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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
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    4,505

    Default Around San Diego County

    Everybody knows about the Zoo and the beaches in San Diego County. Here's a more comprehensive list of things to see/do in this area:

    The most well-known:

    The San Diego Zoo – one of the world's best zoos. The animals are in simulated habitats like the ones they would live in the wild. You view them over a berm, through plexiglass, or other enclosure. The only “caged” animals are in the Snake and Reptile house. You walk, take a tour bus, and/or glide over the park in a skyride. The only downside to the zoo is that it's not even close to free. Plan to spend a day there.

    The San Diego Safari Park (formerly the San Diego Wild Animal Park) – is the sister park to the Zoo. Located in the northern end of San Diego County (east of Escondido), this is a big expansive zoo. There are less animals but more space for them to live in. See this park by walking, take a ride around it, or (extra $) a safari into the African expanse. Another park that isn't close to free, but like the Zoo, it does have some reciprocity with other zoos. If you are a zoo member in your home community, check the zoo's website to see if you can get a discount upon entry.

    Sea World San Diego – one of several of these over the country. This is one of the originals. You can spend a day here seeing whale, dolphin and seal shows, feeding sea creatures (extra $), strolling through aquariums and past pools with many types of different sea creatures. You can also ride a few rides and spend some time eating (and waiting for shows). Price of admission is similar to any theme park.


    Beaches – San Diego County hosts several. There are state and city park beaches. Mission Beach is popular, as is the beach at Del Mar and Torrey Pines State Beach. If you are so inclined, we have the infamous Black's Beach (on maps, it's right next to/part of Torrey Pines City Beach; it's a nude beach). One of the most famous beaches is by the Hotel del Coronado, across the Coronado Bay Bridge.

    The lesser-known:
    Birch Aquarium – a research aquarium with many types of sea life. Plan to spend a half day. Reasonable admission. The aquarium hosts concerts over the warm season – outdoors. Birch is part of the Scripps Institute of Oceanography, which is part of UCSD.

    Glider Port – Not far from the Birch Aquarium is the Salk Institute and the Glider Port nearby. You can sit on the top of the bluffs and watch hang-gliders. Free!

    Old Town State Park – Spend a delightful historical morning checking out life in San Diego in the early 1800's by visiting Old Town State Park. There are displays, recreations, and museums, even a schoolhouse! Then have lunch at a nearby Mexican restaurant – there are some very good ones adjacent to Old Town.

    Shopping – Horton Plaza and Seaport Village are the closest to downtown San Diego. If you park in Horton Plaza's garage, make a note of what fruit your garage is named after, or you won't find your car later!

    US Navy – no doubt about it, San Diego has a very strong military presence. We have many Navy and Marines Corps bases here. You won't gain access to any of them without an ID card, but if you want to see a Navy ship, go to Navy Pier downtown where the US Midway (an old carrier) is permanently docked. You can take a tour. If you like ships, walk a little north of there to the Maritime Museum and check out the ships there.

    Hot days – sometimes San Diego can get pretty hot. We have a water park (The Wave in Vista, and another one (Knott's Soak City in Chula Vista.

    Want to hike? Mission Trails Regional Park, just west of Santee, has trails of interest, as does Los Penasquitos Canyon Preserve just west of Poway.


    Missions – There is a long trail of 21 missions through the state of California. Two of them are within the borders of San Diego County. Mission San Diego de Alcala is the one closest to downtown San Diego. Up near Oceanside, there is Mission San Luis Rey. Nearby is a third, San Juan Capistrano. If you are familiar with the legend of the swallows at Capistrano, this is THAT mission.



    Donna
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 07-23-2012 at 03:58 PM. Reason: preferred URL format herein

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
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    Default

    When we have out-of-town guests that want to see what San Diego County is like, and they have time, we take them on a drive. Here's our favorite one-day-road trip:

    We start by going up CA-67 towards Santa Ysabel. In Ramona, there's a couple of places good for breakfast if we've started out early, and there are some antique shops if our guests are into that. Ramona Chamber of Commerce

    The next stop is at Dudley's Bakery in Santa Ysabel. On a good day, the smell of baked goods comes in 5 miles away (or seems to). You can always take several loaves home!

    Up we go towards Julian. Depending on the season of the year, it's either great for cooling off, apple pies and apple juice, or a bluegrass festival. You either take home an apple pie and/or some cider, or you consume it there on the spot. There's a "gold mine" and a winery up there, too Witch Creek Winery.com

    After Julian, we head over the mountains into one of two places. We can either go up to Mount Laguna/Cleveland National Forest or over to Cuyamaca State Park. Normally, Mount Laguna is our goal, as there's a breathtaking viewpoint that looks down from the top of the mountain into theAnza Borrego Desert State Park. If we've packed a picnic lunch, there's a picnic area up there and of course apple pie for dessert from Julian.

    We descend Sunrise Highway onto I-8 and head west into El Cajon. If our guests are inclined, we skirt off the highway first onto Olde Hwy 80 into Pine Valley before heading onto I-8. Or stop at the mall in El Cajon before heading back to the house.


    Donna
    Last edited by DonnaR57; 07-23-2012 at 12:42 PM. Reason: adding links

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
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    9,215

    Default

    Why not stop at the Viejas outlets?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
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    Where to Stay in the San Diego Area:

    Of course, this will depend a lot on what you want to do while you're in San Diego, and whether you need a motel/hotel or camping/RV facilities.

    Hotel Circle - by far, the most central location for motels/hotels in San Diego is along Hotel Circle, in the Fashion Valley/Mission Valley area along I-8. Almost every chain and some mom-and-pops are in this area. Bear in mind it's right along the freeway and therefore, may not be as quiet as you like it. Some hotels are close to one of the trolley stations that can take you to various locations in San Diego. If you want to do the Beach, the Zoo, and Sea World, this is a good location.

    North County Beaches - Oceanside and Carlsbad have oodles of hotels, some along the beaches themselves, and resorts. If you want beaches and shopping, yet close enough (20 miles) to get to Sea World and the Zoo, this is a good place.

    South County - there are some hotels in the San Ysidro/Otay Mesa/Chula Vista area. If you have family at the Navy base, this is reasonable place to light.

    North County Inland - if your purpose is the Safari Park (Wild Animal Park), Wine Country (Temecula, Escondido), the area in Escondido or in the I-15 corridor is a decent place. When our home was termite-tented years back, we stayed off of Valley Parkway in Escondido just so hubby was closer to his work (at the time). Good shopping in the area!

    East County - there are a few motels/hotels in the East County (Alpine, El Cajon, La Mesa) that will work if you don't mind being a little further from the tourist areas.

    La Jolla - if you are looking to stay in a very upscale area, La Jolla is it. Several nice properties are located in La Jolla, and most have their own equally upscale restaurants within it.

    Coronado - The Hotel Del Coronado, of course, is the main attraction on Coronado "island". Its own private beach and the history, not to mention the resident Ghost, make this a well known place to stay. It's a resort!


    RV Parks:
    You are going to be limited to the outskirts of town. El Cajon has a couple of RV parks, there are two or three down in the South County area (Chula Vista), and a number of state park beach campgrounds are in the San Diego area. Alpine had an RV park at one time. There was one on Olde Hwy 80 listed as "Lakeside" that is quite run-down these days and right on the side of the freeway. Bear in mind that San Diego RV parks are a bit pricey. Among some of the better bargains:

    Santee Lakes - city park in Santee. Our neighbors love it as a "shake down cruise" just before they go on a long trip.

    Dos Picos Park just outside of Ramona - has a campground with very limited hookups.

    Silver Strand State Beach - has an RV park. Nice beach, too.

    Carlsbad State Beach and CG - nice beach.

    San Clemente State Beach - has a CG/RV park. This is quite a bit north of San Diego, though, actually located in Orange County.


    Donna
    Last edited by DonnaR57; 02-18-2013 at 06:33 PM.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,505

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    Our Favorite Places to Eat in San Diego County:

    Like residents of any place, we have our favorites. No doubt there will be more than a few places that will not be on our list which are quite good. For the most part I am staying away from the "big chains", because the food is quite standardized.

    Best place for breakfast (besides IHOP): Original Pancake House(Poway, one of a small chain) or Aunt Emma's Pancake House(Chula Vista)

    Best place for lunch: Brown Bag Deli on Rosecrans. At one time they had a 2nd location by Naval Station 32nd Steet, but not sure if they still do.

    Best Italian (besides Olive Garden): Domenic's Italian Poway.

    Best Chinese: City Dragon (Poway). (No website yet. They're in the process of moving and are currently not open, but expect to be within a month or so.)

    Best seafood place: Anthony's, either in La Mesa, or downtown San Diego. (The Chula Vista location has been closed.)

    Best nice dining with good selection: Tom Ham's Lighthouse (though we haven't been down there in three years) on Shelter Island, not far from Lindbergh airport. This is currently closed for renovations until May 2013, but the food was great there for years.

    Best place for a soup and salad: Souplantation This is a chain, but not a particularly huge one. In other places, its name is Sweet Tomatoes. Always fresh food. I think there are 5 or 6 locations around San Diego County. We've eaten at the ones down by the Sports Arena, the one in Rancho Bernardo, and one in north county coastal.


    Donna
    Last edited by DonnaR57; 02-18-2013 at 06:26 PM. Reason: added links

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,696

    Default Very helpful.

    Some great info for visitors to the San Diego area !

    Thanks Donna.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
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    4,505

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    Quote Originally Posted by DonnaR57 View Post
    Hot days – sometimes San Diego can get pretty hot. We have a water park (The Wave in Vista, and another one (Knott's Soak City in Chula Vista.
    Updating my own post: Soak City in Chula Vista is now Aquatica, owned by Sea World. It's been renovated and updated so much that one of my students, invited to the pre-opening with a family member that's working there, did not recognize it.


    Donna

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
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    Our San Diego Stay-Cation trip report. When life gives you lemons (pay cuts), make lemonade (re-discover your own home area).


    Donna

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
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    Default

    Another interesting place to visit in the San Diego area, particularly if you are interested in Native American history and culture, is the Kumeyaay-Ipai Interpretive Center, in Poway. Located just off of Poway Road in the heart of Poway --turn south on Silverset by Oscar's Mexican Foods and the Perry Ford overflow lot, and park in the cul-de-sac. Bear in mind that the Center is only open to the public on Saturday mornings between 9 am and noon, and the last free tour is at 11:30 am.

    Photos of the exhibits are in the Stay-Cation trip report, linked previously.


    Donna

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
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    Check out my post, Stay-Cation 2015 Has Begun, for more photos and descriptions of San Diego area sightseeing!


    Donna

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