48 Hours in San Diego
48 Hours in San Diego
...with Arrangements Unlimited, a DMC Network Company
First Timer: Arrive at the San Diego Zoo when it opens at 9:00 AM, so you’ll have plenty of time to explore. With approximately 4,000 animals on more than 100 lushly-planted acres, the best way to get your bearings is with a narrated tour on a double-decker bus. Your ticket is also good for an express bus that makes stops throughout the Zoo, so you can hop on and off at various points. Another way to get a fantastic (and literal) overview of the Zoo is on the aerial tram. Wandering the park you’ll discover the Polar Bear Plunge and Hippo Beach (both enclosures offer underwater vantage points); the Monkey Trails exhibit, home to many endangered species; and the Elephant Odyssey, where you can view current species while exploring prehistoric fossil evidence and extinction causes; and Koalafornia, featuring the largest collection of cuddly eucalyptus-eaters outside of Australia. For youngsters, the Children's Zoo with its petting corral of friendly animals is a fun interactive experience. If you would like to have an amazing lunch at the Zoo, Treetops is the place to go. The Zoo is open daily with extended hours during the summer.
Like a Local: A visit to San Diego's "only" National Park Cabrillo National Monument offers tremendous views of the San Diego region and excellent opportunities to explore the natural, historical and cultural history of the area. The "Age of Exploration" exhibit, films, and ranger-guided programs present interesting insights into the history of Cabrillo. A short walk leads to the Old Point Loma Lighthouse. This picturesque structure is restored to its 1880’s appearance and presents life as it was for the light keepers and their families. In the adjacent Assistant Keeper's Quarters, interactive exhibits tell the story of the Lighthouses of Point Loma. In a nearby historic Military building, the exhibit "They Stood the Watch" presents the history of Fort Rosecrans. The bayside trail begins near the lighthouse and offers breathtaking views of the harbor and the city of San Diego. South of the Lighthouse is the Whale Overlook. This vantage point offers pleasant views of the Pacific Ocean and the New Point Loma Lighthouse. Whales are often seen from here in January and February. On the western side of Point Loma lies the rocky intertidal zone, a window into the ocean ecosystem that lies along of San Diego's coast. During periods of low tide, pools form along this shore in rocky depressions (low tide is considered at 0.7 or below). In them you may find anemones, elusive octopus, spongy deadman's fingers, and a myriad of other creatures.
First Timer: From Balboa Park, it's an easy drive to La Jolla, the "Jewel of San Diego." With a dramatic coastline boasting incredible views and wide sweeping beaches, La Jolla is consistently voted one of the most popular beach destinations in California. Spend the afternoon in the water learning to surf, or kayaking, snorkeling, riding a stand-up paddle-board or just playing in the waves. Or if you're more interested in sightseeing, visit the seal colony at Scripps Park, spend a few hours at Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institute of Oceanography or take an ocean view hike at Torrey Pines State Park. Be sure to keep an eye out for migrating whales off the coast as they travel to and from Baja California. La Jolla is also an excellent place to shop for souvenirs and enjoy lunch with offerings from casual to fine dining. Enjoy some lunch or dinner at Eddie V’s or Dukes.
Like a Local: After catching some amazing views of San Diego head over to Liberty Public Market where it is open 7 days a week, and offering the best of what the region has to offer. Showcasing a rustic environment with prepared foods, beer, wine, specialty cocktails, produce, fish, desserts and pastries, pasta, arts and crafts, a test kitchen, pop up dinners, and educational driven events.
First Timer: After an afternoon of sun and sea, explore the vibrancy of San Diego's Downtown. Depending on your interests, you can shop, stroll, dine, or dance into the night. Home to art galleries, boutiques, coffeehouses, neighborhood bars, swanky nightclubs and restaurants of every stripe, the Gaslamp Quarter is San Diego nightlife central and offers something for every budget. Dining ranges from family-style restaurants and upscale steakhouses to Italian trattorias, tapas bars, Asian eateries, and more. Several clubs and restaurants host live music (the House of Blues has a venue here), while others feature DJs, televised sports or simply the buzz of lively conversations. If it's baseball season, you can catch a Padre game at the spectacular Petco Park.
Like a Local: Start your evening with a couple of drinks and bites at The Nolen, and take in the breathtaking view of the city. After hanging out at The Nolen, head over to the Rooftop Cinema Club to watch iconic movies located at the rooftop of Manchester Grand Hyatt. Now you will never miss the key plot-line of a movie, because the person behind you was eating their popcorn too loudly. Rooftop Cinema Club uses state-of-the-art wireless headphones so you can live in those memorable cinematic moments, and not get disturbed by the outside world. Now that’s cinema!!
First Timer: Adjacent to the Zoo is Balboa Park, one of San Diego's most beloved treasures. Known as the "Smithsonian of the West," Balboa Park is the largest cultural park in America and features 17 museums and performing arts venues as well as beautiful gardens, the lily pond and botanic building, concerts and a host of special events. Take a stroll down the main El Prado promenade, enjoy the gorgeous 1915 Spanish Colonial-revival style architecture, and grab a bite to eat at The Prado or at one of the many purveyors in the park. Every Sunday enjoy a free concert at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion.
Like a Local: The most important meal of the day is served at Hash House A Go Go. It’s one of the original breakfast spots in San Diego, and is award-winning for their Midwest-inspired breakfast, and known for their generous servings. Try out their N.Y. Times Favorite The Big O Sage Fried Chicken and Waffle Tower. Yes, it’s a (delicious) mouthful with a smoked bacon waffle, sage fried chicken breasts, hot maple reduction and two fried eggs. A little bit of everything, this is the ultimate breakfast dish.
First Timer: Hop aboard a ferry across San Diego’s harbor to Coronado Island, a seemingly fairytale-perfect beach community that’s a lot of fun to explore. Once the ferry docks, it’s a quick stroll to rent bikes, your wheels for the day. It’s a quick ride to the opposite side of the island, where you’ll fall in love with the iconic Hotel Del Coronado, one of San Diego’s oldest and most luxurious hotels. It’s worth parking your bike for a bit and wandering through the hotel’s grounds and shops to check out the rich history of the property. A refreshing drink overlooking the beach on the hotel’s outdoor patio is also highly recommended!
Like a Local: A fun afternoon treat is a gondola ride through the Coronado Cays, a Venice -like neighborhood built on water canals. This is one of my favorite San Diego secrets – most San Diego locals don’t even know that it exists! If you decide to go, make a reservation ahead of time, and you may want to leave your bikes and take a car there, as it’s a ways south of the Hotel Del. Make your way back to the ferry landing via Orange Avenue, Coronado’s main street, to return your bikes and head back to downtown.
First Timer: Your visit wouldn’t be complete without sampling some award-winning craft beers. It is no surprise that San Diego takes pride in their craft beer. With over 157 craft breweries in San Diego County alone, a beer enthusiast culture is on the rise. Sampling these award-winning brews is best done at the source and, for craft beer lovers who want to really pull back the curtain and see where the magic happens, a brewery tour is a sure fire hit. Meet the brewers and learn all about the process of making great beer, San Diego style. Brewery Tours of San Diego provided public and private tour options, but if you just want to explore on your own, we recommend getting the San Diego Beer App to help you locate brewery locations near you, as well as, updated events that the breweries may be hosting like trivia, live music, and more.
Like a Local: Head over to Old Town and visit the historic heart of San Diego. Here you can experience life from the early Mexican-American period of 1821-1872 through rich living history programs. Watch forms come to life at the blacksmith and woodworker shops, and read a newspaper from the 19th century. Grab some freshly made flour tortillas at Cafe Coyote, and then head over to Casa Guadalajara for some amazing margaritas and Mexican food.
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