San Diego, for real this time.
October 8, 2010 1:36 PM   Subscribe

Yet another travel question! This time, we're going to San Diego. Any suggestions for hotels that are decent but not too pricey? And what about some fun festivals and stuff happening in early November?

Last week you guys were so helpful with my Grand Canyon trip question.... but unfortunately that trip has to be pushed to next year, due to logistics and finance problems. So instead we're going to San Diego! I already booked our tickets, so now we're just looking for some suggestions on hotels/restaurants/fun stuff.

In case you missed my last question, i'm going with my sister. She is 20, has no money, likes outdoorsy stuff and is very athletic. I am 31, will be paying for most of the trip, and i like stuff more along the lines of shopping, museums, bars, festivals, etc (plus I'm getting over a sprained ankle so cant do anything really crazy). We both like food, music, meeting new people...

I most need help with hotels because I just have NO clue how to find one. I think we'll rent a car to get around. I heard there's a great wild animal preserve which we definitely want to see. We'd love to go kayaking at some point too. Or will it be too cold for water stuff by November?

All suggestions welcome!
posted by silverstatue to Travel & Transportation around San Diego, CA (10 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Ooooh! The SD Wine and Food festival is happening Nov 17-21

Where are you from? San Diego has a bunch of stuff but not all of it is close together, and the stuff that is close together tends to be near pricier hotels. For example, the Wild Animal Park is not really near any kayaking (well, within about a 30-40 min drive). Could be a little surprising to someone from a smaller area.

The SD Zoo is near this awesome open area with Museums called Balboa Park. These are both near the hip downtown area and the waterfront, but that's where the pricier hotels are, too.
posted by toomanyplugs at 1:58 PM on October 8, 2010

This site might have a good search function for hotels. It seems to be able to search for a bunch of different categories and parameters.

It also lists some of the other events happening, like the Julian Apple Festival (mmm, pie).
posted by toomanyplugs at 2:01 PM on October 8, 2010

The Society for Neuroscience conference is going to be in San Diego in early November. Meaning thousands of scientists, postdocs and students descending on the cheap hotels and filling up the restaurants. So expect a bit of a crowd here and there.
posted by caution live frogs at 2:21 PM on October 8, 2010

While I would highly recommend the Wild Animal Park over the San Diego zoo...I'm not sure either will be enjoyable if you are getting over a sprained ankle. Both require a good deal of walking. However the area around the zoo is lovely, as toomanyplugs mentions, and Balboa Park is worth a visit. If you want pretty beaches, head to Coronado, where the sunlight makes the mica in the sand look like gold flecks. Coronado is also the home of the Hotel Del Coronado, which is a registered historic landmark in California. Pacific Beach is one of the more rowdy party areas, and also includes some good bars/restaurants, such as Costa Brava, which has amazing tapas.

If you can afford to stay at the Crystal Pier, I hear it's well worth it, and it's right on the beach, with plenty of good food within walking distance.

La Jolla is gorgeous, as well, and includes some impressive food and beaches (Board and Brew for sandwiches!). If you make it to the children's pool, you can get a great view of the seals.

Also - the last few years I lived there, my friends from work and I had Yelp lunch days, and we would randomly pick a spot from Yelp and try it. The reviewers in San Diego are out in full force - Yelp rarely, if ever, let me down.
posted by routergirl at 2:57 PM on October 8, 2010

Response by poster: My ankle is doing well - no pain at all with walking a lot. I just cant do any really hardcore stuff like rock climbing or biking etc.

I live in NYC so I'm used to everything being really close by... but I (and my sister) grew up a few hours north where you need to drive everywhere. So we're cool with either extreme!
posted by silverstatue at 3:47 PM on October 8, 2010

Best answer: SD Beer week!
Woo! San Diego craft beer culture is the best.

Yes, get a car. Check out Torrey Pines State Beach/Park. Also, in La Jolla, there's a lot of kayak tour companies.
posted by fillsthepews at 4:33 PM on October 8, 2010

If you're looking for a cheap place to stay with a party atmosphere, there's a hostel right on the beach in Pacific Beach - Banana Bungalow. I used to live right next door and they were always having fun.
posted by jshort at 4:57 PM on October 9, 2010

Best answer: Museum-wise: If you're into maritime history even just as a passing interest, then don't miss the Maritime Museum of San Diego (that's a Wikipedia link, which has a nice summary -- here's the official site). It has a very cool group of museum ships, and the Star of India (originally named Euterpe) is one of the highlights. It was built in 1863 in the Isle of Man and is the oldest ship in the world (or second-oldest, depending on the source) that still sails regularly. It's really something to go on board and explore the ship, actually see the original (tiny) quarters and cabins and get a sense of sea travel before the steam engine era. (Not sure how early in November you'll be in the city, but according to the museum calendar, on Nov. 13th there's a birthday celebration for the ship. This is usually when the annual sail happens, but there doesn't seem to be any other info about it yet on the official site.)

I don't mean to sell the other ships short -- there's a nice variety, including modern vessels. The museum has acquired a number of additional ships since I was there a few years ago: one is the HMS Surprise, the replica frigate that was built for the movie Master and Commander. The museum also offers sailing trips and bay cruises on some of the ships, depending on the season (I haven't personally taken any though). Looks like they are still available in November -- the sailing ones on Saturdays only (I realize that they're nothing like kayaking, but mentioning in case you and your sister find them of interest).

Another place I really like in the area is the Cabrillo National Monument (operated by the National Park Service). The monument is really high up so there are some really fantastic views, weather permitting. My favorite thing there is probably the Old Point Loma Lighthouse (more info at Wikipedia), which is now a museum and has been restored; you can go inside and check out the residence and the tower. There's also an adjacent museum/visitor center (formerly the assistant lightkeeper's house).

It'll require some walking to get to the monument and its visitor center (and uphill to the lighthouse), but IIRC everything is paved and shouldn't be a problem. Hopefully the actual old lighthouse's staircase won't be an issue either. On the grounds there's also a short trail, as well as tidepools. I don't have direct experience with them, so not sure how accessible either would be with an ankle that's on the mend -- probably not the tidepools.

Since you're into bluegrass: The Deering banjo factory (located in Spring Valley) offers free tours. I haven't gone but it might be pretty neat. (Also related: factory tour at Taylor Guitars.)

Also check out this thread: "Food and other shopping available only in CA?" (asked by someone visiting SD). Since you and your sister are both from the state you're probably familiar with a lot of the options, but there are a number of San Diego-specific places mentioned.

For more special events, live music, etc. take a look at the event calendar from the official San Diego Visitor's Bureau (from the link in toomanyplugs' comment).

And for more hotel info: This question from a couple of years ago was asked in a Comic Con context, but has a decent summary of locating hotels in the San Diego area, plus some suggestions that are still relevant. I agree with the points in that thread that Hotel Circle is far from everything you'll be visiting (it's basically an isolated bunch of hotels/motels next to the highway) but if you have a car and don't need to go back to the hotel during the day, it won't be that bad (less convenient, yes). If you do find yourself staying there, it might be worth checking out the apple pancakes at Ricky's.

Hope you have a great trip!
posted by rangefinder 1.4 at 12:41 AM on October 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: wow, rangefinder, thanks so much! We're from New York, so we're not familiar with ANYTHING California-wise, so this is a really big help. My sister loves sailing, so the maritime museum is a great idea, and the banjo factory sounds awesome too!

thanks so much everyone! I'm really looking forward to my trip. :)
posted by silverstatue at 11:56 AM on October 10, 2010

We're from New York

Whoops, I totally misread your earlier comment as being from a few hours north of SD, instead NYC. Sorry about that! In any case, glad you found the info helpful.

And definitely nth-ing the recommendations in the "Food and other shopping" thread to have fish tacos on your visit. Regardless of where you end up getting them, be sure to try them with some lime. Yum!
posted by rangefinder 1.4 at 5:44 PM on October 10, 2010

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