San Diego. Quintessential laid-back SoCal; where the sky is always blue and the climate nearly perfect. 70 miles of coastline, 33 beaches and over 260 days of sunshine. And that’s just the backdrop. San Diego has something to satisfy any visitor from the city sophisticate or a friends’ getaway to a family vacation.
A stay at the luxe, Mediterranean country-club styled golf and spa resort Fairmont Grand Del Mar includes not only old world charm and five-star service but a daily complimentary early morning fitness or yoga class. Enjoy the warm San Diego morning sun with a few laps in the adults-only pool and a substantial healthy breakfast on the terrace at Amaya restaurant. Our full schedule leaves no time for the tennis lessons or golf clinics also available at the property’s expansive sporting facilities and manicured golf course. And if we indulged in only a few activities from the long enticing list in our room, we’d never see the city.
Alluring ocean beaches are only five miles away and stretch south along the coast from Del Mar in the north to Point Loma and the Coronado peninsula. Surf, relax under an umbrella, take a cliffside walk or take in the awesome ocean and wildlife views with a guided two-hour kayak tour of the nearby La Jolla Sea Caves and Ecological Reserve.
One of the best ways to explore and hit the highlights of historic Old Town, the first Spanish settlement on the West Coast dating back to the 1800s, is by vintage Trolley Tour. We visit popular attractions such as the Seaport Village, USS Midway Museum, Gaslamp Quarter, Coronado, Balboa Park (pictured below) and Little Italy. Hop on and off at your leisure, at each of the ten stops. Available as a one or two-day pass. There are also Segway tours and harbour tours of San Diego Bay.
Lunch at the beach in style. The grand dame and historic Hotel Del Coronado, the second largest wooden structure in the US and a designated National Historic Landmark turns 130 this year and presides over the iconic white sand beach on Coronado, the peninsula accessed via the curved San Diego bridge. ‘The Del’ as the hotel is affectionately called by locals and visitors alike, was the spectacular location for Hollywood movies such as ‘Some Like it Hot’ starring Jack Lemon and Marilyn Monroe and was very nearly lost to developers. Sheerwater, The Del’s casually elegant restaurant with beachfront terrace footsteps from the sand, is as spectacular for people-watching as it is for the fresh seafood offered on the extensive menu. We try the oysters and a sensationally fresh signature seafood salad and wish we could return for Sunday brunch at our beachside table, overlooking one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. To continue the ocean theme, we then relax with a body wrap and massage at the Salon & Spa at The Del from their new range of treatments featuring the healing and hydrating properties of seaweed. www.hoteldel.com
Discover the early California Spanish colonial architecture, gardens and museums of magnificent Balboa Park, the US’ largest urban cultural park, or indulge in pure family fun at a choice of the world- famous San Diego Zoo (pictured below) and Safari Park, Sea World or Legoland (Get discounted admissions and skip the lines with a CityPASS). www.balboapark.org
Cocktail hour (or a craft beer) is easy to enjoy at a range of venues from the iconic Bali Hai Restaurant with spectacular views of the bay and city skyline or San Diego Yacht Club, to one of the over 140 craft breweries giving San Diego the title of ‘Craft Beer Capital of the US’.
Food glorious food; from street to fine dining, San Diego has it all. The regional speciality, Cali- Baja cuisine, is encapsulated in the ubiquitous but delicious fish taco. Stroll the Gaslamp Quarter for high-energy atmosphere, lights and people. Sample authentic Mexican to Cuban cuisine and all things in between within a few walkable blocks.
If fine dining is more your speed, Jason Knibb, one of San Diego’s finest chefs, creates fresh and sophisticated flavours at the upscale and understated Nine-Ten restaurant in La Jolla, matched with an international wine list featuring excellent California wines. Desert lovers should try Jason’s new take on a classic Bombe Alaska accompanied by a ‘sticky’ Tokay for a sweet taste sensation.
San Diego nights offer a variety of live music and entertainment under the stars, from the symphony to jazz, blues to comedy and outdoor theatre, a lively DJ scene at chilled rooftop lounges or, if you’re ready to party, a club crawl, VIP style, to four different nightclubs.
10pm until late
A ‘speakeasy’ tour of some of San Diego’s coolest hidden bars is an experience in cocktail creativity and being ‘in the know’. Celebrity ‘mixologists’ will create something potent and experimental from your favourite spirit or perhaps a new take on an old classic; but check the innovative drinks lists for inspiration. Some bars will have excellent live music, others are prohibition period-inspired design spaces for romantic conversation; all are a challenge to find, which is half the fun and well worth the effort.
If 24 hours in San Diego is simply not enough, this vibrant city is full of endless adventure and plenty of reasons for a repeat visit – or why not stay longer the first time?
More information on San Diego tourism: www.sandiego.org