On to Part 2 of our San Diego trip, a.k.a. The Fun Part! Part 1 of my San Diego trip was full of my work conference but Part 2 consisted of a few days of John and I enjoying and exploring the city. Here we go!
Right across the street from the convention center where my conference was was the Gaslamp Quarter so we walked around there a lot. It’s a great place for window shopping and people watching.
On John’s first night in town we had dinner at Neighborhood in the Gaslamp Quarter which was a cute restaurant with amazing fries and a hipster vibe. This place could totally be in Somerville and it wouldn’t miss a beat. We really enjoyed it!
Neighborhood is known for it’s no ketchup policy and tons of dipping sauces. They were all super good!
Another fun thing we did was go to Seaport Village. It’s a little village of shops that was conveniently located right behind our hotel. It is definitely touristy but is right on the water and has a little something for everyone. Walking around here during the day was nice but at night it was great because it was just about the only thing that wasn’t closed at 5PM in San Diego.
From Seaport Village we walked to the USS Midway, an enormous Vietnam and Desert Storm-era aircraft carrier docked in San Diego Bay.
Here is a panarama photo I took between Seaport Village and the USS Midway.
The USS Midway Museum consists of the ship as well as 25 restored aircrafts. This type of thing is obviously John’s favorite type of thing to see when we travel but I also really enjoyed it. The Midway has so much history and it was so much fun to get to relive that through the tour of the ship.
The USS Midway served for 47 years and was decommissioned in 1992. We were actually there on Pearl Harbor Day (December 7th) so there was definitely an extra special vibe going on there.
The interior of the Midway was amazing – the ship held 100 aircrafts and over 4,000 men.
Each flight squadron had their own ready room/briefing room where they would prep for missions. Everything I know about ready rooms comes from Battlestar Galactica so it’s a good thing I have a smart husband who knows everything about these types of things.
The flight squadrons of the Midway had such badass logos.
Interesting fact: the Midway is the only remaining US aircraft carrier of the World War II era (that is not an Essex-class aircraft carrier).
The flight deck was an incredible sight. The aircrafts were in amazing condition and so cool to look at.
It was a real treat for us to be able to see such rich naval history. John was completely in heaven.
We began our only full day in San Diego with fog. Actually every day started with fog but it was just the marine layer that would burn off at about 10AM or so.
To start the day we hopped on the San Diego Trolley Tour for an all day hop on/hop off ride. The full tour takes about 2 hours to complete if you don’t get off the trolley but it stopped everywhere we wanted to go so we made a whole day of it.
The views from the San Diego-Coronado Bridge were stellar. We got a great view of Petco Park where the Padres play. Taking a tour of that stadium is definitely on our list of things to do the next time we’re in San Diego.
We headed over the bridge to Coronado, about 5 miles from downtown San Diego. Coronado is best known for its beaches and the Hotel Del Coronado. It’s also known for this famous house that was air lifted to Coronado because the residents loved the town so much but wanted to keep their house.
After another 30 minutes or so on the trolley we got off at Balboa Park. Balboa Park is the largest urban cultural park in the US. It has 15 museums, music venues, art spaces, and is home to the San Diego Zoo.
When we arrived at the San Diego Zoo we started by taking the air tram to the far side of the zoo with the plan to see as much as we could on the walk back to the entrance.
The Polar Bear Plunge was our favorite part of the zoo. The bears were totally animated, it was almost as if they were putting on a show for us.
The Panda Trek was a little lackluster – there was only one panda and it was super crowded.
Since the zoo is so huge (over 100 acres) there are many moving walkways to get you where you want to go. It was super organized and really convenient. Kudos to the zoo on that!
The elephant odyssey was awesome too. We even got to see the vets take a routine blood sample from one of the elephants which they do all out in the open so the public can see how the animals are treated at all times.
After the zoo we were starving so we headed to Craft & Commerce for lunch. The ambiance was really cool – this was definitely another place that would easily fit in in Boston/Somerville. I had the quinoa and lentil burger and it was delicious. But what’s up with San Diego and the skinny fries?!
After lunch we walked around San Diego’s Little Italy for a while. It was adorable! Full of cute restaurants, shops, and stores. I could have spent all day here!
From Little Italy we hopped back on the trolley to Old Town. Old Town is considered the birthplace of California, settled in 1769 by Spanish soldiers and explorers.
There was a lot to see in Old Town – churches, restaurants, shops, historical buildings, and markets.
One of the highlights of Old Town was buying tortillas from a street vendor. We bought 2 tortillas for $1 and they were so delicious! We sat on a bench, enjoying the view and our snack. I love moments like that.
After walking around Old Town for a bit we hopped back on the trolley and headed to the Maritime Museum. The historic ships in the Maritime Museum include the San Salvador, Star of India, HMS Surprise, Californian, and a B-39 Submarine.
The Star of India is the world’s oldest active sailing ship and what a beauty!
The HMS Surprise had the most wow factor for us – it’s the ship that Master and Commander was filmed on (i.e. John’s favorite movie and book series!).
John really enjoyed seeing all of the ships but I know the Surprise was his favorite.
There’s something really magical and romantic about these ships and the rich maritime and naval history in San Diego.
Wiped from a long day of touring the city, John and I rested up for a bit in our hotel then headed to Currant American Brasserie for dinner.
The next day was our final day in San Diego. We had about 4 hours in the city before we had to head to the airport. We started the day at the Little Italy Mercato – an open air market in Little Italy with tons of vendors, food stands, folks with their dogs and kids, with a fantastic neighborhood feel.
I love going to any local market no matter where we travel – it gives such a great sense of the people, culture, food, and vibe of a city.
I got a delicious smoothie and green tea for breakfast at the Joes on the Nose food truck at the market.
Walking around the market brought us to a part of Little Italy we hadn’t seen the day before. My favorite thing were these food art sculptures that featured an italian dish with the recipe on a carved tablet next to it. These were all over the place! Super creative and quaint.
John enjoyed a meatball as we looked on to the Little Italy open air bocci court.
We wandered back to the neighborhood where our hotel was and stopped by Horton’s Plaza, an open air mall in the upper Gaslamp area. Is everything in San Diego “open air”? Um, yes.
Before we grabbed our bags and headed to the airport we had one last Mexican food lunch at Los Panchos.
We got on the plane happy and full, but ready to go home. I had been in San Diego for almost a full week and was really missing the cat and my bed.
The flight home was relatively quick (4.5 hours). I worked on my embroidery project and John watched UFC. When we arrived back home in Boston we made it from the plane to our front door in 15 minutes by cab. Not too bad!
I can’t wait to go back to San Diego. It will be the first stop on our next road trip in May 2013. Stay tuned!