suggest you get off the trolley in Old Town and have lunch in one of the Mexican restaurants there.
Have a great time!
Isadora and kathidi have already listed the primary spots to visit, but let me also mention a few others:
For restaurants and nightlife, go to either Old Town or La Jolla (already mentioned) or the Gaslight district downtown or to Shelter Island, just west of the airport.
If you are there in the summertime, a wonderful thing to do is to go to the Del Mar Racetrack (thoroughbred horse racing) during the day. It's famous as the place where "The Turf meets the Surf" (this was a long time before anybody started advertising the surf and turf specials in restaurants). The beaches at Mission Bay are good and you can also rent a sailboat or a parasail--or you can rent the waverunners for an hour or so instead (a real blast--they can be rented behind the San Diego Hilton).
Occasionally, once a year there are two special events--one is the Sand Castle building contest on the island behind where they rent the waverunners--and also there is the totally nuts "Over the Line" softball contest--where half the fun is playing and the other half is watching the wild and erotic and outrageous outfits worn by members of both sexes at the contest. In the fall, it's fun to go watch the San Diego Chargers play American football on Sundays. North of town a ways is the La Costa Resort and Spa--which includes a good golf course (and the best course in town is in the Torrey Pines area), but there are quite a few good ones all over town.
Lastly, you can always drive the 40 minutes down to the Mexican border and cross over to visit Tijuana, Rosarito Beach and points south--but that's not really a "San Diego" vacation.
Really appreciate the replies, and I am going to do quite a few things that you have recommended. My vacation schedule is filling up for sure. :-)
Still have that problem of that one day alone with my rental car. I have read some stuff about the foothills of something or other *grins*. If I head east, are there any state parks? Scenic roads? I know the GF will want to drive the coast with me, so will do inland on my day alone. Just wondering what direction to go.
Well, you can go as far as Julien and Anza-Borrego Desert State Park--or if you really want an adventure, you can go all the way to Palm Springs.
Here's the directions to Palm Springs via Anza-Borrego (courtesy of Google maps):
1.Take the exit onto I-8 E 25.6 mi
2. Take exit 40 for CA-79/Japatul Rd toward Julian 0.3 mi
3. Turn left at CA-79/Japatul Valley Rd
Continue to follow CA-79 2.7 mi
4. Turn left to stay on CA-79 20.2 mi
5. Turn right at Banner Rd/CA-78
Continue to follow CA-78 49.9 mi
6. Turn left at CA-86 N 27.4 mi
7. Continue on CA-86-SPUR N 19.8 mi
8. Merge onto I-10 W 21.1 mi
9. Take the Palm Dr exit toward Desert Hot Springs 0.3 mi
10. Turn left at N Gene Autry Trail/Palm Dr
Continue to follow N Gene Autry Trail 3.6 mi to Palm Springs, CA
It's about a 3 hour and 15 minute drive going that way.
To return much quicker--like in 2 hours and 20 minutes, take this route:
1. Head southeast on N Gene Autry Trail toward Mission Dr 0.8 mi
2. Make a U-turn at Mission Dr 4.4 mi
3. Turn left to merge onto I-10 W toward Los Angeles 29.2 mi
4. Exit on the left onto CA-60 W toward Riverside 17.9 mi
5. Take exit 58 to merge onto I-215 S toward San Diego 30.8 mi
6. Merge onto I-15 S 49.9 mi
7. Slight right at CA-163 S (signs for CA-163 S)
While in Palm Springs (probably the major desert resort in all of California), you'll see lots of fancy hotels and swimming pools and spas, a vibrant downtown area and there's a tram on the north side of town that takes you to the top of the mountain there (about 9,000 feet up from the desert floor)--pack a sweater, though. It will be 30 degrees colder at the top than at the bottom of the tram--and even colder if you go up at nighttime.
Next week in Palm Springs the weather will be between 88 and 96 fahrenheit during the day (31 to 36 Celsius) and 61 to 67 at night (16 to 19)--meaning at the top of the mountain it will be 14 to 19 Celsius during the day and zero to 4 at night!! People who wander too far away from the tram stop at the top do get lost--so don't go wandering off, either.
North in Desert Hot Springs (about 10 miles north of Palm Springs) are some extremely nice pools and spas for day use if you get there by late morning or early afternoon--but pack your suntan lotion.
Also, forgot to mention that there are hundreds of great golf courses between Palm Springs and the Indio area--and a waterpark or two as well. They still hold one or two PGA tournaments here every year. (usually at the Indian Wells course).