Sunday, January 31, 2010

San Diego: Jeff's Favorite US City

In a short 3.5 hours (200 miles), you can get from Edwards to San Diego. Truly a world away. San Diego is Jeff's favorite big US city so we've been four times now. Each visit has been unique and adventurous. But for this post, we'll just give a broad overview of your options.

Short weekend, long weekend or entire week. San Diego's got enough for you.

Consider visiting when the Red Bull Air Races are in town (not in 2010).

You can stay at any of the various military installations in the San Diego vicinity. Click here for the DoD Lodging webpage. North Island NAS is our favorite because it's on Coronado Island. From lodging (or the Navy Lodge), you can bike to the shops and restaurants on the island. A favorite 'by-the-slice' pizza joint is Alexander's Pizza at 849 Orange Avenue, Coronado, CA‎. It's a low-key place with a specialty named 'Scooby Snacks.' They're small pizza balls served with Ranch dressing and are delicious. For a special occasion, stay at the Hotel Del Coronado ($$$). The Del is legendary!

If you're staying on Coronado Island, spend some time on the beach and rent a sailboat or kayak in the bay.

Drive across the Coronado Bridge and visit the USS Midway aircraft carrier (free for active duty).

For a good dinner and solid nightlife, visit the Gaslamp Quarter. Our recommendation for a classy atmosphere and a celebratory glass of bubbly is The Grape at 823 5th Ave.

Be sure to visit Balboa Park. Too numerous to list here, Balboa contains museums and performing arts venues that can entertain for days. Sundays 2-3pm during summer, the Spreckels Organ Pavilion presents free outdoor concerts.

The San Diego Zoo (free for military, 10% off for dependents) and associated Wild Animal Park are world-renowned. Take the kids to Sea World. Drive out to Cabrillo National Monument. Rent a kayak and visit the La Jolla sea caves (just north of San Diego). Here's the outfitter I chose.

As you can see, the options in San Diego are mounting. So here's a condensed version:

-In 3 days, stay on Coronado Island, visit the USS Midway and take in the S.D. Zoo & Balboa Park.

-With an additional day, visit the Cabrillo National Monument, kayak in La Jolla and spend the evening in the Gaslamp Quarter.

-Then add Sea World and a play or musical at Balboa Park. Don't fret if you don't have the time to see and do everything in San Diego. You'll be back.

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