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cheezhead

Advice from locals

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By cheezhead,
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San Diego has a half price ticket venue for local theatrical productions that have unsold tickets. The tickets are offered on the afternoon of the day prior to the show. There is a half price ticket booth in front of Horton Plaza downtown but even better, you can buy many of these ticket on-line. Go to www.sandiegoperforms.com and click on the Art-Tix link. All of the shows at the Old Globe in Balboa Park are wonderful as are shows at the La Jolla Playhouse. Many family friendly productions are offered. Enjoy.

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We just visited San Diego.

I would recommend:

Seeing the seals in La Jolla Cove. There are several dozen seals that lie on the beach and occasionally finch their way into and out of the water. (I thought they were slithering, but my daughter informed the correct word is "finching.") And, I would recommend La Jolla in general. The area around there is gorgeous. La Jolla is now one of my favorite areas in the San Diego area. (You can tell a lot of people think the same way by the house prices, which I had to look up later!)

Balboa Park has a lot of good museums. We didn't have as much time as I would like to allot to this park, but if you do, I would recommend the Balboa Passport, which has admission to a bunch of museums for a greatly reduced price. At least one museum, that contains a small collection of late-medieval and Renaissance Italian art (as well as art from other periods and places) is free. I'm sorry that I don't remember the name of that museum.

In the Old Town historical park, there is a free walking tour at a set time each day. I learned a fair bit about the history of the area and European settlement in the region.

If you are visiting several destinations in southern California, consider the Southern California City Pass - www.citypass.com.

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I was in SD in February as well (Obligatory Priceline Info - 3* Radisson for $53 Night). I'd absolutely recommend La Jolla as well. The seals have taken over the children's beach to the delight of some residents and the consternation of others. They are fascinating. I also saw Cabrillo National Park and the Hotel del Coronado (a great place to have lunch) and for the adventurous with a car, I hiked at Anza Borrego (about 50-60 miles inland in the desert) in a canyon to a palm oasis.

In Hillcrest (the gay neighborhood) there's a really good upscale Mexican place, Chilango, which is on the main street.

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"The Imperial Beach area seems to be cheaper" because it is a scuzzy area. The beach gets closed for contamination more than any in California because Tijuana often cannot handle treating all its sewage, and lets it flow freely to the ocean, right next to Imperial Beach. Cars are frequently stolen in the border area. The Americas outlet shopping mall I think has the highest number of stolen cars for one area in the whole state. The area near the border is just economically depressed and not a place I'd take a family on vacation. If you're on a budget find a Priceline or Hotwire hotel for around $50 in the Kearny Mesa or Mission Valley area or perhaps La Mesa. On the day of the stay I got the 2 1/2 * Courtyard by Marriott in Old Town for about $50 (+fees, and parking-- which is not really necessary except perhaps on summer weekends) on Priceline, in spring 2005, on a Saturday.

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The Timken Art Gallery is the free museum in Balboa Park that someone above referred to. It has a wonderful, select group of paintings spanning several hundred years. It is very quiet & peaceful. It's a great place to take kids for the first time to expose them to art -- it's small and intimate, and if they get restless you can just leave. It is absolutely beautiful during Christmas season.

I highly recommend everyone to visit San Diego during the Christmas on the Prado celebration -- usually the first Friday and Saturday in December. They have politically corrected the name to something like December Nights, but I choose to call it by the name it's been known for for two decades. All the museums in Balboa Park are then open for free starting at 5 PM (to 9PM), and there is entertainment all over the park at various stages, and food from around the world served in various countries' cottages. The whole area is festive and fun, and decorated wonderfully. Sometimes it rains or is cold. Come early, around 4 PM to avoid traffic and parking congestion. You can park at the Zoo parking lot. This year it is Dec. 2 & 3. On Saturday they have things starting at noon.

619-239-0512 + 0 gets you the Balboa Park Visitor's Center. Also, balboapark.org. From there you can find out which museums are open for free on Tuesdays.

I highly recommend the purchase of San Diego Zoo memberships if you can visit San Diego two or more times in a year. A Diamond Club membership is available that gets the member in + one guest per visit + they give you extra passes for the Zoo and the Wild Animal Park + 2 for 1 bus passes, and free use of the Skyfari gondola ride out to the Polar Bears. If you can catch the Polar Bears first thing in the morning, or when they change the pairs around 1 or 2 PM, they are very active and will swim where you can watch them underwater. They play a lot, and their joy is infectious! :) The Zoo is a wonderful place to just take a walk, and it's always enjoyable to visit the Orangutans, Gorillas, and Bonobo chimps. With a membership you don't have to go all day and tire yourself out! Right now they have 6 week old Cheetah kittens in the Children's Zoo nursery. They are a blast to watch, frolicking around. :) The Diamond membership also gives you free parking at the Wild Animal Park, as well as free admission.

Restaurant suggestion: The Casa de Pico has moved from Old Town to Grossmont Shopping Center in La Mesa. It is beautiful, festive, and fun. Mariachis most nights. Great bar with great plasma TV. It's already crowded and it's only been open a few weeks!

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San Diego has lots to offer. On the one hand it is home to state-of-the-art amusement parks and museums and on the other hand, the place boasts of first Spanish mission in California. Whether you are on a family vacation in San Diego, or a beach vacation with your beloved, make sure you don't miss the following attractions to make your trip exciting.

Balboa Park

Balboa Park is America's largest urban cultural park. It contains diversified museums ranging from horticultural to astronomical. The place is home to Botanical Building's sublime lily pond, El Prado etc. Balboa Park is also home to Children's Museum, and the Fleet Science Center.

Sea World

Sea World is home to the famous killer whale named Shamu and several other stunning marine animals. Watch the acrobatic skills of Shamu and her buddies. There are various exciting and spine-tingling rides too like Journey to Atlantis, Shipwreck Rapids, and many more.

San Diego Zoo

The world-famous zoo has two parks in San Diego: one located in Balboa Park is a traditional Zoo, and the other is Wild Animal Park located north of the city. Spare one full day to explore the zoo. The entire San Diego zoo accommodates more than 4000 creatures ranging from giant pandas, kangaroos, and gorillas all housed in natural environments.

La Jolla

The charming seaside town of La Jolla has lots to offer. The town is expensive, and filled with stunning mansions. Shopping malls and dining restaurants are situated along Prospect Street. Stroll along Coast Boulevard or the La Jolla Cove for the most scenic views.

Old Town

If you are a history lover then head to Old town. It's full of traditional Mexican restaurants and shops. Enjoy the mariachi players strumming the sounds of Mexican music.

The Gaslamp Quarter

Enjoy the nightlife of San Diego at Gaslamp Quarter. It is lively and always buzzing. Enjoy live music after dinner at restaurants which are mainly housed within restored Victorian commercial buildings.

Cabrillo National Monument

A restored lighthouse and the statue of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, the first Portuguese explorer to land in San Diego rest here. It's an amazing vantage point to see migrating gray whales or enjoy magnificent views of San Diego's harbor and skyline. During winters you can also spot Mexico in the distance.

Mission Beach Boardwalk

Check out Belmont Park, an amusement park at the Mission Beach boardwalk. It features two major landmarks: the Plunge and the Giant Dipper.

Coronado Beach

Take a leisurely walk along Coronado Beach and enjoy the sunset.

Embarcadero

Roam around the Embarcadero, home to watercrafts, aircraft carrier, Seaport village, and a maritime-themed shopping area.

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