San Diego, tell me more
April 11, 2007 9:56 PM   Subscribe

Does anyone know how/ where to have fun in San Diego?

I am going to San Diego in May, from the 9th to the 13th. It's not a lot of time and I am going to be in conference for a good part of that time. Can any tell me some good places to go and things to do there? I have looked in google for info, but I would love the small and interesting rather than the tourist stuff. I like the unusual. Just as an example, the mustard museum in Wisconsin was rad! Thanks for any info.
posted by Belle O'Cosity to Travel & Transportation around San Diego, CA (15 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Balboa Park is a great way to spend a day.
posted by lekvar at 10:18 PM on April 11, 2007

lekvar is right. Balboa is a must-visit. Gaslamp, beaches, there's lots to do. You mentioned the museum in Wisconsin which makes me think you would like the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and their Birch Aquarium. It's not quite so much "tourist stuff" as it's a part of the Scripps Institute. You can take an hour or two at Black's Beach (nude beach) and see how you feel about au naturale. The Walking Tours of urban San Diego are cool, too.

Have fun!
posted by Gerard Sorme at 10:48 PM on April 11, 2007

Avoid the Gaslamp district like the plague. It is the "Fisherman's Wharf" of San Diego.

Not sure where you are coming from but the beaches are amazing here. Check out Torrey Pines area for outdoors stuff.
posted by donkeysuck at 10:49 PM on April 11, 2007

In case you haven't seen it yet, there's another 'What to do in San Diego?' thread that might help you out.

I was just in San Diego 2 weeks ago and caught the Annie Liebovitz exhibition at the San Diego Museum of Art right in the middle of Balboa Park. It was fantastic.

While in Balboa Park, I'd recommend The Prado for lunch -- I've never been there for dinner, and I've heard mixed reviews about price/worth once the sun goes down, but lunch time is really great. Get the steak or fish tacos. Here's what mine looked like. :)

It's difficult to top the world-famous San Diego Zoo, which is also in Balboa Park. So, as others have said, Balboa Parks is where I'd advise you to head.
posted by Hankins at 11:03 PM on April 11, 2007

If you're in the neighborhood of the Birch Aquarium, it's a short hop from there to the Torrey Pines State Reserve, which is a fine place for a walkabout without a long drive.
posted by SPrintF at 11:28 PM on April 11, 2007

La Jolla and the Hotel del Coronado (heck, all of Coronado Island) are popular with tourists, but not without reason. They are absolutely gorgeous, and May is great weather for exploring or playing on the beaches. When I'm there my personal fav activity is sea kayaking. There are cool houses, the hotel is awesome, and there are great shops and restaurants. If you've never been, you should try to relax and wander rather than cram in a lot of activity. San Diego is best experienced with a beach-bum mindset, I think.
posted by Chris4d at 11:41 PM on April 11, 2007

Head to Hillcrest where there is a sort of Bohemian feel. Its also the gay / lesbian heart of S. Cal. It starts at the N. end of Balboa Park and goes North. The centre (University and 5th) has lots of second hand bookshops, antiques, and small good quality, good priced restaurants. Its a village sort of place, and fun to stroll around. If you have a car head East on 8 beyond Alpine and go to Cuyamaca State Park or drive part of the Pacific Rim on the Sunrise Hwy. with the Laguna woods on one side and the escarpment to the desert on the other. If you have time, consider the zoo, Its one of the world's best and the aviaries are stupendous.
posted by adamvasco at 12:54 AM on April 12, 2007

You should totally go to Horton Plaza. It's a shopping mall, but it's also basically one big architectural joke. Everything is at funny angles, and stairs and ramps never take you where they think you will. I usually have no interest in visiting malls at all but I totally loved it.
posted by simonw at 1:40 AM on April 12, 2007

Note that in May and June the weather at the beaches is typically overcast (although you might get lucky), and the water *might* not be warm enough at that point for your taste. It kind of depends on what you're used to, but the water never gets much warmer than 72 here.

The Gaslamp District is interesting in a way, but it is really commercial and trendy and a whole bunch of other stuff I disdain. It's where all the clubs are, so the nightlife is really hopping. Echoing what simonw says, Horton Plaza is quite amazing for a shopping mall, and it sits on the western side of the Gaslamp.

The more boho places around town are Hillcrest (as previously mentioned), Little Italy, North Park, South Park, and I guess Ocean Beach. Those areas typically have more interesting businesses that are more one-of-a-kind or quirky instead being giant mega-chains. They're also a little more suitable for walking, which is nice because SD is basically a car-centered city.

Previous threads
posted by LionIndex at 8:25 AM on April 12, 2007

In addition to the zoo, there's the Wild Animal Park, which has more of a natural feel. You get to ride a trolley around the park and oggle rhinos, giraffes and other ungulates.

Old Town has a lot of old buildings and people who know history. And I've heard rumors there's a really nice hat shop somewhere around there.

I'd second the Torrey Pines Reserve because it's a beautiful beach area, next to some wetlands in fact, and wetlands are a rarity. Or if you want a more social beach, Ocean Beach has a huge pier and you can fish on it without a license. And as stated by LionIndex it's a nice place to walk around, although it's become more of a yuppie neighborhood than a genuine beachtown.

You can also keep an eye on when you're down to see if there's any events going on.
posted by Citizen Premier at 9:00 AM on April 12, 2007

Sorry, that stuff isn't really that unusual. Something that is more unusual is probably the cave at La Jolla Cove. You have to pay someone at the store to go down into the cave. I wouldn't recommend it to the claustrophobic, as you have to go down a narrow tunnel with lots and lots of steps.

Near the Cave Store is a path that winds through some vegetation on the cliffs above the beach. If you're young and healthy you should be able to find a secret, uncrowded beach by going down a rope hidden somewhere underneath the first bridge you come to. It takes a long walk to get to the beach from any other route, so you'll probably be the only one on it.
posted by Citizen Premier at 9:09 AM on April 12, 2007 [1 favorite]

Tijuana, Mexico. Good times indeed.
posted by dawdle at 11:00 AM on April 12, 2007

Maybe someone in SD can help me out, but I know there is some UFO/alien museum out in Lemon Grove or El Cajon or somewhere inland...that's the only weird kind of thing I can think of!

Chicano park is great to check out DURING THE's under the Coronado bridge on the mainland side where there is beautiful mexican/chicano grafitti artwork on the bridge pillars...a nice part of SD that few people know about. Again, please go during the day.

You can probably find some good local music at the Casbah near the airport. If you're in Hillcrest, you gotta go to Extraordinary Desserts...and Lips across the street from the dessert place makes for a fun night (a drag queen show, not for those who don't mind a little ---or a LOT-- of razzing).

And definitely check out the zoo, i love going first thing in the morning when it's totally empty and it's just beautiful to walk around. Some animals are just waking up, and some are still sleeping, but it is my favorite time of the day.
posted by lil' ears at 12:27 PM on April 12, 2007

Tijuana, Mexico. Good times indeed.

Hahahahahaha!!! No.
posted by LionIndex at 4:50 PM on April 12, 2007

The "UFO/alien museum" lil' ears is talking about is the Unarius Academy of Science in El Cajon. Definitely worth checking out.
posted by snez at 3:34 PM on April 13, 2007

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