This summer our family went to San Diego, CA twice. Yes, twice!
Once was for our son’s graduation from Marine bootcamp. Oorah! The other was for the Little People of America Conference. It was purely coincidental that each event took place within a few miles of each other. This was our first time to go San Diego, but luckily we fell in love with it and didn’t mind.
We were blessed to be able to experience it two different ways—the tourist way and the locals’ way. I wanted to share each of our experiences with you so you can decide how you want to experience San Diego.
This post, I’ll focus on our time spent in San Diego for the Little People Conference. I’ll post again next week and we’ll go through our trip where we immersed ourselves more with the locals.
It was right after July 4 and we flew out of Houston’s Hobby Airport and it didn’t start off very smoothly. There were absolutely no parking spots–in ANY of the lots–including remote lots. So, my daughter and I parked over 1/2 a mile away from the nearest remote parking lot and walked with ALL of our luggage to the closest lot that had a shuttle. Did I mention I was bringing 120 children’s books with me, so my luggage weighed well over 150 pounds. I was pretty tired when we got to our terminal. (I had to have someone go pick up my car because I was afraid it would get towed.) I’ve since learned that you can reserve parking spots. So, I advise you to do that when available.
Thankfully, the flight on Southwest was lovely and was non-stop. That’s always my favorite way to fly.
The San Diego Airport was a ZOO. It was a complete madhouse. So, bring your patience with you. Luckily, our baggage claim was very close to the terminal. Our shuttle, on the other hand, not so much. If you’re going to take any sort of transportation from the San Diego airport, be ready to walk for a while before you get to the ground transpiration area. So, if you can have someone pick you up, I highly suggest that. I do have to applaud them for having flip down step stools in some of the restrooms. This is a thoughtful accommodation for their customers who have children or are Little People.
We took a shuttle to our hotel and it was clean and air conditioned, so I was pleased. It was only $8/person, which I thought was reasonable. I didn’t rent a car this time because I knew we were going to stay around our hotel area and San Diego has a lot of public transportation options.
The first night, we stayed at the Wyndham San Diego Bayside because the convention hotel was completely booked that night. (They have a free shuttle from their hotel to the airport, but not vice versa.) The photo at the top is a picture Sienna and I took from our room’s balcony.
Our room was nice, clean, quiet, comfortable–really no complaints. It even had free Wifi, so that’s a plus in my book.
We didn’t use the pool, but it seemed like a nice area. They had a small coffee area downstairs with pastries and Starbucks and a small restaurant in the lobby area. We ate the chicken wraps from the restaurant. They weren’t bad, but they weren’t awesome. The price wasn’t outrageous, though.
It was easy to walk to anywhere we needed to be and we took a taxi at night for a reasonable price.
Bottom line, I would stay in that hotel again because it was a pretty good bang for my buck.
The rest of our time, we stayed at the convention’s host hotel, the Hyatt. I’ll post a more in-depth review of that in a separate post.
During our days there, it was a bit hotter than the first time we went, but still nothing too bad. Since we’re from Houston, any place that doesn’t feel like someone opened an oven feels better than what we’re used to. Ha!
We had the opportunity to check out some local markets. They had dozens of booths set up near the harbor. They sold everything from unique snacks, to local fruits and veggies, to unique crafts and fine crafts, to jewelry.
There were some people along the side of the harbor who were stationed to inform you of their thoughts on 9/11. However, they didn’t call out to passersby; they simply smiled and spoke to those who approached with questions.
There were plenty of places to People Watch around the harbor, too. We saw people doing Tai Chi on the grass, people taking naps under the trees, local musicians entertained, children played and people riding bicycles. It was amusing to see those on bicycles whom you know hadn’t been on a bike in a while, but they were certainly trying. heehee
We sat for a while at a bench near the giant statue of the kissing soldier. It was funny to watch people go up to it and pose for pictures. Some did silly things and several people reenacted the kissing pose with their significant other.
There were many places to shop within walking distance that included local boutiques and franchises with familiar items. The mall wasn’t too far away either.
Petco Park was also just a short cab ride away from the hotel. They were also actually accommodating enough to put stools in their restrooms so that Little People would have an easier time washing their hands.
Our favorite breakfast joint was Brickyard Coffee & Tea. It was right by the tram track and had great outdoor seating. I ate breakfast burritos each time and Sienna had their croissant sandwich. We loved everything we ate there. Sienna even had a root beer float there. She drank the entire thing!
Just outside the hotel there was a marina and a shopping/dining village called Seaport Village. We spent much of our outside time there as there were several places to eat and several shops for quality souvenirs.
This purple shell is one Sienna was able to purchase in one of the shops. She looked for a shell down by the beach area, but didn’t really find anything that unusual or spectacular.
Searching for shells is best done at other areas around San Diego.
We were able to eat a variety of foods there like burgers, fish and sushi. It was all yummy.
I was disappointed that they didn’t really focus on local specialties, such as a California Burrito. In fact, there wasn’t even a California Roll available when we ate sushi. I think Sienna ate something similar, but they called it something different. Sienna quickly figured out that caviar does not go well with braces. Ha!
None of the restaurants was too expensive. Although, the sushi was more expensive than other meals, but that’s expected.
Because this area was near many hotels, there wasn’t a chance to really chat with locals. The employees in the restaurants and shops were happy to chat, but it didn’t seam like many locals really hung out there.
Although, we did run into Pauly Shore in one of the nearby hotels. Sienna had no idea who he was, but all I wanted to say when we saw him was, “The Weasel!” I refrained, though. haha (If you’ve seen his movie Encino Man, you’ll know why I wanted to say that.)
When we went across the street from the hotel to another shopping area, we ran into a few locals. We actually sat and chatted with a family who had taken their visiting family members there. This shopping area had high-end boutiques and franchise restaurants. We ate at Pizzeria Mozza and really enjoyed the meat lover’s pizza. It was large enough for us to split.
We didn’t spend much on transportation as we walked mostly everywhere we went. Which was helpful because I was able to burn off many of the calories from the foods I enjoyed, such as the chocolate crepe we purchased from a local vendor.
I highly suggest that you bring a light jacket for nighttime and drink lots of water. We didn’t really feel sweaty most of the time because it evaporated so quickly rather than sticking to us. So, we felt thirsty often and I could see how dehydration could sneak up on someone.
Also, if you’re going this route and staying near the Harbor and using public transpiration, take plenty of smaller bills as you will need to tip a variety of times and use cash to purchase things from the market vendors.
While we really enjoyed this trip and felt relaxed the whole time, I have to say I think we enjoyed our other trip a bit more–the trip where we experienced more of what locals experience. Check back next week for my post on the details of that trip! 🙂