There’s no shortage of stuff to do in Southern California. Any visit will keep you occupied. But there’s more to San Diego than a zoo and Sea World. I didn’t get too far off the beaten path on my recent visit, but I dug up a few fun things with a minimum of repetition from previous trips. You can even think about skipping the hotels and just camping in San Diego – for real! Give these options a shot, and you’ll have some genuine fun.
Visit the Port Brewing/Lost Abbey Tasting Room – If you’re used to the mass-produced, watered-down swill that we often call “beer,” the offerings from Port Brewing/Lost Abbey tasting room will set you on the right path. All these beverages pack serious and distinctive tastes. The Port selections are more American-style, with big, hoppy India Pale Ales taking center stage. The Lost Abbey lineup features Belgian-style ales. The best way to get started is with a flight – one flight will set you back $4-$7, depending on the staff’s mood, I guess. Either way, you’ll get a super taste of craft brew goodness. Pick up a shirt while you’re there! Oh, and try the Angel’s Share even if it’s not on tap. It’s nothing less than spectacular. If you’re not already indoctrinated, it will change everything you thought you knew about beer.
Go to the San Diego Wildlife Park – Admission to the San Diego Wildlife Park is $37, which is steep. But it’s also a bit outside the San Diego proper hurly-burly, and the drive is a big part of the appeal. It’s a good way to do some walking, too. That said, the animal selection is a bit skimpy. I’m a bit put out that there’s not a single wallaby or kangaroo there.
And it seems like everything is an attempt to get you to drop even more cash – I really resented the $9 parking, though I got a giggle at the goofiness of Segway tours. But they have some cool exhibits, and you can easily take an entire day there. Bring your own snacks, though!
Tour the USS Midway – Aircraft carriers are fun, especially when they’re right in the middle of everything. The Midway is right near the Gaslamp District and Seaport Village, and very close to the trolley stop. General admission is $17, a pretty good bargain to see a historic ship and gawk at some awesome aircraft. Watch Top Gun beforehand and be sure to wear your Ray-Bans. That’s right, Iceman … I am dangerous!
Check out the Gaslamp District – The Gaslamp is a great place to do a little shopping and grab some food. It’s got a pretty agreeable blend of chains (my crew is a big fan of the Puma store) and independent businesses. It’s lively eventhe night after Christmas. I was especially impressed with a store called Hatworks, where the friendly staff set me up with a hat I wish I’d had in Australia and New Zealand. Should be perfect for Iceland!
Stroll around La Jolla – Yeah, it’s hoity-toity and just slightly snooty (okay, more than slightly). But it’s also really pretty. And you can get some great photos of beach scenery and seals. And who doesn’t like seals, aside from those baby seal clubbers? Don’t be like them – go be nice to the seals (which means staying away and letting them do their thing while you take photos). If you work up an appetite, you’ll have no shortage of choices. I particularly liked Little Korea.