Thursday, February 04, 2010

Tapping the BibChr Brain Trust in re. SAN DIEGO

Having gotten terrific tips in the past for our New England trip — for which, again, thanks! — we now turn to you again.

The plan now being penciled out is for some configuration of Phillipses to head south this summer, ultimately spending time in the San Diego area.

Open mike:
  • Must-sees?
  • Tourist traps?
  • Must-avoids?
  • Pulpits open to a guest preacher?


Scott said...

I'm having some mild envy-itis here. San Diego is one my favorite cities and I dream of moving there. =)

I recommend the following.

- going to Mt. Soledad at sunset. Absolutely beautiful. here.

- Sunset Cliffs are also very beautiful, at sunset of course.

- Broadway Pier is good place too. You can take boat rides into the harbor. You can also visit some decommissioned military ships there as well.

That's it for me. The rest of the stuff I would suggest is stuff I desperately want to come to the East Coast.

Angie B. said...

I lived in San Diego for twenty years before moving to Montana.

Waterfront activities are lovely on clear days.
1.)Tour the Star of India. Your pass to board her also gets you on about eight other historical vessels. When I was there, that included the H.M.S. Whatever-the-Ship-Was-Called-That-Was-in-Master-and-Commander as well as a Russian sub. This was a good deal.
2.) Take the ferry to Coronado Island. Rent a surrey and ride around the waterfront. Eat and shop there before riding the ferry back.
3.) Visit the historic Coronado hotel on another part of the island. Walk around that part of the island, eat, shop, and stroll on the world's best beach at twilight.
4.) You could take a harbor excursion.
5.)Whale watching is fun, but takes a big chunk of your day. Bundle up. We took the one at J St. Marina in Chula Vista.
6.) I love the park at J St. Marina.
7.)Seaport Village is attractive, with some cute shops and good restaurants. It's nice for a walk, though I never ended up spending lots of time there.

1.) Balboa Park is beautiful and full of museums. There are free museums on Tuesdays, but those are crowded and might just tell you which museums to avoid on Tuesdays.
2.) I think that of all the big-time tourist draws, you get the most for your money at the zoo--lush, efficient, well-planned. If you go to Wild Animal Park, plan to drive a long way to get there and walk a LOT.
3.) For a non-member, Sea World is over-priced and over-rated.
4.)I thought Legoland was overpriced, unless you have a special coupon. Then they still want to charge for stuff after you get in.

Sala Thai in the College area is where we went for birthdays, graduations parties, etc. over the years. Mmmm. Great service, too.

Pooka said...

Point Loma. Pretty. Great view and stuff out at Cabrillo.

Santanas' California (monster) burrito is good for the stuffing.

Balboa Park is a neat place to wander, with free Famous Art Gallery (lots of Christian Iconic art on display right now) and a pretty greenhouse.

Sweetwater Marsh Wildlife Refuge.

MJ said...

There's a restaurant in Mission Bay with a fantastic breakfast but if I had a gun to my head I couldn't remember the name.

My kids loved the Wild Animal Park - even more than the famous SD Zoo. Balboa Park is also great and I agree that the military ships are worth a look to see what's available for tours. I love Coronado Island and there are great harbor tours available.

Enjoy the SD traffic. Har Har.

Steve Lamm said...


If you tell me when you're planning to be here, you have a formal invite to preach at my church this summer.

Also, there are many great things to do and places to eat which won't break the bank. For a nice restaurant, my wife and I have a favorite place to eat on San Diego bay which has a terrific view of the harbor and skyline. Love to show you that place.

There are concerts on the bay each weekend during spring and summer. Of course Sea World is great during the summer.

I might even be able to arrange an outing on a private sailboat which one of my church members has a partnership in.

You can take a harbor cruise which will give you a close look at the naval shipyards, and everything else. It's a real relaxing outing and the kids love it. They have a website for that.

Also, if you're interested in naval ships, we have the carrier Midway anchored in port and you can board her and tour the entire ship and see all the aircraft that flew off her deck up close. It's great.

Let me know the dates and we can give you some further tips. SD is a great city.

My e-mail is: I'll send aliong my cell number if you e-mail me.

Steve Lamm

Kaffinator said...

Second the USS Midway tour. It is fantastic! They have it set up so that you can get up close and fool around with anything you like, from the enormous cookpots in the galley to the switches & dials on the bridge. And a built-in air museum top it off. Highly recommended.

Jerry said...

We spent a week in San Diego a couple of years ago, and thoroughly enjoyed it. The amazing thing was just how courteous the drivers were.

Take the trolley tour, this will include Coronado island.

See Old Town.

Visit Balboa park and the San Diego Zoo.

Herding Grasshoppers said...

No advice... just envy!

Rachael Starke said...

I second the recommendation for the Wild Animal Park. And the extra charge for the tram ride was really worth it.

And might I enquire as to the route you will be taking to make your way to San Diego (if you're driving)? I ask merely for information... :)

Tom Chantry said...

Great city. Love Coronado. That is the one absolute must see in my mind.

I haven't seen anyone mention the Gaslight District; if you like old, restored districts it's a pretty good one. Also haven't seen anyone mention La Jolla. You might want to check into a good time to go to the beach there and wander through the tide-pools ~ have to go when the tide is out.

Malcolm said...

I have only visited San Diego and am not sure if it is there or not, others in the meta might be able to confirm. Old Town has one of the best Mexican restaurants I have ever been to - Casa De Bandini. If it is still there you must take it in. Go early, it was always crowded.

VcdeChagn said...

Las Cuatro Milpas-Fantastic hole in the wall's in the barrio under the Coronado Bridge.

My father in law always wanted to take me there, and finally did last time we went (they live off 5 hwy 2 exits from Mexico). Best mexican food I've ever had (and I've been to Mexico and had what was considered good there).

Fred Butler said...

San Diego Zoo is a must. Really a lovely park and worth the money.

If you like big greasy cheeseburgers, I can give you directions to Hodads.

And please, stop by the house on the way down.

Angie B. said...

I second the Point Loma thing. The drive is nice, and there is Cabrillo park with tidepools and the lighthouse museum.

There's just so much there.

Apparently now there is a pedicab problem in the Gaslamp District. I've seen nothing else like it in the States.

Solameanie said...

It's been a long time since I was in California with time to tool around. My Shepherd's Conference visit only left me with enough time to drive to Malibu real quick and take some cell phone pix.

When I lived there in the early 80s, I really liked the drive up to Idyllwild in the mountains. I thought Hermosa Beach was wonderful. The sand bar went out far enough into the water near the pier to actually enable the sun to warm the ocean enough to make swimming bearable. Also no rocks to hurt your feet like many of the beaches there have. Lots of sand.

Pooka said...

We took the pedicab from Bucca's to the Concert house a couple weeks ago. No problem at all and they're safe enough for me.

It's fun enough.

Susan said...

1. Hotel Del Coronado and the beach. (No, I didn't stay at the hotel, but we went in and ended up on the beach. It was really nice.)

2. For the WWII history buff(s) in the Phillips family, maybe the USS Midway Aircraft Carrier>? That's one place that I've been wanting to go but have never gone. (Oh, I just scrolled down and saw Pastor Steve Lamm's comment about the USS Midway. Guess that's two votes for the ship!)

And I didn't mention Sea World, Wild Animal Park, and LegoLand because (believe it or not) I've never been to them, but we have enough ppl. here to vouch for their entertainment value, so I'm sure you'll think about them seriously!

Susan said...

(Hmm...make that THREE votes for the USS Midway! I missed Kaffinator's vote!)

Susan said...

Oh, and I also vote for Old Town. I was supposed to drive to UCSD one time but took the wrong exit and ended up in Old Town. If I had more time I would have spent my day in Old Town, but I had to find the loss. :( (UCSD has a really nice campus--has a really funky looking library and nice student housing. And so close to the beach, too.)

Mike Riccardi said...

Never been to San Diego. Hope to get down there soon. But if on your way down you make a stop in the Grace Church area, be sure to let me know so we can meet up!

JK said...

Guest speaking: we'll be there around July 4...I guess you're not speaking in northern California around then.

Meals: hook-up with us for that long awaited meal fellowship :).

Faith based site seeing: I hear the creation museum at ICR is pretty cool. And I hear Way of the Master is down there somewhere.

JackW said...

I spent about 9 years in San Diego, but that was 20 years ago. Back then the best hamburger in the world could be had at Boll Weevils, but I understand they went through some hard times. In other words, I got nothin’.

bugblaster said...

Drive to the corner of B Street and 21st Street. Head west on B. It will be noteworthy.

DJP said...

Thank you all, so much. Keep it coming, any latecomers.

Sounds like we won't be hurting for good Mexican food! Which is excellent!

Steve Lamm - thanks so much, I'd love to be able to put that together. When I know more about exactly when, I will contact you.

Fred, that part of our visit might be pretty packed, but I'd sure like to if we can.

Rachael, that's under discussion, too. Why, p'ticularly?

Charbo said...

Stationed in Coronado for about 20 years. Ohthers got the sites, here is the food.
Clayton's Mexican take out in Coronado (hole in the wall on 1oth - behind Clayton's diner) great inexpensive food.

Fins - best fish tacos or shrimp burritos ever (La Jolla Village Square)right across I-5 from the Mormon Temple - great discussion starter.

Hodads - Ocean Beach (1 block from the OB pier) best hamburger in SD - maybe anywhere - there is a line - it's worth it. Get a shake and (crispy) onion rings too.

Point Loma Seafood (Emerson St. on the harbor). You need a scuba tank to get it any fresher. Squid sandwich is the best - it's not what most people think (chewing an eraser) incredible! Hundreds introduced to this delicacy by our family - maybe 1 or 2 didn't like it.
Sammy's - for nicer dining. Wood fired pizza and great pasta dishes. Many locations La Jolla, Gaslamp, others.

Have a great trip - let us know the dates you'll be going, our son graduates from some Navy training in Cornado in August - we'll get you invited to the ceremony if you want to see some warriors get their tridents.

God Bless - love your ministry.

REM said...

Go to La Jolla. Beautiful sunset, lots of shops and Sea Lion Cove there is way cool. Nice, quaint and romantic (My wife and I got engaged on the cliffs by the Cove). George's at the Cove is a nice restaurant, but expensive if I remember.

After that, all I can help with is surf spots and In-N-Out Burger:). Enjoy.

Rabbit said...

Dan, the Wild Animal Park (east of Escondido) and Legoland (Carlsbad) are not too far apart. If those two sites intrigue your family, you could spend a night or two in that area before continuing on down to San Diego proper.

The Animal Park is really unique and, IMHO, worth a visit. We have been to Legoland twice, although not within the past 5 years. Both times we were very surprised at how thin the crowds were.

DJP said...

As you can imagine, the one thing my boys insist on is Legoland.

Pooka said...

The sports-cafe at Legoland has decent eats and an all-you-can-shovel buffet for the kids. There are some new attractions of late also. It's a nice visit to make, even for the big people.

RT said...

I love Old Town and recommend the Mexican restaurant in the Hotel Cosmopolitan, which I don't believe is a hotel anymore. I have wiled away many a sunny afternoon in the courtyard of that restaurant. You should also visit Coronado and the famous hotel. Of course, if you feel particularly energetic you can rent a sailboat at one of the marinas and take it out for a spin in the harbor, as the Rev Hall and I did many years ago, nearly ending both our lives.

DJP said... the Rev Hall and I did many years ago, nearly ending both our lives.

Ah yes. Sounds like a "must-do."

Rachael Starke said...

Wasn't sure if you were flying or if your driving route would take you past beautiful scenic San Jose. We will happily kill a grass-fed calf (well, take a part of one out of the freezer, anyway) if you''re able to stop by.

Stephen Rodgers said...

I've lived here 10 years...I guess this will reveal how little I actually get out.

The Star of India I've heard is very interesting and a lot of fun. There also used to be an activity (not sure if it's only in the summer), where they would show old black-and-white pirate movies on the sail of one of the old ships.

Balboa park does have some good museums, and it's fun to walk around.

Right next door to that is the San Diego Zoo. If you like zoos, it's amazing. If you do not like's still a zoo. The new elephant exhibit is both annoying (very heavy on the evolution bandwagon), and neat (you get to watch the elephants get their daily baths and grooming, which is actually interesting).

The Wild Animal Park is in the same category as the zoo, but has a very different feel to it. Much more space, less variety of animals, and a LOT more walking. Again, if you're a zoological guy, it's a kick.

Seaport Village is cute. Overpriced like no tomorrow, and they make you pay for parking unless you buy something...but cute.

Personally, I like to walk the campus of UCSD. I think that's fun, particular the Geisel Library and the Stuart Art collection. YMMV.

Ditto for the SDSU campus, particularly the turtle pond.

I don't know if the pulpit would be available to you, (you could email Pastor John), but you and your family would be WELCOME to join us at LBC (

Feel free to email me with any other questions.

Rabbit said...

As you can imagine, the one thing my boys insist on is Legoland.

Of course! It's been a while but all 4 of us loved Legoland on both our visits. We'll be seeing new Josiah creations on HT after y'all go, I'm sure!

Paula said...

Rachael said, e will happily kill a grass-fed calf (well, take a part of one out of the freezer, anyway) if you''re able to stop by.

This is riotously funny to me! Perhaps because we attend church in a rural area and our "carry-in" tables overflow with BEEF!! Families toting tofu-vegan-acorn-twig concoctions are gently directed up the road to the big city "green" Unitarian "church"

DJP said...

Hey Charbo, our son Josiah in particular would love to attend that graduation if it were possible. I don't think it will fit the schedule, but in case it does: when in August is it?

Solameanie said...

BTW, I realize my suggestions weren't in San Diego per se, but more in the L.A. region. I figured if you were hitting places while in transit....

Sir Aaron said...

When will you be there? I'll actually be there sometime in early June for work. My wife grew up in the San Diego area.

First of all, if you are driving, I recommend that you drive down Interstate 5 and stop at Mission San Juan Capistrano. IMHO, it's one of the best missions to visit (better than Mission San Diego, IMO). Resuming down I-5 after that point is one of the best drives in the country. You'll see awesome beaches and even pass through Marine Base Camp Pendleton. During the daytime, there often are helicopters flying overhead and making landings within easy visible distance from the freeway. As a special bonus you'll see the Mormon Tabernacle.

If you like the military at all, specifically the Navy, San Diego is one of the biggest areas in the world. I've spent a lot of time on Coronado Island at the various. military bases there. You can drive over the bridge to Coronado Island.(it's a toll bridge). If you bring some binoculars and are lucky, you'll be able to see a current aircraft carrier in port (Bayview park on the Island might provide a better view depending on where the ships are docked). You'll also notice military aircraft taking off regularly (although you are unlikely to see any F-18s). The Navy Seal base is also on Coronado. Just drive down the Silver Strand and you'll be able to see their outdoor testing area. Of course, there is also the USS Midway Musuem. If you have never been on an aircraft carrier at all, you must do so. I've been on one active (at the time) and one musuem.

The San Diego Zoo and Wildlife Museum are worldfamous. Go on a weekday though.

I believe most whale watching tours are Dec through March. I believe that summer isn't the best time for that type of tour, although if you take a more expensive tour on an inflatable, you'll get up close encounters with dolphins and sea lions (I think blue whales come during part of the summer but they are further offshore).

If you are into the beach, Mission Beach has an excellent boardwalk. If you want to take a dip, I'd probably recommend you go farther north (or stop on your way down) in Oceanside or Carlsbad (less crowded IMO).

You being an outdoorsy type, might enjoy Palomar Mountain State Park with its observatory. There you can marvel at the complexity of God's creation all the while hearing about how it happened by accident.

One of my personal favorites, and typically unknown, is the San Diego Model Railroad Musuem.

Old Town San Diego has great restaurants plus the Wells Fargo Museum.

Will you also need hotel recommendations, Sir?

Sir Aaron said...

Paula: Too funny. When I moved from So Cal to Texas, I got some weird looks for certain menu choices. Fortunately To-fu was not one of them as I do believe it's illegal to eat here. LOL

herewegoagain said...

One thing my kids and I like to do is go to Rubios in Pacific Beach. You can park in the lot for free (always a plus, and usually there are spaces), get a fantastic fish taco or even better fish burrito and walk down to the sea wall a couple of blocks away and just sit on the wall and eat them while you people watch. It's fun and cheap.

Carrie said...

I'm from the Midwest and have lived a little bit north of San Diego for a year and a half, so I've done most of the tourist-y things. Here are my opinions.

You must go to the zoo. SO MANY cool animals.

If you like sea creatures, you should check out the tide pools at Cabrillo Monument. One of the coolest things I've done out here. It's not like a SeaWorld type thing - it's outdoors, real tide pools, where you can get up-close and personal with sea anemones, sea stars, hermit crabs, sea snails, all sorts of awesome stuff!

Skip Seaport Village unless your wife really likes cutesy shops (not that there's anything wrong with that). It's overpriced and nothing special.

Old Town apparently used to be awesome and authentically Mexican, but there was a huge overhaul a couple years ago, and now most locals avoid it like the plague.

Coronado is okay. I don't much care for it - the beach there is always crowded, and the water doesn't get very warm. If you want a beach a little off the beaten path that has great waves and a laid-back, less touristy feel, go to Moonlight Beach in Encinitas. It's crazy -- at first when you get there, you'll think it's super busy, but just walk down to the shore, take a right, walk a few hundred yards, and you'll have a little piece of beach all to yourselves. My husband and I go there all the time. (I will have only myself to blame if a bazillion people read this post and crowd that section of beach...).
That's about all I've got - have fun!!!

Swordsman said...

Was stationed at Camp Pendleton...
Legoland is great for boys up until about age 10-12. After that ours got a bit bored with it - maybe because we were members and went all the time. Echo on the votes for the zoo and the Wild Animal Park. The USS Midway is a great tour. For great pizza, go to Philippi's Pizza Grotto in Little Italy. Bucca di Beppo also has good Italian food. I am partial to the beaches in North County: Encinitas, Carlsbad, Oceanside. Water is cold even in summer, so shorty wetsuits or at least rashguard shirts are a must.

Sir Aaron said...

The water is cold pretty much all over Southern California. I used to snorkel in the sanctuary in Newport and you couldn't really get in before noon without a wetsuit.

DJP said...

Thanks so much Carrie, Scott, Angie, Swordsman, Herewegoagain, Pooka, MJ, Kaffinator, RT, Rachael, Susan, everyone. Those are terrific suggestions, great information. We really appreciate it.

I know I owe you a pictorial report afterwards.

Susan said...

Correction: My apologies, but I think my memory was faulty about ending up in Old Town that summer--I think I ended up in Downtown instead because I remember thinking, "Their Downtown is better than ours!" Sorry, Dan. But at least Old Town sounds like a great place to go, too!