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A Tourist's Guide to San Diego

Updated on January 21, 2016
LisaRoppolo profile image

Lisa is a writer with a terrible case of wanderlust! She loves to photograph interesting places and provide tips to the casual vacationer.

Seaport Village Entrance
Seaport Village Entrance | Source
Pier Café at Seaport Village
Pier Café at Seaport Village | Source

Seaport Village: A waterfront Village on San Diego Bay

Seaport Village was built on a landfill. Construction began in 1978 and was completed in 1980.

If you enjoy shopping and dining, Seaport Village is a great place to spend the day. This 14 acre village is located right on the waterfront and boasts 50 plus boutique shops and 17 restaurants that range from casual dining to more upscale dining. There is also outdoor entertainment. Several hotels are located within walking distance.

Some of the best places I ate at and highly recommend:

The Pier Café, which is built right over the waterfront and is famous for their fish tacos, which were excellent. Very reasonably priced.

The Fish Market on Harbor drive, just a block or two before the entrance to Seaport Village. I ate there several times. They have excellent seafood and are known for their raw oyster bar, which feature a variety of oysters they fly in daily from up the coast (Washington, Oregon and Vancouver). It is a reasonably priced restaurant. Try the mixed grill kabobs, they are excellent!

For more information on Seaport Village: www.seaportvillage.com



Magnificent Oysters at The Fish Market Restaurant
Magnificent Oysters at The Fish Market Restaurant | Source
One of the many displays of flowers at a café at Seaport Village.  This one features trumpet vine and jasmine.
One of the many displays of flowers at a café at Seaport Village. This one features trumpet vine and jasmine. | Source
Gaslamp District buildings
Gaslamp District buildings | Source

Gaslamp District

The Gaslamp district was established in 1850 as a commerce site and had a huge real estate boom through the 1880's. When the economy fell on hard times, the commercial business all moved north and established a new business district. The places that remained ended up turning into an area of prostitution, gambling and eventually a very unsafe, high crime neighborhood until about 1913.

In 1974, the Gaslamp district got approval to rehabilitate the entire area which included restoring the old ornate Victorian buildings back to their original luster. In 1980, the Gaslamp district was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

The area currently is a hip and eclectic neighborhood, featuring entertainment, theatres, shops and restaurants. It is 8 blocks long and is located close to the San Diego Convention Center. Take a walk through the district or you can view from a trolley tour. It is a great place to visit if you enjoy Victorian era architecture.

For more information: www.gaslamp.org


Gaslamp District

A markergaslamp district, san diego CA -
Gaslamp Quarter, San Diego, CA 92101, USA
get directions

Palace Pawnbrokers-one of 3 sites where Wyatt Earp ran gambling parlors from 1885 to 1887 (after leaving Tombstone)
Palace Pawnbrokers-one of 3 sites where Wyatt Earp ran gambling parlors from 1885 to 1887 (after leaving Tombstone) | Source
Balboa Theatre-fully restored in 2008
Balboa Theatre-fully restored in 2008 | Source
A wonderful example of Victorian architecture
A wonderful example of Victorian architecture | Source
San Diego/Coronado Bridge
San Diego/Coronado Bridge | Source

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Coronado Island: The Crown City

Coronado, meaning the crowned one in Spanish, is not really an island at all, but a peninsula because it is surrounded by water on only 3 sides.

Founded in 1885, this upscale town is home to one of the top 5 beaches, Coronado Beach and a very famous hotel, Hotel Del Coronado. The neighborhoods are vibrant and well-manicured. The homes are historic and Victorian with some modern homes thrown into the mix. People who live there are wealthy and it shows in their homes and their property.

The main source of income on the island comes from tourism and the town boasts a wide variety of shops, restaurants and art galleries. It is easy to walk the island, rent a bike or take a trolley tour. Orange street is the main thoroughfare and you can start from the ferry landing and walk along Orange street right to the Coronado Beach and Hotel Del Coronado.

Getting to Coronado is easy; take a cab ride over the San Diego/Coronado Bridge, take a trolley tour starting at the San Diego Pier or you can catch a boat ferry ride. The ferry runs all day, but there is a cutoff time in the early evening, so plan accordingly.



Ferry Landing in Coronado
Ferry Landing in Coronado | Source

Coronado Beach

Coronado beach is a sparkling white beach thanks to the heavy concentration of mica crystals in the sand. It was rated one of the top 5 beaches by the Travel Channel.

The beach is perfect for surfing, body surfing, sunbathing and wading in tide pools during low tide.

On the beach you will notice something interesting; there are these sand and seaweed berms that when viewed from overhead spell out the word Coronado.

The "C" in Coronado
The "C" in Coronado | Source
Hotel Del Coronado
Hotel Del Coronado | Source

Hotel Del Coronado

Built in 1888, this famous upscale hotel resort is located right on the oceanfront, just steps from Orange Avenue. It is on the National Register of Historic Places and was built only a few years after the town was founded. You can see this famous hotel in several movies. One of the most notable is the Marilyn Monroe movie Some Like It Hot. This old hotel is also rumored to be haunted.

Fire Woman sculpture on the pier
Fire Woman sculpture on the pier | Source

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San Diego: A Great Place for Public Art

All along the Pier, where the cruise ships dock, you will find an eclectic collection of rotating public art. These installations are sponsored by the San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture, where their mission statement is "Vibrant Culture, Vibrant City."


Another public art piece of a mermaid
Another public art piece of a mermaid | Source
Cranky Koala eating his breakfast.  We got there right when the park opened.
Cranky Koala eating his breakfast. We got there right when the park opened. | Source

San Diego Zoo

Located in Balboa Park which is just north of downtown San Diego, the San Diego zoo is the cleanest zoo I have ever been to (and I've been to a lot of zoos)! It is also a very large and hilly zoo, so be prepared to do a lot of walking and wear comfortable shoes. What makes this zoo stand out from some of the other zoos across the nation is that they have some animals the other zoos don't; namely Galapagos Giant Turtles, Koalas and Pandas.

The zoo's summer hours are: 9am to 6pm. Rates are $46 for anyone over 12 and $36 for 3 years to 11 years. The price may seem a bit steep compared to other zoos, but it is definitely worth it. Be prepared to spend the entire day there; there is a lot to see!

A Panda lounging
A Panda lounging | Source
San Diego Zoo cares just as much about the flora and fauna in the park.  Every plant is labeled.  This is a bottle brush tree.
San Diego Zoo cares just as much about the flora and fauna in the park. Every plant is labeled. This is a bottle brush tree. | Source
Little Italy sign gateway to the neighborhood
Little Italy sign gateway to the neighborhood | Source

Little Italy: A Taste of Home

One of the last remaining authentic ethnic Italian neighborhoods in the country, Little Italy offers a ton of restaurants, shops and events throughout the year.

When I visited, Columbia Street was closed off because they were having their Stick Ball Championship Exhibition games. They also host several festivals, including a Taste of Italy, farmer's markets and Bocci Ball tournaments at Amici Park.

Little Italy is just north of the downtown district and not very far from the Zoo.

Little Italy, San Diego

A markerLittle Italy, San Diego CA -
Little Italy, San Diego, CA 92101, USA
get directions

Spending a Few Days in San Diego

I was able to do quite a bit in about 4 days time. I'd love to go back and experience some other things because there is so much to do in this wonderful city. I hope you enjoyed my photographic journey and hope it has inspired you to do some traveling to San Diego.

© 2014 Lisa Roppolo

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    • enjoy life profile image

      enjoy life 3 years ago from Europe

      Looks like a good place to visit. Sadly on my California trip I didn't get to San Diego :-( I went to LA and then up the coast to San Francisco. Hopefully next time I'll get to San Diego. Thanks for the info.

    • LisaRoppolo profile image
      Author

      Lisa Roppolo 3 years ago from Joliet, IL

      San Francisco is a great place too! Lots to do there. Lots of great seafood!

    • rebeccamealey profile image

      Rebecca Mealey 3 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      Beautiful place! I am going to San Francisco sometime soon. Maybe I can make it to San Diego. I'll look to see how far it is. I have heard of the Gaslamp District, Balboa Park and Petco park.