It's no real secret that I never really know what I am doing, but sometimes I manage to pull it off. This isn't one of those times. The closest I've ever been to San Diego was on a two-day road trip along I-10 in a U-HAUL to help a friend move from West Texas to Los Angeles. That is another story entirely.
Luckily, VTMers came through in spades with things to do while taking in the Holiday Bowl.
Our wreckem619 offered several suggestions via email and comments, so I am taking the lazy way out and simply posting them below.
Also, please check out all of the comments on my previous post for more ideas from JonArnold, FTWRaider, TTpilk645, RMR14, RndRckTTU, kmmoreno, and others.
Thanks to everyone!
I have lived in San Diego for 8 years now, and my wife was born and raised here, so we have a little insight.
Things to see and do:
Pacific Beach and Mission Beach I believe are the two most tourist friendly of the beaches. Mission has a roller coaster and some other games on the boardwalk. If looking for a quick bite to eat my favorite stop is Luigi's. This place has giant slices of pizza and tons of beer on tap with a large selection of San Diego Beer (SD is well known in the microbrew field). PB (Pacific Beach) is great for dive bars off the beach. One of my favorites is PB Ale House. If the weather is nice you can sit on the rooftop drinking a pint and watch the waves crashing on shore. Both places have bikes and other things you can rent to cruise along the boardwalk. There is also paddle boarding and jet ski rentals for the bay if into that sort of thing.
Coronado Beach is ranked #1 in the U.S. This is a nice beach, and it usually isn't too crowded. This time of year I don’t think you will have that problem. Hotel Del Coronado is also located on this beach and is worth walking around or at least just seeing. Also there is a ferry that will take you from downtown to Coronado.
La Jolla Cove is also nice. More cliffs and fancy shopping and dining. One of the top choices to eat is George's.
Located on the north end of downtown. This is a nice little shopping area with all kinds of different type of shops and some decent places to eat. When my parents come to visit we also seem to end up down here. It’s nice to walk around and see the water. There is a decent cigar shop here as well.
Historical Area of SD with some shopping and museums. Lots of Mexican food here.
If you want some high end stores Fashion Valley Mall is your place. My wife worked here years ago at Bloomingdale's and she said they would often have people from LA, Orange County, and Hollywood take limos down and spend the day and thousands of dollars here. You might run into some stars. I’ve seen several athletes on twitter mention they were there.
I’m sure I don’t need to explain much on this one. Like someone else mentioned there is a lot to do and see here. Be ready to walk and expect some decent hills. On a side note, the head of the SD Alumni Chapter is the PR person for the zoo. Not exactly sure her position.
This is located in North County and will be a decent drive from the downtown area. You can see the animals in more of a natural environment. If you thought you walked a lot at the zoo wait ‘til you go here.
This is located in North County area so you will have a decent drive. I haven’t been here yet but my kid just turned 3 so I am sure I will be spending plenty of time in the upcoming years here. I hear it is pretty cool.
I have probably gone here 4 or 5 times and still haven’t seen everything. You can do an audio tour and go at your own pace. Downtown location. There are a couple of other smaller ship museums right along here.
Check groupon for these; you can find some good deals. In fact you can find deals on a lot of these things on groupon or Living Social.
I would suggest to stay in the Gaslamp District as there are rooftop bars, clubs, sports bars, basic bars, and live music. Basically all you want.
If you want to hit up PB, it can be fun and it can be annoying. It can be like a frat party down there but it can also be fun. Lots of bars and clubs in the same area and a lot of attractive people.
Hilton Bay Front is hosting Tech from what the Holiday Bowl website says. Lots of hotels downtown like Marriott, Hardrock Hotel, Omni, amount others. Hotel Circle would be another good location to stay as you would be close to the stadium, beaches, Sea World, zoo, and downtown.
Be warned that waits can be long so call ahead if possible or just be prepared to wait.
Again Gaslamp has lots of options of every type of food you could think, including great steak houses like Donovan's Steak House and Ruth's Chris Steak House. We tend to just head down in the area, walk around, and go in wherever it looks good. The Tin Fish would be a nice seafood lunch stop.