- North America,
- San Diego County,
- United States
Destinations change. Your healthy lifestyle doesn’t have to. Discover the sights and sounds of San Diego while staying in The Westin San Diego or The Westin Gaslamp Quarter.
The Westin San Diego
See + Do
With 70 miles of coastline, San Diego County is home to more than a dozen beach areas, each with its own distinct personality. Here's a quick look at the sandy highlights from south to north:
Imperial Beach: Bordering Tijuana, Imperial Beach (locals call it IB) is one of the quieter beach towns—except in July, when it hosts the U.S. Open Sand Castle Competition. There's good fishing off the pier, but be careful of powerful surf and the sometimes-polluted waters here.
Coronado: Connected to the city by bridge, Coronado is the closest beach to downtown. Behind the Hotel Del Coronado, there's a family-friendly, wide sandy beach that's good for swimming. For more privacy, head south to Silver Strand State Beach.
Ocean Beach: Known to locals as OB, this is a funky little town still stuck in the '60s. The main drag, Newport Avenue, dead-ends at the pier, where there's good surfing and fishing. Bonfires and alcohol are both allowed on the beach.
Mission Beach/Pacific Beach: During the summer, the beaches of Mission and Pacific are crazy-busy with tourists and the 20-something party crowd, making for some of the best people-watching around. Stroll, Rollerblade, or bike along the sand-side boardwalk from Mission to the edge of PB.
La Jolla Shores: Just north of La Jolla are the broad tan sands of La Jolla Shores. It's a popular family beach and a great spot for novice surfers. Bonfires are allowed in provided containers. The shore arcs and bends to the south, where you'll find breathtaking La Jolla Cove and its tide pools and sea caves.
Black's Beach: Sandwiched between Torrey Pines State Beach and La Jolla Shores is Black's Beach, a top local surf spot and one of California's most famous nude beaches. Its north end is a favorite of the local gay population.
North County: The beaches of North County, including Del Mar, Solana Beach, Cardiff, Encinitas, Leucadia, and Carlsbad, are characterized by steep cliffs that lead down to thin stretches of sand that dwindle even more at high tide. They're popular with experienced surfers and families. Locals know to look for public access stairways that lead to almost-hidden pocket beaches.
Shopping Recommendations, California
San Diego's version of Rodeo Drive, La Jolla is a high-end shopper's paradise. Small fashion boutiques selling ridiculously expensive white pantsuits, fine art galleries lined with oil paintings and modern sculpture, and diamond-filled jewelry shops can be found on a handful of blocks surrounding the always-tony Prospect Street. Hillcrest is a hip, urban (and predominantly gay and lesbian) neighborhood just northeast of downtown San Diego. It's home to an eclectic mix of shops that hawk everything from used clothing to books to hardware to sex toys. The Hillcrest Farmer's Market is held every Sunday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Lincoln Street. Set alongside the Old Town State Historic Park, Bazaar del Mundo is a vibrant—albeit touristy—collection of shops full of jewelry, fashion, gifts, and arts and crafts, mainly from Mexico and Central and South America (www.bazaardelmundo.com). Most of the shopping in Ocean Beach is based around Newport Avenue, with its quirky collection of shops including beachwear shops, antique stores, surf shops, and even a pair of true head shops. Every Wednesday there's a regular Street Fair/Farmer's Market on Newport.
The Westin Gaslamp Quarter, San Diego
George's at the Cove, California
San Diego, California
Tel: 858 454 4244
Reopened in February 2007 after a gut renovation, the dining room (now called George's California Modern) at this three-level place set blissfully on the ocean is regarded by many as San Diego's best restaurant. Chef Trey Foshee was an enthusiastic pioneer of the move to patronize local farmers and producers, as evidenced by the freshness of his inventions such as Peking-style duck breast with ginger-coconut rice, sugar snap peas, and rhubarb-fennel salad. One floor up, the soigné George's Bar serves a full menu with its cocktails, while the casual Ocean Terrace bistro does ceviches, tacos, and "George's Signature Soup" (smoked chicken, broccoli, and black bean), followed by the likes of Thai curry, marinated skirt steak, and grilled mahimahi. At every level, it's an institution, but a worthy—verging on unmissable—one.
See + Do
San Diego Zoo, California
San Diego, California
Tel: 619 231 1515
No other local attraction is more synonymous with San Diego than the Zoo, a 90-year-old institution that lives up to its reputation. One hundred acres of lush habitats are home to more than 4,000 rare and endangered animals, representing over 800 species and subspecies. Among the crowd favorites are the koalas and giant panda cubs. In October, admission is free for children 11 and under. Less well-known is the Wild Animal Park, the Zoo's sister attraction. This wildlife sanctuary is built on 1,800 acres in the San Pasqual Valley near Escondido, some 35 miles north of downtown. More like an African safari than a zoo, many of the Park's more than 3,500 animals are housed together in huge shared enclosures to better simulate their real-life habitats (15500 San Pasqual Valley Rd., Escondido; 760-747-8702; www.sandiegozoo.org/wap).