Planning a trip to San Diego? The Moon Tide Media editorial team shares their favorite neighborhoods and local attractions.
Recommended by Westside editor Christy Hobart
Beverly Yorke-Schmidt knows Coronado Island well. She’s had a house there for more than 35 years and has been welcoming friends—including me—ever since. Here are some of our favorite places and things to do.
Roam the beaches, which in addition to having pristine white sand and clear blue water, are unsurpassed for hunting seashells and the ever-elusive Coronado sand dollar.
Hit the Glorietta Bay Marina to rent kayaks, sailboats or paddle boats for a day on the water. Rent bikes at one of many rental shops and pedal along under the Coronado Bridge, or head south on the Silver Strand path to Imperial Beach.
On Sunday evenings from May to September, bring a beach chair and picnic basket to Spreckels Park, in the heart of Coronado, for the free concert series.
If you haven’t stayed the night at the Hotel del Coronado, book a room. It lives up to its hype. (1500 Orange Avenue. 800-468-3533, hoteldel.com)
Or try the Glorietta Bay Inn, just across the street. The restored mansion that once belonged to the Spreckels Sugar family is now a charming inn with views of the bay. (1630 Glorietta Boulevard. 800-283-9383, gloriettabayinn.com)
Recommended by creative director Nelson Anderson
Nestled between two of California’s most prized seaside towns, Del Mar and La Jolla, the Lodge at Torrey Pines is easy to overlook. For many, it’s off the radar. Those with families typically shy away, as do business travelers. With only 173 rooms, it was never meant to compete with the downtown scene or the amusement parks further south.
Tucked within the boundaries of the Torrey Pines State Park, The Lodge and its world-class golf course blend seamlessly into its cliff-side environment. A turn-of-the-century golden California vibe, carried out with Arts and Crafts design touches, is in perfect harmony with the rustic, park-like setting. Upon arrival, you get an immediate sense that time moves much slower here. The spacious rooms feature architectural details reminiscent of what you’d find in a Greene and Greene home.
The restaurant, A. R. Valentien, is cozy and inviting, harkening back to a time when dinner was the event of the evening. The market-driven menu is pure California, as is the excellent wine list. The property operates on a philosophy of simplicity, yet luxury and comfort are center stage. (11480 N. Torrey Pines Road in La Jolla. 888-826-0224, lodgetorreypines.com)
SAN DIEGO DINING
Recommended by food & wine editor Bonnie Graves
Check out Café Chloe in the hip East Village neighborhood, and you’ll feel transported to Paris and still have access to great surf. This amazing little gem of a restaurant works on every level—perfect for a solo café au lait, a croissant and the paper for breakfast, even better for a lunch-time stop while shopping the East Village’s trendy eco shops, and sublime for dinner with a carafe of excellent, fairly-priced French wine with bistro classics and good friends. (721 9th Avenue, 619-232-3242, cafechloe.com)
Over in the famed Gaslamp district, yet another Top Chef alum is trying his hand at life after Colicchio and Co. Chef Brian Malarkey, who also has Oceanaire restaurant, is the force behind the cavernous new dining room at Searsucker. With design by Thomas Schoos and servers in retro plaid flannel, the vibe is salvage chic. (When we asked the bartender about the building’s historic roots, she confirmed that it had once been a “really old Z-Gallerie.” Hysterical.) Searsucker offers great American fare with a quirkily dynamic wine list that deserves your time and dime. (611 Fifth Avenue, 619.233.7327, searsucker.com)
No matter who we asked, all SD natives steered us to Jayne’s Gastropub in the North Park section, which takes the omnipresent gastropub phenomenon and makes it wondrously personal. While British throwbacks like Pimm’s Cup and “chips and gravy” abound, the menu is more international than you might think. It’s perfectly executed, upscale comfort food with killer happy hour specials and a great brunch—a must for any weekender visit. (4677 30th Street, 619-563-1011, jaynesgastropub.wordpress.com)
Recommended by Ventura Blvd editor Linda Grasso
Explore the city’s historic Gaslamp Quarter–the first neighborhood settled in modern San Diego. It’s a lively stretch of 70 restaurants, 22 bars, 18 clubs and numerous art galleries and retail shops.
Stay at the Se San Diego. With Asian décor and a contemporary flair, this cool boutique hotel has the comfiest beds in town. Have a cocktail at Siren, a classy, rooftop, poolside bar where the view at sunset is mesmerizing. (1047 5th Avenue. 619-515-3000, sesandiego.com)
Before the sun gets hot, take the two-hour Gaslamp Walking Tour, which vividly recreates the late 1800s when the city fell into disrepair and the low-life, crime-infested Stingaree district flourished. Learn about the marketing secrets of the naughty ladies of the night and discover the haunts of the infamous Wyatt Earp. (619-233-4692)
If you love museums, head to Balboa Park. You’ll find 11 museums, each with a unique theme—from railroad to aerospace to art. (balboapark.org) Finish your day with a Padres game. Pay $5 and watch the game on the lawn, or shell out bigger bucks for a stadium seat. (sandiego.padres.mlb.com)
Recommended by Southbay editor Darren Elms
If a weekend is not enough and you want to really get the most out of your adventure, I suggest a stop a the Cal-a-Vie Health Spa in northern San Diego County. If you had blindfolded me and parachuted me onto this charming enclave nestled in the hills, I’d swear I was landing in Provence. Lavender-covered fields, stone fountains, tree-lined patios and total peace and quiet–you’d be hard-pressed not to be instantly transported. If its natural assets weren’t enough, they reconstructed both a French l’orangerie and a chapel, brick by brick, for visitors to enjoy.
Here’s how it works. Guests check in for a three-night, four-night or week-long stay. The resort hosts only a conservative number of participants per week, accommodating each with either a guest room by the pool or a larger suite. The goal here is wellness—body, mind and soul.
Every morning at breakfast, you are given a suggested itinerary for the day. This includes a selection of intimate fitness programs, from cardio and weight training to yoga and tai chi. In the mix are treatments at the spa like facials and massages. Three meals and a couple snack breaks are provided each day, prepared in delicious spa-style by chef Jason Graham, sometimes with a cooking demonstration. I never knew healthy dining could be both so tasty. Kudos, Jason!
To boost your performance, you also get a one-on-one nutritional and fitness evaluation. While my results showed a need for improvement, it’s difficult to get stressed out with so much soul-stimulation around—like the candlelit acoustic concert in the chapel on my last night. Don’t worry, be happy. (866-373-8773, cal-a-vie.com)
Lions and tigers and bears—oh my!