San Diego. The place I always dream of moving to when I retire. I am rarely disappointed by the beautiful coastline, ideal weather and fun outdoor activities! I don’t think there’s a bad time of year to visit. It is also on the more expensive side of cities to visit in the U.S. So what is there to do and see in San Diego? I will tell you!
What To Do
What to do…what to do…..so many choices! Here are some of my favorite things to do in San Diego (and not so favorite).
Swim with Sharks in La Jolla
Anyone who has seen the movie Jaws might think this is a bad idea. I know, sharks are scary. Sharks eat people. But not THESE sharks. They are Leopard Sharks and their mouths are about the size of a quarter! So unless you are a Smurf, you’re safe. Not to mention the fact that it sounds cool to tell your friends that you swam with sharks!!! We brought our snorkel gear from home and rented wetsuits right in town, $20.00 for 2 hours and headed for the cove right there in La Jolla . Ok, the moment of truth… we did not see any leopard sharks! Apparently Most of them show up later in July. However, there were quite a few sea lions in the water with us and tons of really cool fish!
Spend the Day on Coronado Island
Wow! How could you not love Coronado Island? Beaches, History, bike paths, good restaurants, surfing, and so much more! We rented bikes from Holland’s Bikes and rode around the perimeter of the island. It was a great way to spend about an hour.
I also took a surf lesson with Coronado Surf Acadamy. It’s another one of my ideas that sounds good at the time….until that time actually comes and I am left asking, “who thought this was a good idea?” My son always answers, “YOU!” I cannot tell a lie. I’m not very graceful when it comes to attempting to balance on a 10 foot longboard while being knocked around by waves. Who would be? The instructor was awesome , by the way! The price for a lesson with the board and wetsuit included was $90.00.
Tip; the Coronado Surf Academy is located in a little yellow school bus right on Coronado Beach . I booked online and went in search of this bus… I was expecting a Charles Manson family member to be inside, but I was wrong ( I think). My totally chill California surf instructor didn’t seem creepy at all!
Tip #2 I was warned about sting rays lying on the shoreline in the shallow waters in San Diego .. but not to worry, just drag your feet as you enter the water like a zombie would and they shouldn’t bother you! Worked for me! Yikes!
Explore Old Town
Old Town San Diego is a quirky little place to spend an afternoon. There’s several blocks of restored and reconstructed buildings from the 1800s including a schoolhouse, blacksmith shop and hotel. You can take a tour or just wander around and shop for Mexican pottery . You can even take a ghost tour in town . You may even find it scarier than snorkeling with the sharks!!!
If you have time to visit Balboa Park…it’s worth some time. We had a nice time just walking around ….but there are some really cool museums there. The Museum of Man (with one of the oldest human mumified remains) The San Diego Museum of Art and Museum of Air and Space to name a few.
Belmont Park is in the Mission Bay Area . It reminds me of a miniature Coney Island. After eating a big lunch, I opted out of a spin on the tilt a whirl and definitely said no to the heart-attack inducing roller coaster.. but we did rent bikes at Belmont Bikes and road the boardwalk and all around the bay. This was way too much fun !
The San Diego Zoo
WHERE ARE THE WOMBATS??? You advertised wombats. I paid way too much money (50.00 pp) to NOT see the wombats. I must say that I am not a fan of zoos to begin with, but I saw that there was an “outback” section at this zoo, and I hadn’t seen a wombat since my trip to Australia, so I went. I asked the zoo-person dressed like Indiana Jones where the wombats were… I now know how Chevy Chase felt in the movie Vacation after his quest to see Wolly World ended with the words, “Sorry folks, parks closed. Moose out front should have told you.” The zoo person turned to me and said, “wombats have been moved to another park.” I wanted to punch the moose. But alas…all is not lost. If you decide to visit, you too can wait an hour to see the roley poley pandas for a brief moment as another zoo-person( also dressed like Indiana Jones) yells at you to keep it moving. Don’t let me discourage you if you want to visit the zoo. I did mention that zoos are not my thing to begin with. And let’s not forget there’s also Sea World nearby.
Where To Stay in San Diego
We stayed at the Best Western Plus Island Palms on Shelter Island. Loved, loved loved this hotel. The beds were soooo comfy. There is a fantastic pool/hot tub area that overlooks the marina. Prices when we stayed were reasonable. The hotel does not come with breakfast, but there is a very good restaurant on the premises. We ate there once and then found a bagel place for the other mornings. You need a car if you stay here.
Parking Tip: The hotel charges for parking but there is public parking directly across the street for free. You do not need to pay for hotel parking!
I’ve also stayed at the Marriott Old Town and consider it another good place to stay. It’s a great location for walking around Old Town with a great variety of restaurants. There’s easier access to public transport from this area if you don’t rent a car. The hotel charges for parking, but you might be able to find street parking if you do have one. When I stayed there we used public transport.
Favorite Restaurants around San Diego
Rockin’ Baja Lobster in Old Town
Shorerider Bar and Grill in La Jolla
Mootime in Coronado (for ice cream)
So I vigarously shake my Magic 8 Ball and I ask , “will I retire some day in this beautiful piece of paradise known as San Diego?” The Magic 8 Ball reveals my answer……”Not with your pension!”