With its plentiful sun, sand, surf and seafood, San Diego is the perfect escape from the mid-winter blues. Even a quick vacation here can rejuvenate your spirit for those long months stretching between you and springtime.
Ready to make it happen? To give you the scoop on an ideal itinerary, I talked to local expert Craig H., a Guest Relations Coordinator at Marriott Vacation Club PulseSM, San Diego. He’s lived in the area for more than 40 years, so he’s basically San Diego’s #1 fan. In fact, Craig calls it “America’s finest city.”
“San Diego has abundant sunshine, diverse cultures, outstanding restaurants and perfect weather,” he explained. “It’s a wonderful place for all travelers to visit.”
Here are Craig’s suggestions for an unforgettable mini-getaway in San Diego:
First, head to the historic Gaslamp Quarter, featuring more than 16 square blocks of restaurants, nightlife and entertainment — and a few of those historic gaslamps, of course. Before dinner, take some time to explore the district’s boutiques and galleries nestled in restored Victorian-era buildings.
Dinner at Asti Ristorante
Toast to the beginning of a fabulous stay at this cozy Italian restaurant in the heart of the Gaslamp Quarter. According to Craig, it has “a great wine list and awesome service” as well as a “very nice selection of desserts.” His favorite dish? The Osso Buco.
Drinks at Star Bar
Continue your tour of the Gaslamp Quarter with a stop at this dive bar known for its long hours, interesting clientele and unpretentious atmosphere. “It’s a hole-in-the-wall place with strong drinks at a cheap price,” Craig said.
Deep Sea Fishing at Point Loma Sport
Try your hand at deep-sea fishing during a half-day trip with Point Loma Sport. The knowledgeable guides will take you to where the fish are biting, but that’s not all. “They’ll even offer to clean your caught fish and ship it to your home address,” Craig told us. Reservations are a must.
Set Sail around the Harbor
If you’d prefer to spend the day on a different kind of boat — or if you have time to fit in a second sea excursion — take a spin around San Diego Bay with Hornblower Cruises. Choose from 1- or 2-hour harbor cruises. “They’re clean, well-staffed yachts,” Craig said. “The captain gives you a comprehensive understanding of San Diego Bay.” Again, reservations are a good idea.
Dinner at Hotel Del Coronado
Cross the bay to fuel up at this landmark hotel that regularly hosts international dignitaries and offers several fine dining venues. “The rack of lamb at the Crown Room is fantastic,” Craig shared. Plus, the hotel’s location on the beach makes it a great place to watch the sunset.
Drinks at Top of the Hyatt
Ascend 40 stories up to this lounge atop a waterfront hotel right next to the harbor. As you sip on a delectable specialty martini, you’ll have ample chance to admire 360-degree views of the city and Pacific Ocean.
Brunch at Tom Ham’s Lighthouse
Don’t miss the Sunday seafood brunch at this waterfront eatery featuring a functioning lighthouse. While you chow down, you can enjoy views of the bay and all the fancy yachts sailing by. If you can’t make it for brunch, it’s worth a visit anytime. “The prime rib on the weekend is excellent,” Craig told us. “And the Caribbean-style seafood dishes are fresh and creative.”
Wine-Tasting Tour in Temecula Valley
Venture out of the city to the vineyards with Destination Temecula. They’ll pick you up in San Diego and whisk you away through citrus groves and horse ranches to several wineries in San Diego wine country. Even better? “They’re also willing to ship a case of your chosen wines worldwide,” Craig said. As you may have guessed, reservations are required.
Dinner at Bertrand’s at Mr. A’s
After a day of wine-tasting (or gulping), fill up on modern American cuisine at this elegant 12th-floor restaurant in the Fifth Avenue Financial Center. Why does Craig recommend it? “The attentive service, fabulous wine list, awesome view and award-winning cuisine.” What’s not to love?
Kayaking in La Jolla
Discover the region’s gorgeous coastline by kayak! At La Jolla Kayak, you can greet the day with an hour-long guided excursion with the chance to see sea lions and other marine life while navigating the Seven Caves. Just be sure to make reservations and arrive early to find parking – and “have patience as you’re getting over the first set of waves,” Craig advised.
Lunch at the Marine Room
Following an energizing morning at sea, relax at this chic dining spot located right on the beach in La Jolla. Craig’s top tips: try the Diver Scallops, and make a reservation for high tide — the waves will crash into the dining room windows for a stunning show.
Where to Stay: