Learn about San Diego, California
by reading San Diego - Great for Vacation, Mi
Amigo by Charlie Spence, Travel Writer. It features a mini,
but thorough tour of the destination, plus all you'll need to know
to plan your trip including getting there, objective information on
places to stay and eat, and things to do. At the end of the article,
we've provided a summary of the contact information for your easy
San Diego - Great for Vacation, Mi
by Charlie Spence, Travel Writer and WTA
When you arrive in the San Diego area your first
big decision must be selecting in which direction to start, because anywhere you
turn there is beauty, excitement, history, fine and exotic dining,
entertainment, leisure sports, beaches and just about everything to make your
The city area of San Diego offers a variety of
places and activities to please even the most difficult-to-satisfy tourist. But
that is just the beginning. San Diego North has an amazing coastline, mountains,
deserts, historic missions, golf, spas, arts, and, well you get the idea.
Let’s begin in the city. Visit Old Town where
life as it was in the 1821 to 1872 period is recreated. San Diego became
California’s first Spanish settlement in 1769 when a mission and fort were
established. This historic park has five original adobe buildings, which include
shops and restaurants. There is a schoolhouse, blacksmith’s shop, the city’s
first newspaper office, and stables with a carriage collection. Two historic
spots to include in your visit are La Casa de Estudillo, which is a mansion
built around a beautiful courtyard, and La Casa de Machado y Stewart. This
latter place is filled with artifacts that reflect life in that era.
An old non-descript office building in Old Town
has been converted into “Bazaar del Mundo Shops.” It features accessories for
the home, fashions, arts, and collectable's. This and Casa Guadalajara restaurant
at the corner of Juan and Taylor Streets welcome you at the entry to this unique
old town community.
Balboa Park, El Prado, by Brett
Photo courtesy of San Diego Convention & Visitors Bureau
Balboa Park, just minutes away from downtown San
Diego, is a huge 1,200-acre expanse acclaimed for its horticultural treasures.
Here you will enjoy a host of beautiful gardens, 58 varieties of palm trees, and
a botanical building that has more than 2,000 tropical plants. Begin your visit
to Balboa Park at the visitors’ center to get your bearings as to which of the
many areas you want to enjoy first. Along the Park’s El Prado walkway
magnificent Spanish colonial buildings house many of the museums. (They were
built originally for the 1915-1916 Panama-California Exposition.) The Park is
also home for San Diego’s world famous zoo where colorful and exotic species are
discovered in their natural habitats.
As much as you will enjoy the many places in the
city of San Diego you must tear yourself away. The beauty and excitement of San
Diego North awaits. If you are a golf fan, you no doubt have watched the
televised tournaments played at Torrey Pines course and secretly wished to
personally see the magnificent area. Located in La Jolla, this golf course is
but a short distance from Torrey Pines State Park Reserve and Beach. Here you
will enjoy walking areas, a family beach, and fabulous ocean views. At the
village of La Jolla, you will find shopping and dining just a few steps from the
ocean. One of my favorite stops has been dinner at the Marine Room, serving
excellent cuisine in a room with tall glass wall to provide a delightful view of
the cove. Ocean waves lap below the windows making you instinctively want to
lift your feet if your table is next to the glass. It is one of the area’s most
expensive restaurants but arrive there for a table at sunset and the view is
magnificent, which compliments the food, and it’s worth the price.
La Jolla Cove,
by Brett Shoaf
Photo courtesy of San Diego Convention & Visitors Bureau
La Jolla is just one of the several unique spots
along highway 101. A few miles north, enjoy shopping at the elegant boutiques at
the Del Mar Plaza. This is on a hill where you can relax with a drink and take
in the scenic ocean view.
A bit father north, in Oceanside, take time to
tour the Mission San Luis Rey. The Spanish, as you know, established missions in
California a days ride apart. San Luis Rey is a 204-year-old landmark known as
the “King of Missions.” It is the largest working mission in California and is a
remnant of life of the Padres and Indians who lived in the mission well over a
century ago. Other missions in the area worth visiting are Mission San Antonio
de Pala, which is the last of the missions still serving Native Americans, and
Santa Ysabel Mission. The latter, located on the way to Julian, has a museum,
murals, and an Indian burial ground.
In the valley section, travel over to Escondito,
a city that blends small-town friendliness with big city action. The area around
Escondito includes San Diego Zoo’s Wild Animal Park, San Pasqual Battlefield
Museum, and Welk Resort.
At Escondito you have another decision to make:
go northwest to Vista and to the Gas and Steam Engine Museum, or travel 12 miles
northeast to Bates Nut farm. The museum at Vista has 40 acres of early farm life
in Southern California. You’ll see hand weaving, blacksmithing, farm kitchen,
gas and steam engines, and tractors. At the Bates farm, start out feeding the
animals before heading for the Bates store. There select from a tempting array
of nuts, dried fruits, homemade fudges, and gourmet foods. Be forewarned, the
gift store has more than 5,000 square feet of enticing items of gifts, home
decor, and collectable's. What the heck, this is a vacation so don’t choose.
Let’s take in both attractions.
The desert and mountains also beckon. Just two
hours from downtown San Diego, the desert welcomes you for golf, hiking, biking,
or just doing nothing but relaxing. In the mountain area you will find Santa
Ysabel Mission, mentioned earlier, and the Palomar Observatory.
In this area of Southern California you can pick
any area, stay there and enjoy it, or travel to any number of enticing
attractions. Whichever you choose, one thing is sure after you leave - you will
have had a great time and want to return.
San Diego International Airport is
served by 18 commercial airlines. It is located close to the
downtown area of the city and has transportation ranging from taxis
and trolleys to limos and car rentals. Most approaches are to the
west, which bring you in directly over the city, which provides a
Another delightful way to visit is
to take a leisurely drive down the coast from Los Angeles.
Where to stay:
Because this is such a popular
vacation area there are many and varied places to stay. You will
find everything from quaint bed-and-breakfast inns to luxurious
resorts or vacation rentals. (Some of the resorts also have
casinos.) Prices for some of the accommodations start below $100 a
night and go up to what you want to pay. Prices vary with seasons,
amenities, and views. It is best to determine what area you want as
your base and then pick your accommodations.
You can check rates and book your
room and rental car at WTA’s Online Travel Booking Service,
WTA Travel Booking Program.
Where to Dine:
Restaurants in the area are as
varied as the attractions. Most hotels and resorts have fine dining
facilities. Throughout the area you will find fast food shots and
elegant dining. Just a few of the spots you might want to look into
- The Marine Room in La Jolla
- Lawrence Welk Restaurant
- The Lodge at Torrey Pines
- L’Auberge Del Mar Resort
and Spa in Del Mar
- Old Town Mexican Cafe
Notice: This information is current as of
February 2006.It is recommended that you
contact the numbers, and/or visit the websites above to determine any changes to