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Pre-Cruise for 4 days in San Diego


NancyC

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What are the must see sights in San Diego? DH and I will be staying 4 days in November before our cruise and have never been to San Diego before. We won't have a car so transportation will be public. We are looking at the Comfort Inn Airport at Old Town and the Oldtown INN if you have any opinions on those two motels. Of course, we want to see the zoo and Balboa Park. We were looking at the trolley tour or a GoCar tour. Any thoughts on either of those? What else must we see or do? What is the weather likely to be like in November? Any input will help.

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My favorite things in San Diego were Old Town and Petco Park (although in November there won't be a game). I was only there one day so I don't have a lot of experience though :)

What is in Old Town?

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Neither of these properties is in a particularly good location. Both of them are right next to freeways and Old Town Inn is on the wrong side of I-5 with nowhere nice to walk to. Of the two, the Comfort Inn is probably better.

 

If you go to Google Maps and put in "hotels old town san diego", you'll get quite a few options that look much better. For Old Town, you want to be in the area east of I-5, and south of Taylor St and I-8.

 

If you have a special discount or some other reason to stay at a Comfort Inn, the one in the Gaslamp would be a better choice. There's a lot more within walking distance.

 

With public transportation, you are pretty much limited to staying in the city. You should go to the zoo one day, and you could spend another day at the other museums in Balboa park. If you stay in the Gaslamp, you've got a wide variety of dining and nightlife within walking distance. You've also got Harbor Dr and the maritime museum and the Midway museum there and Seaport Village for touristy shopping. Old Town is good for a day. You can get to Sea World on the bus if that interests you. You can probably get to Torrey Pines State Park for some coastal hiking. You can't get up into the mountains or deserts or to the Wild Animal Park without a car.

 

The weather is unpredictable this far in advance. November can be very warm if there's a Santa Ana blowing off the desert, or it can be very wet if there's a storm off the Pacific. The most common weather pattern year round is "night and morning low clouds and fog, clearing by mid-morning. sunny in the afternoon." There's just no way to know if you'll be here during the 20% or so of days that don't fit that pattern.

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We enjoyed a few days post cruise in San Diego. The first day we took the Old Town Trolley tour to get an overview of the city and some ideas on where we'd like to visit. We did stop in Old Town on the trolley tour. We also hopped off at the Coronado Hotel to have a look around. It was a good way to see the city and get around all day.

http://www.trolleytours.com/

 

Our favorite day was spent at the San Diego Zoo. I was sorry we only got a quick look at Balboa Park and wish we could have spent more time there.

 

We stayed at the La Pensione hotel http://www.lapensionehotel.com/ in the Little Italy section of town. It is a small budget hotel, no frills, but clean and comfy. It is also close to the port and airport. Dinner each night was a breeze as there were many restaurants right outside the door of the hotel.

 

Hope it helps a little. :)

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Neither of these properties is in a particularly good location. Both of them are right next to freeways and Old Town Inn is on the wrong side of I-5 with nowhere nice to walk to. Of the two, the Comfort Inn is probably better.

 

If you go to Google Maps and put in "hotels old town san diego", you'll get quite a few options that look much better. For Old Town, you want to be in the area east of I-5, and south of Taylor St and I-8. quote]

 

Thanks so much. I am pretty much a novice at the computer and the Google Maps site is great. I will investigate further. All advice is appreciated. I did see that Old Town Inn is on the wrong side of the highway.

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I guess the first question on hotels is how you zeroed in on these two?

San Diego has a lot of hotels in all price ranges...

Personally, I would prefer to stay in the Gaslamp...LOTS of restaurants and shops, the Horton Plaza...pedestrian friendly and really the center of town...

A lot of folks stay in the "Hotel Circle" area--shopping malls, restaurants...fairly convenient...

 

Places to visit in San Diego outside the obvious (Zoo, Wild Animal Park, Sea World)...There's the Hotel Del Coronado--really a cool old hotel...Pacific Beach is a fave of mine for the eateries and ambiance...Nice to hike around Torrey Pines...or go hang gliidng there...There are hot air balloon rides that will take you over Rancho Santa Fe...Del Mar Race Track, if you're into the horses (Some historical significance here, the old time celebs used to hang out here)...I used to say go down to Tijuana--I guess find out if there's been a truce with the drug cartels yet...Harbor boat tours...and there are some ships you can tour--the USS Midway and the old "Star of India"...If you have little ones, there's "LegoLand" up in Carlsbad...

 

That can fill four days...

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This past October we spent 2 days pre-cruise and 1 day post-cruise in San Diego. We just love that city!!!!

Next January, we are going back to cruise again and this time are taking my two grown sons and the youngest one's girlfriend, and some friends from Vancouver are joing us as well. We rented a 3 bedroom house for the 3 days we'll there prior to the cruise. It will be much cheaper all around verses all the hotel rooms and eating out for every meal.

On our last trip, we toured the aircraft carrier museum (allow at least 3-4 hours and to get the most out of it plan to go up and down a lot of narrow stairways). We did the Old Town Trolley for one day - could have done it for two. Even if you never get off the trolley it is an interesting tour.

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Old Town, World Famous Zoo (A MUST), Balboa park (A MUST), Hotel del Coronado (take a ferry over to Coronado and enjoy this famous hotel and its beaches), Seaworld, San Diego Bay harbor cruise also they have harbor dinner cruises(romantic), uss midway museum(aircraft carrier), Gaslamp District (A MUST - blocks and blocks of bars and restaurants-really nice), Whaley House(most haunted house in America), Las Americas Outlet Center(if you want to shop), Cabrillo Natl. Monument(tidepools), Little Italy, Seaport Village(nice little shops next to water), San diego sports arena(check to see whos playing there during your dates of visit), Horton Plaza(beautiful mutli level outside shopping mall in the heart of downtown), Spreckels Theater. That should keep you busy for a couple of days.

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There is a whole museum campus at Balboa Park. They cover topics including natural and cultural history, transportation, and technology. If it's a nice weekend afternoon, be sure to catch a concert at the outdoor Spreckles pipe organ (donated to the city by the sugar magnate).

 

If you are really into history, Old Town is also a state historic park and there is a lot about early California history.

 

One comment about USS Midway; the aircraft display areas are accessible but tours of the interior cabins, bridge, etc. are not accessible to people with mobility or agility problems.

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Where is the outlet mall located? That sounds like a must do for our next trip!

 

There are several outlet malls in San Diego county. There's one down at the border, go south on I-5 and take the last U.S. exit and it's just to the right. There's also one at the Viejas reservation. Drive east on I-8 and take the Willows Rd exit. The last one I know of is in Carlsbad, north on I-5 then east on Palomar Airport Rd.

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Nancy, I posted on another topic on here about CA and the San Diego Area but yes, I can verify what was said about the hotels. Old Town is charming but there was a huge fiasco with the CA State park vendor and right now, much is being redone and labor is unhappy. The last vendor sucked all the color and life out of the central shopping area and revenue when down the hole. (They wanted the place to look like it did 215 years ago; minus the whorehouses and horse poop.)

 

A better choice would be the Holiday Inn Embarcadero which is an easy walk to your cruise, the train station, and a short taxi or tour bus drive to Balboa Park. Across from the hotels are the Star of India, The Midway, a Russian Sub, boat tours of San Diego Harbor and my favorite place of all, Anthony's Fish Grotto.

You can have a nice sit down meal at Anthony's or the take out window has great stuff too. On the Embarcadero, there are several tour trolleys that you can ride cheaply and you can get to just about any place you'd want to go.

 

The Coaster is a commuter train which runs up the coast to end in Oceanside. The Coaster is in the same station as Amtrak. You can make stops in several smaller towns along the beach. Oceanside has the longest pier on the West Coast and has a Ruby's Diner on the end. It's a fun place to watch surfers. There is also a new Museum of Surfing. Both the pier and the museum are an easy walk from the depot. From Oceanside, you can take Metrolink commuter train to Orange County and beyond.

 

The Zoo is in Balboa park, along with many museums from Botanical to Model Railroads and my favorite - the Museum of San Diego History. Several of the Museums are free on one Tues. of the month, you can check online to see which ones will be free on the day you visit. The Zoo will take you most of a day to see and you might want to save the rest of Balboa park for the next day. The Gaslamp area is fun to see, good places to eat. Try to visit it before 9:00pm when the hardcore party and Cougar crowd show up.

 

The outlet malls here are not true outlets but more like company stores with dressing rooms and fancy fixtures. Prices are good but remember, we have a new sales tax rate of at least 9.5 percent on just about everything. Some towns are higher, up to 10.5 percent.

You might find much better bargains at home.

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SuzK - Thanks so much for the wealth of information. I will look at the Holiday Inn Embarcadero.

 

You're quite welcome.

I found the free days at Balboa Park: http://www.balboapark.org/calendar/detail.php?EventID=370 You can also get the idea about which museums are your cup of tea. The Old Globe in Balboa Park is a must see if you're theater buffs. They don't have the November dates up yet but I hear that a Broadway bound event is going to have a debut here first. http://www.oldglobe.org/

 

Also, check out www.Sunset.com for the CA travel section. If you put "San Diego" in the search area, they have some great ideas for the usual and the unusual things to do and see in this area.

 

It might be confusing but some call the light rail red cars a trolley but the tourist trolleys are a small road bus painted to look like a trolley. The light rail cars will take you to old town from Santa Fe Station, east county and south to the Mexico border where you can walk across if you want to visit. (I wouldn't) It's best to take a Greyline tour if you are really itching to see TJ and you cannot take a rental car into Mexico.

 

When you sail out, you're getting the greatest port in southern California to start your trip. The view is amazing on all sides. I was really upset that Disney decided to put their ship into Port of LA rather than San Diego.

Port of LA is so industrial and smelly.

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More on the Coaster and Metrolink trains....they share track with Amtrak but stop at more stations since they are local commuter trains. If you're going to a station served by Amtrak (such as Oceanside) you can use either Coaster or Amtrak.

 

Metrolink picks up in Oceanside and goes through Orange County and into LA Union Station. Travel from San Diego to points past Oceanside requires either a transfer to Metrolink or using Amtrak instead.

 

A Metrolink train ticket allows you to use buses in Orange and LA Counties, and MetroRail (LA subway/trolley system). I believe Coaster has the same deal for San Diego area transit.

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When you sail out, you're getting the greatest port in southern California to start your trip. The view is amazing on all sides. I was really upset that Disney decided to put their ship into Port of LA rather than San Diego.

Port of LA is so industrial and smelly.

 

A touch of provincialism there?

First...the "greatest" port in Southern California? There are, basically, only two (We're not counting yacht harbors like Newport or Marina del Rey or Channel Islands)...

 

One of them is for the most part a military port...That would be San Diego...

The other, Los Angeles/Long Beach is the predominant port on the West Coast..and...to be even more accurate...in the Western Hemisphere...It's "industrial" because virtually ALL of your imports and exports go through here...It is the economically IMPORTANT port...

 

Smelly? Heck, all ports are a little smelly...

 

But when you cruise from Los Angeles, you are not hanging out in smelly industrial port areas...You are spending your pre-cruise time in the town of San Pedro or in the tourist area of Long Beach...or the first class beach city of Santa Monica...or in Beverly Hills or wherever...Then, you go to the pier...and I don't care which pier you go to anywhere...it's all pretty exciting at that point...in fact, it's so beautiful it brings a tear to my eye...You are getting on a cruise ship...and getting on one in LA is pretty much the same as getting on one in San Diego...

 

But, why is Disney bringing its ship to LA rather than San Diego? DUH!!! Perhaps it's that there is MORE population in LA...Perhaps it's that there are more flights into LAX from everywhere in the world in an hour than there are into San Diego in a day...OR MAYBE, just maybe, because it's a hop, skip and a jump from the LA Harbor over to ANAHEIM...where Disney has a couple of amusement parks and a bunch of hotels it would like to promote???

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Bruin Steve, I just answered this same post from you on another thread. Is there a reason you had to repeat it? Anyway, here is a cute bear for you. I caught him in Mammoth. 2457388900044078935S425x425Q85.jpg

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SuzK- I've concluded that Bruin Steve brings his passport whenever he goes east or south of the 605 Freeway, since it's "foreign travel" for him. :D If this is a tiebreaker, I drive to San Diego for fun about 2x or 3x as often as LA or Long Beach. :)

 

PS- I like your photo! Last time in Mammoth, I couldn't open up a bearproof dumpster by a condo we rented. I'm glad to see they are peopleproof and not bearproof!

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Bruin Steve, I just answered this same post from you on another thread. Is there a reason you had to repeat it?

 

Suz,

I posted it twice in response to YOU posting yours twice!!! I loved the bear, BTW...Thanks

 

Kenish...

The 605 Freeway runs NORTH AND SOUTH...hard to travel south of it!!! I happen to have ties to all over SoCal...As a kid in the 60s, I lived pretty far East--in Claremont...For 12 years in the 80s and 90s, I lived in Whittier...and worked in Orange...

I used to have a beach house at La Jolla Shores...I've got a Brother in Rancho Santa Fe and another in San Francisco...My office is in Pasadena but my company is HQ'd in Oakland...I grew up in Pacific Palisades (after moving from Claremont as a kid) and also lived for awhile in Santa Barbara...I also lived in both Huntington Beach and in Cypress for short stints...I handle real estate for a company that actually has a very large presence in San Diego and have been working with projects down there for years...Before my present employment I was with a Commercial Real Estate Developer for many years...I played a major part in a lot of real estate projects in the San Diego area...You know the Mira Mesa MarketCenter at Mira Mesa Blvd. and the I-15? With the Home Depot and the movie theater multiplex and all? I played a major part in that deal.

 

You really think it's "foreign travel" to me? Guess again...

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I did some more research and reserved a room at the Sofia Hotel. Is that a good central location to sightsee from?

 

Yes.

 

Now you can go to http://www.sdmts.com/Planning/googleTP.asp and get transit routes to some of the attactions you wanted to see.

 

Here is your hotel to the zoo, to start you off. (Times are for right now, but you can re-do with your correct time & date)

http://www.google.com/maps?ie=UTF8&f=d&saddr=sofia+hotel&daddr=san+diego+zoo&ttype=dep&date=4/2&time=9:05+am&sll=32.718834,-117.16384&dirflg=r

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