SAN DIEGO: ATTRACTIONS AND ACTIVITIES
Byline: ROSE-MARIE TURK
SAN DIEGO — To an impressive number of its residents, San Diego is paradise — an ideal blend of beautiful weather, places and people. The second-largest city in California, it combines the amenities of a large metropolis with the charm of a small town. San Diego is a multifaceted area known for its conservative politics; proximity to Tijuana, Mexico; Scripps Institute; three America’s Cup matches, and the upcoming Republican Convention. It is also hailed as the unofficial sports and fitness capital of the U.S. and the place where the Spirit of St. Louis was built, but unfortunately not financed (thereby forfeiting the plane’s right to be called the Spirit of San Diego), and boasts the zip code 92067, Rancho Santa Fe, rated the nation’s most affluent address.
To help you navigate the different points of interest in San Diego during the NACDS Marketplace convention, WWD has compiled a guide to help you find anything from the world-famous tourist locations to the best pizza parlor.
San Diego Zoo: The area’s most famous visitor attraction, celebrating its 80th birthday with special events and activities. A 100-acre tropical garden zoo with 6,500 varieties of exotic plants and 3,900 animals, including such rarities as Australian koalas and African pygmy chimps. The zoo also features a three-mile guided bus tour, a children’s petting zoo and baby animal nursery. Open 9 a.m. daily. Adults: $15; ages 3 to 11: $6; ages 2 and under: free. 2920 Zoo Drive, San Diego. Tel: 234-3153.
San Diego Wild Animal Park: Located in Escondido, 30 miles north of downtown, the 2,200-acre reserve is home to 3,000 animals that roam free over vast expanses. After seeing the sights of Nairobi Village, visitors are advised to take the guide-narrated monorail tour. The Park at Dark features special evening presentations, live music and extended evening hours in effect from June 14. Adults: $18.95; ages 3 to 11: $11.95. Parking: $3. 15500 San Pasqual Valley Rd., Escondido. Tel: 234-6541.
Sea World: Located on Mission Bay, the 150-acre park, famous for Shamu and friends, features five major shows and dozens of marine exhibits. Visitors can pet dolphins, touch and feed bat rays, hold starfish and view the largest waterfowl collection in the U.S. From June 14, Sea World features special evening entertainment, fireworks and extended hours. Open 10 a.m. daily. Adults: $29.95; ages 3 to 11: $21.95; under 3: free. Parking: $5. 1720 Shorres Rd., San Diego. Tel: 226-3901. l Mission Bay: The largest facility of its kind in the world, with 4,600 acres devoted to boating, fishing, skiing, swimming, board sailing and public recreation. Home to Sea World, there are also 27 miles of sun-bleached beaches with six designated swimming areas. Bicycling and jogging are popular activities on the paths around this aquatic park.
Mission Bay Golf Course: San Diego’s only night-lighted course is open until 10 p.m. daily. 2702 North Mission Bay Drive, San Diego. Tel: 490-3370.
Belmont Park: Free-admission amusement park featuring two of San Diego’s historic treasures — the Plunge, a restored, classic indoor swimming pool and the wooden Giant Dipper roller coaster. Shops and oceanfront dining. Open daily. 3146 Mission Blvd., #F, San Diego. Tel: 491-2988.
Seaport Village: The harborside as it was a century ago is depicted in this waterfront dining and shopping complex. Boutiques, galleries, restaurants and a carousel on 14 acres along the Embarcadero. Open daily, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. West Harbor Drive at Kettner Blvd., San Diego. Tel: 235-4014.
Gaslamp Quarter: Downtown historic district featuring restaurants, theaters, galleries and shops in beautifully restored Victorian buildings. Historic walking tour Saturdays at 11 a.m., $5 donation. Audio walking tours daily, $4. 410 Island Ave., San Diego. Tel: 233-5227 or 233-4692.
Old Town: The first European settlement in California is now a rich blend of historic buildings, fine restaurants and shops. Up the hill from Old Town is Presidio Park and the Junipero Serra Museum. Boosters of Old Town, a nonprofit organization, offers historic tours and promenades. 4002 Wallace St., San Diego. Tel: 469-3174; 426-1231.
Palomar Observatory: Home of America’s largest optical telescope. Open daily 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission free. Highway of Stars, Palomar Mountain 92060. Tel: 742-2119.
Tijuana, Mexico: Just 17 miles from downtown San Diego, it is the most-visited border city in the world. The attractions include duty free leather goods, glassware, jewelry and pottery; greyhound and horse racing; bullfights and jai alai; gulf and ocean fishing. A little farther south is Puerto Nuevo, known for its many fresh-lobster restaurants. Transportation: The San Diego Trolley runs from downtown to the border; $1.75 each way. Tel: 233-3004, or visit the Transit Store, 449 Broadway, San Diego. Mexican insurance, which can be purchased on either side of the border, is recommended for visitors who plan to drive in Mexico.
Tip: Moneysaver Tickets ‘N Tours offers 10 to 20 percent discounted admissions for many San Diego attractions and tours. Tel: 721-6929 or 800-721-2608 or visit the ticket booth at Horton Plaza.
Cabrillo National Monument: Commemorates the 1542 arrival of Portuguese explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo. The Old Point Loma Lighthouse provides spectacular views of San Diego’s harbor and coastline. Open 9 a.m. to 5:15 p.m. 1800 Cabrillo Memorial Drive, San Diego. Tel: 557-5450.
Junipero Serra Museum: A San Diego landmark, the museum stands near the site of California’s first mission and fortified settlement. Open Tuesday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Sunday, noon to 4:30 p.m.. Adults: $3; under age 13: free. 2727 Presidio Drive, San Diego. Tel: 297-3528.
Mission Basilica San Diego de Alcala: First of 21 missions founded along the California coast. Museum and gardens open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Adults: $2; students and children: $1. 10818 San Diego Mission Rd., San Diego. Tel: 281-8449.
Stephen Birch Aquarium-Museum: Public education center for Scripps Institution of Oceanography features more than 3,000 fish, a specialty book shop and a spectacular view. Open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Adults: $6.50; ages 60 and above: $5.50; ages 13 to 17 and college students with ID: $4.50; ages 3 to 12: $3.50. Parking: $3. 2300 Expedition Way, La Jolla. Tel: 534-FISH.
William Heath Davis House: The oldest existing structure in the Gaslamp Quarter and a well-preserved example of Victorian saltbox architecture. Open Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Sunday from noon to 4 p.m.; Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.; $1 donation. 410 Island Ave., San Diego. Tel: 233-5227.
Hotel del Coronado: One-hour guided tours Saturday at 10 a.m. and 11 a.m.: $10. Self-guided audio tours: $5. Free admission to gallery featuring photos and memorabilia. 1500 Orange Ave., Coronado. Tel: 435-6611.
Star of India and the Maritime Museum: Honoring three centuries of historic ships with exhibits and models on board. Special events throughout the year (see next listing). Open 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. Adults: $6. 1306 N. Harbor Drive, San Diego. Tel: 234-9153.
MUSIC, THEATER AND A BIT MORE
Two Years Before the Mast: A one-man show aboard the Star of India. Jeffrey Whitman portrays seaman Richard Henry Dana in his trip around Cape Horn a century ago. Family entertainment. $20. Saturday at 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. Decks of Tallship Star of India, North Harbor Drive at Ash. Tel: 234-9153.
Indian Fair: American Indians gather at the Museum of Man in Balboa Park to demonstrate tribal dances and sell their arts, crafts and ethnic food. Open Sat. and Sun. 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tel: 239-2001.
Del Mar Fair: San Diego’s annual county fair features a midway, exhibits and carnival rides. Starts June 18. Concerts by name performers are free with admission. Tel: 755-1161.
La Jolla Concerts by the Sea: Free outdoor concert on Sunday, June 16, from 2 to 4 p.m., Scripps Park at La Jolla Cove. Food and refreshments available. Tel: 525-3160.
Twilight in the Park Summer Concerts: Free twilight concerts June 18 and 19 from 6:15 to 7:15 p.m. Spreckels Organ Pavilion, Balboa Park. Tel: 239-0512.
West African Drum and Dance Performance: Rhythms and dance from the Congo followed by an open-dance party. Saturday at 8 p.m.; $8 to $10. Isaacs/ McCaleb Studio. 3255 5th Ave., San Diego. Tel: 497-4440 or 296-9523.
9th Annual International Summer Organ Festival: Opening night features organist Robert Plimpton with Marco Labastida, tenor, Laurie Romero, soprano, and Martha Jane Weaver, mezzo-soprano. Monday, June 17, at 8 p.m.; Free. Spreckels Organ Pavilion, Balboa Park. Tel: 226-0819.
Feelin’ Groovy!: A musical celebration of the Sixties from the voices of the Gay Men’s Chorus of San Diego and the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles. Sunday, June 16, at 3 p.m.; $16-$24. Spreckels Theater. 121 Broadway, San Diego. Tel: 275-ARTS.
Boy: World premiere of a comedy in which a couple raise their fourth daughter as a son. All is well until “he” falls in love. Sunday, June 16, at 2 and 7 p.m., Tuesday, June 18, and Wednesday, June 19, at 8 p.m.; $19-$36. Mandell Weiss Theatre, La Jolla. Tel: 550-1010.
Streisand Festival of New Jewish Plays: Staged readings of plays by contemporary playwrights. Monday at 7:30 p.m.; $8 to $12. Mandell Weiss Theatre, 29101 La Jolla Village Drive, La Jolla. Tel: 550-1010.
Five Guys Named Moe: The acclaimed Broadway musical featuring the hits of jazz legend Louis Jordan. Saturday, June 15, at 5 and 8 p.m.; Sunday, June 16, at 3 and 7 p.m.; Tuesday, June 17, and Wednesday, June 18, at 8 p.m.; $18 to $28. Miracle Productions Theatre in Old Town. 4040 Twiggs St., San Diego. Tel: 688-2494.
Song, Rhyme and Pantomime: Staged by Puppet Express. Saturdays and Sundays at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 2:30 p.m.; $1.50-$2. Marie Hitchcock Puppet Theatre, Balboa Park. Tel: 685-5045.
Horton Plaza: The centerpiece of San Diego’s downtown redevelopment plan covers 6 1/2 blocks. The pastel, multilevel complex features stores, pushcart vendors, restaurants, a seven-screen cinema, two performing arts theaters and a Farmer’s Market. 324 Horton Plaza, San Diego. Tel: 238-1596.
The Paladion San Diego: Across from Horton Plaza, this tri-level, open-atrium complex houses some of the area’s most exclusive stores.
Pacific Beach: A hip, happening area near Sea World. Excellent place to buy swimwear, especially bikinis.
Prospect Street, La Jolla: Upscale boutiques in what some say is the Rodeo Drive of San Diego.
Coast Walk/Green Dragon Colony, La Jolla: Handmade crafts, toys, casual and designer clothing offered along with a view of the Pacific Ocean.
Del Mar Plaza, Del Mar: An upscale, Old World setting overlooking the ocean that offers 35 specialty shops and six award-winning restaurants. More Rodeo Drive ambience.
A sampling of personal choices and San Diego magazine’s recent readers and critics list.
Pacifica Del Mar: Ocean view, patio dining, coastal cuisine featuring fresh seafood. Try the field green salad with raspberry dressing. 1555 Camino del Mar, Del Mar. Tel: 792-0476.
George’s at the Cove: Ocean view, delicious seafood. 1250 Prospect St., La Jolla. Tel: 454-4244.
Mille Fleurs: Fine French cuisine and decadent desserts. Menu changes daily. 6009 Paseo Delicias, Rancho Santa Fe. Tel: 756-3085.
Marine Room: Creative contemporary French menu. Try to be there at high tide when the waves splash against the windows. 2000 Spindrift Drive, La Jolla. Tel: 459-7222. l
Croce’s: A favorite for its international cuisine, late-night dining and live jazz performances. Owned by Ingrid Croce, wife of the late Jim Croce and author of a new cookbook, “Thyme in a Bottle.” 802 5th Ave., San Diego. Tel: 233-4355.
Top O’ the Cove: Impeccable service; Continental cuisine; Wine Spectator Grand Award winner; outdoor dining on the ocean-view deck. 1216 Prospect St., La Jolla. Tel: 454-7779.
Putnam’s Restaurant & Bar – Colonial Inn: A La Jolla institution. Highly recommended for Sunday brunch. 910 Prospect St., La Jolla. Tel: 454-2181.
L’Escale at Le Meridien Hotel: Award-winning Sunday brunch. Fresh seafood and beautiful scenery. 2000 Second St., Coronado. Tel: 435-3000.
Marius at Le Meridien Hotel: Features French Provencal prix fixe dinners of three to five courses. Coat and tie required. Rated one of San Diego’s best and most expensive restaurants. 2000 Second St., Coronado. Tel: 435-3000.
Prince of Wales, Hotel del Coronado: The hotel is a visitor’s must, and this is rated one of the area’s best new restaurants. American regional cuisine. 1500 Orange Ave., Coronado. Tel: 435-6611.
Trattoria Acqua: Another top-rated new restaurant. Northern Italian cuisine with a view of La Jolla Cove. 1298 Prospect St., La Jolla. Tel: 454-0709. l Sammy’s California Woodfired Pizza: Where the locals like to go for award-winning gourmet pizza, pastas and salads. 770 4th Ave., San Diego. Tel: 230-8888.
Fio’s: More award-winning gourmet pizzas and northern Italian cuisine. 801 5th Ave., San Diego. Tel: 234-3467.
Jake’s Del Mar: Seafood, steak, lamb and chicken served by the beach. 1660 Coast Blvd., Del Mar. Tel: 755-2002.
Old Town Mexican Cafe: Carnitas, rotisserie chicken, handmade tortillas and award-winning margaritas. 2489 San Diego Ave., San Diego. Tel: 297-4330.
EATING IN BAJA, MEXICO
La Costa: Fresh Mexican-style seafood and late dining. San Antonio, Del Mar. Tel: 0-85-8494.
Tour de France: Award-wining French cuisine. Indoor and patio dining. 252 Col. America, Tijuana. Tel: 0-81-7542.
Sandra’s, Puerto Nuevo: Currently the most-favored lobster house in this lobster-famous village. Ignore the other entrees and order one lobster per person. Complete meal, including chips, salsa, tortillas, beans and rice, is $15.50. Tel: 01-4-1051.