History abounds in San Diego. Old Town, San Diego’s original downtown, is home to various park agencies operating free museums and historical sites that recreate life in the Mexican andAmerican 1800s. See an original Wells Fargo stagecoach, the first public schoolhouse in San Diego, the most haunted house in America, and an adobe hacienda. On the Embarcadero, San Diego’s waterfront, visit the Star of India, the world’s oldest active sailing ship and part of the Maritime Museum and the USS Midway, which now serves as an aircraft carrier museum.
Downtown San Diego features the Gaslamp quarter, a Victorian National Historic District, home to quaint buildings that house shops, restaurants, theaters, galleries, nightclubs. Within the Gaslamp quarter is Horton Plaza, a 7 level shopping center.
The Embarcadero, or waterfront, which is very walkable, stretches from the Maritime Museum to the impressive Convention Center. Along the way, you will find harbor cruises, the terminal where cruise ships dock, the Coronado ferry, USS Midway, the US AirCarrier Memorial, and Seaport Village shopping and dining complex. The walk is enhanced by numerous works of art, part of the Port of San Diego’s public art program. Don’t miss the larger than life size salute to Bob Hope and the Military. The Coronado ferry provides transport to Coronado Island, home of the famous Hotel Del Coronado. Two companies provide harbor and whale watching cruises, San Diego Embarcadero Harbor Cruises and Hornblower. You can find discounts for the Hornblower cruises at arestravel.com/2965_attraction-tickets_a34.html?ticketID=80. Other discount coupons can be found at www.sandiego.org/nav/Visitors/Resources/Coupons.
You could easily spend two full days at Balboa Park, the largest urban cultural park in the US. Highlights include the Natural History Museum, Museum of Art, Air and Space Museum, Reuben H. Fleet Science Center, Botanical Building, Model Railroad Museum, Automotive Museum. Catcha film at the Imax theater or concert on Sundays at the world’s largest outdoor organ. The House of Pacific Relations International Cottages feature the history and culture of more than 30 countries. On Sundays, from March through October, country specific refreshments are served. The San Diego Zoo is located within Balboa Park. Home to more than 4000 species, the giant Pandas are family favorites, as is Skyfari, an aerial tram ride. Guided bus tours of the zoo are available.
For sports enthusiasts, Petco Park, home to the Padres, is located right in downtown San Diego; the Chargers’ Qualcomm stadium is a 45 minute trolley ride away. Visit over the holidays, and catch either the Holiday Bowl or the Poinsettia Bowl. The Holiday Bowl boasts “America’s largest” balloon parade along the waterfront on gameday.
Thereis no shortage of excellent restaurants throughout the city, featuring every imaginable type of cuisine. Little Italy is home to great Italian food. A casual neighborhood favorite is Filippi’s Pizza Grotto, 1747 India St. You enter this restaurant through the old fashioned Italian market in the front. Owing to the popularity of this place, there is usually a line out the door, but it moves quickly. In Old Town, Coyote Cafe, with its fresh made in front of you tortillas, offers reasonably priced Mexican cuisine. Rei Do Gado Churrascaria, 939 4th Ave. in the Gaslamp district is a Brazilian steakhouse offering an unusual dining experience. Its unlimited buffet accompanies various selections of mesquite roasted meat proffered by meat waiters walking from table to table…. not to mention delectable desserts. For a less expensive alternative, try their lunch…. same concept, fewer alternatives.