Friday, June 2, 2017

First Timer's Guide to San Diego

Today I'm sharing the first of my California vacation travel posts. This was my first time to the West Coast and originally I thought I'd call it a success so long as there were no earthquakes during our visit. I'm happy to report there were no earthquakes but the trip was a success for more than just that reason. Our first stop was San Diego and that's what I'm going to break down today!


We flew into San Diego International Airport which was really cool because it's right in the middle of the city. As you're flying in you're low enough to see the palm trees and traditional Spanish style architecture. As soon as we were out the airport the smell of salt water immediately did this coastal girl's heart good.

We stayed in the Gaslamp District at the historic St. James Hotel. It's now owned by Wyndham but has a charming boutique feel. There was no pool but they did have a cool rooftop patio with great views of the city that totally made up for it. My favorite part was the old fashioned elevator complete with the double doors you had to open yourself. My other favorite part was the location. We were a short walk to Petco Park, which was our first event of the trip.



The original reason we decided to visit San Diego was to go to a baseball game. Since the Rangers played really early in Denver this year and we missed the game we thought it'd be fun to go see them play somewhere else. Before the game we stopped at a local spot next to the stadium and grabbed a couple beers before heading into the game. A friend from work has season tickets that we used and had fun seats for the game. The seats were about the only fun part of the game as the Rangers took a serious beat down that night. Ironically the next day they gave a beat down of their own but we had decided not to go to back to back games.



The next day we slept in after a late night of drinking. In much need of something to cure our hangovers we decided to head to a local burger spot, Hodad's, that my friend had recommended. These burgers did not disappoint! One way I judge restaurants is by the people eating inside, this downtown location had a mix of business professionals on their lunch breaks and tourists like us; a sure fire sign you're in for a good meal For those wondering, I looked it up and a hodad is someone who spends time at the beach and thinks he knows how to surf but really doesn't.

Our next stop was the famous San Diego Zoo, just a quick Uber ride away. We had picked up a discount coupon from our hotel which I highly recommend because this is not a cheap ticket. The zoo really is spectacular with enough animals that everyone is bound to find their favorite. Included in your ticket is a bus tour and gondola that takes you from the front to the back of the zoo and drops you off right at my favorite animal, the polar bears! Fun fact the San Diego Zoo is one of only four places to see Giant Pandas in the USA! Double fun fact - I've seen them in three of those spots!

before I got sick on the boat - hint take the seasick medication even if you never get seasick 

The next day we started the morning with a whale watching tour. Sadly we did not spot any whales, only common dolphins and an ocean sun fish, oh whale. I found a two for one groupon for San Diego Whale Watch and would highly recommend them to anyone. We went kinda in between migration periods so our chance of spotting a whale was low, but I'm confident had there been any in the area we would have found them. The majority of the people on our tour were actually a whale watching club, so I felt confident that we chose the best company to ride.

That afternoon we decided to tour the Midway. This is something I never would have thought to do, as I've been on battle ship tours before, but it was so fun. It's a self guided tour with audio that gives you little details; I think there were something like 100 stops you could listen to. It covered in detail the different living areas including the dining rooms for the different levels of sailors aboard. On the flight deck they have all types of different planes and helicopters to view too. If you have any interest in the military this is a can't miss attraction, just be prepared to walk up and down lots of narrow steep stairs.



After returning to our hotel to change and relax a little we picked up our rental car and drove across the bridge to Coronado. Driving was really fun because we kept seeing signs telling us how far we were from the border, hint it's not far at all! Coronado is the perfect little vacation beach town; I wish we'd had more time to explore it. We briefly walked through Hotel Del Coronado which was lovely and reminded me of a Disney World Resort. They were hosting a reception for the California GOP that I wanted to crash but didn't because it was late.

I've saved the best part for last. If you pay no attention to anything else in this post remember this, my favorite meal of the trip. We had dinner at Brigantine Seafood in Coronado and I'm not kidding when I say I'm literally still dreaming of that meal. I grew up on the water and am picky about my seafood but that may have been the best I've ever had. I ordered a seasonal grilled tuna dish that have cauliflower puree and shaved brussels sprouts. We also went on half price bottle of wine night which only enhanced our experience!


The next morning we woke up before the sun to get in our rental and drive north! Be sure to check back next week to read the second part of my California vacation!


Have you ever been to San Diego? What was your favorite part?

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