I recently had an opportunity to visit one of my favorite cities in the U.S., San Diego, and thought I would share my experience in this fantastic city.
For those of you contemplating a winter journey south, San Diego is the perfect place (unless you want to ‘veg’ on the beach, in which case the Caribbean is still your best bet). If sightseeing adventures are your cup of tea, the San Diego zoo is a must. Rated as the finest in the world, its tropical foliage quickly transforms the surroundings into a paradise.
Admission is only 33 dollars, which includes a guided bus tour – a great way to begin the day and get your bearings – a cable car ride high above the entire zoo, and all day use of the transit bus, which stops at various places throughout the park.
I must admit I did prefer the elephant exhibit at the Toronto zoo (before they began to ship the mammoths out) and Northwood had more Lions, but in San Diego the two adult pandas and a baby who just learned to walk, are quite a sight to see. A dozen or so koalas make you smile and a hundreds of exotic animals will leave you in awe. The zoo is a 5 minute ride from the Harbour Drive area – the place I would recommend to stay.
The Harbour Drive area is no more than 10 minutes from the Airport and has dozens of restaurants, hotels and a large shopping mall called Horton’s. Recommended hotels are the Sofia and Solamar, both are reasonable, clean and convenient. are you can even dine on the permanently docked aircraft carrier, the Midway.
The weather in San Diego this time of year is in the low twenties, Celsius, which is perfect for wandering the area. Fortunately, the weather in San Diego is always in the low twenties, making it the ideal locale for vacationing.
Another spot on your ‘not to miss’ list is Sea World. The great killer whales will amaze you with their acrobatics. The playful dolphins are trained to perfection and the underwater views of belugas, seals and penguins are a must-see. Admission is $57.00 which includes everything except food. Unlike most theme parks, the costs inside are very reasonable. Parking, however, is an extra $10.00.
Another great area to explore is Old Town. You’ll be transported back in time to the early beginnings of San Diego. There are dozens of shops mingled with museums and souvenir stops. Great food and very friendly people will make this visit a must. Again the drive is only 10 minutes from the Harbour Drive area.
For those who need a fix of history, Balboa Park is the place to go. A large park setting is home to several museums, including natural history, photography and native art, to name a few. A walk in the park with its beautiful fountains and lush foliage is worth the visit alone.
If you have an urge to schmooze with the rich and famous, take a drive to Coronado Island (only 10 minutes across the bridge). There you can stroll through the Coronado Beach resort, built in 1887, a favorite hangout for the U.S. presidents and the like. The red-roofed, white-walled building lies on one of California’s most beautiful beaches and for $10.00 parking; you can experience the glamour of the hotel, walk through the shops and admire the stately architecture. If you have time, grab a bite in one of the fine dining areas or simply ‘pig out’ in the candy store.
San Diego is a 5 hour flight from Toronto and Air Canada flight direct every day. I rented a car, but a taxi would probably be cheaper. The local trolley tour company offers ‘on and off’ service at reasonable rates and is available from most hotels.
With Christmas just around the corner, you may want to consider San Diego for a shopping adventure or quick getaway, or perhaps your family will pool together and send you there in the New Year. Whatever the excuse, the visit is worth the expense and you will not be disappointed.
Jonathan van Bilsen’s photosNtravel TV show can be watched on RogersTV and YouTube. To follow Jonathan’s travel adventures visit photosNtravel.com