Four free evenings in San Diego. What to do?
October 1, 2012 11:18 AM   Subscribe

I will be at a conference in San Diego this week. I arrive Tuesday around noon, and leave on Saturday at noon. My evenings are free and I'm looking for suggestions of things to do on my own without a car.

I am staying near the convention center so that would be my departure point around 5pm each day. I also have Tuesday afternoon free.

Late 20's female travelling solo, no kids. I have no interest in sports. I enjoy shopping at locally owned businesses and sampling local food & drink, although I don't plan on hitting up clubs and staying out late. I have seen this post that might cover food & drink, but I'm open to any new suggestions.

Happy to walk around and take in safe urban environments. Thank you for your suggestions!
posted by Juniper Toast to Work & Money (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
When we were there with no car, we enjoyed taking the train/bus to Crystal Pier one evening to watch the sunset. Then had drinks and dinner at a nearby bar. If I remember correctly, it's essentially the end of the line for that bus route and the bus turns around and goes back into San Diego.
posted by jillithd at 11:34 AM on October 1, 2012

If you have the time, the zoo or the aquarium are nice places to spend an afternoon. The zoo can be reached from the convention center by bus.
posted by hariya at 12:24 PM on October 1, 2012

The Gaslamp Quarter is an easy walk from the convention center, and has a lot of dining and shopping variety.
posted by Tknophobia at 12:51 PM on October 1, 2012

As a native in SD, I suggest taking a glance at attractions around the trolley system. For example you can go north up to Old Town or further on to Fashion Valley Mall. The bus area from here go all over the place.

Additionally if time allowed you could go out to Balboa Park or the bay pier (bay tours) as well. The Horton Plaza mall is also in downtown.
posted by Bodrik at 12:57 PM on October 1, 2012

Balboa Park - entirely safe and quickly accessible by taxi. Beautiful at sunset. Walk to Cucina Urbana for dinner. (Get the grilled Brussels sprouts and an Aviation cocktail. Do it now; thank me later.)

It's cheesy and touristy, but everyone loves those Hornblower boat tours at sunset. (Don't eat aboard, the food is iffy.)

If you're a beerophile Stone Brewery has opened an outpost in South Park. South Park and North Park are both cool neighborhoods that don't have a lot of chain restaurants or stores. Easy taxi commute.
posted by 26.2 at 1:38 PM on October 1, 2012

Check out the events section of the San Diego Reader for local flavor.
posted by JDC8 at 3:57 PM on October 1, 2012

My MIL went to San Diego recently for a conference and I know she enjoyed visiting Temecula Olive Oil's store in Old Town. She brought me back some awesome basil olive oil.
posted by radioamy at 4:08 PM on October 1, 2012

Embarcadero Marina Park is basically behind the convention center. Seaside (or seaport?) Village has places to eat and shop and is between the convention center and park. If you walk to Kettner Blvd and follow it into town, after a block or so you cross some train and trolley tracks. There is a brick coffee house which often has live entertainment. There is also G street right there. You can follow it down to Horton Plaza and a general area filled with shopping and dining.

Horton Plaza fairly often has live street musicians. The Embarcadero has similar, plus an ever changing choice of stuff like: crazy t-shirts, jugglers, some guy who balances stacks of rocks, palm readers, tarot readers, jewelry et al from Mexico, portrait artists and characaturists, and street entertainers I wouldn't know how to classify.

From the Embarcadero, you can book a tour of one sort or another (one of which is via amphibious vehicle which drives around some and also crosses the water), or hop on a horse drawn carriage or grab a pedicab. Down G street is another tour company where you can do, among other things, tours via Segueway.

If you want to eat cheaply, Ralph's (grocery store) is on G street, across from Horton Plaza. They have a great deli. Please do check out Horton Plaza at least briefly. It is a three-ish story, multi level open air mall unlike anything else I have ever seen. Horton Plaza can be hard to spot. It does not look like a mall from the outside (or from the inside, but it is easier to tell it is a mall from the inside). It looks like a mishmash of assorted buildings. But Norton's (one of the anchor stores) is directly across the street from Ralph's. That is probably the easiest way to find it if coming from the convention center.

There is tons to do just from the Embarcadero. You don't have to go far at all to eat, shop, find touristy hot spots and catch an actual tour. If you want to venture further, no big. But there is lots right there. Also, for $5 you can get an all day transit pass (expires at midnight). They sell them on the bus. With a smidgeon of research, a transit pass can substantially expand your options.

Have fun.
posted by Michele in California at 5:03 PM on October 1, 2012

The Embarcadero and Gaslamp districts are easily walkable from the convention center. Those areas are pretty cool and definitely have plenty of food and drink options. Pretty touristy though, too.

If you don't plan on coming back any time soon, don't miss Balboa Park. That is San Diego's crown jewel. If you have any spending cash it's definitely worth it to visit a couple or three museums there. Google it up and see what may interest you. It's worth the short cab ride anyway just to do a walk through. (The Zoo and Balboa Park are right next to each other, it that helps!)

posted by snsranch at 6:48 PM on October 1, 2012

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