What to do during our SDCC hangover?
July 2, 2008 6:49 PM   Subscribe

In San Diego for 2 days, hate zoos and most museums. Willing to travel. What should we do?

My husband and I are going to San Diego Comic Con and got tickets that fly out from LA MONDAY night rather than our intended SUNDAY night. So we have all day Monday and, as we're usually done with SDCC after Saturday, we can also have all day Sunday to do something.

This is not our first trip to SDCC but we usually feel we only see the convention center and the gaslamp quarter. But we're not Zoo people, museum people, or Seaworld people.

We love going places where we can take scenic and cool photographs, or just have good experiences and see unique things. Are there some things in San Diego we should do?

If not in San Diego, we'll have a rental car and need to go back to LA by Monday night, so should we drive somewhere? We can't think of anything really fun in LA. We've seen the Tar Pits, Hollywood, Venice Beach, filming of the Tonight Show etc. so unless LA has some hidden treasures we'd like things outside of LA...

posted by bodgy to Travel & Transportation around San Diego, CA (19 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Hike Mount Palomar. See the observatory. Maybe drive the Nate Harrison grade.
posted by rlk at 7:00 PM on July 2, 2008

I mean, the obvious question is...are you beach people? Because you can't drive west in San Diego without hitting a beach.

I also recommend hiking at Torrey Pines, or driving up to Julian. There are a ton of cute little towns (Solana Beach, Oceanside, Carlsbad) with cute little shops and restaurants if that's your thing. One of the more memorable things I did during my four years in San Diego was tour the Midway, an aircraft carrier that's open to visitors. If you've never been on an aircraft carrier, that's interesting.

Oh, and if you want to spend a few hundred dollars, definitely go for a tandem glide (para or hang) at the Torrey Pines Gliderport. It's said to be one of the best places in the country to go gliding, and while it's the only place I've ever been, it was incredible.
posted by crinklebat at 7:00 PM on July 2, 2008

posted by Class Goat at 7:25 PM on July 2, 2008

Man... Coronado Island. Unbelievably scenic. You should experience Tijuana, or take the bus down to Rosarito and ensanada's lobsters.
posted by sandmanwv at 7:26 PM on July 2, 2008

Take the trolley to Tijuana.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 7:28 PM on July 2, 2008

Griffith Park Observatory? Newly remodeled....haven't checked it out yet, but its quite a view on a clear night.
posted by Asherah at 7:38 PM on July 2, 2008


The Del Mar racetrack will be open, if you enjoy gambling and haven't spent all of your money at the con. ((The racetrack itself is pretty scenic in my opinion, nice architecture, nice Wyland mural, right by the ocean))

You could peruse some tidepools in La Jolla, Point Loma, or Ocean Beach. Point Loma is a nice little peninsula close to downtown SD and the airport.

You could go for a drive up Mt Soledad and try to find Midgetland.

If your dislike for zoos and Seaworld does not extend to small aquarium establishments, you could check out the charming Birch Aquarium, also in La Jolla.

If you like pricey but delicious and interesting restaurants, you could check out the Marine Room in La Jolla. Especially recommended in the evening when the sun is setting!

As long as we're still talking about La Jolla, you could spend an afternoon romping around UCSD trying to spot all of the pieces of the Stuart collection, a mismash of weird and fun art sculptures littered around the campus.

You could also take a day trip to Catalina Island. It's a 45 minute boat trip from the Balboa Peninsula in Orange County, which is right between San Diego and LA. A lot of various things to do in Catalina, and it's very pretty and scenic.

Mexico is fun, but I personally don't recommend Tijuana to anyone anymore.
posted by Squee at 8:08 PM on July 2, 2008

Also, I don't recommend Legoland to anyone unless they have small children. Legoland is perfect for young kids, not so much for older kids or adults....not even the biggest lego fanatics.
posted by Squee at 8:10 PM on July 2, 2008

Stop in Laguna Beach on your way up the 5.

Don't go to Tijuana. Ain't nothing good there. Anyone who tells you different is fooling themselves.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 8:31 PM on July 2, 2008

San Luis el Rey (old mission) along with some of the other missions on the way up to LA are awesome, even for this avowed agnostic.
posted by notsnot at 8:57 PM on July 2, 2008

Any more clues as to what you are looking for? You could check out the childrens pool ( beach with a bunch of seals) and stroll around La Jolla. Or you could hike la jolla shores to del mar (natural beach walk passing through tidal pools, cliffs, and a nude beach ;). You could stroll around one of the more hippy fun areas like OB or leucadia/encinitas. If you want to get away from the beaches, lots of mtn/desert areas east. It will be hot out there, and you would need a car for that.

If you are staying downtown, you can take the trolley anywhere that it happens to go. That could be anwhere from Tijuana, shoppy area Mission valley, SDSU, and Old town (historical area of SD)

Lot's more. Im sure if you narrowed down what you are looking for, then I or another SD local could guide you in the right direction :)
posted by ShootTheMoon at 9:25 PM on July 2, 2008

Anza-Borrego Desert.
posted by Korou at 10:13 PM on July 2, 2008

If you're crazy and/or a photographer, go to The Salton Sea.

(My photos.)
posted by CharlieChu at 10:23 PM on July 2, 2008

we're not Zoo people

I'm sorry if this is barking up the wrong tree, but just in case you haven't hear much about it the San Diego Zoo is not just a really good zoo. The wild animal preserve is unlike anything else in the world that is called a zoo. Really, it's like a small-scale African safari.

I am guessing you mentioned "not zoo people" because everyone is telling you to go to the zoo. Just be sure you know that it's not just another zoo and is in fact a unique place. It is probably the only "zoo" in the world that I have enjoyed so much, because the animals are free and it's all open-air and it doesn't have the cramped, smelly quality of many zoos. Then again, if you're not animal people, then even this may not hold much for you.

Again, hope this wasn't barking up the wrong tree. Just wanted to make sure you knew that the SD zoo was anything but typical. It's quite extraordinary.
posted by scarabic at 11:31 PM on July 2, 2008

scarabic, sounds like you're talking about the San Diego Wild Animal Park, which is not at all near the San Diego Zoo.
posted by mdonley at 12:02 AM on July 3, 2008

Mdonley is right, scarabic is talking about the Wild Animal Park which is located about 45 minutes northeast of downtown San Diego. It certainly is quite an experience that I think "non zoo people" would enjoy. I'm a huge zoo person, and I love the San Diego Zoo more than the Wild Animal Park because I get to observe the animals at a closer range. But since you described yourself as "non zoo people" I think there's a good chance you might still enjoy the Wild Animal Park. The main attraction (the tram tour that goes around the park) is probably as close as you'll get to an African safari outside of Africa.

However, as long as we're on the topic....I gotta still chime in and say that the San Diego Zoo really is like no other zoo I've seen before. They really put a lot of thought and care into designing their exhibits so that the animals can live as comfortably as possible and people can still observe them up close.

But enough of that from me, because I know the zoo is not what you're looking for, sorry! ;)
posted by Squee at 12:50 AM on July 3, 2008

Anza-Borrego Desert.

Normally I would be seconding this all over the place, but not in the middle of July. Same for the Salton Sea. Unless you like hanging around in temperatures greater than 110 and think your car will be able to get back over the mountains while running your AC without overheating.

Also, yes the zoo is great, even for people who think they don't like zoos, but about a third of it is off limits at the moment because they're building a new enclosure for the elephants (which will be about 4x the size of the current one). There's still more to see than you can probably take in in one day, but the zoo is considerably smaller than normal at the moment, and some animals are off exhibit. Most of the really popular ones are still available for viewing, though.

The nature of the acitivities you mention makes me suspect that you're not really all that into outdoorsy stuff, and most of the stuff I can think of to do here other than zoo/museum/sea world is outdoors or involves a bit of walking; or it's just "go to the beach". If all that's actually fine with you, then you should be okay. But, things like Torrey Pines will require some hiking around to be able to get any benefit out of them. The Beach trail there is about a mile down to the beach, and starts on top of a 500' bluff, so there's some elevation gain, and you'll probably want to bring some water. You can drive right up to the tidepools at Cabrillo National Monument, though (at the end of Point Loma).
posted by LionIndex at 8:10 AM on July 3, 2008

For good photographic opportunities and unique experiences, I'd recommend the Photo Caravan at the Wild Animal Park. You can feed giraffes and rhinos and get photos right up their noses, and there are tons of other animals and scenic vistas to photograph at the park. Unless, of course, you dislike animals entirely.

San Diego isn't very urban, and most of the scenic things are much less pretty in July than they are during the spring and late winter months when everything is lush and green.

My proposed itinerary: Sunday morning, lounge around your hotel and recover from Con. Go to The Mission in East Village or Big Kitchen in South Park for breakfast, then head up to the Wild Animal Park, and do the photo caravan if you're able to. After you're done at the park, drive out to Julian by way of the 78 highway, then stay in a cute B&B. Spend Monday walking around Julian or hiking up there in the morning, drive up to LA to catch your flight that evening. Julian should be a nice, quiet change of pace from the hectic atmosphere of the Con, and allow you to sort of regroup and relax before going back home.

Full disclosure: I'm a native San Diegan, and I work for the Zoological Society and the Big Kitchen. I really think they're both great.
posted by booknerd at 9:19 AM on July 3, 2008 [1 favorite]

I'm a native San Diegan, and I work for ... the Big Kitchen.

No shit? Tres bien!
posted by LionIndex at 10:42 AM on July 3, 2008

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