Author Topic: San Diego...  (Read 539 times)

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Please pass the Calgon

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San Diego...
« on: June 24, 2014, 10:54:40 PM »
DH, the kids & I will be spending the week of July 4th in San Diego. We've been once before, about 4 years ago (Zoo, Wildlife Park, Legoland, SeaWorld, museums). The kids are now 15, 12 & 10.

We bought the GoSanDiego Cards giving us access to 40+ places. So far the USS Midway, Zoo, Legoland & Balboa Park are on our MUST SEE list. Do we have any eHell members in the area who can recommend other places to visit and good places to eat? We'll be staying near-ish the airport & Old Town.

Also, the kids really want to see a fireworks show on the 4th...is there somewhere with a good view that doesn't get crazy crowded?

Thanks for any insight you can provide!

AmethystAnne

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Re: San Diego...
« Reply #1 on: June 24, 2014, 11:29:28 PM »
Is Balboa Park the one near where the cruise ships are docked? If it is, check out the statues. (Bob Hope and audience, the famous kiss at the end of WWII, and others that I can't remember right now.)

Peregrine

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Re: San Diego...
« Reply #2 on: June 25, 2014, 12:53:35 AM »
It's a bit of a drive, but if you haven't checked out the San Diego Zoo Safari Park in Escondido, I highly recommend it.  It's got quite a different feel from the zoo, and the tram ride out into the enclosure is a lot of fun.  If you have the funds, the photo safari tour is great fun too....they take you out in a truck and you get to get closer to the animals.  I have a great picture of feeding a baby giraffe :)

LEGOLAND now has a waterpark and aquarium as part of their attractions, although I'm not sure what ages it's geared toward.

You could also check out the Scripps Aquarium, during the summer they have some great naturalist lead adventures, ranging from snorkeling with the sharks in La Jolla (done it) and night walks.

Old Town is fabulous for checking out a variety of Mexican cuisines....I like La Pinata and Miguel's the best for good Mexican food.  Miguel's is on the far end of the touristy area toward the south.  La Pinata is kind of a little hole in the wall I want to say behind Casa Guadalajara, but they have the spiciest salsa in Old Town.  Other fun places to eat, try Slaters 50/50 out at Liberty Station in Point Loma home of the bacon :)  For great BBQ that is really affordable look up Phil's on Sports Arena (not open on Mondays) it gets pretty busy, you must order at the counter then you can find your own seat.  It's not unusual to see a long line around the building, but the BBQ is worth it, and there is a huge amount of food if you are big eaters.  Ho-Dads is another San Diego institution, good burgers and shakes.  Taco Tuesdays are a big thing in San Diego, cheap tacos and Margaritas at a lot of Mexican places around town, if that's your thing. If you are feeling particularly extravagant, Sunday Brunch at the Hotel Del Coronado is spectacular. 

As far as fireworks viewing, it all gets pretty crazy so far as I can tell.  An actual local could probably give you better info.

We go there for 6-9 months every couple of years for work, and these are some of our favorite places.

MonteCristo

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Re: San Diego...
« Reply #3 on: June 25, 2014, 12:29:14 PM »
If you like Italian food, definitely go to Buco di Beppo.  They have the best Italian food outside of Italy.  Just make sure you call in for reservations...we had to wait 2 hours to be seated the last time, though it was totally worth it. 


me3boyz

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Re: San Diego...
« Reply #4 on: June 25, 2014, 08:01:20 PM »
If you like Italian food, definitely go to Buco di Beppo.  They have the best Italian food outside of Italy.  Just make sure you call in for reservations...we had to wait 2 hours to be seated the last time, though it was totally worth it.

Buca di Beppo is good, but Little Italy is much better. You can take the Trolley from Old Town to Little Italy. I would suggest Filippi's or PrepKitchen. Ballast Point Brewery just opened a tasting room & restaurant. I haven't been there yet, but I've heard good things. There's also a burger place called Burger Lounge that has the most amazing grass-fed burgers! And a salad that is sooooo yummy! There's also a fantastic farmer's market on Saturday mornings (8am-2pm).

You can also take the Trolley to the Midway and there's also the Star of India. She's the world's oldest sailing ship. Yes, they take her out every so often. A little further down is Seaport Village. It's a tourist trap, but nice views of Coronado. There are 2 stores I would highly recommend. One is Dallman Fine Chocolates, which is actually located at The Headquarters. It's a local chocolate store with amazing chocolates. The other is Seaport Olive Oil, which has fantastic olive oils & balsamic vinegars. You can taste them all too! My favorite is the chocolate balsamic drizzled over strawberries & vanilla ice cream. Across from Seaport Village is Gaslamp, but it's just ok. Maybe it's because I'm a local or just older that I don't really care for it. Avoid Kansas City BBQ. Yes Top Gun was filmed there, but the food is mediocre at best.

You can also take the ferry to Coronado. Avoid it like the plague on the 4th of July though. It's packed! As are all the beaches and bays in San Diego. If you do go on the 4th, go early (6am from what I've heard) and plan on staying. Take lots of sunscreen & hats. The Hotel Del Coronado is there. Coronado Brewing is a good place for food, but it's at the opposite end from the beach.

Definitely hit up Phils BBQ in Point Loma. You can go to their website & check wait times on their BBQueue cam.

Ask at the front desk where to get the best California Burrito. It's a San Diego thing. But be forewarned, they are huge! My boys (21, 18 & 16) can eat it all in one sitting, but I usually make 2 meals out of it. Our local dive makes them the size of your forearm. Yes. Huge. You'll thank me later.  ;)

I can't help you with locations to watch the fireworks though. We haven't watched them since the cancelled the ones by us. I do know that some of my friends climb Cowles Mountain and can see pretty much all the fireworks from East to West. But no music and it does get crowded.

That's all I can think of off hand. If you want to go shopping, Fashion Valley is nice, but expensive. Great for people watching.

Have fun! Hopefully our weather will cooperate and it will be gorgeous! I will be off camping for 13 days in 'sunny' Alaska with 59 Boy Scouts. It'll be an adventure, that's for sure!

artk2002

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Re: San Diego...
« Reply #5 on: June 25, 2014, 09:40:04 PM »
If you're going to see the Midway, take a look at the other ships nearby. The San Diego Maritime Museum has several great ones including Star of India, HMS Surprise and a replica of the San Salvador.
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bow lines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. -Mark Twain

mmswm

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Re: San Diego...
« Reply #6 on: June 25, 2014, 10:08:51 PM »
I'd avoid North County like the plague right now.  The Fair is in full swing and traffic is icky.  Unless you want to go to the fair.  It's a real county fair with critters and agriculture exhibits and everything.

If you want some non-touristy activities, there's a ton of fantastic hiking trails in East County.  My favorite is Mount Helix. It's easy enough for kids to do, but has some spectacular views at the top. There's also Cowles's Mountain, which also provides a fantastic city view.  Both of those are just a few minutes outside San Diego proper, in the La Mesa area.  As for Balboa Park, if you want to do all the museums, plan for at least two days.  If you don't want to spend that much time, my two favorites are the Fleet Center and the Museum of Man.  Heading out to the beach, Belmont Park is a small amusement park at Mission Beach.  It's mostly fair type rides/attractions with a great little wooden roller coaster.  Parking is free, but sometimes difficult (my son uses a wheelchair, so it's a little easier for me with his handicapped parking permit).  The cost of the rides themselves isn't cheap, but not terrible either.  There's also the various missions, which could be fun if you're into history.

I'm sure there's a lot of stuff I'm not thinking of...
Some people lift weights.  I lift measures.  It's a far more esoteric workout. - (Quoted from a personal friend)

wx4caster

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Re: San Diego...
« Reply #7 on: June 26, 2014, 07:43:43 AM »
Making notes. We'll be in San Diego the following week.  :D
The days are long but the years are short.

SoCalVal

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Re: San Diego...
« Reply #8 on: June 26, 2014, 08:16:48 AM »
I haven't lived there for eight years so I don't know how current any of my recs would be.  However, I'd second going to Hotel Del for Sunday brunch if you're feeling particularly extravagant. 

If you're into theatre at all, seeing a play at the Old Globe in Balboa Park is pretty cool.

I've really never been into eating in Old Town (I like going to one of the many hole-in-the-wall Mexican food places around town), but I really don't know that part of SD very well.  I wouldn't go for a California burrito unless you like french fries as the added ingredient is french fries.  I prefer the Arizona burrito (and miss them as I've yet to find anyone in NorCal that makes them).  Think California burrito but instead of french fries, it has homestyle potatoes.  The one place I used to get them is in North County in Oceanside off 76 (I think at an Alberto's).  One of my favorite things about getting Mexican food in SD (and in the similar places in NorCal) is that they don't fill their burritos with rice and beans (sadly, that's what often makes the burritos so huge in LA).  Unless you want to fill up on rice and beans, beware that those giant burritos are likely full of them.  I love rice and beans; I just don't want them in my burrito.  I think you can't go wrong going to one of the 'berto's (ROberto's, ALberto's, ERIberto's and so on).

I wouldn't quite say avoid North County but just know that traffic on I-5 in either direction as you get closer to Del Mar is going to be bad due to the fair.

I might recommend going to Julian, but I've never been there.  It's supposed to a great place to go for pies and is supposed to be quite scenic.  However, I recall my college history professor railing about how inaccurate is the supposed historic tour for one particular part of Julian.  I don't remember what, and this was ten years ago so it might've gotten better.

If you want to go to a cool coffeehouse, try one of the locations for the Living Room.

Also, if you'd like to try an cool dessert place, Extraordinary Desserts is lovely (not the one in Little Italy, but the original one).

I'd also recommend going to Little Italy if you want Italian food, although I don't remember the name of the one restaurant I've gone to in that area.  I know it's on the east side of the street and near an art store and an Italian deli.  However, given Little Italy is only about 2-3 blocks long and there are several Italian restaurants there, I don't know how helpful that is.  I remember there's a seating area in the back that's a little elevated (there are a few steps to reach it and a rail around that area).  I just remember going there years ago and having osso buco that was wonderful.

ETA -- I'm pretty sure the Italian restaurant I went to was Mimmo's Italian Village as it's next door to the pizza place.  The Extraordinary Desserts location I recommended is near Balboa Park (and, apparently in the years since I've been there, has been featured on the Food Network).

The Living Room, http://www.livingroomusa.com/ -- neat local coffeehouse chain; they have them all over SD as far north as La Jolla
Extraordinary Desserts, http://www.extraordinarydesserts.com/ -- have the most amazing looking desserts I'd ever seen; it used to be standard that they'd put fresh flower decorations on their cakes but they now charge extra for them; I like the location near Balboa Park better than the one in Little Italy
Mimmo's Italian Village, http://www.mimmos.biz/
Hotel del Coronado Sunday Brunch, http://hoteldel.com/restaurant-coronado/crown-room/ -- loved their brunch but, when I went, I thought it was expensive at $40-45; it's now $85.
Alberto's, Oceanside (on Frazee), http://www.yelp.com/biz/albertos-oceanside?sort_by=date_desc -- I can't really recommend this particular location since the recent Yelp reviews don't look very good and I haven't been there in about eight years so it sounds like they've gone downhill; however, I still recommend getting an Arizona burrito somewhere over a California burrito.
« Last Edit: June 26, 2014, 12:04:52 PM by SoCalVal »



Thipu1

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Re: San Diego...
« Reply #9 on: June 26, 2014, 10:17:07 AM »
Is Balboa Park the one near where the cruise ships are docked? If it is, check out the statues. (Bob Hope and audience, the famous kiss at the end of WWII, and others that I can't remember right now.)

Visiting the monuments along the port are interesting but Balboa Park could take up the whole week.  There are so many things to see there including about half a dozen museums. 

Little Italy is definitely a place to go for a meal. 

poundcake

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Re: San Diego...
« Reply #10 on: June 30, 2014, 07:11:26 AM »
Ah, The Living Room in Hillcrest! The number of mochas I've put away there is profound indeed.  :D

If you want a great non-chain neighborhood restaurant, Parkhouse Eatery on Park Blvd is fabulous. I've never had a bad meal there, and whether you go for the breakfast pizza in the AM or the polenta cake with five mushrooms in the PM, you will be happy. You will be happier if you order a kitchen-sink brownie, no matter what the time.

Stay away from Old Town/Bazaar Del Mundo. Ever since it was purchased by an out-of-state corporation, it's just nothing but a shell of what it used to be. And too expensive.

Mexican food = El Indio. Bottom line. Local institution. But I second SoCalVal's -bertos suggestion, especially late at night. Five rolled tacos with guacamole! (And ITA, no SoCal person would accept the presence of rice in a burrito. ABOMINATION!)

Another cheap fun eatery is the Chicken Pie Shop. You'll be the youngest people in there, but you can feed a bunch of people for under thirty bucks.

Yes, the Hotel Del Coronado is stunning and a fun and historical place to wander around, but don't eat there. (Holy crap, the Hotel Del brunch is now EIGHTY FIVE DOLLARS?!  :o ) There's a good Mexican place in a plaza across the way that has decent margaritas and won't break the bank.

SeaWorld has been a corporate wallet-buster for decades, anyway, but especially now, I'd stay away. Go to the Nature Center in Chula Vista or the Scripps Center in La Jolla for a smaller, but more ethical and enjoyable sealife experience.

wx4caster

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Re: San Diego...
« Reply #11 on: June 30, 2014, 08:32:56 AM »
Please, keep the suggestions coming.

And what are the recommended vineyards/wineries to visit for a tasting?
The days are long but the years are short.