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What to do in San Diego

soccermom's picture

Getting ready for our trip to sunny California in July and realized that we don't have much planned in San Diego. I know about the zoo and SeaWorld but would welcome advice on other activities too. We're there at the end of July, Sunday to Tuesday. I'm hoping for fun for DDs age 11, 10 and 8, who are generally well behaved and up for anything, and good local food of any type. DH's only request is that we visit an aircraft carrier. Anyone have any information on this too?

We'll be dropping off our rental van as soon as we arrive in SD. TIA.





Jillsifer's picture

(post #43622, reply #1 of 14)

Try this for your carrier:

And--you might already know this, so forgive me, please, but the zoo actually has two really cool locations. One is the San Diego Zoo proper (in Balboa Park-- for other cool Balboa Park museums) and the other is the San Diego Wild Animal Park. It was originally started as a breeding facility FOR the zoo but is now an attraction on its own, and well worth a visit. From my experience, you might want to be at the Wild Animal Park very early in the morning or very late in the afternoon because the animals tend to come out more when it's cooler.

You can sign up for a day trip to Mexico. There's been a lot of petty crime on individuals in the border towns lately, so an escorted tour might be best, if you're interested.

Temecula wineries can be fun, if you have wheels.

Scripps Aquarium in La Jolla (pron. La HOY-uh) is wonderful too.

See you soon! (BTW, I have MORE sun poisoning already, so might want to see if we can rearrange our plans--maybe meet for a meal or a drink somewhere NOT in the direct sun? I can tell already this is going to be a blistery, itchy, headachy summer for me.)



Christmas is the season for kindling the fire of hospitality in the hall, the genial flame of charity in the heart.

-- Washington Irving

soccermom's picture

(post #43622, reply #2 of 14)

Thanks for the link; I've emailed it to DH who can order the tickets.

No, I didn't know much about the zoo; both parts sound good but I'll check a map to see if getting to the Wild Animal Park is feasible without a car.

We did think about Mexico but were scared off by the stories we've read and the border lineups, particularly since we're from a third country. Where would a tour most likely take us in Mexico--and do you think it's worth it?

I'm looking forward to seeing you too; we have your maple syrup already purchased (glass container; keep your fingers crossed). Sun/shade is ok with me; I tend to go a lovely red if I get too much sun. As long as there's food and drink, and a place for the kids to move around, we'll be fine. Is there something on the beach where we can be out of the sun completely but they can be on the beach? Surfing with a California boy is probably going to be a highlight for them. If not, it's fine; we just want to meet you.






butterscotch's picture

(post #43622, reply #3 of 14)

You can take one-day boat trips and bus tours from SD to nearby parts of Mexico. I don't think you'd have any trouble getting back into US with either of those. Also, San Diego has a small but intriguing Little Italy on India Street just north of downtown. A nice 2 blocks or so of interesting restaurants, espresso bars, one old-fashioned Italian grocery, a shop that sells Italian ceramics, and assorted boutiques that have nothing to do with Italy.

soccermom's picture

(post #43622, reply #4 of 14)

Ok, I'll search some of these daytrips and see if they'll work for us. Thanks.





Jillsifer's picture

(post #43622, reply #5 of 14)

Ummmmm . . . I think there's adequate transportation out to the Wild Animal Park without a car but I'm not sure.

Seeing Tijuana is a good lesson for encouraging children to appreciate what they have. I will tell you, though, that seeing the poverty might throw cold water on your holiday mood--it's a teachable moment but NOT "fun" necessarily. For my overprivileged little prince, ABSOLUTELY a good idea. But your kids' situation might be different. I'd google around on "Tijuana day trip" or something comparable and then think over what works for you.




Christmas is the season for kindling the fire of hospitality in the hall, the genial flame of charity in the heart.

-- Washington Irving

soccermom's picture

(post #43622, reply #6 of 14)

<ut NOT "fun" necessarily>

This is good advice, and I do appreciate it. Our kids are very lucky too, as we keep telling--and trying to show--them. I'm torn as to whether the teaching would be worth the craziness of a bus tour. I'll talk it over with DH and see what the tours look like.





Adele's picture

(post #43622, reply #9 of 14)

Seeing Tijuana is a good lesson for encouraging children to appreciate what they have. I will tell you, though, that seeing the poverty might throw cold water on your holiday mood--it's a teachable moment but NOT "fun" necessarily.

My Mom & Dad went from San Diego to Tijuana and that was pretty much what Mom talked about after she came home- the abject poverty of the area.  

But, but, it's SUPPOSED to taste like that!

But, but, it's SUPPOSED to taste like that!

anneelsberry's picture

(post #43622, reply #10 of 14)

My first foray into mission work was in Tijuana.  If you think the city is poor, we went to the garbage dump to bring water to the kids who live there and scavenge for their families.  The folks who live in the city are generally lower-middle class by Mexican standards.

Somebody put a stop payment on my reality check!

Somebody put a stop payment on my reality check!

dlish's picture

(post #43622, reply #7 of 14)

Butterscotch is right -- don't miss Little Italy. Especially Filippi's Pizza Grotto.

Filippi's Pizza Grotto: San Diego - 0.9 miles NW - 1747 India St, San Diego, 92101 - (619) 232-5094

It has a little grocery store in the front and the restaurant is in the back. You walk in to the dreamy scent of Parmesan cheese. I think their pizza is to die for. I grew up on it. My family has been going to Filippi's at least a couple times a year for almost 25 years -- we live in Phoenix, AZ.

Sea World is cool! I requested a trip there for my 29th birthday. I have lots of fond memories of family vacations there.

There is the Reuban H. Fleet Science Center. They have an IMAX theater there. If you've neer been, it's kind of fun.

You should also take a trip to Coronado Island. If you don't have a car, I think there is a ferry that will take you across. I would go there before I would go to Mexico. There are lovely beaches and cute little shops on Coronado. As well, there are many biking trails. Also, you can see the historic Hotel Del Coronado where the Marilyn Monroe film "Some Like It Hot" was made.

Enjoy San Diego!

soccermom's picture

(post #43622, reply #8 of 14)

Thanks; now we have a restaurant to try in SD! I'll add Coronado Island to our list and compare it with Tijuana.

We have a Science Centre membership in Toronto with IMAX so may take a pass, but if it's bad weather I'll keep it in mind.

Any particular food places to visits? Bakeries, outlets, fun for kids, etc? If you come that far for pizza, you must know what's good :)





samchang's picture

(post #43622, reply #11 of 14)

Alas, San Diego just isn't a foodie town. For all the times I've been there, I can count on one hand the memorable meals I've eaten. Most are in ritzy restaurants (Balboa Park's Prado Restaurant really is quite good) and most of those aren't in San Diego proper but in La Jolla or inland in Santee, etc.. The small foodie joints are hard to come by, but there are some by Balboa Park. The museum cafe, BTW, serves quite respectable stuff, but like most museum cafes, it's kind of steep for what you get.

We usually go to San Diego because Berenger wants to see the mummies again in the Museum of Man. Not those Egyptian mummies, either, but the slightly more grisly Peruvian mummies. That's in Balboa Park, too, as is the Asian Museum, the Botanical Garden, and the zoo. Point Loma and the tidepools are also good places to go.

butterscotch's picture

(post #43622, reply #12 of 14)

Tiajuana and Coronado Island can't be compared. They may as well be on different planets. If you disregard the Hotel del Coronado and the other large resorts, the remainder of Coronado is picure-perfect "Leave It To Beaver" 50's whitebread American. Almost every house has a picket fence. Many naval officers retired there. As for Tiajuana, while the grinding poverty is undeniable, that is not all there is to it. And there are ways to visit Tiajuana where you may actually see very little of the terrible slums. I remember both taking the Red Car (trolley) from SD and also taking a bus. Both times, while a lot of the scenery was not lovely, neither was it garbage dumps. The Avenida de la Revolucion is full of shops geared to Americans and if you wander around that part of the city you will see lovely older churches, little businesses, interesting street vendors, and distinctly middle-class students from the local Catholic schools in their uniforms.

As for fun things to do with kids, my top picks are: the Scripps Aquarium in La Jolla, biking on Coronado, a visit to the "Star of India", a walk and a Mexican dinner in Old Town (the oldest part of the city that includes the original Spanish pueblo), and the Wild Animal Park (much better than any zoo). Also, the outdoor Globe Theater in Balboa Park is a nice place to see a play. If you are curious to eat at a restaurant that will make you feel like you've traveled back in time to 1948, try Hob Nob Hill in downtown San Diego for breakfast. This place is unchanging. It is full of heavy dark furniture covered with lace doilies, waitresses in starched uniforms, and waffles that are 3/4 butter. The ambiance of Hob Nob Hill makes a strange contrast with the glitzy ultra-modern look of most of the rest of SD. 

dlish's picture

(post #43622, reply #13 of 14)

I think SamChang is right -- SD is not really foodie. I think restaurants in SD rely on their views vs. cuisine. I always enjoy eating at Anthony's. It's downtown neat the Star of India. The Star of India is a fun thing to take kids to.

Also, Botterscotch is right. Take the kids to the Scripps aquarium in LaJolla. It is much more science-geared than Sea Wolrd. I used to visit there as a little girl and dream of being a marine biologist. Now I just work at an ad agency. Coronado Island is pure Americana! So cute!

I'll try to remember some of the other places we would go when we were kids.

Ooohh, just remembered, in LaJolla, on Sunday evenings, they have concerts in the park. Bring a picnic dinner and listen to jazz with a sea breeze in your hair -- heaven!

Also, another fun thing is to sit and people watch on the boardwalk at Pacific Beach. We had some friends who had a condo on the boardwalk and we'd sit on the patio for hours watching people walk by. Quite a slice of life. The highlight is the naked roller skater. He is a really tan older man who wears a thong and roller skates on the boardwalk. Sometimes for special holidays he "dresses" up the thong.
You should also not miss the "Giant Dipper" roller coaster at Pacific Beach. It is an old-time wooden roller coaster, really fun.

soccermom's picture

(post #43622, reply #14 of 14)

Well, the naked roller skater is now at the top of my must-sees LOL.

I'm printing your message and adding it my stack. Thank you. Any other "kid" ideas are welcome too.